Friday, April 8, 2016

The Devil's Prize

After posting Curse of the Werewolf last week, (also from the Jan '52 issue of Worlds of Fear #2), I was reminded by "Lil Raven" that there was still one story left from this issue to post, aka to chalk up as yet another THOIA full issue presentation. The story in question is the excellent Bob Powell chiller, The Devil's Prize, which I was positive I had already posted here at some point over the years. But no, apparently I had not, and then it occurred to me that it wound up in IDW / Yoe Books Bob Powell's Terror collection instead-- lord how I wish I could've included it in my Devil's Tales book too! In any event, and even if you already own the Powell collection, it deserves another summoning, if not for some superbly stunning panels (sock it to that skull!) and yes, to deem it yet another full issue blahblahblah here at THOIA. And don't forget to check the archive for the super creeptacular City of Fearful Night which we also reprinted in HAUNTED HORROR #13!

















10 comments:

glowworm2 said...

I love the Doctor's name in this one: Doctor Aorta--very very subtle and clever.
Remember, kids, never try to possess the body of a man with a weakened heart--it's messy.

glowworm2 said...

John should have gone inside Mona afterwards and waited for Doctor Aorta. Loophole found!

Grant said...

Speaking of that, I know it's a pre-Code story, but I wonder whether the idea of John entering Mona was thought of and then considered kind of touchy.
Mona makes a pretty great femme fatale, even if she isn't given a lot of time in the story to be one.

Mr. Cavin said...

Wow, some really neat art processes in this one. And while I do remain a little unclear on the rules governing John's strangely corporeal spirit possessions, that's no matter--still a pretty great Devil Tale. I imagine the movie version would have a gimmick like 1960's The Mask, wherein we don our special glasses whenever Dirge is navigating the death realm. And, you know, snake-eyed skulls and weird priestess trees or whatever then reach out of the screen at us. Shudder.

Grant said...

The Mask is very underrated. You'd think that those stills of it that you sometimes see would be enough to make more people seek it out, that's how unusual the stills themselves are.

Brian Barnes said...

Beautiful art. The coloring is great (sometimes a very unexpected treat) and the washing and negative tone of some of the bodies he leaves or enters is very nice.

I like how our "hero" doesn't take any crap from the skeletons at first. Not even "oh no, skeletons" just "get out of my way" and he beats them with a candelabra (lifted from a movie who's name I can't remember.)

BTW, if a devil ever gives you a bargain, and it's super specific (3 times!) attempt to haggle. There's a reason it's so specific! And it brings up another thought: is it really a bargain with the devil if you don't actually believe it's a bargain? He was only doing it to humor what he thought was a crazy man.

I'm with Grant, I think male spirit/female body would have been a bridge to far for the 50s.

glowworm2 said...

There is one tale from Charlton's Strange Suspense Stories Number 16 from 1954 called "I Went to My Own Funeral" in which a married pair of surgeons become one another through plastic surger and hormone treatmenty. Then the wife as the husband murders her husband--who now looks like her because he took out an insurance policy on her life. She attempts to pose as him and cash in on the insurance money, but something goes horribly wrong.

While not a male spirit inhabiting a woman's body, this is clearly a sex changing story and seems rather unusual and daring for this period. There's even a panel where the husband has a very clearly female body complete with breasts--but still with his own face. while his wife has a clearly male body.

Brian Barnes said...

@glowworm2 Glen or Glenda came out in 54, and there was a famous book before that in which it was based on Christine Jorgensen, who had a sex change in 51 (I looked this up, I wish I could claim I knew it by memory) so by 54 it's probably pretty old hat, but probably pretty new in 52 when this one came out.

Ed Wood Jr -- revolutionary :)

Grant said...

It took me a while to notice, but the two cops at the end look roughly like Bud and Lou (in their deliveryman uniforms) in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.

Mestiere said...

If it wasn't for the two cops hearing John Dirge's voice at the end there would be no inkling of what happened to him since he—unlike all his co-conspirators—left no body behind. Since matter cannot be created or destroyed his body must be somewhere, but where?

Did the doctor die of a ruptured aorta?