Friday, August 31, 2018

Altered to Meet the Code

Baffling Mysteries #25 (Ace, July 1955, 10 cents)
The four stories included in this Golden Age reprint book are all seven pages long, apparently a standard page count. The first piece, "Riddle of Pete Dunn's Last Fight," was drawn by Jim McLaughlin and originally appeared in The Beyond #6 four years prior. Following the death of his wife, the ghost of a boxer returns from the grave to win a championship bout.

"Mark of the Cat" first appeared three years earlier as "Mark of the Sinister Cat" in Web of Mystery #7, drawn by Lou Cameron and Rocco "Rocke" Mastroserio. It was slightly redrawn to meet the terms of the Comics Code Authority.

The third story, "Flee the Other Self" was drawn by Ken Rice for The Hand of Fate #9. It's a cautionary tale warning against taking advantage of the people you're closest to—and trying to escape your fate. This story, too, was redrawn to better meet the Code. The character Fate was replaced with another figure drawn by Louis Zansky, and word balloons originally typeset in Leroy were hand lettered.

Rounding out the issue, "Night of Strangeness" was drawn by Gene Colan for Baffling Mysteries #5 four years prior. Also altered to meet the Code, the piece highlights a productive mine vein discovered with the help of the victims of a cave in 10 years earlier. Talk about ghostly prospects! Colan's art is occasionally goofily cartoony, reminding me of Jack Cole in some panels. A highlight of the issue.

There's also a one-page "Baffling Mysteries #4" about a ghostly bird, as well as a three-page text piece, "Secrets Behind the Bloodstains." The issue also includes a statement of ownership that indicates no print run or circulation data. Frustrating!

Availability: The original Baffling Mysteries series has been collected in two volumes: Baffling Mysteries - Volume 1 and Baffling Mysteries - Volume 2. The Beyond has also been collected. So has Web of Mystery and The Hand of Fate.

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