Monday, March 14, 2022

The Warren Report Issue 80: November/December 1976 + The Best of 1975-76


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

Eerie #79

"Time and Time Again"
Story by Bruce Jones
Art by Rich Corben

"The Pea-Green Boat"★1/2
Story by Budd Lewis
Art by Leopold Sanchez

"The Price!"★1/2
Story and Art by Jim Starlin

"Third Person Singular"
Story by Bruce Jones
Art by Luis Bermejo

"Sam's Son and Delilah!"
Story by Bruce Jones
Art by Carmine Infantino & Al Milgrom

Karen has been depressed since Jeff died, and when Mr. Weems from Federation Research asks her to transport herself back to the Cretaceous Age once again to retrieve a pistol that was dropped, she agrees. Back in time she goes, using transcendental meditation, but this time she has an agenda. She quickly finds and retrieves the pistol but also insists on killing the T-Rex that ate her lover. She manages to avoid being killed and blows away the dino with a rocket launcher, but to her surprise she meets Jeff and herself. It seems there was a miscalculation and she was sent back to a time before Jeff died. Since his body was buried in the present, she realizes that she has to kill him in the past, but her doppelganger jumps her and stays her hand. Spirit and body are reunited in the present, but when Karen gets off the table it is Jeff's soul that now inhabits her form--he was transported back to 1976 instead of Karen.

"Time and Time Again" is an odd sequel to "Within You... Without You" from two issues ago. This story sort of makes sense if you don't think about it too much. Corben again takes the opportunity to draw Karen in the nude for a couple of pages, for no good reason--not that we're complaining. The story has that wonky Corben feel, with unusual poses and faces that don't always look very good. The ending makes me wonder if there's more to come.

Eric Plusenkat answers an ad placed by J.A. Greene, who has been looking for someone to invest in his sailboat and share in an adventure. Greene, nicknamed "Owl," is a Vietnam vet who hates society and wants to escape to sea. Plusenkat, nicknamed "Pussycat," is a civilized businessman. They plan to set off in "The Pea-Green Boat" together, but Owl takes things too far when he lines the boat with metal and packs it with heavy artillery. One day, nuclear war breaks out and Owl sets sail just as hordes of people are rushing to the coast to escape the holocaust. Pussycat joins his friend and Owl machine-guns the poor unfortunates who want a ride. After ten days at sea, the radiation is down to a manageable level and the unlikely duo sail off to look for what remains of civilization.

Classic Budd Lewis, and awful. This story really offended me. Thank goodness for the decent art by Sanchez. I fear this is the sort of pretentious junk that will win a Warren Award, if they still give them out. The panels where Owl shoots or bludgeons the people who are trying to escape the nuclear holocaust are offensive, as is his character as a whole. I can't imagine many people liked this story, but perhaps I'm wrong.

Darklon thinks back to "The Price!" he had to pay to become the wizard he is today. His father was the warrior-king of Nebularia; Darklon was his opposite in every way. When his father was overpowered by a rebel attack, Darklon fled and sought help from the Nameless One, promising to give him everything in exchange for the power to kill his enemies. The Nameless One had Darklon murdered as step one in his rebirth as a powerful wizard.

Starlin's story doesn't seem terribly original, yet his artistic presentation of the events rarely fails to bring excitement to the pages. Darklon's costume is clearly influenced by Ditko, there is a Warlock/Thanos feeling to the larger characters, and on every page or two there is a large panel that stands out. The Darklon saga is more dark fantasy than horror, but it seems just weird and gruesome enough to fit in the pages of Eerie, and it's certainly better than many of the continuing series we've been forced to read.

Rick and Lee meet up at Skip Wilson's club for gay men and share a dance before leaving to go to Rick's apartment to look at pictures of naked women. It seems Rick and Lee are closet heterosexuals in a world where homosexuality is the norm and heterosexuality is outlawed. That Saturday night, they walk to meet Lee's contact and are attacked on the street by hooded, caped figures called Snuffers. Lee and Rick fight them off but realize that their secret must be out. They visit a club for heterosexuals, where they watch some vintage porn films. Rick speaks to Dr. Otis, a scientist, who explains that women are occasionally born, but they have limited brain capacity. Two Snuffers break in and kill Dr. Otis, but Rick manages to fight them off and survive. He pulls back the hood of one and discovers that it's a woman!

Bruce Jones tries to outdo Budd Lewis for the title of most pretentious writer in this issue of Eerie. The title of "Third Person Singular" comes from one of the speeches Dr. Otis gives, where he tells Rick that "We're the real freaks, Rick... you and I. Our kind makes up a third person... singularly alone in this chaotic society." I'm not sure what this means, but it doesn't matter--the story is embarrassing when read today. Was it any less so in 1976?

Lt. Wiggins investigates what caused the destruction of a football stadium in Brookridge and interviews Mrs. Radley, whose son Bubber was a deaf mute who displayed a talent for art from an early age. Bubber's boorish father only began to warm to the boy when he demonstrated an aptitude for football; Bubber grew to become a high school football star, though he always preferred drawing. At his father's insistence, he played college and then pro football, but when Bubber escaped to Greenwich Village, his father tracked him down and convinced his girlfriend to talk him into returning to Brookridge to play in the big game.

The city fathers built a huge stadium in Buber's honor, but the young man lost his cool and attacked the other players in the middle of the big game. His bizarre behavior was the result of a brain tumor that his father knew about but covered up because it would interfere with football. The tumor caused Bubber to go blind. His mother plotted revenge, using chemicals to weaken the stadium's support beams and then convincing Bubber to use his strength to push the beams apart, leading to the stadium's collapse.

"Sam's Son and Delilah!" is long, at 14 pages, and the Infantino/Milgrom art isn't the smoothest. Jones works hard to try to relate the Biblical story of Samson to poor Bubber's fate, having the boy go blind and bring down the temple, but it seems forced and unnecessary. I think the story might have worked better without shoehorning in the Biblical parallels. The stories by Bruce Jones in this issue are not impressive--the first one only rates three stars because of Corben's art. Hopefully, his work will improve.-Jack

Just because
As far as sequels go, Bruce Jones finds a fabulous "loophole" as a reason to bring the "Within You..." cast back to the pages of Eerie. That's a hilarious climactic panel. We'll have to wait until issue #87 for the third (and final) chapter. "Time and Time Again" was the best of five stories written for the Warren zines this month by Bruce Jones. The rest of his contributions are bin-liner material. That includes the gawdawful "Third Person Singular" (darn that Jack, stealing my thunder by using the P word to describe this uber-"I'm going to change the world with my writing" script), an oh-so-clever reversal of morals and prejudices. "Sam's Son and Delilah" stays away from Pretension but bathes itself in absurdity. It's also way too long. Proof that even the best horror funny book writer of the 1970s and 80s could have an off month.

And, Jack, for the first time in at least three paragraphs I disagree with you on a story. As clumsy as the initial installment may be, I look forward to the second chapter of "The Pea Green Boat" (there will be four chapters in the end), but then I'm a sucker for apocal-epics. Stories like this make me nostalgic for the 1970s, when nuclear fallout was only dangerous for ten days! The Darklon saga is a dazzling one, if in graphics only. The plot is just so much generic Dr. Strange-ish gobbledygook, but Starlin's art makes you forget he wrote text to go with the pitchers. 

Ken Kelly was responsible for two really good sports-themed covers this month, this one spotlighting Raiders legendary QB, Ken "Snake" Stabler, who guided his team to a Super Bowl XI victory just months after Eerie #79 hit the stands.

Creepy #84

"Hitter's Wind!" ★★★
Story by Roger McKenzie
Art by Carmine Infantino & Walt Simonson

"The Mummy's Victory" ★★★1/2
Story by Roger McKenzie
Art by Rich Corben

"Till Hell Freezes Over!" ★★1/2
Story by Steve Englehart
Art by Carmine Infantino & Dick Giordano

"Home Stretch" ★★
Story by Roger McKenzie
Art by Leopold Sanchez

"Menace, Anyone...?" ★★1/2
Story by David Michelinie
Art by Carmine Infantino & Al Milgrom

"Relic" ★★
Story by Roger McKenzie 
Art by Carmine Infantino & John Severin

Legend has it that Willie Mountain sold his soul to get the Memphis Bearcats their pennant and, to this day, his ghost scampers around Evers Field. Now, looking back, the man who had been Willie's bat boy tends to agree with the rumors. He watched Willie put the Bearcats on his shoulders and take them from nothing to the number one Negro League team and on to the Championship Series. But all the while, there was something odd about Willie. Like when he talked to no one in particular and wore a worried look on his face.

Then, when the Bearcats took the Gators to game seven, Willie swung his bat and knocked in the winning run. But he never made it past first, falling flat and dying in the boy's arms. The devil had taken Willie. "Hitter's Wind!" is a great intro to this first (official) themed issue (well, I don't count the Christmas issues), a reminder of when baseball players hit the field for the love of the game rather than for the multi-million dollar contracts (one could argue that, even by 1976, that was still the driving force that pushed athletes). That innocence almost lifts itself off the page, thanks to the wondrous Infantino/Simonson art. As hard as I try, I don't see much Simonson in there (unlike last issue's Infantino/Wrightson collab). One could argue that writer Roger McKenzie could have held back a bit on the "Folks say Willie sold his soul" nudges and surprised us at the climax, but it doesn't ruin the fun.

Cloverton football fans are having a great time at the game, thanks to their star running back, Mike Brant, who's edging them toward their first winning season ever. Alas, Mike is hurt and sent to the locker room to recuperate. Meanwhile, across town in the Cloverton Museum of Natural History, the cheers from the stadium interrupt the centuries-long slumber of a mummy, Rah the Conqueror. 

Believing the "Rah"s to be a summoning, the bandaged beastie heads out of the museum for the stadium. Finding Mike Brant (who faints at the sight of the mummy) alone in the locker room, Rah dons the "armor of a warrior" and heads out onto the field. Astonished that Mike is back on the field, the fans roar as the mummy is given the ball and scores the winning touchdown. Later, no one believes Mike's story of a living mummy, and the football in Rah's tomb is explained away as a prank. 

A follow-up to Corben's "Terror Tomb" (in Creepy #61), which uses a different mummy for some reason (perhaps Khartuka wanted too much dough for the extra stunt work?) but retains the high-guffaw factor. "The Mummy's Victory" is just the right length for this sort of thing (five pages) and doesn't outstay its welcome. The damn thing should be in color, though.

The hockey game down at the Sportspalace becomes bedlam when Razorbacks star Drago ("I must break you!") inadvertently (but on purpose) kills one of the players on the other team. The dead guy's squeeze jumps onto the ice, pulls a gun, and lets fly a round that ends up in the scoreboard. No big deal, right? Well, it would be fine if the arena owners hadn't stashed all the electrical equipment in the scoreboard. Now, the palace doors are mechanically shut and the temperature is diving by the minute.

Drago tries to keep the fans busy in order to keep the blood circulating, but it's only a matter of time before the crowd becomes unruly and charges the ice. They're out for Drago's blood. He and the rest of the Razors hoof it into the locker room and bar the door. Within hours, all his teammates are dead, frozen solid. He opens the door and sees the bizarre scene before him: a frozen sea of people. Determined not to die, Drago begins skating around the rink. But hours later, when a crew finally dynamites the door and discovers the horror inside, they find Drago frozen in mid-pirouette, his would-be female assassin attached to his leg.

Steve Englehart is my favorite superhero funny book writer of all time. For my money, no one wrote better comics in the 1970s. But let's call "Till Hell Freezes Over!" what it is: an illogical and downright dumb entry in the Towering Inferno/Poseidon Adventure disaster flick sweepstakes. For all its faults (see below) and dicey art (let's get Pablo back in here to ink Carmine, quick), I still thought the story was a boatload of fun.

Hilarious that the Sportspalace owners went to such extremes to make sure no acts of terrorism would bring their house down but didn't think to install metal detectors. And that gal should have taken some lessons if she's going to use a pistol; she's standing right in front of Drago and yet manages to shoot the lights out instead. And why would she bring a gun to a hockey game in the first place? Obviously, the Warren Publishing proofreader was moonlighting at Razorbacks games (see "Vistors" on the scoreboard). Nine thousand fans turning up to a hockey game on a night where it's 27 below outside is a huge success, I'd say. Oh, and hockey is the worst of the four major sports. There, I said it.

Hunchbacked Maurice is the only human being who can tame and ride purebred Renegade. Since his owner, Pepperine, bought the horse for racing, that presents a problem. No jockey, no race. No race, no money. Pepperine decides to pay jockey/thug Keller to do away with his problem. Keller sets the barn on fire with Maurice inside, and hunchback and nag are both burned to death. A few nights later, it’s time for Pepperine to pay off Keller, but both have the double-cross on their mind. Keller puts a bullet in his boss’s brain but gets the big surprise when the fiery Maurice, mounted on an equally blazing Renegade, arrives to trample him. The End.

Since we’re privy to the big “shock surprise ending” from the get-go (thanks to a narrator who’s telling his story to a cop, who seems to know a whole lot more detail than he should), the climax of "Home Stretch" arrives with a large thud. There’s not one new twist to a time-worn plot. Has anyone out there ever seen a living, breathing hunchback? I don’t mean to be heartless, but there seems to be a large population of hunchbacks in the four-color world and I’ve never met one in “real life.”

American tennis star Edgar Enge becomes the first Black man to advance to the semi-finals in the South African Open, but the powers-that-be in the government think it unwise to allow Enge to become an icon for the oppressed. 

When Edgar turns down the Governor's bribe to throw the match, he's murdered and dumped on the side of the road. But Edgar has a friend, M'Salla, who dabbles in black magic and, to the Governor's surprise, Edgar turns up for his match the next day. Enge defeats his opponent and wins the tournament, elevating the spirits of the people of South Africa. The victory is short and bittersweet for Enge when he discovers that M'Salla has sacrificed his life so that the tennis star could live.

In the hands of Moench or McGregor, "Menace, Anyone...?" would be preachy to excess but, thanks to a lighter touch, the story emerges as a thought-provoking and tragic supernatural tale. David Michelinie, who would blossom into a very good writer for Marvel in the following decade, wisely foregoes the usual revenge scene (the governor is not robbed of his guts to craft the winning tennis racket) and, instead, focuses on M'Salla's sacrifice for the people. Pity Michelinie turned to Forry Ackerman for a title.

Coach Grady Foxx is the last human left in the future baseball league, where androids have taken over and the game has gotten a lot more violent. Grady's assistant manager, Jackie-7, was the first robot to play the game, and became the greatest player of all time. Now, years later, both are "Relics." But Jackie-7 decides to go out with a bang in one last at-bat. I like the Infantino/Severin art, but the story is obviously lifted from Richard Matheson's classic, "Steel," and that's all I could think of while reading it.

Joe Brancatelli broke the news to funny book Tarzan fans that DC had lost its license and, for a brief moment, ERB Inc. was going to enter the comic book publishing world. Overseen by comic book historian Mark Evanier, this might have been a glorious production but, alas, the ship never sailed. The following year, the license was handed to Marvel and they pumped out 29 ho-hum issues before the axe fell.-Peter

Jack-Who would have thought that an all-sports issue of Creepy would be so entertaining? I liked "Hitter's Wind!" best, probably because it's a schmaltzy baseball story with a hero modeled on Willie Mays. The Infantino/Simonson collaboration is kind of scratchy, but I still enjoyed the tale. Corben's goofy mummy is back in "The Mummy's Victory," and the artist is at his best with stories involving some humor. I didn't care about the characters in "Till Hell Freezes Over," so it was hard to get interested in the story, which is too long, at 11 pages. Still, Giordano does some nice cleanup work in his role as inker.

Sanchez is, once again, in full Jack Davis mode with "Home Stretch," a story that was slow out of the gate but picked up steam in the home stretch. The sprinkling of "choke" here and there in the word balloons made the EC connection clear. Edger Enge is a thinly veiled Arthur Ashe, and "Menace, Anyone...?" ends up being a well-done story of overcoming the odds with a little bit of native magic. "Relic" reminded me of "The Mighty Casey" from The Twilight Zone, but I also see the connection to "Steel." Severin's heavy inks really make his presence known and turn the art into a hybrid product. Overall, this is a fun issue, but I'm not sure how much Infantino I can take.

Vampirella #56

"The Headless Horseman of All-Hallows Eve!" ★1/2
Story by Bill DuBay
Art by Jose Gonzalez

Story by Bruce Jones
Art by Luis Bermejo

"Skruffy's Gargoyle!" 
Story by Bill DuBay
Art by Leopold Sanchez

"Cavalcade of Monsters" 
Story by Gerry Boudreau
Art by Ramon Torrents

"The Free Lancer" 
Story by Bruce Jones
Art by Jose Ortiz

Vampirella and Adam Van Helsing head to Sleepy Hollow, where the disappearance of six young women has the locals claiming the Headless Horseman is back. But V+A get to the bottom of the mystery quickly after Vampi offers herself up as bait. Turns out the girls were kidnapped by a pair of old skeezes who are selling the girls into slavery. Vampirella hangs the "Closed" sign on the business door.

The Vampirella series has never been known for its originality or depth of thought, but "The Headless Horseman of All-Hallow's Eve!" has to be the skimpiest plot the Drakulonian ever found herself embroiled in. There's no Headless Horseman (not even one of those Scooby-Doo holograms to throw the authorities off the scent), and once we're through skimming through the eight-page build-up, there's no real climax. Just two pervs and a secret lab. And what's with the vampires on the cover? If not for Gonzalez's fine art, this would rate a "Zero" in my book.

Young Turp has been "Mute" for quite some time, but now pretty Dr. Prescott has managed to pull him out of his shell. Turp had been in love with a girl named Crystal, but she only had eyes for handsome Billy Waxler. Turp had taken to following the couple around and, one day, he witnessed a terrible accident. Billy had been drunk and turned over the small boat they were in; Billy survived, but Crystal drowned. Turp found her body upstream and, um, finally familiarized himself with his love. Men searching for Crystal came across the startling sight and decided to mete out some Gothic justice, nailing Turp inside a coffin with a rotting corpse. 

When Turp was finally released from his oblong prison, his mind was mush. Enter Dr. Prescott, who is having her own problems with a skeezy colleague, Dr. Stuart, who harasses her under the guise of "caring," and constantly offers up weekends of pleasure. After a particularly grueling session with Turp, Prescott gives in and agrees to a complimentary trip to Miami, courtesy of her helpful colleague. Unfortunately, the pretty psychiatrist never boards the plane and, when Stuart does a little investigating, he travels to Turp's cabin, where he finds Ms. Prescott, stabbed to death. Turp cowers in the corner, whining that his doctor wouldn't lie still like the corpse in the coffin.

Or something like that. Unlike any other Bruce Jones script I can think of, I hated this dreary piece of crap. Yeah, I know, it's all deeper than the skeleton synopsis I've provided and followers will elbow me and advise me just how deep this all is. Forget it, it's lost on me. To me, this is just a meandering slog which ends with a 100% predictable climax. Was Prescott's voluntary presence in the cabin all in Turp's addled brain? Was she using some kind of psychiatric trick to bring the boy out of his shell, or were the panels of the gorgeous shrink lounging in a negligee imaginary? How would I know? There's no segue between Prescott's acceptance of the Miami trip and her appearance in the cabin. Obviously, Turp kidnapped the woman and transported her there. But is it obvious? I started "Mute" three times before I could finish its bloated, cliched (and badly illustrated) entirety. I deserve a Warren Award.

When little Skruffy dies and is laid out in his coffin in the chapel, brother Timmy asks his pop why a gargoyle looks down on the dead boy. Dad relates the history of gargoyles (stone statues that protect the dead from evil spirits), and the fascinated Timmy suggests a pajama party in the church that night. What could be more fun? As any dad would, Mr. Skruffy's dad agrees and the pair camp out in front of Skruffy's embalmed little shell, awaiting the fireworks.

Sure enough, three winged demons arrive late that night to feast on little Skruffy, but the gargoyle is ready for them. A battle royal ensues, but the trio is too much for our granite monster and Pop has to step in as back-up. But it's Skruffy himself who rises and defends himself from the beasts, thus ensuring his clear road to heaven. Pop sighs and admits he had one hell of a boy! Fluff it is, but semi-enjoyable fluff. "Skruffy's Gargoyle" has the feel of one of those oft-told tales around the campfire; purely predictable but harmless. The Sanchez art is a seesaw, with some startlingly good demons but cartoony humans. I question why a caring father would think a night spent with the corpse of a toddler would be a great idea for young Timmy. Perhaps we'll get the sequel from DuBay someday, where Timmy has grown up psychologically challenged and murders grieving parents at the church. 

It's mid-1940s Hollywood. At the behest of a pretty young actress, private dick Richard Midnight investigates the strange goings-on at the set of a cheap-jack horror flick starring a vampire, a werewolf, and a Frankenstein's monster. When one of the actors is found dead, his head severed from his body and garlic stuffed in his mouth, Midnight begins to take this monster business seriously. In the end, the dick sorts out the mystery and wins the girl.

There's not much to "Cavalcade of Monsters," but I think that's Boudreau's point (at least, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt); he has a good ol' time parodying the Universal monster rallies and hardboiled fiction at the same time. Boudreau's forced analogies (Suddenly it clicked like an empty revolver...) are on the money as is the full-page expository. You think Hammett is fine prose? Maybe, but he was given over to hammy prose and windy wind-ups now and then as well.

The most popular television show on Deimos is "This is Your Death," a rip-snortin' reality show which pays a contestant ten thousand bucks a week for the "rest of their life" and then telecasts their death. Jeannie Roberts is the latest to be roped into the get-rich-quick scheme, but her brother wants her to back out. Too late, they discover that the contract Jeannie signed is iron-clad and unbreakable. Is there any way they can keep Jeannie from providing Deimos with an hour of fun-filled, bloody mayhem?

I'm not sure my synop for "The Free-Lancer" makes much sense (unless you've read the story), but then the tale made very little sense to me. There are shifting character perspectives with little to no warning (and, to make matters worse, the characters Jose Ortiz draws all look alike), as well as gaps in the narrative. I had to reread a couple of pages to make sure they weren't printed out of order. The rules for the game show make little to no sense; the contestants are told they will be paid every week for the rest of their lives, but all the characters who face extinction seem to have random execution dates. And the climactic reveal is just silly. All in all, not an issue of Vampirella I'd slap into a Mylar bag for safekeeping.-Peter

Jack-"Mute" is one of those rare Warren horror stories that succeeds in the difficult task of running parallel narratives that join at the end. The suspense builds to a satisfying conclusion, and the art by Bermejo fits the needs to the story. Gonzalez's art does save "The Headless Horseman," which happily features fewer panels with Vampi posed for the camera and more of a narrative flow. The story is fairly lucid, but I could not see the point of dressing up like goblins to kidnap women. "Skruffy's Gargoyle!" also benefits from nice, shadowy art by Bermejo, though the story is weak and the climax a cliche. Unfortunately, the last two tales in this issue are the worst: "Cavalcade of Monsters" has art that is basically a series of swipes from movie stills and a terribly written attempt at private eye narration, while "The Free Lancer" almost gets beyond the bad taste of its basic premise but ends with a thud as Jones resorts to the copout twist.



Best Script: Jim Stenstrum, "Thrillkill" (Creepy #75)

Best Art: Bernie Wrightson, "Cool Air" (Eerie #62)

Best All-Around Story: "Thrillkill"
Best Cover> Ken Kelly, Creepy #80
Worst Story: Budd Lewis/Martin Salvador, 
"The Nature of the Beast" (Creepy #78)

The Ten Best Stories

2 "The Christmas Visit" (Creepy #68)
3 "Super Abnormal Phenomena..." (Creepy #79)
4 "An Unprovoked Attack on a Hilton Hotel (Creepy #73)
5 "The Muck Monster" (Creepy #70)
6 "The Caul" (Eerie #64)
7 "Cool Air"
8 "In Darkness It Shall End" (Creepy #76)
9 "Clarice" (Creepy #77)
10 "Highsong" (Eerie #76)


Best Script:
Budd Lewis, "Death's Dark Colors" (Eerie #67)
Best Art: Bernie Wrightson, "Cool Air"
Best All-Around Story: "Cool Air"
Best Cover> Ken Kelly, Eerie #74
Worst Story: Budd Lewis/Joaquin Blazquez, "The Pit in the Living Room Floor" (Creepy #79)

The Ten Best Stories

1 "Cool Air"
2 "Forgive Us Our Trespasses" (Eerie #62)
3 "Stumpful of Granddaddies!" (Eerie #63)
4 "Daddy and the Pie" (Eerie #64)
5 "Coming Storm... A Killing Rain!" (Eerie #65)
6 "Death's Dark Colors"
7 "Half Walk"(Eerie #68)
8 "The Believer" (Creepy #77)
9 "First Snow, Magic Snow" (Creepy #77)
10 "In Deep" (Creepy #83)

Next Week...
The Return of 
An Old Favorite!


Quiddity99 said...

"Time and Time Again" is a bit overcomplicated (that ending in particular), but then what can one expect from a time travel story? Glad to have a sequel for this and looking forward to the next part. New series kick off with "The Pea Green Boat" which doesn't seem to fit at first only to go much more in a Warren direction later on as it becomes a sort of post-apocalyptic story. I liked this a bit more than you. I was thinking Steve Ditko as well when it came to Darklon. Still not a fan of a superhero in Eerie, but it is a decent story. Hard to believe that "Third Person Singular" was the first time Warren explored this subject matter; but I was still many years from being born when this issue came out, so I suppose I just come from a different era. "Sam's Son and Delilah" is clearly an overflow story originally intended for this month's Creepy (as is the cover, but then why did they have Ken Kelly do 2 different sports covers when there was only one all sports issue?) yet ends up being better than most of the stories that actually made it into the all sports issue.

Can't say I expected an all sports horror issue to work, but the issue did turn out better than I thought it would, at least with the writing. "The Mummy's Victory" was far and away the best story for me, with "Hitter's Wind" and "Menace Anyone...?" following it. "Til Hell Freezes Over" was at least decent. Wasn't much of a fan of the other two stories. The decision to hand so much of the art in the issue to Carmine Infantino baffles me though. Not that he isn't a good artist, for I've got to assume that Louise Jones/Jim Warren thought he could handle sports-related stories better than the Spanish artists still dominating the Warren magazines at this point. The problem? First handing so much of one issue to a single artist in an anthology magazine doesn't provide the variety you'd prefer. Second is that Infantino is far more suited for super hero comes than horror and even if these are sports stories, his style still doesn't fit Warren that well for me. Infantino obviously worked super fast, all the more so given that he was only penciling his stories, so he could help Warren meet its publishing deadlines, but I wish they would have thought of the overall impact editorally before putting out this issue. Rant over.

I too am not much of a fan of the writing of the Vampi story this month although I absolutely love the artwork. One of Gonzalez's best performances so far. I felt way differently than you on "Mute", I loved the story, and given the subject matter it is one of the most horrifying Warren stories to date for me (see its appearance on my top 10 list I've included). "Scruffy's Gargoyle" was pretty decent, and reminded me of Dubay's earlier "Once Upon a Miracle" story from one of the Christmas issues. Gerry Boudreau continues to go all in with the detective/murder mystery subject for which he's written many stories on as of late, typically drawn by Auraleon or Torrents. This one was just okay for me. "The Free Lancer" I was also pretty happy with. Jones has created quite the ridiculous concept, but I liked it and upon this reading I think I finally got what he was going after with the ending for the first time.

Quiddity99 said...

My top listing for Warren for 1975/1976:

Stories (Writing and Art):
1. The Wolves at War's End (Vampirella #43)
2. In Deep (Creepy #83)
3. Thrillkill (Creepy #75)
4. Mordecai Moondog (Eerie #71)
5. The Famine (Eerie #64)
6. The Muck Monster (Eerie #68)
7. Gamal and the Cockatrice (Vampirella #47)
8. Mute (Vampirella #56)
9. Death Expression (Creepy #75)
10. The House on the Sea (Vampirella #41)

1. Apocalypse
2. Night of the Jackass
3. Coffin
4. The Butcher
5. Within You/Without You (despite it still being in progress)

1. Creepy #79
2. Vampirella #41
3. Eerie #77
4. Vampirella #40
5. Creepy #76

Worst Stories

1. My Monster My Dad (Creepy #76)
2. Close Shave (Creepy #81)
3. Insanity (Eerie #63)
4. A Brave Terror Leads to Death (Eerie #71)
5. The Terror Stalked Heiress (Creepy #72)
6. The Monster Called Vampirella (Vampirella #46)
7. The Last Man Syndrome (Vampirella #53)
8. Oogie and the Scroungers (Eerie #76)
9. Billicar and the Momblywombles of Glass (Creepy #81)
10. Gilliam Taxi and the Sky Pirates (Eerie #75)

I went back to my top 10 Warren stories ranking from my blog (over 10 years ago at this point!) and I've knocked Thrillkill down a little bit, nothing against the story just liked the other two above it more. Two of my top 5 ranked stories from my ranking are coming up in the very near future, looking forward to seeing if I feel the same way about them now. Creepy #79 may be my all time favorite Warren cover (only other one I think competes with it is Vampirella #35). I actually liked "The Pit in the Living Room Floor" quite a lot, it was a very unique and strange Warren story (although it didn't make my top 10).

Peter Enfantino said...

Thanks, as always, for your input. As Jack knows, I'm a sucker for a Top Ten list. I see you're much bolder and patient than I am and you actually included a Top Ten Stinkers list. Bravo, sir, bravo!
As to "Thrillkill": I too think it's lost some of its impact over the years but, for me, it's because we've become numbed to this sort of story in real life. I'm not speaking for you; that's just my take on my feelings.

Anonymous said...

Well, Weezie is definitely flooding the zone with Infantino art this month, and that’s a fact. If I’d bought CREEPY 84 off the mag rack at Cork N Bib Liquor back when I was a skinny long-haired 15-year-old, I’d probably have hated it, as I was still just getting used to his unique stylings. I DID get EERIE 79 as part of my 1-year subscription and didn’t like ‘Sam’s Son’ at all, story or art.

But as a spry 60-year old, I like Infantino just fine, and found that each of the inkers brought enough variety to the table to keep things interesting. I like John Severin’s inks the best of this lot, but they’re all pretty good. Milgrom’s inks on ‘Menace Anyone…?’ are prettier here than on ‘Sam’s Son’, future ‘Mr. Weezie’ Walter Simonson brings his bag of stylish Toppi-inspired tricks, and Giordano can just about do no wrong, in my book. (BTW, ‘Menace Anyone…?’ sounds EXACTLY like an EC story title to my ear, rather than one of Forry’s clunky groaners).

As to the ‘WHY’ of it all — why so many Sports themed stories that they overflow into EERIE, and why are so many of them drawn by Carmine Infantino? I’m thinking DC’s short-lived but often-revived ‘Strange Sports Stories’ series in THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD — many of them pencilled by You Know Who — must have been something of an inspiration to SOMEONE at the helm. I’ve never actually read any of those DC stories myself. Whenever I saw reprints of them at the spinner rack, I avoided ‘em like the plague (can’t think of a subject that interests me less than Sports). But researching them just now at the GCD, story titles like ‘Challenge of the Headless Baseball Team’ and ‘Gorilla Wonders of The Diamond!’ have kinda picqued my curiosity , I can’t deny it.

Peter: ‘Mr. Skruffy’s Dad’? That’s very Mrs. Livingston of you ;)


Anonymous said...

In Deep
Process of Elimination
The S.A.P.S. Kit
Shadow of the Axe
The Believer
Beware Darklon The Mystic!
The Blood Red Queen of Hearts

6 outstanding outings — all of them a bit soft, story-wise — each one a triumph of Style Over Substance

Dude was producing nothing but stunners all year long

BIillicar and the Momblywombles of Glass by Steve Clement



Jack Seabrook said...

Thanks, b.t. Good choices! I especially like the DuBay category.