Monday, October 7, 2019

Psycho #8

Enrich Torres, the famed Warren cover artist provides the cover for this issue of Psycho, cover dated September 1972. With this issue Al Hewetson becomes the editor of Skywald's horror magazines for the rest of their run. This is the first Psycho issue in quite a while to feature no Heap story, although we do start a new series here.

The frontispiece for this issue is "The Theater of Horror" by Al Hewetson (story) and Domingo Gomez (art). Starting with this issue, the frontispieces move from a one page pin-up into more of a one page mini-story, similar to what Warren would do. This one features the haunted theater on Dury Lane London where a ghost of a man in gray keeps appearing, Eventually his body is found and he never appears again.

The first story of this issue is "A Gargoyle - A Man" by Al Hewetswon (story) and Felipe Dela Rosa (art). The story begins showing the origin of two gargoyles, who were put on the Cathedral of Menze in Germany. They stay there for many centuries, eventually being removed in 1972 and moved to a graveyard where there are some Satanists. After some chanting, the gargoyles come to life, scaring away the Satanists. They flee, being pursued, and stay in the home of a blind man in the city, calling themselves Edward and Mina. Eventually the Satanists find them and the blind man is killed. The Satanists summon a tentacled monster who Edward fights and defeats. Mina stops Edward from killing the Satanists as the story ends. This story kicks off a lengthy series, although Dela Rosa will soon be replaced as artist by Maelo Cintron.

First appearance of the Gargoyles characters
Next story is "Devil's Woman" by Marv Wolfman (story) and Ross Andru/Mike Esposito (art). A party is held in a Vermont mansion on New Years Eve, hosted by a woman named Marta who is blind. Suddenly there is a scream and a dying man is found, claiming a creature has broke loose. Some of the guests talk of how Marta's parents were part of a witch cult and summoned a creature that killed them, exactly 20 years ago today. Marta was eventually able to marry a European count. He tells of how in his country Satanists would worship him on the new year and virgins would be sacrificed to him. Twenty years ago Satan was summoned here by Marta's parents and there was an accident altering his form and causing him to be beneath this house. He demands sacrifices and the party guests are sacrificed to him, who is now looking like a tentacled monster. The count wants Marta to go to Satan and produce a child with him as her mother did but she instead flees and the mansion burns down. She is eventually found by the count and her aunt who bring her before Satan. I was a bit surprised to see Andru and Esposito back after being dropped as the artists from The Heap. I wonder if this is an inventory story held on for a little while before publication since it would have made more sense to keep them on as the artists for that series.

"Have You Ever Seen the Black Rain?"
Third story is "Have You Ever Seen the Black Rain?" by Al Hewetson (story) and Juez Xirinius (art), in his Skywald debut. The beautiful queen Anne has her subjects invade her neighboring land, ruled by a man named Walter as they need fertile land. Her forces lose and she is exiled by Walter, after refusing his hand in marriage. Her men transport and rebuild her castle on an island and there she starts to dabble in black magic. Two years pass and Walter's kingdom has been defeated by another country. His men are able to rescue him and get him on a ship which travels through the rain, eventually making it to Anne's castle where she is waiting for him, her face covered by a veil. She says she will marry him now and they do so, but when she pulls off her veil she reveals a horrifically ugly face, claiming she sacrificed her beauty to Lucifer to get her revenge. Walter pulls off his shirt, revealing that his body is horrifically deformed and rotted as well. The ending of this story reminds me somewhat of the "Plague of Jewels" story by Bruce Jones in issue 4. Xirinius has a pretty good debut here. His art reminds me somewhat of Martin Salvador, although a bit scarier.

Fourth is "The Filthy Little House of Voodoo" by Al Hewetson (story) and Ramon Torrents (art). Two women travel through the Australian badlands and come across a town filled with lots of old people who are silent and have blank expressions on their face. They eventually head to a house on the top of a hill, finding a painting of an evil looking bald man on the wall. Soon people start coming in and going downstairs and our protagonists follow. Suddenly the man in the painting comes out of it and attacks them, asking them to join them. The man says he is part of a race of parasites and the people there attack them. This story has some very impressive and scary art from Ramon Torrents but the story itself is a bit confusing.

Next up is "Bad Choke" by Don Glut (story) and Juez Xirinius (art). Two men head to a graveyard and dig up the grave of a strangling killer named Mad Kirk, seeking to steal the diamond ring from his finger and gold from his teeth. When police arrive though they are forced to flee. One of the men has put the diamond ring on his finger but finds that it can't come off. Suddenly the ghost of Kirk arrives and causing the man to strangle his colleague. Kirk then starts strangling him, and the man trying to pull his hands off his neck causes him to in reality strangle himself. Some bystanders soon arrive and comes across the odd sight of the two dead men.

Some good art by Torrents with "The Filthy Little House of Voodoo"

Last story is "City of Crypts" by Al Hewetson (story) and Xavier Villanova (art), also making his Skywald debut. A group of archaeologists, Jacob, his wife Berenice and assistant Basil investigate the tomb of Pharaoh Ramanken in Egypt. A tablet indicates that there is a curse; any man who enters will die. The workers start going mad and trap the 3 of them inside. Basil is in love with Berenice and pushes Jacob down a chasm to his death, although she is not really that into him. Suddenly a group of sub-human monsters (looking kind of like the Heap) attack them and drag them down to a lower part of the tomb. Basil is killed, but thinking Berenice is a princess due to a birthmark, they bring her before the skeleton of the Pharaoh. Berenice flees, eventually making her way out, but her face and body have become deformed, much like that of the sub-humans. How exactly Berenice became like them isn't really explained, giving us a rather odd ending, but otherwise this is a fairly good tale. Berenice I assume is named after the Edgar Allan Poe story of the same name.

Pablo Marcos provides a one-page pin-up of a ghoul to conclude the issue.

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