Friday, June 1, 2012

The Black Flame

The zombie insanity continues with another one from the May 1954 issue of Strange Mysteries #17-- this time with an extra dose of action and adventure on top of the ridiculous "imported zombies as criminals" premise.


Trevor M said...

I enjoyed this one! It had an involving B-movie feel. I was intrigued by the xenophobic spin of an immigrant criminal gang secretly run by the powers that be. I'm certain there have been several real life cases involving such a scenario from any number of different countries and immigrant groups. Everyone from the Chinese Snakeheads to Mexican drug cartels -- such new immigrants really are wretched zombie slaves serving their criminal masters. Very unique zombie story. Thanks for posting.

Brian Barnes said...

All I could think of on the splash was "no, not the schoolmarm!"

I wonder if this was an inventory story? While the zombie disguise was something I haven't seen often, it felt very much like an mid 40s superhero story.

Anonymous said...

Curious-- apart from the zombie subplot this could've been something out of "Black Mask". (I was gonna say "Spicy Detective Stories" but the heroine doesn't get topless.)

Mr. Cavin said...

Zombie stories (well, in the older voodoo style) are always such an interesting take on slavery. And then this story takes the idea full circle by selling those zombies back into literal slavery. The feedback is dizzying.

I half liked the art here, too. The figure drawing is surprisingly good (the last three panels of page six is quite nice, and I really dig those zombie death heads), but the backgrounds seem sloppy and amateurish. It is possible that someone actually looked at a picture from Haiti before trying to draw it on page four, though, which is better than normal.

Tim Whitcher said...

"Haiti... where the zombies come from."

I think I became a little dumber while reading this one.

The ludicrous writing and horrendous "art" was a treat!

SpaceLord said...

I like this one.
Should have been titled “I Was An Undercover Zombie!”.
The twist that the commissioner is actually the head of the whole zombie operation is delightfully hilarious (to serve and protect and make his zombies happy).

But what I find interesting is that you can very easily escape from zombies if you pretend to be one!
The only movie which exploits that trick (I know of) is the wonderful “Zombieland”, wherein Bill Murray poses as a zombie and leads a peaceful and luxurious life in a zombie-infested neighborhood.

Mr. Cavin said...

"The only movie which exploits that trick (I know of) is the wonderful 'Zombieland'..."

Hey good point, SpaceLord.

They use it for a few minutes in Shaun of the Dead, too. Even the Walking Dead goes there--but in that one they have to smear themselves with rotting meat because, apparently, the zombies can smell stuff. And let's not forget that this is also a major plot point in Invasion of the Body Snatchers--and even though that doesn't really resemble these other examples of Romero-style ghouls, it is very much the modern continuation of the voodoo zombie "slave paranoia"-type story we are discussing here.

Mark B said...

"They bred like rats in the steaming sewers of the city,"

No, they didn't. Zombie numbers were increased by importation. I know the rats comment was not literal because it was repeated in the last panel. Someone actually thought about what he/she was writing...maybe.

"Only one man could back their fiendish schemes, and he they must slay! Because these creatures were deader than you think..."

What? "Could back" as in finance the plan or did the writer accidentally a word as in "could turn/hold back"?

And these zombies were more alive than I thought, not deader. Why would I not think they were dead zombies when the caption just called them walking dead?

That splash panel looks like an alien abduction with the zombie coneheads and the ob/gyn table.

Both the giggling zombies and the cop(s) think disintegrating into a skeleton is an "escape".

The zombies arrive at the airport? A cargo plane I hope!

Some subtext might be revealed in Matt's 3 hour make-up session with another man on page 4. On page 8 Matt sticks a bullet in his mouth (make your own sex pistol/love gun joke) and asks his gal to "rip your underskirt or something". Does he not know what she wears under her outer clothing? He is then dismissive of her contribution, saying "not much of a fuse" and "this poor excuse of a fuse". Paging Dr. Wertham!

Thanks Karswell, this was great. Dare we hope for more "Superior" horror?