Sunday, August 25, 2019

Bennett's Bride

Fans of Fritz Leiber's chilling 1943 novel, Conjure Wife, (and even fans of ABC's Bewitched TV series) will be entertained by yet another take on the age old trope: man discovers he's not responsible for his own life, love, and success, and thus, cock blocks himself into the grave. Seriously, how many people these days would really be bothered to discover their significant other is magical? And okay, if that's a supernatural spoiler then you have my apologies, but we've seen it here before, and we'll probably see it here again, and I'll probably love it all over again just the same-- especially with such nice looking, atmospheric art from Al Hartley and Art Peddy! From the jolting July 1954 issue of Mystic #32.









10 comments:

Brian Barnes said...

To probably the vast bulk of us here, this tale is infuriating. It's like going to Vegas, winning at every table, and then burning the money because it was Vegas. In a world where being born into a rich family makes you rich and powerful, what's the difference then if it's witchcraft? In a world where people cheat and steal to wealth and power, again, what's the difference?

The reason for that little rant is to reposition all this to the 50s. You can come up with reasons for this idiots idiotic-ness, like he didn't feel like he was the real earner (idiot) or a religious reason (idiot) or ... whatever ... but that's where the story fails. It never gives us a reason! The only hint at a reason is "ordinary wife" which means he's jealous of her power (super-idiot.). But it's never clear, so he just seems like a dope.

Alright, that was fun, o to the art which is great. Myra is beautiful, the car panels (especially where it flies off the cliff and the wrecks) and good, and the camera work is good for a tale without a lot of action.

Mestiere said...

Bennett's survival, marriage and professional success were a hallucination given him by a compassionate witch during the last moments of his life. It's like Ambrose Bierce's 1891 short story An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge. It was turned into a 1962 short French film titled La Rivière du hibou and shown two years later as episode 142 of The Twilight Zone. In the episode a man about to be hanged by Union troops during the Civil War miraculously escapes and is about to reunite with his wife when he snaps back at the moment of the hanging. He had hallucinated the whole escape. The Martin Scorsese movie The Last Temptation of Christ had a similar theme where Jesus comes down from the cross, marries Mary Magdalene and lives as a man until old age but changes his mind, snapping back to the cross.

JBM said...

I love the cover to the Mystic #32. I would buy it. I want to see the "Survivor". This is another winner all the way. I agree the flying car is a superior rendition. I like the head on the bosom when waking from the accident. I, on the other hand woke up in the dark of an intensive care room secured to an eggshell crate bed when our pick-up went airborne. Wonderful Physicians made me all better quickly. (fractured skull and neck) No one else injured. Single car, I was not driving. Thank you Mr.K. for this foray into the fatal fifties.

Glowworm said...

I've seen a reworking of this tale in a later Atlas comic (the comic's name and title of the story elude me)--but because it was during the comics code--instead of a witch, the woman in question turns out to be some sort of creature from another dimension that is never fully explained or shown in her true form. Unlike this one, the man in question doesn't die from doing anything stupid but instead still survives the crash,after refusing the advances of the woman but has a lingering feeling of sorrow afterwards.

As for this one, I feel sorry for Myrna. She may be a witch, but she's done nothing malicious or evil towards Roger. She's been nothing but kind and good. I don't find it fair that Roger wanted Myrna to give everything up for him--when she's clearly already done so much for him. She saved his life, and gave him a good life. Who cares if magic is involved if the reason for it isn't wicked?

Darci said...

Now we know how the 787 Max stabilizer came to be.

Mr. Cavin said...

I suspect that, for precode comics, the idea powering this kind of story was that witches are just another kind of monster. And we're expected to side against the monster. Sure, the werewolf might be sympathetic, or the vampire might be cursed. They are still the opponent, the complication. Honestly, the monster just shorthand for for the conflict. A five-page story relies on as much shorthand as it possibly can.

And I kind of dig the idea of using that to create a kind of moral gray area within this story here. With another page or two, we could have seen how Myra was casting a pall on the town, maybe, killing of the lawns and curdling other couple's chances for advancement. Maybe the ideas people were suddenly compelled to pay Roger so handsomely for were, in non-magical actuality, poorly conceived and dangerous mistakes. His plane stabilizers causing the horrible deaths of hundreds--even while he's getting rich and other people are compelled to take the blame. Maybe Myra is even sacrificing the neighborhood pets, or the children from next door. In this longer version of the story, it would be interesting to witness Roger's attempt to navigate an ethical tightrope where he tries to accept his wife, and even to save her by intervention. And intervention that, as we know, will backfire.

But, like everyone else, I find it difficult to accept the story as is without assuming it's a arch glimpse at passé fifties domestic conventions or religious intolerance. I'm sorry Myra is sad at the end, but at least she makes it out alive. I truly believe that, if she keeps diligently causing these horrible wrecks, then she'll eventually find the right man. I've got my fingers crossed for her.

Todd said...

What an idiot. I love how "Bring to my husband, Roger, happiness and success!" are the words that set him off. Myra deserved better, and I hope she found it.

More important, I appreciate JBM offering valuable perspective and am glad that chapter of his story had such a happy ending. Be good to each other.

JMR777 said...

Didn't Roger ever hear the tale about killing the golden goose?

A completely different take on this is "Printer's Devil" from 'Tales From the Darkside', where a failed writer hires an agent, who uses magic to make the writer successful, for a cut of the profits, of course.

My sympathies lie with Myra, she tried to do good with her magic, not evil. Just like Mr. Calvin, I too hope Myra finds her Prince Charming, even if she has to kiss a lot of frogs along the way.

Grant said...

Even though I don't know any version of it well (including the movie BURN, WITCH, BURN), it also kind of resembles the story "Conjure Wife" by Fritz Leiber. The witch's husband in that story burns her magical objects too, but what makes it more foolish in his case is that he's an anthropologist, who should find them invaluable! At least Roger doesn't THAT against him.

mick mcmichael said...

Love the way she gives him "the eye" on page 3 panel 5....
Great post and Thanks!