Monday, July 18, 2022

The Warren Report Issue 89: November-December 1977



The Critical Guide to
the Warren Illustrated Magazines
by Uncle Jack
& Cousin Peter

Creepy #93

"The Replacement" 
Story by Roger McKenzie
Art by Carmine Infantino & Dick Giordano

"The Return of Rah" ★1/2
Story by Roger McKenzie
Art by Carmine Infantino & John Severin

"The Great Black Cheese" ★★
Story by Bill DuBay
Art by Carmine Infantino & Alfredo Alcala

"Elixer" ★1/2
Story by Roger McKenzie
Art by Leopold Sanchez

"Running Wild" ★1/2
Story by Roger McKenzie
Art by Carmine Infantino & Alex Nino

"Cold Blooded Murder" 
Story by Bill Mohalley & Nicola Cuti
Art by Leopoldo Duranona

Bartlett relates to his grandson his days on the major league baseball team known as the Whizzers. One day, after gramps gets his first big league hit, he disappears while sliding into second. In the most bizarre baseball substitution since Bob Brenly sent in Byung-hyun Kim in the ninth inning of game five of the 2001 World Series (after Kim had blown game four two nights before), an alien appears on second base instead of  Bartlett. 

After a bit of a kerfuffle, coach McFadden nicknames his new player "B'am"; he gives the alien a two-minute baseball tutorial and sends him back out. In a strange Warren Reading of Baseball Rules, our alien is next in the batting lineup despite his just having been on second base. The creature hits a home run and a legend is born. But not everyone is happy with the new Whizzer. Fans and teammates alike shun the outer space visitor until the team plays for the pennant on the final day of the season. 2-2 count. The wind-up. And B'am hits what looks like an inside-the-park homer. Rounding third, he disappears and in his place is Bartlett. Bad timing: the Whizzers lose the pennant race to everyone's most hated team, the Yankees. But somewhere out there on a distant star, B'am is smiling.

There's nothing abhorrent about "The Replacement"; it just feels lazy, as though we've read this story a million times before. It's like a Lifetime drama if run on the Sci-Fi Channel. All that's missing is the twelve-year-old bat boy who's dying of leukemia and asks B'am to hit one over the fence for him. It's no surprise that Carmine was roped into doing two-thirds of the art this issue since these old-timey/feelgood scripts scream out "Infantino!" We'll see how the other three inkers fare, but Giordano seems like a fit made in heaven.

A year after mummy General Rah rose from his tomb and scored the winning touchdown for Cloverton, Brant, a scout for the New York Jets, pleads with the bandaged warrior (in his display case at the Cloverton Museum) to come back one more time and help put the Jets back on the map. To seal the deal, Brant shows the mummy a pic of Rah's old love, Sys-Boomm-Bahh, who currently resides in Manhattan. If Rah will play ball for Brant, he'll reunite the lovers.

So, Rah joins the Jets and immediately makes an impact, leading his crew to Super Bowl XXI. But the monster's heart isn't in the game; he's pining for Bahh and takes a powder just before the big game. Brant finds him at the museum and convinces his rookie that Bahh would not love a quitter. Rah returns to the stadium and leads the Jets to victory. Fifty years later, Brant is the museum guide and Rah is side-by-side with Bahh forever in their shared glass case.

A sequel to "The Mummy's Victory!" (back in Creepy #84), "The Return of Rah" doesn't work nearly as well because a/ it's no longer an original idea;  and b/ it's not funny. The art's great but it ain't Corben and to maintain the humor of the first I think it was essential to get "The Return of Rich" as well. I'm not sure why McKenzie felt the need to write a prologue and epilogue set fifty years in the future. Never mind the fact that a rotting mummy is playing pro sports, you know you're in a fantasy when the Jets win something, right Jack?

Emmentaler Jackson, aka "The Great Black Cheese," coulda been a contendah, but on the day of his title bout with champion Jack Johnson, Em's momma dies and he's too broke up to care about no belt. Decades later, he's a trainer pushing ninety when an up-and-comer insults him and Em climbs into the arena with him. Em manages to knock the youngster on his ass but the strain is too much for his weakened heart and he also collapses to the canvass.

Now, awaiting death, Em is magically transported to a bout with Jack Johnson. It's the 19th round and his momma is in the audience, cheering him on. Em makes  quick work of the champ and is crowned the new Heavyweight Champion of Heaven. Back on Earth, Em's heart expires and his friends mourn him.

More schmaltzy crap, this time from our old friend, Dube. I can't figure out if the man who comes calling for Em after the fight ends is an angel sent to guide our hero to heaven or Satan, there to claim his soul. It's a pretty creepy angel if that's the case. Alcala's art, as usual, is the reason to turn the pages. 

Ed Binder, goalie for the Cleveland Clippers, is released from his contract because, simply, he's just too old. Forced to wash dishes for a living, Ed discusses his career with the diner's janitor and the old man tells his new friend of an "Elixer" [sic] that grants its drinker youth. Ed figures "What the hell?" and has the janitor whip him up a bottle. The stuff does the trick and before you can say Wayne Gretzky, Ed has led the Clippers to a game four (and possible sweep) of the Stanley Cup finals. With only one period left to go, Binder is injured and taken to the locker room on a stretcher. He tells his son, Bucky, to get him his bottle of "medicine" and he'll be A-OK. Sure enough, Ed is back on the ice and leads his team to a goal, but at the end of the game all that's left is a skeleton in a goalie's uniform. Little Bucky sniffles and laments that all he wanted was a dad.

At least we found that snivelin' little brat that got lost on his way to "The Replacement." I'm beginning to believe that the Warren bullpen couldn't write a decent sports story because all they knew was what they'd seen at the local multiplex. The sports star battling the clock of time and wanting just one more shot at the title blahblahblah. How about beginning with an interesting story and adding the sports angle to fit the themed issue? The climactic "twist" might have been a little more effective if Ed had simply keeled over and died rather than go full picked-clean. All that's missing is the panel where he turns to dust and the AC blows his ashes around the rink.

Siamese twins Lucien and Walt are separated at birth. Lucien is left in a wheelchair, but discovers he has a psychic "mind-link" he can use to force his brother to perform unspeakable acts against his will, like killing cats, running marathons, and listening to Grand Funk Railroad. But Walt finally has had enough and, after running said marathon, he keeps on running until Lucien's "mind-linked" heart bursts. He's free at last. Then his wife tells him they're going to have twins!

Someone explain to me how that climax works cuz I'm still trying to figure it out after rereading it three times. Why did only one brother have the heart attack? McKenzie's script for "Running Wild" is like something that would be dropped into a random issue of The X-Men, more superhero than horror. And the art is underwhelming, a big surprise since I've loved the output of the Infannino team so far. This looks like Carmine pumped out some rough pencils and Alex figured it looked good without inks. Nope. 

Little Billy loves hockey and he loves the aggressive way his hero, hockey star Tom Buck, rips opponents' helmets off and crushes their skulls like eggshells with his stick. Next day, during a big game, Billy's coach tells the team they must win at all costs since "you ain't a man unless you win!" Taking those words to heart, Billy cracks a kid across the head with his stick and the boy goes down like yesterday's laundry. After the assault, no one wants to talk to Billy (except the local priest, who understands the violent climate that rules this boy's life) and he decides to kill himself by skating on thin ice (oh, the metaphors!) but, at the last second, his "soul" takes over and talks him into seeing another day. By happenstance and sheer coincidence, Billy's priest friend helps him out of the water and the boy mutters that he has a friend in the hospital to visit.

So, latching on to the big brouhaha that swept the nation in 1976, that studies found extreme violence on TV convinced kids to go out and heist cars and steal model airplanes and switch movie theaters, Bill Mohalley ("Art Production Manager" for the Warren zines at the time) and Nick Cuti craft a mindlessly simple moral story that carries no weight. The "I see the light" moment in "Cold Blooded Murder," when Billy is under the ice and suddenly decides that life is all about ups and downs and facing responsibility, is hogwash. Is this where the supernatural enters? If not, I see no justification for the epiphany. By the way, I'm automatically predisposed to dislike anything that might hitch its wagon to the 1976 TV witch hunts. These people turned Starsky and Hutch into The Waltons.-Peter

Jack-I groaned when I saw that it was another all-sports issue, and that cover by Don Maitz isn't much good. "The Replacement" is a pretty good yarn, reminiscent of "The Mighty Casey" from The Twilight Zone, with the usual competent art by Infantino and Giordano. Infantino and Severin make an odd pair on "The Return of Rah," a really dumb story but one that made me wish today's NY Jets could get some help from Ancient Egypt. Infantino and Alcala make another odd art combo on "The Great Black Cheese," a story that made me wonder if DuBay was playing off of Captain Marvel's nickname, the Big Red Cheese. I did notice an ad for Super 8 Captain Marvel movies on the page right after this story ended. I thought the character who showed up at the end was Death.

"Elixer" has the dubious distinction of misspelling the title word in great big letters and then being consistent throughout the story. Having a character named Binder again made me wonder about a Captain Marvel connection. "Running Wild" shows just how good Infantino was at depicting movement, and Nino's very light inks work for me. I gave "Cold Blooded Murder" one star, mainly because the art looks unfinished and the story is worthless. Two hockey stories in one issue? That's two too many for my money.

Eerie #88

"Future Shock"★1/2
Story by Bill DuBay
Art by Luis Bermejo

"The Key"★1/2
Story by Budd Lewis
Art by Jose Ortiz

"Deathball 2100 AD"★1/2
Story by Bill Mohalley & Nicola Cuti
Art by Dick Giordano

"Boiling Point Part 1"
Story by Bruce Jones
Art by Leopold Sanchez

"Junkyard Battles or
Never Trust an Electric Shaver"★1/2
Story by Nicola Cuti
Art by Rafael Auraleon

Restin Dane's return to the present is so short-lived that no one but Useless sees him before he's catapulted into the future. Back in 1884, evil Gat Hawkin discovers that a gizmo left behind by Restin allows him to travel through time. Meanwhile Restin experiences "Future Shock" when he surveys the bleak wasteland that man's actions have caused. In 1977, the robots have created the Knight, another time-traveling chess piece that zigzags through the years. Suddenly, Gat Hawkin appears in the lab and shoots Bishop, vowing that Restin will die next. In the future, Restin meets Starlock, an android from a distant star, who says he will take Restin prisoner. Demanding to know where Restin is, Gat Hawkin climbs into the Knight and disappears. Starlock takes Restin to meet his master, an ancient being called Erinyes, who doesn't think much of the human race. It turns out he was human once but scientists rebuilt him as a machine in order to preserve his life. Erinyes attacks Restin and is destroyed by Starlock, giving the human race a chance to rebuild and repopulate the dying planet Earth.

The Rook continues to be a somewhat interesting series, buoyed by Luis Bermejo's appealing art. The main characters are interesting, but Bill DuBay has a bit of trouble figuring out intriguing things for them to do each issue. Gat Hawkin travels back and forth in time, as does Restin Dane, but Restin's personality seems somewhat lacking. My favorite character is Useless, the robot, who seems to be a knockoff of C3PO from Star Wars, both in appearance and in manner of speaking. The need to have a big climax each time forces DuBay to create new characters and situations that aren't particularly noteworthy, such as Erinyes, who doesn't serve much purpose other than to provide the reason for a brief fight and a collapsing mountain.

This issue's story is followed by the announcement of the winners of the Fabulous Rook Contest; readers devised new robots, gadgets, and villains that purportedly will appear in a future story. Tenth-grader Mark Stokes of Milton, Florida, won the robot portion of the contest with two designs, one of which recalls R2D2.

The female ninja manages to escape the executioner by stripping naked and using her loincloth to swing over a high wall, all the while evading arrows shot by Japan's most incompetent archers. Soon, Hickey J. Lubus is approached by a mysterious woman named Sangaku who runs a competing gambling house. Sully is awakened on his boat by a hell hound who warns him that "The Key" is near the lock and soon the screaming god will be free. Hickey is tricked into visiting a tower, where he is relieved of the key; meanwhile, Sully and the hell hound encounter a dragon on their way to the same tower where Hickey was last seen.

As is so often the case in Warren mags, the art is the highlight here, as Ortiz continues to impress me with his use of blacks and his depiction of characters in general. Among the regular stable of Warren artists, he is one of the best at drawing faces. It seems silly that the female ninja starts out topless, when every other character in the crowd around her is dressed to the hilt, but it is even sillier when she ends up buck naked and hopping around the courtyard to make her escape. Changes in censorship rules in the mid to late '70s meant that Warren could get away with more and more nudity.

When LG-3, the toughest player in the NBO basketball league, is told that he is going to retire after one last game against the Bellatrix aliens, he decides to make it a game to remember. LG-3 uses his fists, elbows, and the 60-pound basketball to kill as many members of the opposing team as he can until they band together and kill him. The league officials realize that the sport has been changed forever.

Another dreadful collaboration between Mohalley and Cuti, "Deathball 2100 A.D." is this issue's sports story, though the aliens look quite different from the one depicted on the cover. Dick Giordano was a terrific artist, so the pages look good, but the story is pointless. I can't help but wonder how many kids who read Warren mags were also sports fanatics. It seems unlikely that there was much reader demand for sports horror tales.
A person wearing a parka with the hood up likes to spend time down in the subway tunnels, where it's cool and dark. As a train arrives, s/he reaches the "Boiling Point" and shoves an old woman onto the tracks, killing her. Police officer Tony Sanguino investigates, walking into the tunnel with his flashlight and nearly getting run over himself. He goes on a date with Rita Viccaro, a witness to the first accident, and brings her along to the scene after a second victim has been claimed. It seems like the killer is visiting a priest to confess his or her sins, but it doesn't stop him or her from more killing. One night, realizing that the murders happen after two a.m. on run-down subway lines, Tony takes Rita for a ride underground; she wears a parka. As a train approaches, does she try to shove him in front of it?

Leave it to Bruce Jones to tell an exciting tale of gritty New York City life. Leopold Sanchez's art is just right for this story, and I must say I'm intrigued and looking forward to part two. Is Rita guilty? How can she be since she seems to have been with Tony at the time of the second murder? The panel reproduced here recalls the famous Spirit panel that was also referenced in The French Connection.

In a dystopian future, household machines have been given a life force after scientists made alloys using Earth metals and Plutonite. In the "Junkyard Battles" that followed, it was best to "Never Trust an Electric Shaver." Human soldiers are killed one by one until just a single man is left. He encounters a foxy woman who runs right through the field of battle, but when she tries to seduce him, he shoots and kills her before confirming that she was an android. Unfortunately, he is quickly dispatched by the powerful machines.

Auraleon is not the artist I'd choose to draw a science fiction tale, and Cuti provides another dumb story to round out the issue. Not surprisingly, seeing the trend at Warren toward more and more sex, gratuitous nudity is thrown in halfway through the story.-Jack

I was beginning to wonder if the star of the Rook series would be making any appearance anytime soon when he finally popped up halfway through "Future Shock." I still can't get my head around the rules but if I ignore all that stuff, I can enjoy the series for what it is. I will say that if I was a wild west bad guy and I had a time travel device at my beck and call, I'd forget about my grudge against Rook and set my goals higher.

I'm not even going to pretend I know what the hell is going on in "The Key." None of it makes a lick of sense to me and I wonder if Budd had a plan. The graphics are not bad, though. Can't say the same about the mediocre art in the Rollerball rip-off "Spaceballs 2100 AD," Dick Giordano's first solo flight for Warren. You can see that Dick desperately needed to be riding Carmine's coattails. This is chief Executive Big Shot Art Director Bill Mohalley's second and last script for the Warren funnies. 

I'm not sure Bruce Jones needs 22 pages to tell his crazy subway killer story, but I'll admit I'm intrigued despite the many flaws. The crazy killer dialogue is annoying; it reads like Bruce stepped out of the office for a minute and Don McGregor filled in the caption boxes as a joke. Lots of details are hazy; could someone tell me what the hell is going on in those final panels? Is Tony secretly the killer and he's eliminating Rita for some weird reason? Well, hopefully, Bruce Jones will fill us in next issue. Nick Cuti wraps up the issue with more bad Warren sci-fi. This stuff was probably seen as groundbreaking around the Warren lunchroom back in 1977.

UFO and Alien Comix #1

(Reprinted from Vampirella #62, August 1977)

"Daddy and the Pie"
(Reprinted from Eerie #64, March 1975)

"The Pie and I"
(Reprinted from Eerie #72, February 1976)

"Companions to the Sun"
(Reprinted from Vampirella #61, July 1977)

"The Generations of Noah"
(Reprinted from Creepy #92, October 1977)

"Visitation at Pliny Marsh"
(Reprinted from Creepy #79, May 1976)

"The Stars My Salvation"
(Reprinted from Creepy #68, January 1975)

Following the success of Star Wars and the imminent deluge of cash spent on Close Encounters of the Third Kind, James Warren did what he was best at: unearth select reprints and mine them for gold. The ad pages in the four titles were already filled to the brim with SW merchandise, so why not a comic zine devoted to space stuff (and let's not forget the mega-selling Star Wars Spectacular)? Unofficially the first Warren Presents magazine, editor Nick Cuti obviously spent time poring over back issues of Warren titles to find only the best in outer space fiction. Not. All the stories here were from the previous three years ("Children of Noah" had only just run in the previous issue of Creepy!) and the entire package was wrapped in what surely must be the worst cover ever to grace a Warren funny book. Brace yourself; there's more to come.-Peter

I gave "Daddy and the Pie" and "Companions to the Sun" four stars each when we first reviewed them, and "The Pie and I" was a decent follow up to Toth's earlier story, but the rest of the offerings in this collection of reprints merited comments such as "dull," "dreadful," "poor," and "heavy-handed." Not a great collection!-Jack

Vampirella #65

"The Mad King of Drakulon" 
Story by Bill DuBay
Art by Jose Gonzalez

"A Game of Hide and Seek" ★1/2
Story by Roger McKenzie
Art by Leo Duranona

"Mystery of the Strangled Stockbroker" 
Story by Gerry Boudreau
Art by Jose Ortiz

"The Pharoah's [sic] Lady" ★1/2
Story by Nicola Cuti
Art by Luis Bermejo

"... But First, This Brief Interruption" 
Story by Bruce Jones
Art by Leopold Sanchez

"Goodbye, Norma Jean" 
Story by Bill DuBay
Art by Rafael Auraleon

Before we start, let me just say that the brilliant idea of withholding the climax of each and every story this issue so that some lucky reader could guess the outcome and find their illustrated self in a future issue is a really dumb gimmick. I'm more inclined to think these guys were just being lazy. Of course, if I were a genuine writer like Bruce Jones, I'd be pissed that Louise was screwing with my "art." What about those of us who couldn't care less about being "drafted" and just want to read a good, complete story? I know what you're saying... the stories lately have been crap anyway, so who cares? I see your point. Onward...

Vampirella takes a rocket ship back to her home planet with her new friends, Crouchback, Starpatch, and Lambchop, but the landing is rough and Vampi awakens to find the crew has vanished. In their place is an oddball who tells Vampi that everyone on Drakulon is dead, burnt to a crisp from a nova years before. He further tells our astonished vamp that he lures spaceships to the planet and then drains the "tourists" of their blood by hanging them from the ceiling a la an IV drip. And that's where Vampi finds her traveling companions. At first smitten with the handsome "Mad King of Drakulon," Vampirella finally sees the light, drains him of his own blood, and frees her friends. But now what? Who knows, cuz there's no ending!

As usual, there's enough cheesecake to keep the blood rushing and the pages turning, but I'm not sure I even care how this thing ends. The final panel seems a good enough climax to me. The script seems rushed; this new foe isn't much of a threat at all. The Mad King is dispatched in just a couple of panels and then hung up like his victims. 

Elizabeth is invited to Coron House for the reading of her cousin Eric's will. When she gets there, she's shocked when Eric himself opens the door and beckons her inside. There she finds several people in the sitting room, all apparently awaiting the same reading. Eric explains that his entire estate will be granted to the person who murders him. As his audience gasps in shock, he tells them there is one catch: he'll be hunting them as well.

One by one, the guests begin meeting gruesome deaths and Eric seems to have disappeared. That's no problem for Elizabeth as she's found herself a nighttime companion in Michael, one of the participants in this sick and oft-told game. As Michael toasts to their new alliance and the death of Eric, Elizabeth confesses that she knows where the eccentric millionaire is hiding. Like the reader, Michael will just have to wait until next issue to discover the latitude and longitude of his meal ticket.

Once again, the horror of the handwritten captions raises its ugly head. I'm not sure what a "maliase" is (a cousin to mayonnaise, perhaps?) and I'd swear Elizabeth is excited that Michael found the urine alley. Such are the perils of personalizing a funny book story. It's obvious McKenzie is borrowing from The Most Dangerous Game, but that's okay since every writer seems to do it at least once in their career. What's not so great is the hodgepodge nature of "A Game of Hide and Seek," which pinballs around quite a bit. There are chunks of the narrative that are seemingly left out. The affair of Michael and Elizabeth is given more space than the deaths of each visitor. We know nothing about Michael or why Liz seems to be obsessed with the guy. The missing climax (which we've taken the liberty of reprinting far below) renders the story an even bigger mess. 

Stockbroker Valentine Harlequin is found dead in his upper-floor office. The only way to get to the office is through a small elevator and the corpse appears to have been hanged, that despite the absence of anywhere to hang him from! Called to the scene is detective extraordinaire (and hot babe) Raymona Shepherd. The curvaceous cop orders everyone who had seen Harlequin in his office that day to be brought to the building for interrogation.

One by one, Shepherd questions her suspects and sifts through clues until, in one brilliant moment of deduction, she knows exactly who did the deed. But do you? Well, if you sneak a peek at the bottom of this page, you'll know very quickly. My three-star review of "The Mystery of the Strangled Stockbroker" does not include the half-assed wrap-up that Gerry considered a climax. As in the previous story, this reeks of laziness. As to the bulk of the story, I really enjoyed the mystery, the Poirot-esque dissection of clues, the Dell Mapback-influenced diagram of the murder scene, and the dazzling, noirish art of Jose Ortiz. Here's one rare instance where I would not have minded one bit if Raymona had gotten her own series. How can you not like a whodunit that includes, as one of its clues, an 87th Precinct novel?

Egyptian pharaoh Impokon adopts a little orphan girl and names her Isisi. The pharaoh and his missus, Queen Nefertis, treat the girl as if she were a daughter, doting on her and, when she grows to be a teen, making her the queen's handmaiden. But Isisi has her eyes on a bigger prize: godhood and immortality. The pharaoh has just built a massive tomb for himself and (unwisely) explains to the girl that within its walls lies an electricity that grants its tenant immortality. 

Isisi murders first the queen and then the pharaoh and enters the pyramid to apply for godhood, but the Gods are pissed and grant a warped version of the girl's wish. "The Pharoah's [sic] Lady" has what seems to be a very familiar story, but it's saved by some really nice graphics by Bermejo. In this case, gratuitous nudity is welcome. The withheld reveal is a joke, amounting to a synopsis of the story and one panel of new material. The typos continue to be a problem, especially when one of them, the spelling of (all together now) p-h-a-r-a-o-h, is botched all through the story.

In "...But First, This Brief Interruption," Lawrence Carberry, a washed-up lawyer sits in a bar and contemplates suicide when a man walks in and offers Carberry a proposition: if he can solve a simple riddle, he'll win five hundred bucks. Carberry agrees, solves the riddle, and pockets the dough. He uses the sudden windfall to turn his life around, reacquire his job, and quit drinking. But when he visits the bartender to chew the fat, the puzzle master is there waiting. This becomes a habit for Larry, visiting the bar and solving riddles for increasingly larger amounts of money.

Finally, the man offers Larry the supreme challenge: one million dollars against Carberry's life! The lawyer takes the bet but is stumped by the puzzle. He is given 24 hours to solve the riddle or forfeit his life. There's a twist at the finale involving Carberry's boss that completely lost me, but that's not why I thought this one was a snoozer. Once Larry has put his life back together, there's no reason for him to keep gambling. At no point does Bruce Jones let us in on an addiction, so it's quite a leap, especially the final bet.

Norma has a wonderful, beautiful younger sister that she literally keeps hidden from the public. That's because her sister Jean has emerged from a growth on Norma's back and the two now share a single body. Love is impossible for the young ladies as, once the clothes come off, the truth is out in the open. But then comes Tom, who promises Norma he loves her despite her "hunchback" and coaxes her into bed. Norma demands the lights be shut but Jean, in a moment of passion, lets out a moan and the cat is out of the bag.

Tom is disgusted and disappears from Norma/Jean's life until the girls find out they're pregnant. Eventually, Tom comes around to fatherhood when he sees little Leslie Ann, so perfect and normal. It's only when Tom runs across a set of photos from Norma's teen years that he freaks out. Jean didn't pop out of Norma's back until she was seven. Little Leslie Ann may yet be a freak! Tom takes yet another powder and leaves Norma/Jean telling her story to a psychiatrist. The doc looks puzzled when Norma admits the worst is yet to come, and she shows him the lump growing out of her shoulder. Norma/Jean is/are triplets!

The only complimentary thing I have to say about Dube's "Goodbye Norma Jean" is that he didn't try to hide the big "twist" throughout the story and revealed Jean at the halfway mark. The story makes me uncomfortable (which, you could argue, is the point of a good horror story), but there's way too much pathos and afternoon soap operatics for my tastes. I can't for the life of me figure out the logistics of hiding a head and neck under your clothing. Was it a special fabric that allowed Jean to breathe? Did Jean have to eat? Good luck having a family day out at the movie theater. I look forward to Dube's upcoming adaptations of "Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting" and "Bennie and the Jets."-Peter

Jack-What a frustrating issue! Four mediocre stories, two good ones, and no last pages. I thought "...But First, This Brief Interruption" was great and would have given it four stars if the art were a little bit better. I agree with you about Bermejo's art in "The Pharaoh's Lady"--this is a rare Warren story where the nudity works and doesn't seem as gratuitous as usual. I was surprised to see those dopey characters return in "The Mad King of Drakulon," since I had assumed their appearance as deus ex machina figures a couple of issues ago would be forgotten. I love the art by Gonzalez but the story left me cold.

The premise behind "A Game of Hide and Seek" is not bad, but the threadbare plot, bizarre shifts in tone, and handwritten captions all serve to kill any interest that might have developed before the cliffhanger. I thought the "Mystery of the Strangled Stockbroker" was a dull police procedural, in large part due to the usual posed panels drawn by Ortiz, who seems unable to tell a story with any momentum. Last (and worst) of all was "Goodbye, Norma Jean," which was just grotesque. I know we read another second head/hump story quite a while back--didn't the main character live in a swamp?




Next Week...
Will 1986 be a better year for 
The Dark Knight and his readers?


Quiddity99 said...

A second all sports issue of Creepy! Thankfully the last one. Doing a second one of these, especially one that was published only a year after the previous one wasn't the smartest idea. As a big time Red Sox fan and Yankee hater I remember Byung-hyun Kim and those blown saves quite well! He'd eventually join the Red Sox too. Not only was "The Replacement" a lazy story for me, but it seemed so similar that I wondered if it was a reprint of a story in that prior year sports issue. I didn't have the energy to pull out the older issue to confirm. As the best story from the prior sports issue it made sense to bring back Rah, but I wish Corben had returned too. And I can only laugh at the lowly NY Jets needing a mummy as a team member to actually win something. At least they did a good job picking what remains an immensely poor performing team, at a time where the Jets were still under 10 years removed from winning a Super Bowl. I think "The Great Black Cheese" was Alfredo Alcala's first Warren story? He is one of the few Filipino artists that joined Warren that I liked (Alex Nino of course being another one). I recall first running across him in a Beneath the Planet of the Apes comic adaption. "The Replacement" seems like another stale story for me and "Running Wild" is underwhelming too. "Cold Blooded Murder" on the other hand I was fairly happy with and was my favorite story of the issue.

Dare I say it, but "Future Shock" is my favorite Rook story yet. While the "mankind destroying itself" theme is cliché, I really liked the future storyline and where Dubay went with it. I also liked the fact that we are moving more away from the old west setting, at least for now. The art was the clear highlight for me on the "Black Demon's Sword" storyline too. Jose Ortiz is quite accomplished at drawing a beautiful woman. Alas, Hickey being tricked was all too predictable and the demon appearing with Sully reminded me too much of the recent "Demons of Jebediah Pan" series that Jose Ortiz had drawn. "Deathball 2100 AD" was an extremely dumb story; I waited throughout the story for the twist and it never actually came. Just an excuse for a lot of senseless and dumb violence. Warren often seems to write/draw too many stories for its themed issues causing them to spill over into other issues, and that was clearly the case here. What seems all the stranger to me is why they had another sports cover made as well when they knew only one issue would be all sports. This is a rare, and perhaps only example of Dick Giordano doing a Warren story without Carmine Infantino doing the pencils. "Boiling Point" is part of a trend from around this era where Eerie features two part stories instead of a lengthy series, something I liked a lot as the series format is starting to lose steam by this point (and will get much much worse in the future). I haven't read ahead yet to the next issue and wonder if Rita is the killer. We shall see next time. "Junkyard Battles" has some oddly weak Auraleon art, an artist that is usually quite dependable. I will give the story credit for an ending I did not expect.

I haven't made it to Vampirella #65 yet so will hopefully get that read in later this week and comment on it then. My recollection is really liking the idea they used for the issue.

Jack Seabrook said...

Thanks, as always, for your detailed comment! I am a lifelong Yankee fan, so I appreciate any and all mentions of the pitcher known as Kim.

Quiddity99 said...

Thoughts on Vampirella #65 -

I really liked the idea they went with here, something that in hindsight seems an obvious type of contest to run for an anthology horror comic, but I can't recall ever seeing come up elsewhere. I can see the frustration with someone buying it at the time, since you have to buy another issue to figure out how all the stories in this one end. Only one person (revealed two issues later) actually got them all right, which makes sense to me; a few of these aren't hard to guess the ending but others are quite tough. Needing to nail all 6 of them would be a very hard task.

Fine art as usual for Vampi's story but it seems kinda like something they've done before? Obviously its a bit more sci-fi in nature than the typical Vampi tale but what the "Mad King" was doing and Vampi draining his blood at the end was quite predictable. Oh, and what is coming next is even more predictable. First story at least has a rather obvious place its going for the contest ending.

I too was troubled by the captions on "Hide and Seek" but otherwise enjoyed the story. Some haunting artwork from Duranona here. An ending that was more unpredictable than Vampi but still not really hard to come to. The Stockbroker story isn't a horror story at all, but this was by far the hardest for me and I just gave up after thinking of it a while and checked the solution. The Pharaoh's Lady was the weakest of the bunch for me, Isisi goes on too much of a murder spree to totally get away with no one suspecting her. This was an ending I could remember from years back so no ability to guess on it.

"But First This Brief Interruption" I liked a lot, although it is very obviously a story stretched out for this gimmick and I'd agree there's no point to our protagonist returning to the mystery man who somehow seems to have unlimited funds. "Goodbye Norma Jean" I found perfectly suited for Auraleon, who turns in a better job than his other story this month and quite a hilarious ending, although one that I remembered from years back so no guessing here either.