Sunday, January 26, 2020

Scream #6

Salvador Faba provides the cover for this issue of Scream, cover dated June 1974.

First is "The Vampire of the Opera" by Al Hewetson (story) and Ricardo Villamonte (art). The story begins at a funeral home as our protagonist, Clayton Stokes, a vampire is cremated while in a coffin. We then learn of Clayton's backstory. Grown up in Harlem, he was a bad kid from a young age, a thief, a murderer and by the age of 21 had built himself up quite a bit in the criminal world until a beating from his enemies causes him to lose his reputation. He flees to Switzerland where he falls in love with and marries a beautiful young noble woman, Countess Lugos, after murdering her grandfather. Her uncle comes to stay with them and he soon discovers both are vampires and they turn him into one too. Clayton kills the uncle then his wife and returns to Manhattan where he slays criminals and sleeps in an opera house. He is able to escape from authorities by turning into a bat, but upon returning is confronted by his own father, who is brandishing a cross and ashamed of his son's actions. Clayton eventually kills him before a crowd and is beaten by them, then put in the coffin where he is cremated. A lengthy, but fairly good story to kick off the issue. Villamonte's art is quite inconsistent though, ranging from quite good at times to quite poor at others.

"The Vampire of the Opera"
Next is "Ms. Found in a Bottle", an adaption of the Edgar Allen Poe story, with Al Hewetson doing the adaption and Alphonso Font doing the art. A man comes across a bottle, inside is a manuscript/journal entry written some 20 years prior. It speaks of a man who was on a ship in the ocean, but when it was struck by a great storm everyone else on board died. The man eventually sees another, far larger ship approaching, which destroys his ship. He is able to go on board though, finding it fill of ancient looking men who do not even acknowledge him. The man stays on the ship and writes his journal, believing that he is on a ship of the dead as it seems invulnerable even as icebergs smash through it. As the story ends we see the ship sinking into a whirlpool by the south pole. This story is similar in nature to "Descent into the Maelstrom", another Poe tale, although more macabre in tone.

Third is "Frakenstein 2073: Death of the Monster" by Al Hewetson (story) and Cesar Lopez (art). Frankenstein's monster awakens and finds he is now in the year 2073, an age where nearly all men have died out due to a disease that has come in from space. The few men still alive are in captivity by women, forced to father more children so the species will continue. A woman finds the monster and brings him to her queen. Along the way we have a 2 page recap of the monster's creation (making sense given how sporadically this series appears). The monster reaches the queen, but refuses to be her king or father any children. He lies down and dies, and this series comes to a close. The monster finds himself in a quite an enviable position, yet decides its not for him and dies (although with no explanation how). This is described as the final part to the series although it says if demand is there, it may be brought back. This was a fairly decent series, but that was mostly back in Skywald's early days when Tom Sutton was creating it.

Fourth is the latest story in the Nosferatu series, "... and the Gutters Ran with Blood" by Al Hewetson (story) and Zesar Lopez (art). Nosferatu calls for Jacques Dupoin, who wears a rat mask to tell his story next. Jacques was once a detective in Paris, but he fell for a beautiful woman who used information he gave her to blackmail a politician. Jacques is found out, fired and the woman leaves him as well. He is cast from society and reduced to working in the sewers. There he decides that he will become a great criminal. He plots to steal a painting from the Louvre, but once inside he is found out. He flees to the sewers. He is shocked to find out that it was the woman who ratted him out and he is shot, falling back into the sewers where the rats consume his body. Back in the present he takes off his mask and hood, revealing his mostly eaten body. This series continues to be one of the biggest highlights of Scream, providing strong art from Zesar and some interesting and moody anthology tales.

"The Saga of the Victims"
We conclude with the first story in "The Saga of the Victims" series, titled "What is Horror? No, Who is Horror?" by Al Hewetson (story) and Jesus Suso Rego (art). Josey Forster and Anne Adams are students at Scollard Manse in Manhattan. One night upon returning to their dorms from a date they are grabbed by strange looking mutant humanoid creatures who bring them down with them through some tunnels. They eventually bring them to some stocks, where they are bound up and a hooded woman comes out telling them they are on trial for trespassing and will be tortured until dead. They are then brought by the mutants into a padded cell. Anne is able to strangle one of the mutants who comes in the cell and they flee. While watching the hooded figure they realize it is their headmistress, Jaspers. They follow her up some stairs, get into a confrontation and upon fighting over a torch, Jaspers is killed. Upon making it up to the streets of Manhattan they realize that they are the only 2 normal people and everyone now looks like one of the mutants. Suddenly they are grabbed via plastic bags that fall on them from above and are pulled up on top of a building by a normal looking man who says he is a doctor. The man speaks in riddles, saying that Horror is who is behind all of this. He leaves them in a room and soon comes in a man with no skin! This is one of Skywald's more well known series, in particular for Suso's strong art and the rather nonsensical plot, made to be as unpredictable as possible. And this opening story certainly delivers. Suso provides some of the best art we've seen in a Skywald story yet and it is an off the wall story, especially with its ending. I look forward to the several more stories we will be getting in this series.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Nightmare #19

Been a busy month for me, but I'm back with another issue of Nightmare; Sebastia Boada provides the cover which is dated June 1974.

First is the frontispiece "The Hounds of the Baskervilles" by Al Hewetson (story) and Ferran Sostres (art).

Next is the first full length story, "What the Hell is Dracula Doing Alive and Well in 1974?!" by Al Hewetson (story) and Ricardo Villamonte (art, miscredited to Jesus Duran). The story starts quite absurd, Dracula comes across a man in an alley and tells him he can make him a vampire if he pays him $10,000! The story then moves ahead to a while later. Many rich people have come to Dracula's castle in Romania where he refuses their money, but plans to still make them vampires as they desire. He reveals a new plan however, to establish a society under the sea. He brings them there, saying he has already brought many here to what he will call Transylvania II. When they arrive however, they are shocked to find everyone dead! A part fish part man monster has killed them all. In flashback we find that the creature had hoped to become part of the society but was shunned, so she attacked and killed them all. She kills even Dracula, tearing his head off his body and as the story ends we are told the creature will make the remains of Dracula's body her mate. This story is another one of those really ridiculous, over the top Skywald stories and I loved it quite a bit. Pretty much the whole plot is quite absurd and ridiculous, but I feel that is when Hewetson is at his best.

"What the Hell is Dracula Doing Alive and Well in 1974?!"
Third is "William Wilson", an adaption of the Edgar Allen Poe story by Al Hewetson, with art by Alphonso Font. The titular William is surprised when he finds another student who looks just like him and has the same name, although he is quite evil and even witnesses him stabbing someone. Years pass and upon turning 21, William inherits a vast fortune and starts participating in debaucheries. During this time he doesn't see the other William or even think of him. Eventually the other William appears though to stop him pursuing a woman, then to reveal him as a cheater at gambling, which gets him kicked out of Oxford. The other William continues to appear as he flees throughout many countries, and William decides to kill him. He successfully slays him with a sword, at which point William himself also dies and we realize the other self was his conscience. I have never read this Poe story, so I'm not sure how accurate an adaption it is. I can say the ending was extremely predictable from the start, perhaps that is why it is not as well known as some other Poe stories. Font continues to provide a fairly good art job.

Fourth is another story in the Shoggoths series, "The Vault" by Al Hewetson (story, credited to Howie Anderson) and Jose Cardona (art). Hewetson himself is again the star of the story, traveling through the area of Kilmarnock in Scotland. He talks to a man on the train who tells him Shoggoths had lived around there. Along with Jose Cardona, Hewetson returns to the Welloch Gravesite that he had visited before and they dig some graves up at night. A night later they find a Shoggoth in the graveyard, having eaten a body. They flee, making their way into a vault held by Hewetson's family where they are confronted by a Shoggoth and crush it with a coffin. They continue down into a city beneath the ground occupied by the Shoggoths. Hewetson and Cardona go to the police, the government, etc... but no one believes them so they blow up the city with dynamite, having found the Shoggoths have already left. Another fairly good story in this series; Cardona provides some good art and Hewetson continues to be really good at aping Lovecraft's literary style.

"The Kingdom of the Dead"
Fifth is "Tales out of Hell: The Kingdom of the Dead" by Al Hewetson (story) and Jesus Duran (art). The young boy Walter Thurber is caught sleeping in class with fake glasses and we find that he loves to daydream and fantasize. In another lecture the teacher talks about a myth from Crete, where the wind turns into a human form, the God Darbaras Doom. Darbaras seeks to take down the evil queen Melinia, but her guards are able to defeat him and the teacher says that history is less romantic than myth. Walter says however that he actually was there, as Darbaras, and it didn't happen that way. In actuality Darbaras had defeated Melinia, but she told him there was another ruler above her and she could make him her king. This results in him staying with her, but when he realizes it was all a ruse, he kills her by cutting off her head, just as a revolution starts occurring. We head back to the present where Walter goes into some sort of self-induced suspended animation. His doctors believe he is the reincarnated Darbaras Doom. With this the story ends, although it indicates there will be another part. Duran's art is quite good here (I particularly like his job on Melinia), but the story itself is a bit confusing and hard to get at times.

Next is "My Tomb is My Castle", the latest in the Autobiography of a Vampire series by Al Hewetson (story) and Ricardo Villamonte (art). Judas the vampire tells of how once upon a time he had lived in a house, around 100 years ago in Georgia. Judas watches a funeral, as an old man sadly buries his wife and is left by his children. Judas feels sorry for him and helps him when he falls (as it is revealed the old man is blind). The kindly old man lets Judas stay with him for a while and tells him of various stories of his wife. Eventually Judas grows to dislike him and in an argument over a fire, he ends up burning down the old man's home and leaving. It is here where story reveals that Judas was the one who killed the old man's wife by draining her blood. While I've never been much of a fan of Villamonte's art, the writing in this series continues to be pretty good and this is the best story in it yet. I loved the twist.
"My Tomb is My Castle"

We conclude with the latest in the Gargoyles series, "The Human Gargoyles vs. the United States of America" by Al Hewetson (story) and Maelo Cintron (art). The gargoyles - Edward, Mina and their son Andrew finish traveling the southern states of the US and return to Manhattan where they have their day in immigration court. Judge Wallace permits them to stay in the US and they head outside, stopping by a public library. Edward senses evil from the lion statue there, and fearing it will attack some nearby civilians fights and destroys it. No one else sees the lion move though and Edward is thrown in jail for destroying it. Judge Wallace briefly visits him but he will have to stay in jail for the time being. This series continues to hold little interest for me, and I am surprised at how overboard the punishment is for destroying the statue. I get a fine, but going to jail over it? Seems pretty ridiculous to me. A mediocre end to what is a fairly good issue.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Psycho #18

Xavier Villanova provides the cover for this issue, cover dated May 1974. An interesting concept, in the form of a jigsaw puzzle!

First is "The Macabre" by Al Hewetson (story) and Ricardo Villamonte (art). Movie actor Basil's agent comes up with an idea for him to hype up his role as vampires by having him pretend to be a vampire in real life, carrying around a coffin with him. But this leads to a real vampire encountering him, and when he discovers it is all a gag, the vampire bites him, turning him into a vampire for real! Basil flees from society, living on an island and only succumbing to his urges to bite someone occasionally. He eventually comes up with a cure for vampirism and drinks it, turning himself back into a regular human. Unfortunately for him at that very moment a mob of villagers have come to the village and slay him with an ax! Villamonte's art as often is the case leaves a lot to be desired, but this was a fairly strong story with a hilarious ending.

Next is a one page pin up of Lady Satan as drawn by Pablo Marcos. I'm not sure why we are featuring her in Psycho when she usually appears in Scream.

"The Rats'
Next is "The Rats" by Al Hewetson (story) and Felipe Dela Rosa (art). Our protagonist, Syd, has gone insane and we go to when he became insane, when he is riding a tractor and sees his family's entire home collapse into a fissure in the ground. We then see that he is in an asylum with people watching over him as he proclaims the rats will get him. We cross cut between them talking about him and him thinking back to him driving around, heading to a city but it being flooded and then running into an elevator overrun with rats. Syd eventually admits he is insane. We find that he is one of many individuals, who after being coddled by the government couldn't take it when some natural disasters happened. They head outside revealing that things actually have been flooded and he is obsessed over rats because he ate some when trapped in an elevator for three days. This story comes off as a less successful attempt at a redo of "Diary of an Absolute Madman" from the same creators a number of issues back in Nightmare.

Fourth is "A Descent into the Maelstrom", an adaption of the Edgar Allen Poe story by Al Hewetson, with Cesar Lopez providing the art. Two men look into the sea at a maelstrom, aka a whirlpool far off. The older of the two tells of how he was caught up in one a while ago. His ship was blast into pieces, with only him and his brother left alive. He eventually realized that in order to survive he had to be as light as possible and tied himself to a barrel. Meanwhile his brother refused to leave the much larger remains of the ship and was sucked into the whirlpool while he survived. As the story ends we realize that despite looking old with his white hair, he is a young man and looks that way due to his experience. A rather unconventional Poe story, that isn't macabre as usual and is more of an adventure tale.

"Now... Another Maniac!"
Fifth is "Now... Another Maniac!" by Al Hewetson (story) and Maelo Cintron (art). This is actually the first Skywald story I ever read, from a horror comics story collection I read a few years ago. It is a rare appearance for Cintron outside of the Gargoyles series. Our protagonist gets up at night, planning to kill a man. While pulling out of the driveway he runs over a bike. He finds his victim, takes him at gunpoint and forces him to dig his own grave, striking him in the head with it once its done, then buries him. When he arrives home he is shocked to find the police there. But it is not for his murder, rather he had run over a kid and killed him when he hit the bike at the start of the story. A fairly strong story with some effective art as well, this reads a lot more like a Warren story from this era than a Skywald one.

Next is "Uncle Ed's Grave" by Al Hewetson (story) and Alphonso Font (art). The titular Uncle Ed speaks to his nephew Ralph, admitting that he is a vampire. Ralph does not believe him, but Ed claims that most fantastical things related to vampires aren't real and he is nonetheless one. He speaks of how his own uncle made him a vampire when he was a child and once a year he drinks someone's blood, but otherwise lives a normal life. Ed tries to attack Ralph, but he throws him to the ground and he appears dead of a heart attack. We find that Ralph came here to seize his uncle's jewels, but with him now dead he needs to dispose of the body. He plans to bury him in the local graveyard. He talks of how Ed wasn't ever discussed as part of the family and his apparent insanity was the reason why. Yet when about to mark a gravestone for him, Ralph realizes that Ed was born in 1822 and is 150 years old, which explains why he was never spoke of. Suddenly Ed's arms break out of the ground and grab a hold of Ralph. It is here where the story ends, quite abruptly. I wonder if we'll get a second part as this seems like an odd place to end it.

"Uncle Ed's Grave"
Seventh is "The Boutique Macabre" by Al Hewetson (story) and Antonio Borrell (art). This is a brief story at only three pages. A man stops by the store Leah's Boutiques and inside meets Leah, a young woman who has many paintings of her killing people. She reveals how each of them are real. She killed the drunk that was rude and tried to assault her, she poisoned the old women who claimed it was immoral for a woman to operate her own business and then she shows him a blank painting. Leah claims he will be the subject of that painting and stabs him.

Last is "Monster, Monster, Watch Them Die" by Augustine Funnell (story) and Ricardo Villamonte (art). The story begins with our werewolf protagonist going on yet another rampage. Then we see Dominik, prince of the gypsies shoot Kirsten and we find that the veiled woman from the previous story has seized the amulet and restored her beauty. She leaves Nola to Dominik, who takes her at gunpoint and we later find has killed her. Our protagonist, discovering this, becomes enraged, turns back into a werewolf and kills Dominik, then cries over Nola's death. The gypsy storyline finally resolved, this would be the perfect place to end this very mediocre series, but alas, the ending states we will get more chapters...

Friday, January 3, 2020

Scream #5

Fernando Fernandez provides a particularly scary looking cover for this issue of Scream, cover dated April 1974.

First is the second chapter in "The Autobiography of a Vampire", by Al Hewetson (story) and Ricardo Villamonte (art). Our titular vampire (called Judas in the prior story) continues his tale. Now a young man, he travels to Barcelona where he meets many women, but falls for one, Maria, he finds swimming in a nearby river. Unfortunately when Judas tells Maria's father he has no money or prospects, he throws him out. Judas asks Maria to elope but she too rejects him, so he bites her neck and kills her. These many years later he still regrets it. This is another one of those stories where Villamonte's art is quite inconsistent. On some pages it is really strong, at the quality of someone like Esteban Maroto, while in other pages it looks quite rushed.

Next is another story in the Darkkos Manse story, "Get Up and Die Again" by Al Hewetson (story,credited to Howie Anderson) and Alphonso Font (art). A man who bears a resemblance to Frankenstein's monster is seized and hung. A Dr. Ingels wants his body, but the sheriff will only provide it to him if he agrees to murder his wife for him. Ingels does it; poisoning her. He takes the man's body and is able to successfully resurrect it, a real life Frankenstein's monster. The monster is horrified at being brought to life and demands Ingels create him a mate, so he raises the sheriff's wife back to life. But she knows it is he who murdered her. The monster kills her, then turns on Ingels and kills him, then heads to the swamp. Font did very little work for Warren (only one story if I remember correctly) but will get several stories here at Skywald, with this being his debut. He does quite a good job and I look forward to seeing more from him. A fairly decent story too. Ingels' name has got to be a reference to EC's Ghastly Graham Ingels.
"The Autobiography of a Vampire"

Third is "The Cask of Amontillado" an adaption of the Edgar Allen Poe story, with adaption by Al Hewetson and art by Maro Nava. This classic Poe tale tells the story of a man who seeks to end the life of a colleague named Fortunato who is a wine connoisseur. Our protagonist claims he has a bottle of the wine Amontillado and Fortunato comes with him down to a vault where he is chained to the wall and then walled up behind some bricks. The overall plot of this story is fairly simple (and this is at least the fourth comics adaption I've read of this story). Nava's artwork this time bears some resemblance to Rafael Auraleon.

Fourth is "The Black Orchids and the Tale of Anne" by Al Hewetson (story) and Jose Cardona (art). A young woman named Anne is cared for in an asylum. When she is let outside to look at some orchids she grows angry and destroys them. One of the doctors tells Anne's history. She had caught her husband walking with another woman and murdered them both. Further flashbacks shows that the woman was Anne's sister! Anne was quite beautiful while her sister Mary was not. Once Anne married her husband, he spent some time with Mary, who grew in love with him and he cared for her inner beauty. Anne caught them together and killed them. It is explained that Anne hates beautiful things and they can't let her see herself or she'd try to destroy herself. Unfortunately she isn't guarded very well, walks past a mirror and reacts by swinging an axe into her face! This is a fairly strong story, with a good ending and Cardona does a very good job on the art. His style is very reminiscent of Jose Gonzalez at many points in the story.

"The Black Orchids and the Tale of Anne"
Fifth is "The Conqueror Worm and the Haunted Palace" another Poe adaption, by Al Hewetson, with art by Domingo Gomez. This two page feature combines the two Poe poems, The Conqueror Worm and The Haunted Palace. Gomez's art as usual is quite good.

Sixth is "Are You Dead Yet?" by Al Hewetson (story) and Ricardo Villamonte (art). A man named Simon Toubin tells of how a group of four individuals come to visit his asylum. He initially shows them a few patients, but soon they find one of them dead and that there is a killer on the loose. Chaos ensues, more people die and we find that Simon has let many of the inmates run wild! Eventually it is revealed that one of the guests is the killer and he is thrown in an asylum himself. This story is rather confusing with it hard to tell characters apart at times (and part of me wonders if some pages are out of order). Ultimately results in an overall weak effort.

Seventh is "Shift: Vampire" by Augustine Funnell (art) and Emilio Bernardo (art). As with many Skyald stories this one is a bit hard to comprehend. It identifies two vampires, one in 1973 and another in 2073 (at least I think that is the case, when I first read it I thought they were the same character) who have a time machine that can send them back in time or forward in time by 100 years. Both end up getting pursued by people, so they jump in the time machine. Because they both do so at the same time though, they get trapped in some sort of eternal shift and get stuck in time as a result. At least that's the way I interpret how this rather confusing story ends.

"The Picture of Dorian Gray"
We conclude with an adaption of Oscar Wilde's "The Picture of Dorian Gray", with adaption by Al Hewetson and art by Zesar Lopez. The beautiful young man Dorian Gray acts as model for a portrait by his friend Basil. When the art purchaser Henry Wotton arrives to look at it, he becomes fascinated with Dorian's face. Dorian states that he wishes he could stay young and attractive like he does now forever and that the painting would age in his place. Through the influence of Henry, Dorian starts living a life of hedonism, constantly partying, drinking and sleeping with various women. He notices a change in the painting, with a grimace appearing on his face and decides to hide it in the attic. As time goes by the painting continues to change, with the painting looking meaner, uglier and more decrepit while in reality Dorian remains exactly the way he is. Dorian becomes quite disgusted with the painting, which is showing his true self. Over 30 years goes by and he is visited by Basil, who is shocked to see Dorian still looks the same and grows quite angry when he sees the horrifying state the painting is in. He attacks Dorian, who ends up stabbing him with a sword. Dorian, disgusted by his actions attacks the painting with the sword. His servants find the scene later, with Basil dead, Dorian also dead, now aged and quite horrifying looking and the painting has returned to its original state. Having read the original book I can say that this adaption is quite abbreviated, but does a good job hitting at the high points of what is a pretty well known tale. Zesar's art is quite strong as usual and he is effective at the contrast between Dorian's face and the painting.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Nightmare #18

Jose Antonio Domingo provides the cover for this issue of Nightmare, cover dated April 1974.

This issue's stories are identified as the 7 Tales of the Man-Macabre. Zesar Lopez provides us with an introduction page featuring editor Al Hewetson.

First is "The Vampire" by Al Hewetson (story, credited to Howie Anderson) and Zesar Lopez (art, miscredited to Cesar Lopez). This isn't so much a story, but rather a display of four different possible endings to a scenario where a woman, Anne, has been seized and bitten by a vampire and her father and lover come to rescue her. In the first ending, Anne tricks the vampire into staking himself by laying in his coffin where she has placed it. In the second ending there are suddenly several other female vampires and Anne pulls open a curtain, causing the sun to kill her and the other vampires. In the third ending the vampire bites the lover but Anne kills the vampire with the cross and she and her lover remain as vampires themselves. In the fourth ending the vampire holds Anne hostage but she stakes herself and him at the same time, killing them both. Zesar's art is the highlight here; I do at least appreciate they didn't waste our time by dragging out all these different endings across 4 different stories.

"The Werewolf"
Second is "The Werewolf" by Al Hewetson (story) and Jesus Suso Rego (art). A Dr. Wescott comes to an asylum to meet Dr. Mann. Just after arriving, one of the patients, Elton, escape and changes into a werewolf with the full moon. Mann shows Wescott around, revealing that their 56 inmates are all some sort of abnormal creatures. He shows him a were-vampire and even a were-lizard! As the story ends we realize how they are able to keep a hold of these monstrous prisoners and the doctors at the asylum, including Wescott are werewolves themselves! I enjoyed how ridiculous this story is and Suso provides his usual strong art.

Third is "The Creep" by Al Hewetson (story) and Jesus Duran (art). The ugly, short, hunchback Clarence, has been picked on his whole life and is known to the townsfolk as the Creep. He is only able to find work at the local graveyard burying the dead. Soon a man named Craw arrives with his young wife, asking Clarence to bury his brother. Craw reveals that he is from out of town and we soon find out why as he kills his wife once the grave is dug, claiming she and his brother were having an affair and he wanted to take care of things far away. In exchange for him staying quiet, Craw pays Clarence some money, but Clarence poisons him and buries him with his brother and wife. Clarence has had enough of what Craw had and threw away or flaunted such as his brother, wife and money and decides that it is time for him to live up to his nickname. Another pretty strong effort both from Duran and Hewetson here.

"The Creep"
Fourth is "The Dead Things" by Al Hewetson (story, credited to Stuart Williams) and Ricardo Villamonte (art). This is a brief story at only two pages long. A man buries his wife, but we soon find that he has a girlfriend and even brought her with him. Once everyone else leaves, hands erupt from the ground and pull both him and the girlfriend below the dirt.

Fifth is "The Vulture" by Al Hewetson (story, credited to Joe Dentyn) and Jose Cardona (art). Simon Walker is stranded in the desert after his jeep breaks down and comes across some vultures, including a newborn. He is soon rescued and brings the newborn with him, making it his pet. The vulture grows up, but we find that he has raised it with the purpose of it killing his business partner. When he shoots at the vulture it flees, eventually being found by a young boy who wants it as a pet. The boy's father refuses to let him have it though and the vulture kills him when he attacks it with an ax. The vulture makes its way to Germany where it is bound and put in a cage. A man comes and frees the vulture and bring it with him to his mansion, wanting him as a pet and revealing himself to be a vampire. But the vulture has had enough of humans and kills him, returning to the desert.

"The Thing in the Space"
Sixth is "The Ancient One" by Al Hewetson (story, credited to Howie Anderson) and Ricardo Villamonte (art). Jack Daniels, a reporter is the oldest man alive, 150 years old. One day a couple of men visit him claiming they are investigating a possible vampire outbreak and asking him about a prior report he made on the subject. Years before Daniels had come across a beautiful vampire and staked her to death, but no one believed him. When the men leave, Daniels goes to his basement where we realize that he didn't actually kill her. She has lived with him many years and is now old like him. The two argue, leading to Daniels staking her! As she is dying he feels bad, leans into her, and she stakes him too! Hearing the screams, the two men rush back, but is too late, Daniels and his companion have died.

We wrap up with "The Thing in the Space" by Al Hewetson (story, credited to Harvey Lazarus) and Emilio Bernardo (art). This story's host appears to be the Slither Slime Man from Psycho #9 (or at least looks like him) and calls himself the Man Macabre and speaks of how the themes of the prior six stories all make up who he is. This seventh story appears to be a take on Alice and Wonderland. Our main character (I will call her Alice to make it easier) follows a rabbit into a hole in the ground, bringing her into all sorts of adventures. She eats a cake that causes her to grow to great heights, she meets the Cheshire cat, nearly drowns in a flash flood, meets a caterpillar-like man constantly attacked by large demons, meets the mad hatter, the queen of hearts and nearly has her head chopped off, then wakes up, revealing it to all be a dream. Or was it? Many of the charters stand in her yard with axes ready. This story was all over the place, but then when you think about it, wasn't Alice in Wonderland that way?

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Psycho #17

Salvador Faba provides the cover for this issue of Psycho, cover dated March 1974.

We begin with "The Death Pit", a one page frontispiece by Al Hewetson (story) and Domingo Gomez (art). Featuring a band of the dead, this reminds me of the story "Phantom of the Rock Era" all the way back in Nightmare #4.

The first full length story is "The Black Sculpture of the Pharaohs" by Al Hewetson (story) and Ricardo Villamonte (art). A pharaoh obsesses over a cat statue he claims took him 20 years to find. He gets into an argument with his queen and stabs her to death, claiming it was an accident. She is buried in a tomb as a mummy, but soon after the pharaoh realizes the cat statue is gone, as is his wife's mummy! It is shown that this is a plot of his high priest, who seized the statue and the mummy to make it look like the dead queen did it. However the dead queen's mummy is indeed alive and kills the priest, then tosses his body where the pharaoh and others can see it. The pharaoh now knows the high priest was behind things and orders his men to search for his henchmen for the statue. He doesn't realize that the statue is in the tomb with the mummy of his dead queen. A rather weak start to the issue, with all that trouble about a statue and some weak art from Villamonte.
"The Death Pit"

Next is "This is Your Life, Sam Hammer, This is Your Death!" by Al Hewetson (story) and Jose Cardona (art). Police officer Sam Hammer is criticized by his boss for not making enough arrests and to catch some criminals in the act. Through information from a bum, Sam and his partner confront a crew of criminals making fake license plates. While trying to arrest them Sam is forced to kill one of them and his partner is killed in a machine. Suddenly, crazy things start happening. His sandwich is alive! He finds a corpse in the bathroom. The time clock punches him. And so on. He eventually wakes up at his own funeral! He is told that he is on a TV show, This is Your Life, This is Your Death. His partner and everyone else was in on it. They get prizes for their participation, while Sam gets punished by being killed! Quite a ridiculous story, and its a good thing they revealed the big action from the license plate criminals as being an act, as multiple people dying over fake license plates is considerably absurd.

"This is Your Life< Sam Hammer, This is Your Death!"
Third is "This is the Vault of the Living Dead!" by Al Hewetson (story, credited to Harvey Lazarus) and Maro Nava (art). A group of drunks in a bar attack a group of mysterious, peaceful hippies that come in and sleep during the day, and go out at night. The drunks try to push them around with no luck, then suspect they are vampires and bring them out in the daylight, but nothing happens to them. The drunks then go even further, murdering all the hippies. The drunks leave, but then the hippies get up and go find them, attacking them. It turns out they are indeed vampires, and that brief exposure to sunlight doesn't kill them after all. They are generally peaceful but the behavior of the drunks have caused them to satiate their hunger and attack them, sucking their blood. A rather weak story with some really over the top action by the characters and some particularly dreadful art by Nava.

Fourth is "These Are the Things That Are Dead" by Al Hewetson (story, credited to Howie Anderson) and Felipe Dela Rosa (art). A group of guys in Manhattan decide to steal a subway train. They jump inside, knock out the conductors and cause a big crash, jumping out of it mere seconds in advance. They then grab a car and go on a driving spree, hitting a parked car. When the policy arrive and find the car empty, we realize that the three of them have been dead all this time. Some okay art from Dela Rosa here, but the ending to this story I could see from miles away.

"The Narrative of Skut"
Fifth is "The Crime in Satan's Crypt!" by Ed Fedory (story) and Antonio Borrell (art). A man takes out a contract hit on a young woman in an alley. Dressed in robes, he hides from the police then finds his hiding place leads to a tom, which he heads into, finding solid gold and a casket with a dead body in it that makes him think it is alive. Soon a group of robed men, led by a naked woman show up, commanding the body, Lothodeus to rise and help guide them for the coming of Satan. The killer tries to flee, with the gold but is seen and chased. As he makes his way out the ceiling of the tomb starts collapsing. He makes it out just in time, only for a statue in the graveyard to fall on and kill him. A rather lame ending, but some good art from Borrell at least.

Next is "The Lunatic Class of '64" by Jane Lynch (story) and Emilio Bernardo (art). Walter Lyman says goodbye to his wife and kids, planning on going to his high school reunion. As he heads there we flashback to Walter being a loser in high school. The girl he liked rejected him due to his pimples. No one would sign his yearbook, he even has a girl who refuses to cheat from his notes when he offers. Walter arrives but surprisingly is treated well by his old classmates. Thinking everyone is in on a secret plot to make fun of him, he knocks over some candles, causing the entire place to burn down. In our final panel we see a classroom filled with skeletons! Lynch does a decent job in her Skywald debut, although I'm not really sure where she was going with the final panel.

Seventh is "The Narrative of Skut" by Al Hewetson (story) and Luis Collado (art). Some mobsters arrive at a local boarding house and shoot up the old lady who runs it. The small sized Skut runs errands for the mobsters including dragging out the body, getting them food and other errands. He decides to rat out the mobsters, revealing their location to another mob who shoot them up. Not wanting to be seen with the bodies, Skut brings them to the basement where the old woman appears, alive, despite the bullets already in her and the more Skut fires into her. She grabs a hold of him and drags him into the grave he dug, trapping him there until he starves to death. Collado's art is very strong here, including a number of very detailed, highly realistic looking panels.

We conclude with "Monster, Monster, Heed Death's Call" by Augustine Funnell (story) and Ricardo Villamonte (art). Our werewolf protagonist, now back to a human, the gypsy Kirsten and her daughter Nola travel, fleeing from the group of gypsies after them seeking an amulet Kirsten has. Kirsten decides to leave the werewolf behind but then the other gypsies arrive and attack her. the werewolf, now back in said form, goes on a rampage, slaughtering all of them except a veiled woman who has stayed back and at story's end removes her veil and swears the amulets will be hers. This series continues to be rather mediocre, with a rather dull, repeated plot and often inconsistent or poor art from Villamonte.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Scream #4

Xavier Villanova provides the cover for this issue of Scream, cover dated February 1974.

First is the latest Lady Satan story in "Satan Wants a Child" by Al Hewetson (story, credited to Howie Anderson) and Ricardo Villamonte (art). Lady Satan is brought before a demon who reveals that Satan has not yet forgiven her and seeks something else from her, a child. She is to wait in a bed for him, but awakens with Anne back in control of her body. She departs, heading back to the town of Salem and figures the only way to stop things from happening is to stab herself. It fails to kill her however and Lady Satan returns to having control of her body. She travels to be with Satan, they embrace and when Anne resumes control of her body she learns to her horror she is with Satan's child. This series continues to be rather lackluster for me, and the act of Anne and Lady Satan exchanging control of Anne's body is getting old.

"The Skull of the Ghoul"
Next is an adaption of Edgar Allen Poe's "The Oblong Box" with adaption by Al Hewetson and art by Maro Nava. This story tells of how our protagonist, traveling on a boat at sea sees his friend Wyatt also come on board with several servants, his wife and a large oblong box that he believes includes a painting. Wyatt's wife is quite vulgar and grotesque and Wyatt seems fit to rage and pass out. Eventually a large storm hits the ship and as it is destroyed, Wyatt chains himself to the box and sinks into the depths of the ocean. As the story concludes the captain reveals all. Wyatt's wife was in fact his servant, his real wife was dead, included in the box which was filled with salt. Our protagonist considers with horror what must have been going on with Wyatt and the box in his room at night. A pretty good Poe story; Nava's aping of Jerry Grandenetti continues including an extremely obvious swipe of a character from the story "The Adventure of the German Student" from Creepy #15.

Third is "The Skull of the Ghoul" by Al Hewetson (story) and Ferran Sostres (art). Traveling in a carriage across Barcelona is a carriage manned by a guard who is keeping a hold of a woman prisoner. When the driver of the carriage collapses dead, the woman takes the opportunity to break from her bonds and kill her guard. Feigning that she needs help, she travels into the town and is greeted by a Countess Sostres to brings her to her manse. There the countess shows our protagonist around, including showing her the skull of Dracula. Our protagonist plans to steal it and flee yet that night as she is about to do so she hears talking. It is the countess, talking to the skull! Our protagonist is taken a hold by Sostres' servants and she reveals she is a vampiress; she killed the driver of the carriage and will now drink her blood as well. Rather standard vampire fare, but Sostres' art is quite strong. For some odd reason this story is split into two parts, although the first part is a mere three pages long.
"The Lunatic Mummy"

Fourth is "The Legend of the Cannibal Werewolf" by Ed Fedory (story) and Ricardo Villamonte (art). A hunter named Sir Percy shows off the stuffed werewolf he hunted in Africa. He is asked to describe how he hunted it and we see him traveling through the jungle, and being attacked by the werewolf. Returning to the present, he reveals that the werewolf wasn't seeking to kill him, but find a mate and he transforms into a werewolf himself, along with his mate slaying everyone there. We will see another werewolves in love type story a bit later on which I consider quite a bit better than this rather "eh" story.

Fifth is "The Lunatic Mummy" by Al Hewetson (story, credited to Howie Anderson) and Cesar Lopez (art). This story is Lopez's Skywald debut. A man named Emmanuel Humphrey travels through the desert, stopping to rest at an oasis. While sleeping a group of religious fanatics capture him, planning on sacrificing him. They bury him up to his head, about to let a snake kill him, but then change their mind, dig him back up and mummify his body, then bury him again. The authorities arrive and kill all the fanatics, but upon digging up Emmanual find that his body completely deteriorates. The plot of this story makes me wonder if it inspired a sequence from the first Creepshow movie where people are buried in sand up to their heads. Stephen King was reportedly a Skywald fan, so it is a possibility.

Sixth is "The Vampire Kingdom" by Al Hewetson (story) and Domingo Gomez (art). A pair of newspaper reporters search Peru, finding a half buried city, occupied by the man-bats, half man, half vampire creatures. The design of the man bats seem quite similar to a one page feature of them done all the way back in Nightmare #11.

"When the Dusk Falls... So Does Death"
The issue concludes with the latest in the Nosferatu series, "When the Dusk Falls... So Does Death" by Al Hewetson (story) and Zesar Lopez (art). Nosferatu ask another of his dinner guests to tell his tale, this time one with a werewolf mask. The man removes his mask, only to reveal another, iron mask underneath. The man says his name was Fernando Doma and he lived in Madrid. An eligible bachelor, he pursued a woman, Anastasia Rubio, causing her to break up with her current suitor. At the first full moon we discover that Anastasia is in fact a werewolf and upon biting Fernando turns him into one too. They pursue many victims but eventually Anastasia is killed by a cross dropped by her former suitor. Fernando transforms into a werewolf and kills him, but is taken in by the authorities who put him in an asylum and strap an iron mask around his head such that when he transforms into a werewolf, the growth of his head will crush it. As we return to the present, Fernando removes his mask revealing his mutilated crushed head. As often is the case, the Nosferatu story is the peak of the issue, with great art from Zesar. I must say though Anastasia just isn't that beautiful with her short hair, and most notably very dark circles around her eyes.