Monday, March 20, 2023

The Warren Report Issue 106: August 1979



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

Vampirella #80

"Slaves of the Alien Amazon" 
Story by Bill DuBay
Art by Pablo Marcos

"Like Father, Like Son" 
Story by Cary Bates
Art by Leo Duranona

"Transference" ★1/2
Story by Bruce Jones
Art by Jose Ortiz

"The Eternal Triangle" 
Story by Cary Bates
Art by Martin Salvador

"John Donne and the Asteroid Pirates!" 
Story by Chris Adames
Art by Pablo Marcos

Vampirella and Pantha are enjoying a night out at a party given by the Hollywood leeches hoping to cash in on the sexy, sultry siren's screen success. Their glee is interrupted when both are teleported to the spaceship belonging to Slandra, an outer space assassin who patrols the galaxy searching for stray Drakulonians. Seems that in ancient history, Vampi's planet Drakulon waged war with Slandra's home world of Lupae and the annihilation of Drakulon's population wasn't enough to sate the appetite for destruction the Luapaens felt. Just as Slandra is about to throw the lever that activates the death-ray, Vampirella tries a stalling tactic used in the pulps by asking her tormentor about the history of said war.

Meanwhile, back on Earth, Pendragon decides the only way to get his beloved vampiress back is to open the Book of the Dead and conjure up the dreaded N'Gorath, "mightiest of the lower demons" (!). The occult ritual goes sour when it turns out that, lower demon though he may be, N'Gorath will not be contained by a simple pentagram. He grabs Pen's suddenly muscular form, lifts him off the ground, and tells the magician it's a good time to say his prayers.

As an intro, we're warned that this is not the conclusion to the "Dragon Queen Saga" we'd all been waiting on pins and needles for, but instead the beginning of another Vampi yarn! Dube blames the mail (as they all do in these situations) and promises the conclusions of both epic sagas next issue (unless his dog eats the script). The adventure we're left with is not awful but it's not very good, either. The script is as juvenile as any Dube/Vampi installment, so I'll turn my attention to the skills of Pablo Marcos instead. 

We all know Pablo has an aversion to clothing, so it's no surprise that Pantha is dressed like she was just beamed in from the Enterprise and that Pen has doubtless interrupted N'Gorath's time at L.A. Express (seriously, a demon in a thong?). The female form on display is why we endure the words in these things and Pablo definitely knows how to appeal to the animal in all of us. But at the same time, Marcos reminds us that he has no idea what a seventy-year-old alcoholic's build would be. We all know that the only thing Pen lifts is a bottle and Conrad is a stooped old fossil, but with Marcos Magic, both are transformed into studs. I'm with Jack, who proposes that Dube gives Pantha new shape-shifting powers to make up for the fact that every issue a new artist draws her differently.

The brilliantly stupid climax to
"Like Father, Like Son."

In the future, Consolidated CEO Howard Napier has a target on his back. Someone is trying to assassinate him every time he steps out of his home or office. It may be a rival businessman or an enemy Howard has made along the way, but the likely culprit is Howard's son, who happens to have been cloned from Howard's tissue. That's a good place for me to stop. Not just because "Like Father, Like Son" has a ridiculously complicated plot and a truly head-shaking "twist" ending, but because I've made a pledge to myself (and to our readers as well) not to dwell on the negatives. If I were to harp, though, I'd resubmit my master's thesis that Leo Duranona + Science Fiction = used Charmin.

It begins when bodybuilder Lee Rogers notices his facial hair is not growing back, then he begins to lose his muscular build. Slowly but surely, it seems as though Lee is transforming into (in his own words) David Bowie. But it's worse than that, because very soon he's got a great set of boobs as well. Through it all, Lee's girl, Glory, is supportive and maybe even a little turned on. 

The final straw is when he and Glory throw a big shindig for all his rich pals and Lee ascends the staircase into the ballroom decked out in a gorgeous Versace with a divine tail and plunging neckline with matching handbag and boa. Lee's entrance is a smash until he hits on one of his masculine buddies and ends up in the punch bowl. Afterwards, depressed, Lee puts a gun to his head and prepares to pull the trigger when he notices he has a five o'clock shadow! The curse has lifted! Elated, he bursts into Glory's room and awakens the sleeping beauty, only to discover Glory's stubble is heavier than his!

I'm tired of searching for new ways to say "tired and stupid" or "boring and padded," but if I were to expend the energy this time out, I'd proclaim that "Transference" is "fatigued and mindless" and "tedious and upholstered" (that last one shows just how fatigued I am by this project). There's not much sense to the plot. Things just happen and then they unhappen. If there's a transference going on, why isn't Glory bulking up the whole time Lee is minimizing? And what reverses the whole process? You probably won't see this one in any of the Bruce Jones reprint books. At least the art is great (ergo my extra half-star rating); I wanted to see a whole solo spin with pre-goatee Glory!

There's something wrong with teenaged Leonard. He pushes girls into the family well, puts out cigarettes on their foreheads, and spends way too much time with his grandmama. It just isn't healthy. On his sixteenth birthday, Leonard reveals all to his concerned mother and father: he's the reincarnation of his own grandfather, a man so irate about his own death (in a way, caused by his son) that he's come back to mete out his own form of justice. As he's about to put a bullet in his spineless son's head, his wife (grandmama... try to keep up) buries her darning needles in his throat. She loved the guy but couldn't stand the nasty individual, so he had to go. But, weeks later, the family receives word that mother is pregnant with her son/father-in-law's baby!

If you thought that cockamamie synopsis was hard to follow, I invite you to write a better one. "The Eternal Triangle" is nine pages of utter waste; a sleazy, unfocused mess that just gets worse as the narrative weaves to its ridiculous conclusion. I think the only bright side is that we were spared the panels of Leonard coupling with his mother, a rare moment of taste for 1979 Warren. If this was a story published in 1984, I dare say we'd have seen the whole event in glorious black-and-white. 

Speaking of 1984, the finale of Vampirella #80 (perhaps one of the worst issues in the magazine's run so far, but keeping in mind there are four years' worth of rubbish yet to come) would have felt comfortable within the pages of Warren's landfill title. "John Donne and the Asteroid Pirates" is juvenile fantasy at its lowest tier. Perhaps scripter Chris Adames thought no one would notice there's no story to speak of, instead focusing on the panels stuffed with muscles, thongs, nipples, and double entendres. This is embarrassing crap but obviously, by 1979, Jim Warren had his mind elsewhere and couldn't be bothered.-Peter

Jack-Thank goodness we only have four more months left in our Warren journey. I couldn't take many more comics like this one! I can't believe the conclusion to the Vampi story was delayed in the mail and instead we get part one of an equally boring story. Do you think they threw in the bit about Pantha changing her hair style and color at will because they can't seem to keep her look straight from one artist to another? "Like Father, Like Son" is a pointless story with more lousy Duranona art, while "Transference" reaches new lows in writing, but at least the art by Jose Ortiz is decent. "The Eternal Triangle" was awful until it got worse with the tasteless ending, while "John Donne..." displays more amateurish writing from Chris Adames and more butts and thighs from Pablo Marcos. Did anyone find anything redeeming in this mess of an issue?

Patrick Woodroffe
Creepy #110

"Snapper" ★1/2
Story by Bill Kelley
Art by Leo Duranona

"Sunset Farms" ★1/2
Story by Gerry Boudreau & Alex Southern
Art by Rudy Nebres

"Take Your Child, Please!" 
Story by Cary Bates
Art by Jose Ortiz

"The Demon Hater" ★1/2
Story by Nicola Cuti
Art by Rafael Auraleon

"Horror is a Highrise" 
Story by Archie Goodwin
Art by Leo Duranona

"A Knightmare to Remember" 
Story by Cary Bates
Art by Joe Vaultz

"The Clockmaker" ★1/2
Story by Bob Toomey
Art by Jesus Blanco

Pirates run afoul of a giant sea turtle in "Snapper," a mindless giant monster tale that contains none of the charm and wit of the similar "Snaegl" (from Creepy #97) and is sunken by the nearly incoherent art of Leo Duranona. When 95% of the panel is black ink, some details naturally are lost but the details that emerge are not worth noting.

In the future, the mafia sends its oldest members to a rest home called "Sunset Farms," located on a moon dubbed "Skyroid." The mobsters are all heavily sedated to keep them out of trouble but one top hood overhears the plan to destroy Skyroid and eliminate the hassle of caring for a bunch of old hoods. The boss grabs his right hand man and escapes the satellite in a rocket ship, watching Skyroid explode from their window,

A very abrupt climax, hinting at a sequel that wouldn't come. The script isn't bad but there's not much to it (I say that a lot lately); it's a half-baked idea delivered quarter-baked. But for a Warren science fiction tale, it's a decent time-waster. Rudy Nebres is a good, competent artist (certainly more dynamic than, say, Martin Salvador) and I may just complain too much about his style but it's that style that will reign in the final Warren Dark Age (that and the awful "typewriter" font that would supplant the hand lettering give me headaches) and so it's that style I cringe at. Proofreader napping yet again. The sentence "Even if the bars are guilded" takes on a completely different meaning than desired, I assume. 

The Barkers visit Marleyville Orphanage and take a liking to odd little Dwayne, whose pointed head makes him fodder for the other children and a usual pass at adoption time. Dwayne sees the Barkers as his salvation until Pa Barker starts doling out a bit too much discipline with his hickory switch. That's when Dwayne puts his foot down and disciplines the Barkers. Shocked by the child's proclivity towards violence, the Barkers sedate Dwayne and drive him out into the desert with an eye to abandonment, but the kid has got a different idea altogether. Meanwhile, back at Marleyville Orphanage, Dwayne's real parents (aliens from another planet?) come looking for him.

I guess you could think "Take Your Child, Please!" a cute little fairy tale if wasn't so predictable. Cary Bates hints at an extraterrestrial origin in the final panel but nothing is really set in stone. That's a plus as far as I'm concerned, as another couple panels of expository is not welcome in this treehouse.

Dr. Robert Bale has always wanted to see a real demon up close. When a mine explosion unearths a dead demon known as Bergammen, Bale naturally offers his help. While examining Bergammen, several other demons show up at the doctor's flat, demanding the return of the corpse. Bale uses a religious dagger to frighten the creatures away. 

Shortly thereafter, a woman named Bella Dunn shows up to offer her help in Bale's studies. As the doctor grows to trust Bella, he confesses that his mother was seduced by an incubus and Bale was the result. Since the child was only half-human, the demon rejected him and kidnapped another child to take to hell. The demons return to kill Bale and Bella disappears. Fearing he's been betrayed, Bale fights the monsters with all the knowledge he has accrued through the years and finally defeats the army. Bella returns and admits she almost gave Bale to her master, Ashmodesus, but couldn't bear to see him suffer. When the scholar quizzes her, she admits she is the child taken to Hell in his place.

It's all a bit too convoluted and I could have done without the dopey reveal, but "The Demon Hater" is certainly more enjoyable than anything else contained in this issue. It's a lot like those satanic novels that flooded the market in the wake of The Exorcist, dumb as a box of rocks but with enough pizazz to keep the pages turning. Auraleon continues his shameless swiping, this time even stealing from an old Frazetta Creepy cover!

Al Ciano finds himself publicity man for a haunted high rise. Pipes scream out eerily, rust that looks uncannily like blood oozes from the taps, and then there's the story about the building's architect who took a header from the top floor while the skyscraper was under construction. Ciano first suspects that the man was despondent over changes in the building's design, but he digs a little deeper and discovers the owner had skimped on safety features. As a party rages, Ciano argues with his boss about the dangers behind being a penny-pincher just before the building collapses. 

"Horror is a Highrise" is low-tier Archie, something along the lines of the pap he was forced to pump out during the first "Dark Age." The illustrations by Duranona are, as usual, murky and hard to make out; what is going on in the panel where Ciano looks into... what? It sorta kinda looks like a face but nothing in the caption mentions such an apparition. I'll give it an extra half-star for making me laugh when the building falls apart due to a loud musical combo. 

In the quickie, "A Knightmare to Remember," a young demon enters a princess's bedroom and terrorizes her, only to discover the girl is an illusion conjured by a demon-slayer. As the slayer, garbed in chainmail, prepares to cleave the creature in half, it awakens. It was only a bad dream! There's not much to it but it's kind of cute and I like the weird Vaultz graphics (computer generated, or was this too early for that?). 

A clockmaker's assistant is convinced his boss is actually made up of cogs and gears. Slowly (but surely) the nagging doubt turns to obsession and then madness. He murders "The Clockmaker" and buries the body under the house's floorboards. When the police visit to investigate the report of a scream coming from the house, the assistant goes mad and confesses he thinks the old man's clockwork insides now reside in him. Who is Gary Null fooling with this lukewarm "Tell-Tale Heart" rip-off? The art also seems to be an homage; if you squint, you can see some Reed Crandall in Blanco's work. Well, you have to squint sideways, but it's there.-Peter

What a relief! This issue of Creepy is nowhere near as bad as this month's issue of Vampirella. There aren't any great stories, mind you, but at least it's not unrelentingly awful. My favorite was "Take Your Child, Please," which features more moody work by Ortiz and a genuinely creepy child as well as a final panel that made me smile. "Horror is a Highrise" is not a bad story, it's just a shame it was assigned to Duranona to illustrate. One character uses the expression, "heavy," which makes me think it's a file story by Goodwin, yet there is also a reference to disco. As I read "The Clockmaker" I got a feeling like I was reading a tale from Creepy circa 1965, and that's a good thing. I also got such a strong Poe vibe that, by the end, I was wondering if Blasco had illustrated "The Tell-Tale Heart" and Toomey had written a new story to go along with the illos.

"The Demon Hater" is also not bad; I liked seeing all of the demons and the twist ending was decent, but (again) Auraleon's art can be wooden at times. "A Knightmare to Remember" is a forgettable story with fairly cool Corbenesque art by Vaultz. By the way, has Cary Bates ever written a memorable story for Warren? I always liked art by Rudy Nebres, so "Sunset Farms" is passable, though the ending makes me worry that it might be part one of a series. Worst of the issue was "Snapper," with art so muddy it's not always clear what's happening, even in key panels. I was happy to see a horror tale set in NJ but the giant turtle wasn't very scary.

Eerie #103

"Terror of Space"
Story by Bill DuBay
Art by Lee Elias

Story by Bob Toomey
Art by Jose Ortiz

"The Trespasser"
Story by Don McGregor
Art by Paul Gulacy

Story by Larry Hama
Art by Val Mayerik

"The Damned & the Dead"
Story by Leo Duranona & Cary Bates
Art by Leo Duranona

On the destroyed ship, Restin finds a single survivor (Cryssie) and brings her back to his ship, which is soon under attack from Blue warships. Since his ship is unarmed and can't defend itself, Restin jumps forward two weeks in time to the great confusion of the people manning the Blue warships. The Blue commander thinks that the Reds have invented a cloaking device and sends his ships out to find it.

Elsewhere, the old man's ship starts blasting away at Red warships, which fight back. The old man's ship is damaged but he manages to escape. On Restin's ship, he balances trying to repair the damage with worrying about Cryssie, who is so damaged herself that she sits and sucks her thumb. Before you know it, Restin is comforting her with his big, strong arms and his soft yet firm lips. Restin tries to solve the problem of his damaged ship by blowing the bad part of it apart from the good part. Unfortunately, Cryssie is knocked unconscious and Restin is stuck, drifting alone in space.

The Blue ships, which have been looking for Restin's ship for two weeks, finally locate it and rescue Cryssie; they examine what's left of Restin's vessel and determine that it's a time machine. Restin awakens on the ship of the old man, Spunky T. Bolt, who tells Restin that he's dying but has succeeded in alerting the Reds and the Blues to the fact that the common man does not support their war. Restin contacts the Blue ship and Cryssie learns that he's okay; the ship heads off to meet him.

Is that the end of "Terror of Space"? The last panel doesn't say anything about it being "the end" and the way it's left off, there could be more. The story is adequate and the art by Elias is above average, but there's nothing special about it and it seems more like another space story than part of the Rook's ongoing narrative. Restin's ship jumps ahead two weeks to avoid being blown up but, other than that, there's not much to separate this from umpteen other space stories.

A young woman named "Arianne" dwells in a cave, recalling long ago when a winged beast called White Blaze killed her father as he emerged from the cave to gaze upon the open sky. One day, Arianne is near the cave entrance when she is spotted by Moonshadow, a warrior on horseback, who drags her out and shows her that there's a whole world outside the cave. They are suddenly attacked by White Blaze and his band of flying bat/demons; when Moonshadow and Arianne take shelter, White Blaze challenges Moonshadow to single combat. Moonshadow prevails and Arianne slits the throat of White Blaze as he lies on the ground. The rest of the bat/demons fly off with the corpse of White Blaze and Arianne sets off on horseback with Moonshadow to see the world.

This is not the same Moonshadow who appeared in a three-part series just last year, even though those stories were also drawn by Ortiz. This time out, Ortiz provides ten impressive pages and, although the story is a bit confusing at first, the visual storytelling is good enough to hold my interest. This looks like part one of a new series, so we'll have to wait and see how it goes.

Our man Flint?
Dr. Ward Cavanaugh has been sent into the Louisiana Bayou to make a house call on wealthy Rebecca Cope when a man comes running out of the swamp, pursued by angry Dobermans and two security guards wearing mirrored shades. It's 1998 and the Affluent Age ended violently in 1980, so the Copes live like recluses in an old mansion. Dr. Cavanaugh meets Rebecca, a beauty who explains that the security guards are twin brothers Rurik and Rush Averdeen. Rebecca leads the doctor up to the nursery, where he sees baby Joshua, who has congenital defects. Father Cope enters, smacks Dr. Cavanaugh, and berates Rebecca for letting a stranger visit. Cavanaugh tells Cope that he has a clear case of advanced skin cancer and Cope responds by telling the guards to lock Cavanaugh up with Kelley, the man who rushed out of the swamp.

Oh boy, I can't wait to read what Peter has to say about this pretentious tale by one of his least favorite Marvel scribes, Don McGregor! I usually like Gulacy's art, but the swipes from photos are too obvious, with Dr. Cavanaugh obviously modeled after actor James Coburn. At the top of page one of "The Trespasser," it says the story is "Dedicated to Dave Kraft, who supplied research material and who fought the good fight at the Green Kitchen." Does anyone know what this refers to? Was the "research material" a few stills of Coburn?

A young Japanese swordsman visits an old priest/archer, anxious to receive his first assignment as his lord's official assassin. Neither man trusts the other's "Credentials" until both show their mettle by dispatching three ninja assassins. Retiring to a chapel to chant dirges and burn incense, the swordsman is overcome by opium fumes and awakens to find himself locked in a cell, where the priest tells him he must gain knowledge by reading ancient tomes and solving wooden puzzles.

During the swordsman's fourth year of study, the priest enters the cell and orders him to travel to the castle of his lord's sworn enemy and slay the man's son. The priest tells the swordsman to choose the single correct token that will gain him admittance to the castle; the swordsman swiftly chops off the priest's head and, with it in a box to represent the token, heads off to the castle.

This is by far the best art we've seen from Val Mayerik recently, perhaps ever! The story is a winner as well. I always liked Larry Hama's work at Marvel on Iron Fist and at Atlas on Wulf the Barbarian, and this story set in ancient Japan has many aspects that recall those earlier series. There's a subtle humor to the nearly impossible task that the priest sets out for the swordsman, yet it's all treated with seeming seriousness. I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to part two. Wait, did I just write that sentence about a Warren series?

With a resounding "BroomBroomBroom," the masses of creatures approach the fortress where Allison and Jesse await. The creatures quickly overwhelm the giant who attacked the fortress and the Horizon Seekers observe, in the distance, another huge fortress that is being carried on the backs of millions of the approaching creatures. Jesse and Allison hide with Merlin in his chamber and let in a straggler who has been attacked by one of the approaching creatures, which Jesse kills.

The creatures overwhelm Merlin's fortress and Jesse, Allison, and Merlin only survive by smearing blood from the dead creature all over their bodies. They discover that the creatures have only a sense of smell and thus can't detect Jesse and co.; our heroes are subsumed within the onrushing hordes and march with them through the night and into the next day. The horde approaches a village and overruns it before pausing in a valley, where Jesse and Allison observe the queen of the creatures sitting on a throne in the fortress. They enter the fortress and Jesse kills the queen, leaving the hordes with nothing to do but continue onward until they rush off the edge of a cliff to their death. Jesse, Allison, and Merlin remain atop the cliff, safe for the time being.

And starring Kevin McCarthy as Dog-Meat!
For some reason, I thought that "The Damned and the Dead" was going to be the finale of the Horizon Seekers series. No such luck. Still, it's unusually gripping for a 17-page-long Warren story by Bates and Duranona. The relentless forward movement of the creatures is rather chilling and the murder of the queen is well thought out. For once, we don't get a preview of the next adventure.-Jack

Peter- "The Rook" series continues to be a load of sci-fi hokum to me but at least Lee Elias makes it good-looking hokum (though I still think Ortiz has a hand in the inking of Elias's pencils). Politics has never been a good jumping off point for Warren writers and in the hands of Dube it becomes laughable. Add maudlin to the menu as well; Restin and Cryssie find true love in a matter of panels. 

If it's possible, I might like Warren high-concept fantasy even less than their sci-fi, but "The Open Sky: Arianne" is not awful. Jose Ortiz is always at least interesting and his bat-men give off a heavy Harryhausen harpies vibe. I was sure Arianne would break into a few choruses of Cat Stevens when Moonshadow introduced himself. Thankfully, I have David Horne's Gathering Horror to remind me that "The Open Sky" is a prequel to the short-lived "Moonshadow" series.

Available now from Captain Company:
The "Marching Millions" poster!
After a much-too-short absence, Don McGregor returns to Warren, pretension absolutely intact, and brings along his Sabre compadre, Paul Gulacy. "The Trespasser" is chock-full of eye-rolling dialogue ("I sometimes wonder if what's happening to us... if it's happening to all the families? Have all the married lovers lost each other... can our children know what we felt -- feel."), more McGregor class struggles, and stock still swipes. Over this swill, I'll take space opera any day. 

While I didn't rate "Credentials" nearly as high as Jack, it's easily the best story of the month (but then look at our star ratings this post and see how high that bar has risen). Hama's script is clever and, yep, that's some real good Mayerik there. "Samurai" will see four installments here in Warren, then go on hiatus until 1987, where the series will be resurrected at Now Comics. "The Horizon Seekers" makes one thing abundantly clear: Leo Duranona should not be drawing any comics that feature human characters. I will say, though, that his fortresses are pretty keen and that second page (of the "marching millions") may just be the best Duranona work I've ever seen. I'll agree with Jack that the script is above-average for an Eerie series, but I have such a hard time remembering what happened in previous installments that I have no idea what's going on here. For an ongoing series, that's not a recipe for success.

Next Week...
"Why so serious?"


Quiddity99 said...

I'd be totally fine if they simply stopped the ongoing Vampi storyline instead of giving us a conclusion in a future issue. This new story was lackluster and can't say I'm happy about Pablo Marcos drawing Vampi. From Jose Gonzalez to Pablo Marcos, how we've fallen... I read this issue of Vampi within the last week or two but I've already forgotten about pretty much everything in Like Father Like Son, which goes to show how memorable that story is. I too would have liked if we had an explanation for why things happened as they were in Transference. Ah well. I had guessed the initial twist of The Eternal Triangle, but not the horrific and disgusting ending twist of rape/incest that we got. John Donne and the Asteroid Pirates is the worst Warren story I can recall reading in a very long time and really comes off like something that should have been in 1984 instead. Only bright side to this horrible issue is the Esteban Maroto cover!

The biggest cliche with these giant animal stories like Snapper is that the end will reveal there are baby versions coming to wreak even more havoc in the future, and lo and behold we got it, although its mate also showing up I didn't guess. Sunset Farms wasn't that bad a story (although not a horror story at all). While I Nebres a strong artist, I feel his style really doesn't fit Warren at all and he's better suited for superhero comics. Pretty much the same way I feel about Pablo Marcos. Take Your Child Please and The Demon Hater were both considerably better stories both writing wise and fit-wise. Horror in a Highrise I thought was a great story, easily the best of the issue and Goodwin's best story so far since his return. The Clockmaker is one of the all time worst examples of Warren purchasing a story drawn overseas and then writing a new plot on top of it. This is so obviously The Tell Tale Heart, I don't get why they felt the need to write this new story on top of it instead of being faithful to it. Supposedly Jesus Blasco was a celebrated Spanish artist who makes his Warren debut here (albeit not in a story he was directly hired by Warren for), only for them to miscredit him, and that happened with every subsequent story of his too. Poor guy.

Quiddity99 said...

Two take aways from me for The Rook story. First, I gotta give Dubay credit, I'm very appreciative, this is the first time I can remember where a Rook story wasn't absurdly overwritten. Perhaps this was the case with the first part of the story from last time and I just didn't think of it then? Rook stories are often so hard to get through because the captions and dialogue go on and on forever (even worse than old EC stories written by Al Feldstein), but finally we had a story that relied on the visuals to carry the story to a bigger extent and I got through it relatively quickly. From the other end though, Elias is all over the place with how old he makes Cryssie look, to the level that I was wondering why the Rook was kissing a child, then had to go back and saw him illustrating her as an adult in other panels. Beyond that a great art job from him. I'm assuming The Open Sky is simply a prequel to the Moonshadow series with the character just being a lot younger this time? Overall pretty enjoyable story for me. After an absence of many years, Warren's most pretentious writer, Don McGregor is back. Alas. Although this story felt at least a little less preachy than usual for him and I liked the Gulacy art, even with the swipe. Credentials was a pretty good story, with an ending that totally caught me by surprise. The Horizon Seekers continues to go in a very strange direction. I don't think we're anywhere close to the end. All in all I found this to be a very strong issue of Eerie, quite the surprise!