This Magazine Is Haunted #4
0 comment Friday, May 30, 2014 |
Well this little comic is pretty honest about what it has to offer, isn't it? After reading the entire thing, I'm happy to report that my residence remains uncontaminated by any pesky poltergeists (but what are these voices in my head? Hahahahahaha! *Twitch*). Today's four-color horror is brought to you by Fawcett, the same comic company that gave the world Captain Marvel, champion of the great wizard Shazam (no relation to the equally magical ShamWow). And take a look at that knockout zombie cover. Mmmmmm. Please allow the ghoulish Doctor Death to guide you through the insanity and terror that haunts this magazine...
Justin Westrum spares no time with fancy monologues or necessary exposition before he poisons the glass of his friend and business partner Mack Wilson. As the agonizing throes of death enthrall him, Mack swears to Justin that he will hold Justin to his toast of accompanying him in death and beyond by "keeping an eye on him." Justin finds out just how literal ol' Mack's words were when he notices how one of the chap's eyes refuses to close even in death. Even after dumping the corpse in the nearby lake, Justin is haunted by the wide and ever staring pupil of death! He begins seeing the organ everywhere he goes, from the food he eats to the flowers that adorn Mack's grave. Meeting Mack's reanimated cadaver in the cemetery one night, Justin is told by his murdered buddy that he will continue to be tormented until his spirit is completely broken. It will be then that Mack will come calling for Justin's soul and escort him into the land of the dead as his BFF. Can Justin deny his ultimate fate or will he finally succumb to the maddening presence of the Constant Eye...?
Wow, what a doozy! This story has obvious roots in Edgar Allan Poe's immortal "The Tell-Tale Heart" (the Vulture Eye!) with the nefarious protagonist being haunted by the guilt of his crime. Don't expect to find high class literature when you dig into this one though. It's pretty goofy through and through. The character of Justin is the inspiration for some funny lines: "You're not eyes! You're fireflies!" But most bizarre of all is the rejuvenated remains of Mack. After swearing that he will follow Justin wherever he goes, Mack pops up time and again in a variety of guises. Policeman, cab driver... chick at a costume party? And again as a curvy woman posing rather seductively on a street corner? If you think I'm crazy, check out this passage from Justin's first meeting with Brought-Back Mack: "The empty socket in Mack Wilson's head was a circle of temptation for Justin. It drew him like a magnet. He suffered a burning desire to peer within its darkness, to penetrate its mystery!" You tell me what's going on here, folks.
Warren Travers is the typical disbelieving jerk who is coaxed by his fiancee Anna into attending a seance held by the mysterious Count Drasni in his gloomy mansion outside of town. Warren soon finds himself on the wrong end of the spiritual connection when the ghostly essence of his soul leaves his body. His excitement is short lived when he is suddenly assaulted by the Seven Dwarves of the Damned. They're actually the despairing and wicked souls of deceased murderers and suicides. Same thing. Anyway, Grumpy is intent on taking over Warren's body so he can sport a neat looking flesh suit. The troll succeeds and Warren is left in limbo, constantly teased by the other spirits while they play their Ghostly Games and forced to watch his own body be an ass to Anna. But Warren isn't going down without a fight. He tactfully plans to make Anna aware of his peril and alarm Drasni of the situation before the goblin inhabiting his body can complete the machine that will bring back the souls of the dead to wreak havoc on the Earth...!
That one was a mouthful. Surprisingly it really isn't all that bad. Out of all the horror comic stories I've read (from the more unknown magazines, that is) this one seems to have a bit of originality to it. The climax in the laboratory actually manages to build some suspense and excitement as well. Who knew? Shivering spooks make for a fun read, even though some of the ghosts look like rejects from a failed Disney project. Heebie jeebies!
Jasper Kafacho is just enjoying a conversation with the wax figurines in his carnival tent when beefy Fleece Barton decides to bust the tea party up. The sleazy barker is unsatisfied with Kafacho's inability to pull in any money with his grotesque art pieces. Demanding that the blind little curator leave for the umpteenth time, Barton is set off by the hunchback's stubborn refusal and ends up strangling the creep. Realizing his crime, Barton decides to hide the body within the mirrored depths of the "Crazy House." It's a good idea until Barton finds that he's gotten himself hopelessly lost. A few turns later and he comes face-to-face with Casper! No, it's just Jasper and he is pissed. The zombie drags the whimpering Barton to a supernatural courtroom where the wax figures serve as jury and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is the high judge. It is here that Barton will meet his final judgment and face the hell of melting wax and the hangman's noose! Kinky...
A pretty standard story to cap the issue. I have to admit, when I first read the story I instantly rolled my eyes when I heard the first mentioniong of wax figures. "Oh geez," I thought. "Another story with a wax museum setting?" It's true that many, many tales of horror use this atmosphere to illicit chills from the reader/viewer. It takes a lot of ingenuity from the artists involved to make their story unique and stand out from the rest. This particular tale does a rather admirable job at making it memorable. It really kicks into gear after Barton is confronted by Jasper in the funhouse. Then things take a surreal turn (for the better) when Barton is brought into the "courtroom." Nightmare proportions and imagery abounds in these panels. The judge's stand looms menacingly over Barton and the setting includes such weird elements as barren trees, rotted pillars, and a random volcano. It all culminates very nicely in deliciously hot climax. Yowza!
Awhahaha! Haunted, indeed! This issue seems to provide more chuckles than thrills, but that's fine by me! The stories and art are really nothing to write home about, but you could always do much worse. If you're running low on comic selections for your next descent into depravity, you wouldn't do yourself any harm by checking out this dusty ditty. Or maybe you would. There's some fun in that too! Dohohohohoho!

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