Thursday, January 03, 2019

Resonant of Poe

The House of Secrets #149 (DC, December/January 1977/1978, 35 cents)
"The Rain Dance" Editing/Plot: Paul Levitz, Story: J. Cheever Loophole, Art: Bill Draut, Color: Liz Berube.

This eight-page story, following a one-page bookend drawn by Michael Golden, was written by Michael Uslan using a pseudonym. Racist residents of a small town in the supposed midwest go into the mountains to invade an Indian village and persuade the medicine man to help their struggling crops.

The shaman reluctantly dances, bringing on a rain of blood, as well as a large vampire bat—captured well on the cover by Mike Kaluta. The "blood-sucking spirit of death" targets the old and young, as well, prompting the townies to try to destroy the bat with fire. Instead, they destroy their town.

"The Evil One" Story: Jack Oleck, Art: Ricardo Villamonte, Color: Liz Berube, Editing: Paul Levitz.

Another eight pager, this story tells the tale of Paul Craven. After his uncle kills his father and gets away with the crime, the young man is raised by the "old miser." Seeking the assistance of Old Peg, a local witch, Craven eventually summons Satan and acquires his assistance killing his uncle in such a way that "no one will ever find his corpse."

The ending is a little resonant of Poe. When authorities find a body, Craven thinks it's his uncle and confesses. But, the body isn't his uncle's—it's someone else entirely, and Craven is institutionalized.

Publisher Jenette Kahn's publishorial "It's a Mystery..." discusses the late-'70s resurgence of horror and suspense titles. Bob Layton is featured in a DC Profile. A one-page "The House of Secrets Speaks" lettercol features four letters of comment.

Availability: Chances are good that this issue's material is included in House of Secrets: The Bronze Age Omnibus Vol. 1.

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

Impeccable Logic

Blackhawk #235 (DC, August 1967, 12 cents)
"A Coffin for a Blackhawk" Script: Bob Haney, Pencils: Dick Dillin, Inks: Charles Cuidera.

Pretty much halfway through the New Blackhawk Era of the '60s, this issue of the redesigned series is a little repetitive in its self-promotion. The cover mentions the New Blackhawk Era, and the refresh is explicitly mentioned in at least six more captions inside. Adopting new identities and costumes for 14 issues starting with #228, the heroes returned to their classic garb in just a few issues after this edition.

Rufo and Romulus, the Titanic Twins, team up with the Blackhawks after Rufo initially keeps the Leopard from obtaining a mysterious coffin—only to accidentally lose control of the object, which falls into the villain's hands. Meanwhile, Romulus joins the Blackhawks in search for Rufo, who is captured by the security police.

The Magnificent Seven disguise themselves and engineer their own arrests, which allows them to escape "a solid steel cell in the middle of a hostile nation." The reunited brothers help the Blackhawks evade the police before the group joins a traveling circus: "If the Leopard finds the coffin, he'll want to make the trade for the force field gizmo—and as circus performers, it'll make it easier for him to find us!"

Impeccable logic, for that is exactly what happens. Only the force field device is booby trapped, and the coffin ends up with the circus proprietor, an American secret agent. The book's a little goofy, as is the self-promotion, and that attitude is served well by Dillin's relatively loose pencils.

The issue includes a one-page letter column, "Blackhawk By-Lines," featuring six letters of comment; a "Direct Currents" column promoting other recent comics; and a one-page "Blackhawk Trade Corner." I don't think I'd seen this feature before; readers submit listings offering to trade or sell copies of Blackhawk, Modern, and Military Comics. A wonderful resource for active readers, this installment included almost 20 fan ads across the country.

Availability: This issue has not been reprinted, but I recommend The Blackhawk Archives, Volume 1 and Showcase Presents: Blackhawk.