Sunday, March 29, 2020

One-Way Ticket

A funny little chiller about awful wedded bliss, (overbearingly pleasant spouses take note!), this time helmed by the masterful hand of all-star Atlas big league hitter, Russ Heath. And like our last post, it too comes from the shockingly spooktacular, June 1952 issue of  Spellbound #4.


Glowworm said...

This one's weird. Usually, the wife in question is overbearing because she's nasty and cruel. Here, in spite of maybe coming off as a bit too motherly, Martha means well, and Harry just comes off as an asshole. I love Harry's angry face on the second panel of page 3 and also the last panel of page 3 as well--looks like something out of a noir movie.
The ending is hilarious though. I love that Harry immediately thinks that his wife has come back from the dead to take care of him rather than come up with the more logical reason of the porter taking care of him. I also love that the porter takes Harry's death so calmly and is more annoyed that he won't get a tip out it!

Brian Barnes said...

I laughed at that ending, especially how nonchalant the porter was! But you probably get paid as little as those guys did for work, you'd be pissed at no tip, too!

This was an interesting flip of the script. Now we've seen husbands kill wives for being too clingy before, but I swear this is the first one I've seen where she was still clingy and babying him as he stabbed her to death!

Heath does some awesome work here. The splash is great, Martha is still looking up at him, and the whirling lines put a gravity right towards Harry's figure.

The last page has two great panels -- freaking out over the milk and crashing through the window.

It's the 50s, I'm gong to give a slight pass on the porters but honestly, that's pretty poor in a lot of ways, though at least they get the punch line!

Bill the Butcher said...

I assume Martha is supposed to be a good deal older than Harry if she keeps worrying about dying before him? Really, she comes off as a nice woman and all he had to do was tell her that the mothering was a bit much. Harry isn't much in the way of brains, though , so in all probability he wouldn't be able to take care of himself.

I like the fact that there wasn't a touch of supernatural mess in this. Three expected denouement would be Martha's ghost waiting for hoon, and that is all mundane makes it more effective as well as funny.

People like Harry souls be given in exchange to one of those wives like Big Bertha the other day. They deserve each other.

Bill the Butcher said...

I think this is the first time I've seen a black person in one of these stories who wasn't a cannibal tribesman, and though the depiction is a bit stereotyped I'll take it over cannibals any day. At least, as you said, they get the punch line and it's a good one.

Grant said...

Plus, they don't talk in dialect. Not that it's IMPOSSIBLE to do that in a dignified way, but still.

Believe it or not, there was an entire set of comedy sketches with this idea, both the fawning wife and the husband so fed up he wanted to kill her, on THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW. Carol played the wife and Tim Conway played the husband.

Mr. Cavin said...

Yeah, in an age where black representation is really few and far between, and very often rendered in mean spirited cartoons, I feel like this one passes muster. Not that it's up to me to decide.

"Let's skip the details! Martha died..."

I thought this was an extraordinarily well-paced story. Enough heft was given to both Martha's interest in the occult and her overbearing behavior to illustrate Harry's arc from put-upon grump to psychotic paranoia--all without ever seeming padded to me. And I guess we all agree about the art. I think the panel that impressed me most was the last one on page two. It's rare to see such balance and well-communicated mood sharing a panel with so many words. That's storytelling mastery right there. I mean, I love a lot of the flashier work here, too--that splash is a dream!--but this example feels so much rarer.

Todd said...

Ha! So much to unpack here:

My first thought was to wonder how these two ever got together in the first place. He doesn't seem attracted to anything about her, and she obviously is never on the same wavelength.

Then came my favorite part of the story: "Let's skip the details! Martha died." That would bother me in a book, but here it's just great, telling us not to overthink things, just shut up and enjoy the ride.

And I admit I didn't see the ending coming at all! I figured they were going to be ghosts together or something. One quibble: if you know an adult in your family hates milk, it seems sort of inconsiderate to force-feed it to them anyway. Hardly grounds for murder, though.

Wendy said...

Now THAT was a good twist ending!

JMR777 said...

Harry should have poured himself a glass of milk each night, and added something to it to improve the taste (no, not chocolate syrup, Harvey's Bristol Cream!) This way Harry would have consumed Vitamin D and 17.5% alcohol in each glass, all without Martha being the wiser.

A wife who pampers her husband, who makes sure he is comfortable and happy, who is willing to please her man, and Harry hated that? OK, maybe it would get on one's nerves after a while, but considering the alternatives we have seen in previous horror comic stories (a battle axe of a wife, a shrew of a woman, an 800 pound she gorilla in a dress, a gold digging murderess, etc.) Harry didn't know how good he had it.

Grant said...

Martha may not be a "raving beauty," but she's pleasant-looking in the face. And I know I'm "shallow," but the way the rest of her is drawn makes you wonder how she looks in less straight-laced clothes. So maybe that's how the marriage happened.
If so, that's one more reason Harry should've just gone along with a lot of the "clinginess." (Especially since it might've included more than glasses of milk.) said...

Well she had it coming to her...
This story's kind of about little boys and their overbearing mothers.
"drink it up like a good little boy! Do what Mama tells you!"
It's channeling into that relationship but putting it between spouses.

Harry's even more absurd than the wife.
The black guys are familiar if you watch forties movies.
Preston Sturges movies would have humorous black performers in similar roles.
Servant roles,
as comedic observers of the mayhem.
They didn't get that much screen time but they were there and it wasn't insulting
unless the lower employment is looked at as an insult.
Somehow it's funny with them both smiling while they talk about them.
Great story...
One of my favourite Atlas stories for sure.