Friday, February 28, 2020

NIghtmare #20

Sebastian Boada provides the cover for this issue of Nightmare, cover dated August 1974.

We start with the one page "Horror Fragments: The Demon Whale" by Al Hewetson (story) and Ferran Sostres (art). It discusses Moby Dick, and Captain Ahab's obsession and eventual defeat to the giant white whale.

Next is the latest in the Shoggoths series, "The Scream and the Nightmare" by Al Hewetson (story) and Jose Cardona (art). Much like with prior stories, we have Al Hewetson and Jose Cardona themselves star in the story. Upon seeing a report of a Shoggoth, they go to a library where the librarian, Suzette, brings them the Necronomicon. Suddenly a Shoggoth appears and grabs the book. Finding a secret passageway through a bookshelf, they head down an underground passage and find a library of the Shoggoths, who attack and knock out our heroes. Waking up, they find themselves in the center of the Earth. Brought along by the Shoggoths to an ancient city, they are eventually able to escape, keeping the Shoggoths away by collapsing a bridge. They then find themselves in an Egyptian tomb where a mummy wakes up, but they slay it. As the story ends the various characters ask the reader if they would like to join them on an expedition to discover Shoggoths. Like previous stories in the series, Hewetson does a good job of aping the Lovecraft style, although this story is a bit long (a whopping 20 pages) and too familiar with previous entries.

"The Scream and the Nightmare"
Third is "Wanted: ...More Dead Than Alive..." by Al Hewetson (story) and Emilio Bernardo (art). A creature rises from a swamp and we flash back to see what led to its death. A man named Ingels comes across a wanted poster for a man named Ortega and is told he is up on a nearby hill. Ingels is caught on the way up there and Ortega shoots him in the leg, although leaves him alive. We see how in the present, the monster has arrived at and attacks a camp. Ingels pursues Ortega again, this time getting shot in the head. Meanwhile a gypsy woman turns into a werewolf and bites Ingels, turning him into one. He attacks and kills Ortega. At the end we realize that Ortega is the swamp creature, seeking revenge against Ingels. A so-so story with a decent end twist, but the narrative at times is a bit confusing.

Fourth is "A Tale of Horror" by Al Hewetson (story) and Luis Collado (art). In the later days of World War II we focus on a reluctant German soldier, stationed in a destroyed Berlin. The soldier, a former farmer, desires to return back to his family. He is come upon by a superior who tells him that Hitler himself requires a messenger. The soldier is brought to an underground bunker and instructed by the officer to deliver the message to the front lines. Hitler himself meets with the soldier, telling him its an important to an underground group. The soldier departs and hiding from the Americans, opens the letter and reads it. Despondent, he tosses the letter away and says to hell with the war, deciding to head back to his family. We then see a panel of those he was to deliver the message to, deciding that without receiving word from Hitler, they are to go into hiding. In the final panel we read Hitler's message, that he was recruiting werewolves! A really funny ending to this story, which is most notable in my eyes for the amazing art done by Luis Collado. While the quality isn't there throughout every panel of the story, much of it is quite beautiful.

"A Tale of Horror"
Next is "The Black Cat", an Edgar Allen Poe adaption with Al Hewetson doing the story and Ricardo Villamonte doing the art. Our protagonist, Edgar, has a black cat he loves, Pluto, but in an argument with his wife attacks it, cutting out its eye, then he decides later to hang it. A fire ruins Edgar, and he is reduced to poverty, feeling that the murder of Pluto caused this. He eventually finds another black cat, with white marks around its neck and blinded in one eye. He takes it home with him, but then decides to kill the cat. When his wife tries to stop him, he kills her instead. He takes his wife to the basement and puts her behind a brick wall that he lays all the bricks in. He soon discovers that the cat has disappeared. Upon hearing some screams, the cops arrive and they find them coming from behind the wall. It is broken down and there they find his wife's corpse and the cat. This is a fairly good adaption of a story that I've also seen adapted by EC Comics and Warren.

Next is "The Castle" by Al Hewetson (story) and John Byrne/Duffy Vohland (art). In this two page story, some construction workers work on demolishing a castle that is in the way of a new highway. One of the workers feels shame and ominous about doing it, but they go ahead and do so, blowing it up with dynamite. Only then do they discover the castle was some kind of prison for a giant monster! The closing caption explains that somehow the castle is rebuilt and the highway is made to go around it. A mere two pages, but the story does mark the professional debut of Byrne.

"The Black Cat"
We wrap up with "I, Gargoyle", the latest story in the Gargoyles series by Al Hewetson (story) and Maelo Cintron (art). Edward is released from jail by Judge Wallace who says he doesn't want to see him in this courtroom again. Upon leaving, Edward along with his wife Mina and son Andrew discover that Edward's autobiography, I, Gargoyle, has been published and is a best seller. Money is rolling in from the book and Edward's agent/ghost writer Paul Hawkins has gotten him spots of TV shows. During one such one, another gargoyle appears, sent by Satan, claiming Edward is an impostor and fights him. Edward is able to defeat him, and realizes that with this happening on TV Edward now has millions of witnesses who have seen that he is not evil but defending himself against Satan. As the story ends, Edward and Mina come upon a castle he has bought, not knowing that Satan has forces waiting here. This series continues to get more and more dreadful. The notion that Paul could have written Edward's biography in mere days and that it would become such a big hit is quite absurd. As we approach the end of Skywald's run I hope we get as few of these Gargoyles stories as possible.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Psycho #20

This issue of Psycho features a cover by Salvador Faba, and is cover dated Augsut 1974.

First is "The Dead and the Superdead" by Al Hewetson (story) and Jose Cardona (art). This story takes place in a future where the Americas have reverted back to prairies and jungles, and Europe is the center of civilization. Other continents/countries are overrun by Shoggoths, mutant apes and other monsters. We focus on the President of Europe who departs his home, and travels with a homeless orphan girl he found on the street. He speaks of how acts of violence started occurring and aliens arrived, with no bodies, so their minds started occupying human bodies. This results in mass deaths, war and the like. For several pages we see how society further collapsed. The President eventually shows the girl a button he can push which will set off nukes and likely destroy the world. The President is stabbed to death by a maniac soon after and as the story ends we see the girl about to push the button. This story goes a bit all over the place, but Cardona's art is good. Usually he reminds me of Jose Gonzales, but he has several images here reminding me of Rafael Auraleon.

"The Dead and the Superdead"
Second is "The Burial Vault of Primal Eld!!!" by Ed Fedory (story) and Antonio Borrell (art). This story's style is extremely confusing, switching back and forth between a pair of soldiers in two storylines; I think the intent is they are the same soldiers? In the first storyline a couple of soldiers fighting in Southeast Asia come across a small town and order some peasants to dig them a trench. When complete, they kill all the peasants. In the second storyline, what I am presuming to be the same soldiers fall into a pit, which they discover to be a tomb. They open a door in the tomb where a giant hand grars them, dragging them to hell. Fedory's poor storytelling reminds me of how confusing his early Skywald stories were.

Third is an Edgar Allen Poe adaption, "The Masque of the Red Death" with adaption by Al Hewetson and art by Ricardo Villamonte. The plague ravishes the countryside. Yet Prince Prospero summons his friends to his castle, where they keep away from everyone and are happy in their seclusion. To get over the boredom, Prospero decides to have a great ball, where everyone wears masks. And yet during the party a mysterious figure enters, with the mask of one diseased and rotted from the plague. Prospero tries to unmask him, but dies upon touching him, having contracted the plague from him. The other party goers throw themselves at him and all end up perishing from the plague. A decent adaption of a story I recall being adapted several times by Warren as well.

"Requiem for a Human Being"
Fourth is "Tomorrow the Snowman Will Kill You!" by Augustine Funnell (story) and Luis Collado (art). Two men, Todd Williams and Ben Mathenson have traveled into the wintery wastelands hoping to kill a Yeti. That night a trio of Yeti come upon their tent, but not knowing what it is, do nothing. The next morning they see the footprints and head out, eventually coming across the three Yeti as they are about to turn in for the night. However as they aim to shoot the Yetis, they find they are unable to. They instead, due to the influence of the Yetis, turn their guns on each other and kill each other. As the story ends the narrator reveals that the Yeti are an evolved form of man, what we will eventually become. A pretty decent story although I found it funny how much our two protagonists would go on about how killing Yeti would cause women to be attracted to them. Most panels in this story are small, causing Collado's art to not be as strong as I am used to it being.

Fifth is "Requiem for a Human Being" by Al Hewetson (story) and Antonio Borrell (art). In the jungle of South America, a man named Hawkins leads a rich woman and her two children. She is seeking to find the city of Maa-r, which her husband had searched for a year ago, never returning. Hawkins is killed by a snake, and the tribesmen he hired leave to return to safety, with the woman refusing to go along with them. She and her children eventually find Maa-r, seeing many monstrous bat creatures flying above it. One of the bat creatures fights off the others, and the woman heads to the city, reading a book that says how they will find peace and happiness here, but will never leave. In the final panel we see that she and her children have become bat creatures as well and are reunited with their husband/father. The final panel of this story hints at a sequel; we'll have to wait and see if we get it.

"The Freaks"
Sixth is the latest in the Gargoyles series, "The Freaks" by Al Hewetson (story) and Maelo Cintron (art). Edward sits in jail, awaiting a hearing for his crime of destroying a lion statue. His wife Mina and son Andrew come to visit, telling him they've found a hotel to stay in. While eating out, Mina is approached by a reporter, Paul Hawkins, who has been interested in Edward's story and thinks by writing an autobiography, he can tell his story to the public. Edward agrees and Paul records him as he tells his story so he can write it. When Edward is told by a guard that his wife is not at the hotel, he freaks out, thinking Satan is behind it and breaks out, only to discover that she got a job at a daycare and was there. Edward turns himself back in and returns to jail. The Gargoyle series continues to bore me. Edward is his own worst enemy, getting violent over something that is revealed to not be a big deal at all. Perhaps he should be in jail if he's going to be this out of control. The character Paul is modeled after author Al Hewetson, and an unnamed man he is sitting with is modeled after artist Maelo Cintron.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Scream #7

I am back again after a brief absence due to some travel and being sick. Today' I'm covering Scream #7. Manuel Brea Rodriguez provides the cover for this issue, cover dated July 1974.

First is "Horror Fragments: The Headless Horseman" by Al Hewetson (story) and Ferran Sostres (art). This one pager features the titular Headless Horseman, who came across Ichabod Crane in the famous tale.

Next is "The Man with No Face" by Al Hewetson (story, credited to Howie Anderson) and Jose Cardona (art). Our protagonist, Al Anderson, is a sailor on board a ship that is destroyed by a storm. Al travels on a raft, and sees mirages, such as a town that doesn't exist, but eventually makes his way to an island. He lives there and even makes a home for himself. One day he comes across a beautiful woman who doesn't speak. She spends the day with him, but when he wakes up that night he finds her missing. He follows her footsteps to a nearby volcano where he finds many more beautiful women. The one he saw earlier tries to pull him away from them, but he stays with the others. The woman leaves them comes back with 2 of Al's shipmates, who also made their way to this island, but now have deformed bodies. Suddenly the women grab a hold of Al and start biting at him. It turns out they are demons. Al and his other shipmates depart the island on their raft, hoping to return to civilization, although deformed. This is a pretty good way to start off the issue and Cardona does a good job drawing some beautiful women, reminding me again of Jose Gonzalez's style. The story reminds me somewhat of "Mates" from Warren's Creepy #64 where a man becomes deformed after sleeping with a number of alien women.

"The Man With No Face"
Third is the latest Nosferatu story, "Satan's Third Reich" by Al Hewetson (story) and Zesar Lopez (art). Nosferatu asks Horsch Heindrich, wearing a goat's mask, to tell his tale. A Nazi soldier during World War II, Heindrich watches as his superiors commit torture and grows fascinated by it. He desires to do it himself and gets together with like minded people after the war is over, forming a coven. Heindrich declares himself leader of the coven, with little reason to back it up, and while they are able to steal many things from churches around Berlin, one of their own gets arrested and gives it all up. Heindrich's coven is forced to go on the run to the mountains. His underlings demand to make a sacrifice, and try to kidnap a young woman, only to be scared off. Heindrich's underlings has had enough of his bad leadership, and makes him their sacrifice! As the story ends Heindrich reveals the gaping hole in his abdomen from when he was sacrificed. The atmosphere of this series continues to be strong, with great art from Zesar, although we are starting to hit a point where the stories are getting a bit repetitive, or at least the endings are. As each tale ends the teller takes off his mask and hood, revealing a rotted, eaten or otherwise deformed body. I think I'd be a bit less kind if the art wasn't so good.

"Satan's Third Reich"
Fourth is the Edgar Allen Poe adaption, "Berenice" with adaption by Al Hewetson and art by Ricardo Villamonte. Our protagonist recalls playing with the titular Berenice when they were children. While she was graceful and full of energy, he was sickly and withdrawn. Eventually they grow up and Berenice falls ill from a fatal disease. Despite this our protagonist falls in love with her and they marry. Berenice grows sickly and emaciated and our protagonist starts obsessing over her teeth. Eventually, she dies and is buried. Our protagonist cannot stop thinking of her. Eventually he is come upon, being told that Berenice's grave was tampered with. Our protagonist is discovered to have dirty clothes, and bloody fingers. He discovers a box, and upon opening it finds out that he dug up Berenice and pulled out all of her teeth! A rather memorable Poe story, which I recall being adapted several times by Warren. I don't recall in their adaptions Berenice becoming as ill looking as she does in this adaption, which makes it all the scarier.

Next is The Saga of the Frankenstein Monster with "The Descent into Hell" by Al Hewetson (story) and Cesar Lopez (art). I'm rather surprised to see the Frankenstein series start up again after they so recently ended it, although this appears like a complete redo, with no connection to the prior stories. Frankenstein's Monster narrates the tale of his creation. Dr. Frankenstein seeked to create a perfect being, and is able to do so; yet when his creation starts moving about and accidentally destroying some equipment, he gets into a rage and chops up his creation repeatedly in the head with an ax. Realizing the mistake he has made, Dr. Frankenstein resurrects his creation, but he is now hideous, so Dr. Frankenstein seeks to kill him again. The monster instead shoves him aside and heads outside, scaring a man along the way. This was a decent enough story, with a slight change in how the Frankenstein story is typically told (with Frankenstein creating him twice).

"I Am Horror"
We wrap up with the second story in the Saga of the Victims series, "I Am Horror" by Al Hewetson (story) and Jesus Suso Rego (art). After a short recap, we continue where we left off, with Anne and Josey confronted by a man who looks like all his skin has been torn off. The man starts babbling on about being horror, asking if they are dreaming and other nonsensical stuff for a few pages. They depart and the man, serving his purpose, dissolves. Anne and Josey head outside, where they find things have returned to normal. A man named S. Paladin shows up and says he can explain, leading them into his car. Once inside he claims to be their tormentor and brings them to his castle in the small country of Cordova. He claims to be 400 years old and leads them to his basement, where he lays in a coffin. Anne and Josey try to escape, fleeing from some snakes and find themselves in a room that suddenly starts shrinking. By shorting out some circuits they are able to escape, finding themselves in a room with 3 female vampires. Paladin appears, and starts pulling off his skin, revealing him to be a robot! He still seems to have the weakness of a vampire though and is destroyed when exposed to sunlight. Anne and Josey flee outside, only to be confronted by a winged dinosaur! Here the story ends. This series continues to be total craziness, with our 2 heroines getting in nightmarish situations one after another. Suso continues to provide some really strong artwork.