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.

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