Monday, September 14, 2020

The Warren Report Issue 42: April/May 1973

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

Eerie #47 (April 1973)

"Enter the Dead-Thing!"
Story by Bill DuBay
Art by Tom Sutton

Story by Nick Cuti
Art by Jaime Brocal

"Snake Man"
Story by Greg Potter
Art by Martin Salvador

"The Message is the Medium"★1/2
Story by Doug Moench
Art by Paul Neary

Story by Esteban Maroto & Marv Wolfman
Art by Esteban Maroto

"Enter the Dead-Thing"
As the ship sets sail on its trans-Atlantic voyage, Dracula has already put the bite on the old witch and now he adds the young prostitute to the ranks of the undead. The two vampires snack on the sailors as the weeks pass, until one night when the young vampire hooker is found by the sailors who are playing cards below decks. The captain takes her back to his cabin to have his way with her. Meanwhile, the old witch, who is blind, stumbles on the coffin of a rotting corpse that is alive.

Dracula wakes up and senses that his two fellow vampires are in danger. Up on deck, "Enter the Dead-Thing!" The rotting corpse shambles around, killing sailors and menacing the younger of the female vampires. Dracula intervenes and a sailor's torch accidentally sets the ship on fire. The vessel burns to a crisp, killing the walking corpse, but the three vampires fly off in bat form and reach Castle Dracula. It's not a great homecoming, though, when an old man in a chair blows away Drac with a shotgun.

As with last issue's story, Sutton's work is impressive, though this time DuBay struggles to know what to do with the narrative that has been set up. The shipboard horrors of the vampires are given short shrift and the Dead-Thing comes out of nowhere and is gone just as fast. What was it and why was it there? Your guess is as good as mine. The entire story seems like filler to get Dracula from point A to point B, but his supposed death at the end seems like a gimmick to get readers to clamor for next issue's follow up.

A manuscript discovered in mid-eighteenth century England in a tomb marked "Lilith" tells of the sister of the Biblical Eve. Adam preferred Eve to Lilith, who vowed to destroy Eve. Many centuries later, Adam and Eve are still worried about Lilith, who uses Eve to test Adam's pacifism. He passes the test but Satan turns Lilith into a vampire. Her long slumber is interrupted when the workmen discover her tomb, and she rises in order to drink human blood.

At nineteen pages, "Lilith" is inordinately long for a story in Eerie, especially one that is not part of a series or in the issue's lead slot. Jaime Brocal's lovely art makes it more enjoyable than it should be, and the long passage in Eden is hard to take. At least Cuti doesn't overwrite and it's easy and fairly quick to read. I do not really get how Adam and Eve are still around in the 1700s (I'm guessing at the century) or why Lilith is in a tomb and rises at the end to drink blood, but it's not awful.

Lost in a sandstorm, a Bedouin named Kari is saved from certain death when a cobra that is about to strike him is killed by a shot from the rifle of a man who calls himself Jerimiah. The two travel on together and Kari is shocked to see Jerimiah kill another cobra and eat the snake whole. Jerimiah is the "Snake Man," whose facial features and slithery tongue are very serpent-like and who subsists on eating cobras.

"Snake Man"
Jerimiah had been a collector of reptile skins who was cursed by the god Slikandi and forced to subsist on cobra snacks. He now heads for Slikandi's stone temple, where Kari helps him get past a giant snake guarding the entrance. Once inside, they meet the god, who agrees to set Jerimiah free. Jerimiah has met the three conditions set out for his release. Kari is shocked to learn that condition number three was to bring a human sacrifice for the god!

"Snake Man" is surprisingly good, both in art and story, though the ending is a letdown. Having Slikandi kill Kari just doesn't seem enough of a payoff after the way the story was set up. Still, it's an enjoyable read with a good balance of writing and art.

"The Message is the Medium"
After Abe murders his wife, June, he joins his girlfriend, Lorrie, for dinner. She insists on attending a seance at Madame Mortura's parlor, but the seance only serves to call forth the spirit of the late June. Abe freaks out and breaks the circle, so June's spirit disappears. He is so angry that he kills Madame Mortura, whose spirit drives Abe to make a run for it, right into the path of a speeding car.

This issue of Eerie was moving along pretty nicely until it ran smack dab into a Doug Moench story. "The Message is the Medium" is a hodgepodge of several of the worst elements of Warren mags of this period: a groovy murderer, an obvious story, and vague, dreamy art. Fortunately, it's only eight pages long.

Dax thinks he's all alone on the planet "Gemma-5" until he comes across a barbarian and a blonde battling a dinosaur. Dax kills the dinosaur and steals the blonde, who falls madly in love with him and makes his "insides stir." "Moon-flecked fantasies and star-lit dreams" consume the duo at night in a cave, as they share "the soft, warm throbbings of love" (I couldn't help quoting that part). The barbarians catch up with Dax and battle ensues. The blonde dives underwater and gets inside her interstellar ship--it turns out she was a scout from another planet who now will report back that this planet should not be invaded, since she secretly loves Dax.

I was going to write a much shorter summary along the lines of "more Dax nonsense," but Wolfman's purple prose was too good (or bad) to resist. Suffice it to say that the poor scribe had to rewrite whatever Maroto had written originally to accompany his pictures, and it can't have been easy to make sense of this.-Jack

"Snake Man"
Peter-I'm super happy to see a batch of new art from Tom Sutton, but is it asking too much for DuBay to explain what the dead thing on board was? Dracula wasn't really required much in this tale, was he?  "Lilith" is about ten pages too long and has a really dumb climax. Satan's a really powerful guy, but he has to rely on two dopes to stumble across the hidden papers? "Snake Man" is easily the best and most entertaining tale this issue. It's loony as hell but it's got an eccentric energy that I really enjoyed. And this could be the strip where Martin Salvador finally made a stab at greatness. That full-pager of the first meeting between Jeremiah and Kari is a stunner!

It would save me a lot of time to just keep a cut-and-paste of "Oh no, not another Doug Moench script!" on the go but, perfectionist that I am, I'm always perusing my thesaurus for different ways to say "crap" or "nonsense." "The Message is the Medium" is worth reading only for the delicious Munch-isms contained therein: "Two people have you now killed--and two spirits given birth to! Though determined enough to traverse the void of disbelief, your wife had not the control to sustain herself once the circle of remaining belief was broken..." Huh? Doug's lead characters always come off as smug, smart-ass hippies and Abe is no exception. I couldn't even figure out what was going on there in the climax. Paul Neary draws nice boobs, though. Same goes for Esteban Maroto, as we well know. What also is apparent is that Marv Wolfman, usually a very competent funny book scripter, has no idea what the hell is going on in those pretty pictures that were sent his way. Did I miss a chapter where Dax became a spaceman? What's with this "planet called Gemma-5" stuff? Is it a dimension he's been trapped in? Another dream-world? How come he doesn't need a space-suit? And why do the Gemma-5s look like cavemen? Nice boobs, though.

Vampirella #24 (May 1973) 

"Into the Inferno!" ★1/2
Story by Bill DuBay
Art by Jose Gonzalez

"Middle-Am!" ★1/2
Story by Steve Skeates
Art by Esteban Maroto

"Homo Superior" 
Story by Robert Rosen
Art by Ramon Torrents

"The Choice" 
Story by Doug Moench
Art by Rafael Auraleon

Story by Steve Skeates
Art by Felix Mas

"Into the Inferno!"
Sitting in a pub with his best friends, Pendragon suddenly starts feeling sorry for himself, muttering about his poor, lost Rosie, the wife who died years ago. He gets up and leaves the bar, with Vampi following quickly behind. At that moment, a car pulls up and four thugs hop out, grabbing Pendragon and shoving him in the back seat. Vampirella puts up a fight but one of the hoods clocks her with his machine gun. They toss the gorgeous Drakulonian in the back seat with her buddy and speed away.

When Vampi and Pendragon awake, they're in a cell and, very soon after, a man enters. He introduces himself as Richard Granville, Pendragon's son-in-law! He goes on to say that he's about to embark on a path of vengeance, a punishment of Pendragon for abandoning his family when they needed him most. In a flashback, we learn that Pen had enlisted in the Army and was accepted by the USO, leaving his wife, Rosie, and small daughter, Sara, alone to fend for themselves. Rosie got a job at an electronics plant, fell in love with her boss, Richard Pound, and divorced Pendragon. And as far as he was concerned, Rosie wanted him out of his life and he was only making her happy. Granville provides Flashback #2, an alternate history of Rosie and Sara, one in which Rosie does, indeed, marry Pound but the man then begins drinking and beating on her and Sara. One night, as he's laying into the little girl, Rosie pulls a knife and Pound pushes her out the two-story kitchen window.

"Into the Inferno!"
Sara then goes to live with young Richard Granville's family and, when Pound is released and comes looking for Sara, the elder Granville (a mafia Don!) has him killed. Flashback over, Granville has some startling news for Pendragon: Rosie is alive. And ta-da! Here she is, wheelchair-bound and extremely bitter! And, behind door number two, is the daughter who hates you so much! Sara and Rosie do everything but spit in Pendragon's face and tell him that what young Granville has planned is too good for the likes of him. Granville unveils his master scheme: he is going to hook Vampirella on pure cocaine and let Pendragon watch her deteriorate just like Granville and Sara have with Rosie. A matter of minutes later (I think), Vampirella approaches Pendragon with her fangs bared. High on pure snow, the vampiress has no synthetic blood, she's starving, and she's seeing bunny rabbits. Not a good combination.

"Into the Inferno!"
"Into the Inferno," the first of Bill DuBay's scripts for the Vampi strip, is a little too full of flashbacks and coincidences. Let's see. Pendragon just happens to be pining for his long-dead Rosie when, whattaya know, Rosie's son-in-law's thugs arrive to kidnap him. And how do these comic book thugs always know where to find their targets? The fact that Rosie and Sara are hungry for revenge against a guy whose wife (Rosie) was cheating on him while he was off to war is a little noggin-scratching, no? Since young Granville was there for the entire soap opera, I would have thought he'd have looked at hate-filled Sara and said, "Hang on, sweetheart, this guy might be the victim here!"

Still, it is kind of a nice respite from the ten or twelve different satanic cults that roam these here pages, and I'm kinda looking forward to the conclusion, where we see Vampi wearing a bat-shaped coke spoon around her neck, white powder residue all down the front of her outfit.

In some kind of future, a young man with a sword tries to cross "Middle-Am!" and is arrested and hanged for his troubles. There's a deep hidden message here but it's actually screamed out loud at several hundred decibels. "If you're different, you will pay." "If you question religion, you will pay." "If you waste your time reading all six pages, you will pay." To be fair, you should know what you're getting into, reading a Steve Skeates script entitled "Middle-Am!" I can only imagine the reason this was written was so that we, as the reader, would gasp and exclaim, "That Skeates is a poet!" Can we just see more Tom Sutton, please?

"Homo Superior" is a padded, meandering mess, a science fiction take on the "And Then There Were None" formula. At the monthly Big Brains social meeting at the Werner Research Institute, Dr. Horner announces that, according to his carbon dating experiments, one of the five scientists present is a "Homo Superior," a superman who is actually nearly 5000 years old. As the other scientists scoff (and die), the creature pops up now and then to ensure we know he actually exists. In the end, it's the guy we least expected but may not have stayed awake to see the results. This is an overlong dirge with some really bad dialogue and a whole lot of confusing plot detours. The Torrents art is all right but Ramon sure isn't challenged by a story that requires him to draw panel after panel of old talking heads.

Auraleon was obviously drawing inspiration
from the latest Famous Monsters.
Damien is cursed as a werewolf but, thankfully, he has an understanding wife in Lissa, who locks him up during the full moon and brings him rabbits to munch on. Alas, Damien soon discovers that Lissa is actually in love with their servant, the mysterious Karl. Who is Damien to rain on the couple's parade? How can he give his wife the love she obviously needs? That heartfelt emotion and unselfishness lasts for about three panels and, once the full moon rises and Damien becomes the wolfman, he breaks out of his cell to kill Lissa and Karl. What he witnesses changes everything. Karl is actually a vampire and he's bitten Lissa, transforming her into a vampiress. When Karl goes out to hunt, Damien burns Lissa alive to free her of her curse. As he looks into the fire, Damien struggles with "The Choice": should he free himself of his curse by leaping into the flames or stalk Karl and rid the world of another vampire? The final panel is a strong one, Damien's inner quandary is a good way to end the story. The rest of it is a bit padded (and Auraleon is probably not a good choice to draw werewolves); we don't really have to have repeated scenes of Damien, locked in his cell, musing about the wonderful wife he has. And, thankfully, My Man Moench doesn't disappoint. The adjectives flow freely like the Thunderbird wine at a Warren Awards banquet. I cursed those horrible giggling fates... Should I seek out the vampire Karl and slay him, and therefore suffer myself as a beast of prey? 

We need some "Changes"
Ted arrives home from work to discover someone has buried a "meat cleaver" (actually, it looks more like a steak knife) in his wife's head. But, since this is the future, Ted simply has to bring his wife's body down to the Operations Complex and they'll bring her back to life, with some alterations Ted insisted on (bigger breasts, etc.). Then, after his wife is up and running again, Ted gets to deliver "retribution" to the guilty party. Steve Skeates, obviously not having delivered enough messages in "Middle-Am," shows us how disposable life is in "Changes." Why, even Ted's kids can't be bothered by Mom's corpse. If Steve wrote this in 2020, I assume the two brats would be sitting in the living room with their mom's body, playing Minecraft. But then, I'm not even sure if the kids are real. Is the wife an android? My head hurts and I hate this crap. Is my subtle message getting through?-Peter

Jack-Peter, as I diligently perused the verbose stylings of the awe-inspiring Doug Moench, I could not help but scratch my noggin and wonder to myself what my esteemed collaborator would think of this story. There. See? Anyone can write like Doug! I love Auraleon's art but his swipes of old movie stills of Henry Hull and Lon Chaney Jr. were no substitute for good story telling. The two Skeates stories are terrible: "Middle-Am!" is filled with heavy-handed symbolism and "Changes" is a waste of space with a befuddling finish. What's the point of having Maroto draw a story ("Middle-Am!") with no girls?

I kind of liked "Homo Superior" for its mystery aspects, but I admit I lost track of who was who partway through and by the end I wasn't clear what the bad guy's role was. I think the art is not bad. Finally, the Vampi lead story is fun, since I really like Pendragon and am happy to get some back story on him. It's an odd tale for the series, though, since there's not much Vampirella, little horror, etc. I do like the cliffhanger, though.

From Vampirella 24

From Vampirella 24

Creepy #53 (May 1973)

"A Scream in the Forest" 
Story by Greg Potter
Art by Esteban Maroto

"The Stone of Power" ★1/2
Story by Steve Skeates
Art by Ramon Torrents

"Freedom's Just Another Word" 
Story by Bill DuBay
Art by Adolfo Abellan

"The Creature of Loch Ness!" 
Story by Doug Moench
Art by Jose Bea

"The Night the Creatures Attacked" 
Story by Fred Ott
Art by Rafael Auraleon

"It" ★1/2
Story and Art by Tom Sutton

"A Scream in the Forest"
Every time there is “A Scream in the Forest,” Ussel and his fellow elves know that the faeries are hunting again. The preferred delicacy for a faerie is a bosomy naked chick, but any human meat will do if push comes to shove. And so Ussel finds himself walking through the forest one night when he is attacked by a monstrous faerie. The creature is about to sink its fangs into Ussel when a sword-carrying savior named Arn of Whitlock seemingly falls from the sky to cleave the thing in two.

Thankful, Ussel agrees to put up Arn for the night and the two discuss the state of faeries. Ussel insists that Arn is just the man to wipe out the gang of elf-eaters hidden in the forest, but Arn dismisses that notion with a cackle. Just then, a blood-curdling scream emanates from the forest and Arn is convinced. He will slay the monsters. The next day Ussel and Arn are off, tracking the faeries across the forest and into their mountain-top cave. Once they enter, Arn coldcocks Ussel and hands him over to the faeries, who pay Arn handsomely with diamonds and send him on his way. Arn will be back with another sacrifice soon.

It’s nice to finally get a readable script to pair with Maroto’s luscious art. His beasties are pretty cool, as are his landscapes (just check out the detail in the panels of Arn and Ussel atop the huge tree-bridge that leads to the cavern), though I must complain about the severe lack of nude female sacrifices. The twist is a good one; any twist is good if you don’t see it coming, I suppose.

"The Stone of Power"
A little boy finds a “powerstone” under a house while he’s playing and takes it home to stash with his other souvenirs. A few days later, while he’s fishing, he watches in horror as his house collapses around his mother and an old witch rises from the wreckage, holding “The Stone of Power” and flying away before the boy can even utter a breath. His mother’s body is never found.

Twelve years later, that boy has grown into a man and meets a woman dabbling in black magic, who claims an old woman she knows might be the witch. Together, the two go to the old woman’s house, where they find the power stone and attempt to flee when the witch appears. Sensing the power within the rock, the young man uses it to unleash a powerful ray that cuts the witch in half. Our hero has attained his revenge. But, hold on a second… as he gazes at the dead witch, it occurs to him the woman is actually his mother! Now, the power of the stone courses through his veins.

Another half-baked Steve Skeates script, with lots of confusing and confounding turns and inexplicable twists. Once you get to the climax, the setup makes no sense at all. If the old crone was actually his mother, why did she fake her death and head off to another town to take on another identity? And what a whale of a coincidence that this guy (who is never given a name) is able to latch onto this woman (that relationship is never explained either) who’s been “tutored” by a witch who obviously wants to keep a low profile but, perhaps, wants to earn a living teaching black magic! And what about that deliberately hazy climax? Man, this is supremely dopey. The Torrents art is not bad, though.

Just after the end of the Civil War, the Turners move into the all-white town of Piper’s Bluff, a group of people who might not have known the Civil War was being fought. Immediately, the townsfolk begin harassing the peaceful Turners, who build their home just outside town; all except kind-hearted Rosie, who becomes a friend of the Turners before very long.

Unfortunately, the loudest bigot voice calling out in Piper’s Bluff belongs to Ward, Rosie’s Pa, a very powerful man in town. Once Ward discovers Rosie is keeping time with the Turners, he organizes a campaign of hate and violence, insisting to anyone who will listen that the Turners are witches, culminating in the murder of the entire family at the Turners’ home. Only Gramma Turner, paralyzed and wheelchair-ridden, is left alive. A big mistake, as Rosie, who has witnessed the entire massacre, watches as Gramma speaks one word and every murderer is struck by lightning.

"Freedom's Just Another Word"
I’ve got mixed feelings about “Freedom’s Just Another Word,” Bill DuBay’s powerful condemnation of racism. DuBay doesn’t resort to the type of preaching or pandering found in Moench or McGregor’s work (it fits in comfortably with the type of anti-racism horror story that filled the pages of EC’s landmark Shock Suspenstories in the '50s); the writer liberally sprinkles his dialogue with the N-word but he uses it in a negative way (spoken by stupid and heartless rednecks… some things don’t change, do they?) rather than showing off. I get the feeling Bill wants to tell a story rather than change the world. As for the subplot of witchery, well, that’s pretty silly. If Gramma was a powerful witch who could strike men dead, why didn’t she do it before her entire family was slain? Nice twist in the end, though, when it’s revealed that Rosie is simply a friend of Charles, rather than a lover. I was also suspecting Rosie was the witch, since Gramma seemed a little too obvious. I’m sorry but I am not warming up to Abellan’s art; the action going on between the panel borders is almost indecipherable, folks. It's an ugly, scratchy mess.

"The Creature of Loch Ness!"
Scott Curtis is determined to prove to the world that “The Creature of Loch Ness!” really exists. Scott decides the best way to deliver the message is to talk Professor Simon Stambolis, a known debunker of Nessie and a Tom Petty look-alike, into accompanying him to the Loch for photographic evidence. Stambolis is, at first, skeptical of the trip but finally agrees, since he’s sure nothing consequential will materialize. They check in to a hotel on the Loch and immediately begin to stake out the water. Several times, Scott thinks he sees something but, alas, it always turns out to be something innocent like a log or a floating beer keg.

On the final night of their stay, Scott insists that they take a small boat out to one of the more remote parts of the lake. Very soon, a long neck comes out of the fog and Stambolis is forced to agree that, yep, there is a monster. Scott snaps a roll of film and, happy with life, heads the boat back to shore. The next morning, they catch a plane back to America and the hotel manager rows his little boat out to where he left his inflatable Nessie. While letting the air out, the man is eaten by the real Nessie. Back in America, the Professor gloats that the photos plainly show an inflation plug on the monster. There is no such thing as the Loch Ness monster! A fun little romp, accompanied by some great Bea graphics. Stambolis’s constant “Harumph”s and “Poppycock”s are hilarious, as is the fact that two grown men were suckered by a K-Mart swim toy.

“The Night the Creatures Attacked” is an oddity, a two-page vignette purporting to be a true story. These things were usually placed on the inside front and back cover but, for some inexplicable reason, this one was deemed so important that it was given the royal treatment. Little green men “terrorize” a small backwoods town and bullets are useless. I would have skipped this one but for my sense of duty.

The corpse of Timothy Foley rises from its grave and shambles across the countryside, inadvertently leaving a trail of mayhem and fresh corpses behind it. Timothy’s looking for something very important to him but the long and arduous journey is fruitful. He arrives at his old home, now shuttered and awaiting sale, to find his favorite teddy bear. Timothy shambles back to his grave and rests forever.

Like a lot of Tom Sutton’s lunacies, “It!” is actually better off not synopsized and if we could get away with it, I’d just as soon run the whole story rather than my sentences. Not all of it holds together (needlessly complicated in its explanation of why Timothy is actually in the grave) but “It!” is a visual delight. Sutton again plays with the standard number of panels and delivers a whole lot of text around the teensy-weensy illustrations. The first death, wherein a man who’s murdered his wife and is at lover’s lane with his new squeeze, is hilarious. The guy is convinced that Timothy is his dead wife, Martha, and his bimbo girlfriend accidentally hits the gear shift and sends them tumbling over a cliff. Seriously, was there anyone else associated with Warren (or horror comics in general) that was as equal parts talented and loony as Sutton? Nope. An absolutely top-tier issue of Creepy.-Peter

Jack-A top-tier issue includes two stories that rate one and a half stars each? (when the other four are three-stars plus? Yep!-Persnickety Pete) I agree that "It" is a great story, though. It's the best Warren tale I've read in some time, four stars all the way. Finally, we get some real horror--not sword and sorcery, or science fiction, or whatever Maroto does half the time. There's even a light touch with the teddy bear. I love the way Sutton designs the first three pages with sixteen panels each before getting creative with the panel layouts on subsequent pages. He absolutely nailed this one and I can't imagine why they stuck it in the back of the mag after all the ads.

"A Scream in the Forest" demonstrates that Maroto is better when someone else does the writing. I'm tired of reading stories about long-haired warriors with swords, but the ending was a surprise. "Freedom's Just Another Word" is a brutal, cruel story that works powerfully until DuBay drops the ball at the goal line (often a problem with Warren stories). Abellan's art looks unfinished but is intriguing enough that I wish it had been cleaned up. The witch's vengeance needs to be more prolonged to equal the horrors that are visited upon the Black family.

"The Creature of Loch Ness!" has a similarly disappointing ending, though it's pretty good up to that point. The art is technically good in "The Stone of Power" but Skeates's writing is, as usual, terrible, and the end is a mess. "The Night the Creatures Attacked' barely qualifies as a story.


Last week, in our comments section (which was unusually active), writer Jim Stenstrum dropped the bombshell that Felix Mas was not the first artist assigned to "Won't Eddie Ever Learn" (from Vampirella #23) and that art for the story was actually completed by another artist. Here, for the first time before a live audience, we present that original art. Jim does not know the name of the artist but hopes someone with a keen eye (we have several of those keen eyes out there) can identify this mystery illustrator. Join me in thanking Jim for sharing this!

Next Week...
Michael Fleisher!!!


Anonymous said...

Well, I’ll be ...

I think that’s Jordi Bernet on the unpublished “Won’t Eddie Ever Learn”. And it looks GREAT. Why in the world was it not accepted?

More later.

- b.t.

Quiddity said...

The Dracula story is quite over the top with its twists and turns, I'd agree with your take that Dubay probably wrote it with the end in mind and just threw stuff in there to get them where he wanted to. "Lilith" has really strong art by Jaime Brocal that I enjoyed, but holy crap, that story did not need to be that long, especially with the rather "eh" twist ending to it. "Snake Man" was a bit better than I was expecting it to be. "Gemma 5" was really on another planet? I must have missed that part. I did remember the twist about the woman being an alien. I could have sworn the story revealed that Dax impregnated her too, but perhaps that was from the rewritten version in the all Dax reprint issue they put out in a few years.

Steve Englehart's short lived run as Vampirella writer comes to an end. Supposedly he had written a story with this title, but it got lost in the mail and he didn't have a backup copy so editor Dubay had to throw this story together last minute and Englehart never writes a Vampirella story again. Dubay seems intent to pull an Archie Goodwin and start building up a mythology for the strip's supporting characters, Pendragon in particular this time. That his wife and daughter are so angry at him when its his wife who left him (and as seen in this and past stories he still loves her) seems quite ridiculous. I get that Skeates is alluding to real life stuff, but "Middle-Am" has always been a rather pointless story to me. Much like with "Lilith", "Homo Superior" is an okay story but one that they gave way too many pages to. "The Choice" I liked a lot, my favorite story of the issue. I agree that werewolves are not Auraleon's strong suit though. This story reads a lot like a Skywald story to me. If "The Killer" from last time didn't have enough knives sticking out of women for you, "Changes" goes even further, sticking them in people's heads this time. Really over the top stuff.

Quiddity said...


"A Scream in the Forest" is quite the highlight, one of my favorite Warren stories from this era. Maroto pulls off such an amazing art job, especially with the Faeries and the landscapes, and it has a great twist ending too. Arn in a way comes off like an evil/selfish version of Dax. Great art, but iffy story on "The Stone of Power". I'm a lot more down on "Freedom's Just Another Word" than you; I think its Bill Dubay's attempt to do an EC Shock SuspenStories type message story that he just totally flops on. Most notably, the racists get all riled up over claims that the Turners are witches, and then in the end it is proved that's what they are (at least the grandmother). The racists get killed as they should, but that twist ends up totally undercutting the entire story. I feel that Dubay's approach at doing a story analyzing the wrongs of racism is to go really over the top with it; this is a story that I am always very uncomfortable reading, not only due to the brutal violence in it, but the constant racial slurs (which if I remember correctly EC would censor when it did these types of stories, no such thing here). Dubay would later write more stories on this topic in 1984 where he goes even more over the top which are just horrifying and disgusting stories where it is clear that he just does not know how to tell these types of stories at all. Dubay essentially pats himself on the back for this story (it is rewarded with the best story of the year for Warren's own internal awards), but it is one that totally misses the mark in my eyes. Abellan's art is also exceedingly ugly here. I believe that "The Nights the Creatures Attacked" is based on a real life incident (well, an incident that was reported in real life at least). "It" is a whole lot of fun and more Tom Sutton greatness. Warren will eventually resurrect "It" to be a recurring series, although my recollection is they rewrite the backstory and we get a mixture of Enrique Badia Romero and Jose Gual doing the artwork instead of Sutton (both strong artists, Sutton's just better).

Wow, I knew that Felix Mas was not the original artist of that story, but I never knew art for the entire story had been completed! I'm shocked that Warren let a fully completed 10 page story of art go to waste like that. I agree with b.t., that looks like Jordi Benet to me. He never was a regular Warren artist, but they would reprint a few stories from his "Torpedo" series towards the very end of Warren's life.

Anonymous said...

Ah. I see Mr. Stenstrum explains the history of the unpublished version in his reply from 2 weeks ago. I think I’d stopped replying in that thread for a day or two before he popped by.

My I.D.- ing of Bernet as the artist is something of a “Best Guess”, based on the only two Bernet jobs of a similar vintage that I’ve seen — “Revenge of the Unliving” from VAMPIRE TALES #1 and one of his “Andrax” stories reprinted in Seaboard’s THE BARBARIANS #1. Both of those have that same rough-hewn “Caniff School” look, but pound-for-pound, I think “Eddie” is even better.

Shame that circumstances kept it out of the limelight all those years ago. One wonders if the trajectory of Bernet’s career might have taken a different turn if it had been published at the time. Oh sure, it’s not up there with “What If The Nazis Won WWII” or “What If JFK Wasn’t Kilt In Dallas” or “What If Spider-Man Joined the Fantastic Four” , but still...

And I’m sure he’s fine with how it turned out, being an a International Comics Superstar and all. Anyhow, it’s awesome to see this “Road Not Taken”. Thanks, J.S. !

- b.t.

andydecker said...

When I read the Dracula story in Eerie I couldn't help thinking how much better and clearer Marvel's "Dracula Lives" did tell such stories. The whole plot doesn't make sense. Dracula puts two newly born vampires on the ship as travel companions and never wastes a thought on the possibility that they may kill the whole crew before they arrive? Then he goes to sleep a few weeks? The Sutton art has its moments, though. It is kind of fun that the sailors look only one step removed from the dead-thing.

After reading seemingly countless Vertigo comics in which mythology got told and endlessly re-worked it is hard to care about "Lilith". Too long and the second part is just nonsense. All the weak points have already been said. But the art is nice and I laughed out loud when I saw the feathers flying when Satan and Gabriel did their wrestling. Great idea.

"Snake-Man" is the best story, even if the end is underwhelming. As a die-hard Moench fan even I have to confess that his Warren output at this time is just bad. But Neary draws indeed nice boobs.

Wonderful splash-page for Vampirella, but the story is too long and too much soap opera. I always marvel about those stories of yore with writer's having no copy of their work and loosing scripts all the time. Really? For the rest of Vampirella a big shrug. But I have to confess that I liked "Changes" a bit more than you guys. The bored indifference of all concerned was quite funny.

A big thanks to Jim for sharing this. I like this version much more. My vote also goes for Bernet.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, the Dracula story doesn’t really make much sense, but as a Delivery System for some tasty Tom Sutton art, it works just fine. Odd that the bottom half of that one page is drawn by someone else (looks like Rich Buckler with Dubay inks to me).

“Gemma-5” — guess I’d never actually bothered to read Marv’s version of the Dax story — I had no idea it was supposed to take place on another planet, either! I wonder if Marv (and the other scripters of the Dax stories) worked from a rough translation of the original “Manly” story, and things got garbled or something. Otherwise, it seems like a VERY strange creative choice to make, an unnecessary (and confusing) complication. If the “punchline” of the story is that the sparkly Daxmate Of The Month is an actual extra-terrestrial being, doesn’t it under-cut the surprise by having the entire story take place on an alien world to begin with?

I compared this version to “Starlight”, the Budd Lewis re-write in the mighty EERIE #59 (because OCD) and that one clearly takes place on Earth, which smooths out a few of the awkward bumps in the road, including the Space-Girl’s report to her superiors in the final panel. And Quiddity: nope, there’s no hint that she’s carrying Dax’s baby. Possibly you’re conflating this story with “The Paradise Tree”, wherein the Dark Gods INTEND for Dax to impregnate Ichidna, the Mother of Monsters. Maybe?

I’ll have some thoughts on “IT!” by the amazing Tom Sutton later...

- b.t.

Grant said...

I mention it a lot, but Eerie # 59 reprints most of the Dax stories and also retitles and rewrites a lot of them, and in that version, "Gemma One" is set on earth itself. Though from what I now know from the comments here about the Dax stories, maybe that's how it was originally when Maroto wrote it.