Thursday, June 19, 2014

Cult of the Undead

According to the great Ace Horror website, this is Jim McLaughlin's first of many appearances at Ace Magazines. It's kind of a mixed bag visually, but the story is fast paced and fun, and the zombies are quite spooky. Today's post is rounded out with a True Tales of the Supernatural one-pager.

From the May 1951 issue of The Beyond #4.


Rich Clabaugh said...

Cool story! Love 'The Beyond' logo and it's covers were usually real nice!
It does crack me up though at how text heavy horror comics are in general, especially the ECs.
BUT I will say you got a ton more bang for your money back then. (How many stories in 1 issue?) Most of today's comics stretch out a story way too long to end up 6 issues long, which amazingly is the usual size of a trade. Yikes!
Oh well at least we have so many of these gems!
Thanks again!

Karswell said...

Ace horror comics typically contained 4 stories each and were padded out with one page fillers and text stories. All of the issue info is right there in my post intro, just click the highlighted links to take you to either GCD, Atlas Tales, etc...

Mestiere said...

Rarely have I seen such international confusion. The story happens in the Andes, but places have Italian names (La Piazza) or Portuguese (Navalha), people speak with French accents and battle zombies (part of Hatian folklore). The porters use burros instead of llamas, like they were Mexicans. I guess the point was to make things seem as exotic as possible.

"I can pilot a plane! We'll go back and rent a helicopter at Lima!" I'm amazed that you could "rent a helicopter" in Lima in 1951. And would knowing how to pilot a plane qualify you to fly a helicopter? I don't thing those models fly high enough to cross the Andes. And since they don't have a pressurized cabin, flying at more than 10,000 feet could give the passengers a pulmonary or cerebral edema and kill them. But then they land at what looks like a tourist resort! And you can only get there by crossing the Andes with burros?

On page 5 we meet Manuel the gardener for the first time, with his French accent. He wants to save everyone even though he just met our heroes, but gets killed off before the page is over. The point? Showing how bad Brawson is. Mission accomplished!

On to the next, completely unrelated thing: Gordon is "the world's greatest ventriloquist and mimic". We were told so that at the beginning so it must be relevant. And it sure is! Gordon can so perfectly disguise himself as Ballam the Inca chief—a character who was dead before the protagonists arrived in Perú—and he can so convincingly immitate his voice that Brawson himself is fooled! What a skill!

Pointing to this story's inconsistencies is addictive, like popping bubble wrap. I have to pop as many as I can!

Mr. Cavin said...

Ha! Somebody finally figured out a way to turn celebrity impressions into a super power. Or at least they've come up with the one possible heroic application of that power. What's next, a stand-up comic who incapacitates the heavies through the paralyzing rictus of hysteria? Oh wait, that's already a Batman villain.

I agree with you about the spooky zombies here, Karswell. They look like Dick Smith Halloween party kids come back to creepy life. I can just imagine them each cutting-up Styrofoam egg cartons to make their googly eyes.

Grant said...

I'm curious about that cover story. Is it safe to assume it's one of those HANDS OF ORLAC variations?

Karswell said...

The cover story is called The Spell of the Hypnotic Chord, I'll post it next... I might as well just post this entire issue-- it's got some interesting stuff including a Valentine's story that I posted back in 2010 here:

Brian Barnes said...

This has the same problem a lot of Ace horror stories always had for me -- there still seems to be a super-hero/adventure mindset to the story telling.

There's none of the EC ironic morality or Atlas' goofy "as it turns out" endings. You could have easily put Captain America in this and have him fight off the zombies with his various super-powers.

It's a fun read, regardless, as much as Mestiere picked it to pieces!

There's some interesting stuff in the artwork. The panels are pretty static and don't lead to each other well, but it's definitely workman like and certainly good by Ace standards.

One thing Mestiere missed was the avalanche scene. Look at it again, they are on the scariest of ledges, one that extends that way for what must be hundreds of feet, and giant rocks are nearly 1 foot from their heads, yet they somehow survive!

I like the zombies and their plate sized eyes. Disney zombies!

Mestiere said...

"One thing Mestiere missed was the avalanche scene. Look at it again, they are on the scariest of ledges, one that extends that way for what must be hundreds of feet, and giant rocks are nearly 1 foot from their heads, yet they somehow survive!"

Could be. I guess the artist could claim that the picture is like a photo taken with a high speed camera and a deep focus lens. The rocks are actually a lot closer to the "camera" than the people. Although that wouldn't explain why so many of the rocks are almost the same shape and falling at the same angle!

I do agree that it was a fun read. I just enjoy popping the bubble wrap.