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.

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