Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Longbox Junk Halloween 2023 Part 15 - Vault of Horror #36 (1954)

Welcome to Longbox Junk, where you can get all the comic reviews you want for FREE, and that comes with a 100% money back guarantee!

We're up to PART FIFTEEN of our 2023 Longbox Junk Halloween Horror Marathon and it's time to wrap things up!  Unfortunately, I got pushed off my great pace this year due to some work stuff, so I didn't get quite as many entries in as I planned on, but it was still a mighty fine party if I do say so myself. . .and I DO.

This time out, I have a bit of a special treat for you.  I've taken a little dig into the definitely NOT junk part of my collection for some GOLDEN Age comic horror.  And not just ANY old Golden Age comic horror, but a comic from the Big Daddy of Golden Age horror comics, EC!  That's right. . .the company that unwillingly helped usher in the Comics Code.

Pre-Code  horror comics are highly sought after books in just about ANY collection.   I got this comic as part of an auction lot about 3 years ago.  No, not an online auction.  THAT'S weak comic hunting.  I'm talking about sitting in a room with a bunch of people bidding on stuff.  Now that's some Longbox Junkin'!  It was in a box of comics I paid the princely sum of $125 for.

Truthfully, I'm a little excited to get into this one, because as far as I can tell, this will be the FIRST review ever done of this particular issue.  

My bet is that it will probably also be the ONLY review ever done, because most SANE comic collectors will slab this one up and NOT carry it just bagged and boarded in a manilla envelope to work to scan pages out of it.  I mean, I GUESS I could have just used my Vault of Horror hardcover set (which has a reprint of this issue), but then you don't get to see the STANK of almost 70 years on those old yellow pages. It just ain't the same.

Enough introduction! Let's set the dial on the Longbox Junk time machine for 1954 and take a look inside, shall we?  Ready? Let's GOOOOOOOOOOO!

EC (1954)

COVER:  Johnny Craig


There are more famous and controversial EC horror comic covers, but I really like this one! Golden Age master artist Johnny Craig tells a story I want to know more about in one single image!  The bright fire and bold title against the stark black background REALLY catches the eye, especially with the larger Golden Age cover size.  It's not a particularly great HALLOWEEN cover, but the simplicity of it just grabs me.  Like I said, not the most famous EC horror comic cover, but I find it very compelling.  Let's get inside!


FOUR comic stories and a text piece in 36 pages!  Damn, but they had it good in the Golden Age when it came to comics.  I have a fair handful of Golden Age goodies and they're ALL absolutely stuffed full of content from end to end.  So this review may get a little long. Fair warning.  LET'S GO!


SCRIPT: Johnny Craig
PENCILS:  Johnny Craig
INKS:  Johnny Craig


We meet Larry Bannister as he hides in a dark room, nervously clutching a pistol, waiting on someone. But who is this man? Why is he here?  We flash back two weeks to find out.

Larry Bannister is a man with an unfaithful wife.  He follows her to an isolated lodge and catches her in the act with her lover.  At gunpoint, Larry forces the two of them into the woods, gives them shovels, and demands they start digging!

When the hole is deep enough, Larry tells his unfaithful wife and her lover that it's their grave.  First, they try to talk their way out of it.  Then, they try to fight. But Larry has the upper hand.  Once he subdues them, he begins filling in the hole. . .burying them alive! 

But when Larry returns to the lodge, he discovers his car battery is dead.  Unable to use the battery from his wife's car, he leaves his car at the lodge and returns to the city, planning to return as soon as he can.

Over the next two weeks, Larry remains calm.  He reports his wife's disappearance, answers all the questions from the police, and seems to have committed the perfect crime and gotten away with it.  There's only the loose end of his car remaining.  

And so, he returns to the isolated lodge with a new battery, and is relieved to find everything exactly as he left it.

After Larry meticulously cleans his wife's car of his fingerprints, he suddenly realizes that, even though he brought the new battery, he's forgotten the keys to HIS car!  Desperate, Larry knows that he can't just leave his car at the lodge.  But then he remembers that his wife had a spare set of keys to his car that she carried in her purse.

There was only one solution. . .he had to dig up the grave and get those keys!

But after making his way back to where he'd buried his wife and her lover, he sees that the grave has been disturbed.  Digging in, he finds it empty!  Luckily for him, he finds his wife's purse and the spare keys.

Terrified by the  implications of the empty grave, Larry comes to the conclusion that his wife and her lover somehow lived through his burying them alive, and that they have been hiding out at the lodge, waiting for him to return!

He runs through the rainy woods back to the lodge, convinced that he is being followed in the dark.  He decides to turn the tables on them and ambush them in the lodge when they come for him.  

And that's where we came in. . .with Larry hiding in the dark lodge, nervously clutching a pistol and waiting for his wife and her lover so he can finish the job once and for all.

After a while, Larry hears their footsteps.  Thumping, shuffling footsteps!  He snaps on his flashlight and points his gun to confront his wife and her lover for the last time!  Unfortunately for the horrified Larry, he quickly discovers that the pair did NOT survive their burial!

Fused together in a tangle of rotted limbs, the shuffling corpse-monster that was once his wife and her lover moves quickly toward Larry!  He fires, but the shots have no effect! He screams hysterically as the two people he had buried alive get their revenge. . .from beyond the grave! DUN-DUN-DUNNN!

The End.


A great start for this Golden Age goodie!  A tight, tense story that's more of a crime tale than a horror story until that last page when Larry gets what's coming to him.  Johnny Craig weaves dialogue just dripping with paranoia and fear!  

Craig also pulls art duty on this one, and, for those reading who haven't had much exposure to Golden Age comics, let me tell you that if you see Johnny Craig's name credited as artist, just know it's gonna be good. . .maybe even great.  In MY humble opinion, Johnny Craig was one of the greatest artists of the Golden Age. He does NOT disappoint here. The scans above should speak for themselves.  

Overall, a fantastic opener from one of my favorite Golden Age creators!



SCRIPT:  Johnny Craig
PENCILS: Jack Davis
INKS: Jack Davis


Scandal rocks the small European village of Blumstadt when young Eric Holbien returns from a week in the city on business with news that he has married!  Eric's betrothed, Alicia, who has been promised as his wife since she was a young girl, is devastated.

Eric and Helena (his new wife) are confronted by Alicia, her mother, and Eric's own mother.  It is not a pleasant conversation, to say the least, with Eric's disappointed mother being the most harsh.  Finally, Alicia takes the high road and wishes Eric and Helena the best.  

But out of earshot of Eric, Alicia tells Helena that she hates her and will have her revenge!

Only a week later, Eric's mother suddenly dies with no explanation.  Helena doesn't attend the funeral and rumors begin to swirl that she had something to do with the death.  The rumors only become stronger when a delegation from the local church tells Helena that she's not welcome at services, only for the leader of the group to fall dead just a few days later!

Soon, the rumors begin to turn to accusations of witchcraft!  Alicia's mother is the strongest supporter of the belief that a witch is among the people of Blumstadt.  And then, one day when Alicia's mother passes Helena on the street, the woman falls dead on the spot in full view of all passerby!

At her mother's hasty funeral, Alicia is suddenly stricken by pain and visions of Helena trying to kill her!  Among the other deaths, the villagers have had enough!  Accusations fly and a mob forms to seize and burn the witch!

As the frenzied mob of villagers break into Eric's house to seize his wife, Helena begs for mercy, trying to tell the villagers that it is Alicia getting revenge on her that's been responsible for the town's misfortunes!

The mob isn't having any of it and they take Helena!  Eric tries to defend his wife, but is shot dead by the enraged villagers as they drag Helena to the fire!

But SURPRISE!  As the villagers throw the protesting Helena onto the fire, she gives up the pretense and shouts words of dark magic, transforming the villagers into rats as her true appearance is revealed. . .from a dark-haired beauty to a withered crone, Helena WAS a witch after all!

The End.


Another really good little story!  I like that the writer makes it look like an innocent woman is being plagued by a witch for revenge, but then flips the script and. . .yeah, the villagers were right.  A clever twist!  Like the first story, this one is also written by Johnny Craig and has the same tight, tense feel to it.  I know Craig more for his art, but I'm discovering he's also a pretty fine writer!

On the art side of things, right up there next to Johnny Craig on my Golden Age art favorites list sits the great Jack Davis!  He's got a more exaggerated and less precise style than Craig, but his looser pencils open up a nice feeling of movement that made Davis one of the Golden Age greats and carried him through a long and successful career even after the Golden Age was past.

Overall, another really enjoyable little story.  This one with a twist that took me by surprise, and when you've read as many of these old horror/suspense comics as I have, that's a sort of hard thing to do.


COOLER - 3/4 page text story with illustration



We follow a man as he escapes from Cragmore prison.  He's chose winter, believing it's his best chance to cross the lake surrounding the island prison when it's frozen over.  As he crosses the ice, he hears pursuit and ducks into a hole, down into the freezing water, breathing the air in the small space between the ice and water.

But soon, the terrified prisoner realizes that he's lost the hole.  As he frantically searches for a means to escape his predicament, he freezes to death.  A free man, but still in an icy prison.


This is a VERY short little tale.  Just three-quarters of a page (and I have to say, the amount of fine print on the other quarter page is pretty amazing, compared to the little indicas we have now).  But for its extremely short length, its a very nice and atmospheric read!  For a filler, this is some pretty quality writing!

Overall. . .surprisingly good.  I scanned the whole thing above for you.



SCRIPT:  Johnny Craig
PENCILS:  Bernie Krigstein
INKS: Bernie Krigstein


We meet an old Asian man named Chen Chu Yang, where he lays in an opium den.  He's a man with a strange story to tell. And so we go back about twelve years before, when it all began. . .

Chen has a good wife, who is the light of his life.  One day, he goes to the opium den to relax and has a dream that his wife has died.  When he returns, he learns that his wife is gone.  Grief-stricken, Chen takes on the responsibility of caring for his son and daughter.

Unfortunately, Chen is a bit old and frail, and his son has to step up to take care of the family.  He does so until war comes to Asia and he gets a draft notice.  Understandably upset by his son leaving, Chen decides to drown his sorrow in opium smoke.  While at the opium den, Chen has a horrific dream of his son's death.

And sure enough, when he returns, he learns that his son has met a tragic end.

And so, Chen is left with only his beloved daughter.  When she decides to marry, Chen tries his best to convince his daughter that her husband-to-be is not a good man.  But she's in love and doesn't listen to her father.

As time passes, it turns out that Chen was right.  His daughter's husband is cruel and unfeeling, but now she is married to him, she is honor-bound to remain until his death.  Chen decides that he might be able to help her after all. . .and so he goes to the opium den.

Sure enough, while at the opium den, Chen has a horrific dream of his son-in-law's death.  When he returns, Chen learns that his daughter's husband has been murdered!  Chen takes great joy in the cruel man's death. . .but then he learns that his daughter is accused of the murder!  

Unable to prove her innocence, Chen's beloved daughter is executed for murder.  Now left with nothing to live for, and with the knowledge that his trying to use the strange power he had discovered for evil caused the death of his innocent daughter, Chen now spends all his days at the opium den. . .lost in his dreams.

The End.


Another great little story from Johnny Craig!  Where the first was a paranoid crime thriller with a supernatural twist, and the second was a steady build to witch mob frenzy, this one drifts in a dreamlike manner, like the smoke from the unfortunate Chen's pipe.  Very nicely done to have three stories by the same writer told in such different ways!

The art likewise has a sketchy, dreamlike feel to it.  Not as precise or defined as the previous stories. As if the panels are barely-recalled memories. . .hazy and vague.  It's not my favorite art in this issue, but it does fit this story perfectly.

Overall, a very interesting change of pace from the tightly-focused stories that came before it.



SCRIPT:  Jack Oleck (?)
PENCILS: Graham Ingels
INKS: Graham Ingels


1911.  A young boy named Tommy hears shouting in the woods outside his home.  Sneaking out to investigate, he comes upon a man and a woman arguing.  The man begins to beat the woman, but then realizes he's being watched and grabs the boy!

Almost dead, the man stops choking Dickie for some reason.  Before Dickie passes out, he hears a gunshot.  When he wakes, his parents and the local constable are there.  They find no sign of the man or woman, and a strange burned area.  Other than that, the whole event is a mystery, and remains unsolved.

Flash forward about twenty years.  Tommy is now a grown man.  A man with a problem.  He's got an unfaithful wife.  One night, Tommy overhears his wife and lover discussing killing him.  Infuriated, Tommy decides to turn the tables and kill her instead.  He makes his plan, gathers what he needs and hides it in the woods, and then waits for his moment. . .

Later that night, Tommy confronts his cheating wife.  She protests, but Tommy drags her into the woods.  He begins savagely beating her with a lead pipe when she tries to fight back and escape.  Suddenly, Tommy realizes they are being watched by a young boy!

As Tommy chokes the life out of the young witness, he suddenly realizes that this has all happened before!  HE'S the boy!  Dropping the boy to the ground, Tommy gleefully pours kerosene on his wife's body and sets it alight. . .now convinced he's committed the perfect crime, knowing that the mystery from when he was a child was never solved!

But then a shot rings out.

As Tommy falls onto his wife's burning body, the old constable tries to save him, but fails.  All those many years ago, the only clue was a piece of half-burned paper.  A piece of paper with that day's date on it!  And so the constable solved the mystery. . .twenty years late.


And there's four for four (Five for five, if you count the little text piece)!  This final story drives it home for the grand slam!  It's the only story in here without Johnny Craig's name on it, but it's still a very nice little crime suspense story with a supernatural/ time travel twist.  

On the art side of things, one of EC's premier horror artists pushes the pencils on this one and really brings it to life!  "Ghastly" Graham Ingles was MUCH better known as a horror artist, but he does a fine job with this cool little crime story. . .and nary a gory scene to be had!

Overall, a strong finish to a great issue!


EC comics are some of the most highly-sought after Golden Age comics. . .especially EC horror comics.  This issue is a perfect example of WHY.  It's not the most "valuable" EC horror comic out there.  It's a random issue from the tail end of one of EC's second tier horror titles.  But this comic book simply DRIPS with quality!

The stories are great reads, even almost 70 years down the road.  The art is some of the best you can find in a Golden Age comic.  It might not be the best HALLOWEEN comic, but don't get me wrong, this is a winner from end to end.

One of the things I like best about doing reviews of older comics like this is that mine will often be the first and probably ONLY cover to cover review of a comic that people will usually just see behind the plastic of a slab. . .just the cover posted online.   

 It's a great feeling, knowing that I'm contributing just a LITTLE bit to the overall comic knowledge out there.  I mean, think about it.  Where else are you going to get a description of a 3/4 page text filler piece by an unknown writer in a random Vault of Horror issue?  Right here at Longbox Junk, THAT'S where.  But enough of THAT.

This issue is a solid read all the way through.  I highly recommend it to anyone wanting a good example of Golden Age non-superhero comic books.  You're not gonna find it in a back issue bin. Even though this isn't the most "valuable" or sought-after EC horror comic, EVERY EC horror comic comes at a premium.  Even in the "okay" condition mine's in, I see it's "worth" close to a thousand bucks.  So Longbox Junk this definitely is NOT.

Fortunately, just about all the EC horror comics (including the whole Vault of Horror series) has been reprinted several times and in several formats.  There are some great EC omnibus editions out there, but if you REALLY want to get into them (and I highly recommend you do), then there's a five book hardcover edition in a nice slipcover like the one I have that would make a FINE Christmas present for yourself!  You can find them easily online and it's worth every penny!

So that's it for the  2023 Longbox Junk Halloween Horror Marathon.  I was zipping along nicely for a while there.  Thought I might break my October record until I hit a bit of a work wall and fell off my pace.  But still. . .fifteen spooky reviews ain't bad at all in MY book!

I hope you had a good time at the party, and we'll do it again next year.
Until then, it's back to Longbox Junk business as usual. . .or unusual.  

Be there or be square!

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Longbox Junk Halloween 2023 Part 14 - Tales of Ghost Castle #3 (1975)

Welcome to Longbox Junk! I write comic reviews nobody asked for!  

And now we're up to part FOURTEEN of the 2023 Longbox Junk Halloween Horror Marathon! Only 3 more after this entry to beat my October record! GOALS!

Looking back over the entries this year so far, I see that it's a sort of ghost and werewolf heavy party this year. . .so how about leaning into it with some more ghosts!  The more the merrier, am I right?  Yes I AM!

I reviewed issue #2 of this extremely short-lived series (only 3 issues) for LAST YEAR'S HALLOWEEN PARTY and really enjoyed it, so I kept my eyes open and managed to snag another one for this year's shindig.  Will we have another certified nugget of Longbox Junk gold with THIS issue? 

 Let's find out!  

DC (1975)

COVER: Luis Dominguez


I like this one a lot!  It's a great Halloween cover.  There's a lot of nice detail and a good sense of movement.  I really like the poltergeist theme, and the contrast between the bright central figure of the woman and the darkened room.  Word balloons on a cover are usually sort of intrusive to MY eye, but this one actually makes the cover better!  

The only think I DON'T like is how the title takes up so much territory.  Don't get me wrong, the logo is cool, but definitely just too big.  All in all a great Halloween cover.  Let's get inside!


The more of these older anthologies I read, the more I appreciate the value compared to comics today.  THREE stories in ONE comic for a single, lousy quarter.  I might sound old, but they don't make 'em like that anymore.  Let's check these stories out!


SCRIPT:  Jack Oleck
PENCILS:  Ernie Chan
INKS: Bill Draut


Medieval Europe, the village of Domray.  Paul and Marie Lebrun are terrified when their son, a slow-witted but gentle giant named Andre begins to exhibit strange powers and a violent disposition. In desperation, they turn to a friend, Trudeau the Scholar, trying to find an answer before their beloved son is arrested for witchcraft.

Trudeau is skeptical, knowing Andre is a slow-witted boy in a man's body.  But then he sees for himself! Andre flies into a rage when he is told to put his dog outside.  He throws benches and cracks the beams of the house, almost killing Truedeau.  

The shaken scholar proclaims that the only explanation is that Andre is possessed by a demon and he must be taken to the village priest for an exorcism.

They bring Andre to Father Bernot, a gentle priest who doesn't believe in witch burnings, and beg for help.  Bernot agrees to perform an exorcism.  As the ceremony proceeds, a howling wind begins to fling the church's furnishings about!  Bernot gives up and forces Paul and Marie to leave with their son.

At their wit's end, Paul and Marie are convinced by Truedeau that the only way to save their son's soul, as well as their own lives, is to turn Andre over to the Sheriff. . .even if that likely means that he will be tried as a witch and burned.  

Indeed, what they most fear happens.  The Sheriff forms a jury and Andre is proclaimed a witch and then burnt at the stake.  Finally, the Lebrun's nightmare is over.  All that remains now is grief over their lost son.

But they quickly discover that the nightmare has not ended after all!  Unseen forces shake their home until it collapses on them, killing Marie instantly.  Paul lives for a little longer. . .long enough to see the true face of the demon in Andre's dog!  

We leave the sad tale as Paul dies while the dog laughs at him.

The End.


And we have a good start to this issue!  A chilling little tale of demonic possession set against the background of medieval witch trial fever.  It's a long chunk of a story and that gives it time to slowly burn instead of feeling rushed like a lot of these anthology stories do.  

It's backed up by some nicely-detailed artwork by the great Ernie Chan. . .here still being credited as Ernie Chua, so it's some of his earlier work.  Not up to his later stuff I'm more used to, but still very nice.

Overall, a dark little tale that takes its time and does everything right.  



SCRIPT: Robert Kanigher
PENCILS: Frank Redondo
INKS: Frank Redondo


Family man Tyrone is having an affair with a younger woman named Tina.  When Tina tries to break things off and mocks him for being old enough to be her father, her laughter drives Tyrone to push Tina onto the subway tracks, where she is killed by the train.

As time goes by after the murder, Tyrone is haunted by nightmares of Tina's mocking laughter.  His wife thinks it's the pressure of his job and living in the city, and convinces him to move the family out to the country.

But moving out of the city and to the countryside doesn't help.  Where Tyrone's family sees beautiful trees and a nice house, Tyrone sees a decaying dump and a gloomy landscape.  There's nothing good in anything Tyrone sees.

The first night in their new home, as Tyrone struggles to sleep he hears strange noises.  When he gets up to investigate, he realizes the noise is laughter. . .HER laughter!  He grabs a knife from the kitchen and runs outside, believing Tina has somehow survived and is torturing him!

Tyrone stumbles through the nearby graveyard, following Tina's laughter, determined to finally end it!

The next morning, workers at the graveyard find Tyrone's body inside a freshly-dug grave they had readied for a funeral that morning.  He had fallen in and broken his neck.  The grave?  It belonged to Tina!  DUN-DUN-DUNNNN!

The End.


Okay, not as good as the first story, but still a mighty fine read.  A lot of building tension as Tyrone descends into his own private hell where nothing is good in his eyes, and then we find out it WASN'T just his own guilt driving him crazy, but Tina's vengeful ghost!  Very nice.  But the REAL star of the show here is the art!  It's just wonderful.  Lots of close-up panels and so much detail.  The art here really pushes the story up a notch.  

So that's two for two so far in this issue.  Will we hit the home run with a third good story? 

Let's find out! NEXT!


SCRIPT:  Mal Warwick
PENCILS:  Bill Draut
INKS: Bill Draut


Robotic aliens descend to study Earth.  They are impressed with them many forms of life they see, metallic like they are.  Such a shame there are so many tiny organic parasites infesting the life forms of this world.

But they have a solution!  They will help the beings of Earth with their infestation problem!  The aliens use gas to kill all the parasites, leaving the machines free of all these tiny little humans.  Now off to help another world!

The End.


And we're three for three folks!  It's a short little story.  Barely more than a filler at 3 pages, but it's a pretty good one.  A nice little twist on the classic "alien invasion" story in which the aliens are just trying to help out a fellow machine race.  The art isn't anything spectacular, but it's good and tells the story nicely.  


Okay, NOW I have definitely keep my eye out for the first issue in this series.  Wait. . .can three issues REALLY be called a series at all?  I guess back in 1975 they hadn't really started doing limited series yet, which this would be if it came out a bit later on.  BUT I DIGRESS!

With two really solid issues reviewed in a row, I almost HAVE to find the third for next year.  I now have a mission.  Tales of Ghost Castle has really been one of the best series(?) of Bronze Age horror anthologies I've read yet.  It's a damn shame there are so few issues of it.

As far as the issue at hand goes, three nicely-written stories, backed up by some very good artwork means I give this one the official Longbox Junk gold seal of approval!  If you're looking for some cool Bronze Age horror/suspense stories then you won't go wrong with Tales of Ghost Castle (I'm just gonna assume issue #1 is a winner too).  

These issues haven't been reprinted or collected in English (it looks like there are some French reprints), so you'll have to grab the actual comics.  I found both of mine in the back issue bins (Paid two bucks for one and five bucks for the other) so they're out there.  Keep your eyes peeled, Tales of Ghost Castle is some quality Bronze Age spooky stuff!

UP NEXT. . .

I've got a special treat for my Longbox Junk readers.  

I'm digging into the definitely NON-Junk end of my collection to do a GOLDEN AGE horror review!  That's right. . .I've got a gen-u-wine EC horror comic for you!  The kind of stuff that brought on the Comics Code! Because you deserve it!

Seriously, as far as I can tell, mine will be the FIRST review of this Golden Age goodie that's ever been done. EC'S VAULT OF HORROR #36!

Be there or be square.

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Longbox Junk Halloween Horror 2023 Part 13 - Supernatural Thrillers #5 (1973)

Welcome to Longbox Junk, where I just keep on piling in comic reviews nobody asked for!

We're up to part THIRTEEN of the 2023 Longbox Junk Halloween Party! Looking around the room, I see that there's something missing.  Let's see. . .monsters, aliens, vampires, ghosts, werewolves. . .GOT IT!  Let's invite a MUMMY to this thing!

Number thirteen.  Lucky or unlucky? Let's find out!

Marvel (1973)

COVER: Rich Buckler (with John Romita, Sr.)


I really like this cover.  Rich Buckler does a fine job of capturing the looming menace of the bandaged bad guy!  This is a cover that displays the FULL fury of Mighty Marvel Bombast with all the text. . .I can almost hear a guy doing an overblown, yet earnest, narration over an old-school movie trailer.  Overall, this is a great Halloween cover and a frequent flier on my October Halloween theme "Wall O' Covers" display.


SCRIPT:  Steve Gerber
PENCILS: Rich Buckler
INKS: Frank Chiaramonte


We begin our tale in Israeli-occupied Egypt. . .The Gaza Strip, 1973.  A pair of Israeli soldiers have a horrifying encounter in the middle of the night with a gigantic bandaged being.  

The encounter leaves one soldier dead as the creature wanders off into the night. . .

Shifting scenes to Cairo several days later, we are introduced to Ron and Janice, two anthropologists, as well as their friend and mentor, Doctor Skarab, which is in no way a villain name. Nope.  

The three of them have been working together to solve a historical mystery. . .a missing African tribe and a missing Pharaoh from a little known period of African history.  

Skarab has just finished translating a papyrus that sheds some light on their quest.

The papyrus tells the story of the Pharaoh Arem-Set and how he enslaved an African tribe called the Swarilis to build a temple to his glory.  

The Swarilis had a mighty king named N'Kantu, a giant of a man whose spirit was never broken by the abuse heaped on him by the Egyptians.  At night, he and the rest of the tribe plotted rebellion and escape. . .

Learning of the rebellion through his high priest, Nephrus, the Pharaoh decides that once his temple is finished, he will put the entire Swarili tribe to death .

But somehow, N'Kantu learned of the Pharaoh's plans to destroy his tribe.  And so, when the temple was complete and the tribe were being led into the depths to be killed, N'Kantu and the Swarili's strike!

The slaves lead a bloody revolt to the very halls of the Pharaoh's palace.  N'Kantu kills the Pharaoh with a spear, and then rushes in to find and kill the high priest!

As N'Kantu confronts Nephrus, the wicked priest throws a paralyzing drug into the African King's eyes! Unable to move or lead his people, the rebellion is quickly put down and Nephrus drags K'Kantu into the temple to enact his revenge on the rebellious slave King!

N'Kantu is forced to take even more paralyzing drugs, as well as a concoction that Nephrus tells the unfortunate King will make him immortal!  And then, the full wickedness of the priest's punishment is made horribly clear as N'Kantu is wrapped in bandages and put into a coffin, where Nephrus tells him he will remain, alive but unable to move. . .forever.

But shortly after N'Kantu is buried alive, a massive earthquake completely destroys the city and temple.  Nephrus escapes alive, but his fate is lost to history. . .

After he's finished telling the strange tale on the papyrus, Doctor Skarab begins to monologue in an ABSOLUTELY non-villainous way about how he believes the is the ancestor of the High Priest Nephrus, and that if the story on the papyrus is true (as he believes), then the secret of immortality could be found if they could only find where N'Kantu is buried and then study him!  

Ron just sort of laughs it all off as Doctor Skarab just needing some rest.  After all, you'd have to be crazy to believe all that, right? RIGHT?


The mummy has somehow been drawn to Cairo, where it is wreaking havoc through the city, confused at its strange surroundings and not understanding why he's there.  Doctor Skarab sees the news reports of the enraged creature bashing his way around Cairo and tells Ron and Janice that this is their chance to try and capture the mummy and study it!

As the three of them rush off, they don't realize that the mummy has been drawn to Skarab's home.  He arrives moments after they leave and falls, exhausted, to the floor of Skarab's study into a deep sleep.

When Doctor Skarab and company return, they are astounded to find the object of their search just laying there on the study floor sleeping.  Skarab immediately grabs a pistol and tries to shoot the mummy in the head, only to discover that bullets don't harm it.  Worse, the shot wakes the mummy!

The mummy rises, begging Skarab to save him in ancient Egyptian. . .calling the doctor Nephrus.  Janice and Ron don't CARE what the mummy is trying to say.  They get the heck outta there!

Outside Skarab's house, the police have followed the mummy and are setting up to rush in just as Janice and Ron rush out.  They hit the mummy with some tear gas as it chases Janice and Ron, but all that does is make it angry and sort of sad for some reason.

The police open fire and find out that their bullets don't hurt the mummy either. . .but now they've made it mad!  He pulls up a power pole and gets ready to deliver a sound beating to the horrified police.

Janice sees the sparking electricity from the live wires and realizes that the mummy doesn't understand the danger.  She goes from fleeing victim to would-be savior in a snap, shouting that SHE MUST SAVE HIM! While Ron and Skarab try to restrain her.

But Janice's shouts are in vain.  The mummy steps into some water and instantly learns a very valuable lesson in modern energy as it is electrocuted!

After the monster falls, Skarab steps forward and tells the police that he wants to study the creature for not at ALL villainous purposes.  They don't know what else to do with the thing, and so the police give him permission to take the body and we end the story with the mummy laying there in the street, dead.  


The End.


Not bad.  I liked it.  The story has a definite B-Movie vibe to it that makes it fun.  Ron and Janice's oblivious ignorance to their part in Doctor Skarab's pretty obvious villain origin story is just so rich and cheesy to read.  You can tell that Steve Gerber was having a bit of fun writing this one.  Underneath all the darkness and overblown drama, there's an undercurrent of subversive humor that takes a little while to even see is there.  

But slathered thickly on top of that undercurrent is a pretty basic "Monster on the loose" story.  And that's a fun story too!  Reading this, it occurred to me that there's really not that many mummy comics out there. 

 I guess it's kind of hard to keep following the same "He was buried alive!" story path over and over again.  Gerber does a decent job of switching things up by making the mummy an African slave instead of an Egyptian nobleman or priest like you would normally expect in a mummy story.

On the art side of things, Rich Buckler was a VERY prolific mainstay artist.  Not the greatest Bronze Age artist, and not my favorite, but a solid artist with a LOT of  good work under his belt.  This isn't Buckler's best work, but it's pretty good.  There's even a few standout moments here and there.


All in all, this is a comic that's just plain fun.  It's cheesy and ridiculous and ends pretty abruptly, but that doesn't stop this from being just a fun monster story backed up with some pretty good art.  And really. . .what more can you ask for in a comic book?  I've said it before, and I'll say it again. . .not every comic has to be a masterpiece.  Sometimes you just want a fun story!

I guess enough people agreed with that sentiment to carry what would SEEM to be a one and done monster story forward into several decades worth of appearances, right up to his recent "death" at the hands of Deadpool in 2014.  Forty years? Not a bad run for a character that seems to die in his very first story.

I can heartily recommend this issue to anyone looking for a good Bronze Age monster story, as well as the remaining 9 out of 10 issues of Supernatural Thrillers starring the character, mostly in the hands of Tony Isabella and artist Val Mayerik (who does a MUCH better job with the mummy than Rich Buckler, in my humble opinion).    I WAS going to do a review of one of the Isabella/Mayerik issues, but I just love the cover on this one more. 

Finding this issue (or any issue of Supernatural Thrillers) in the bargain bin probably isn't going to happen (but never say never!).  They aren't the kind of "valuable" that will put your kids through school, but there's a little money in them for collectors who care about that sort of thing. 

The good news is that the issues have all been reprinted at least 3 times in various collections and omnibus editions, so if you just want to read the stories without digging too deep into your wallet, you can do that.  

Overall, if you're looking for a fun Bronze Age monster story, Supernatural Thrillers #5 is where it's at!

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Be there or be square.