Friday, October 25, 2019

The Little Black Box / Black Crows!

What October would be complete without an Atlas tale-- or two! Yes, THOIA is back in black with a couple of truly dark, mortifyingly mysterious terror tales! And jolting Joe Maneely lights it all up with a super hot little number from the March 1952, debut issue of Mystery Tales #1, --it's guaranteed to give you heart burn! Followed by a scary story from the January 1954 issue of Mystery Tales #17 about an 80's rock band from Georgia that released 8 studio albums and-- just joking-- it's the long awaited return of astounding Al Luster to this blog! And whoa, despite being one of my all-time Atlas favorites, this is the first Luster post we've seen around these parts in nearly 10 years! That alone should be enough to shake your money maker! ;)

After today's post, head over to my other blog for a hilarious "Splater Version" of Siskel and Ebert's At the Movies-- PLUS, a spoof on precode horror and Creepshow! 



Mestiere said...

The Little Black Box

The reason Luke Bramby never knew that he should never open the black box is presumably because Mr. Kason woke him up before the Seven Sisters of Evil could tell him. It looks like he never went to sleep again. One wonders if then the Sisters would have finished their warning.

If you say something and it becomes real isn't that an order rather than a lie?

Yet one could claim that the Sisters themselves were lying too. "It contains all the evils of humanity... money... gold... jewels..." That's not what it contained. And money, gold and jewels are not necessarily evil. "Don't ever let it out of your hands!" No warning against opening the box. And when Luke woke up the box wasn't in his hands and nothing happened.

"I cannot leave the land of the cremated, unless I find another soul to cremate and take my place!" So the ash guy at the end was just him being free. Walking around in an ash body, looking for an ash wife to marry. It would have made more sense if he was restored to his original body.

The Black Crows!

The name Zorn reminded me of a character from the TV show Land of the Lost. Remember the Zorn?

I love the way the crows look. They are clearly not normal crows. I can believe they come from another reality, another dimension.

Interesting that the stranger could be killed. It was a guy after all, not the Devil. The real power was with the crows. Zorn wanted music and the crows wrote it for him. Then he wanted them to go away and the crows turned him into a scarecrow. A surreal, rather cool story.

Ever wonder if scarecrows really work? They sort of do, but you have to keep moving them around.

Mestiere said...

Damn! It was the Zarn, not the Zorn!

Brian Barnes said...

Maneely, truly one of the great missed opportunities. If he would have made it to Marvel's superhero revival he would have been up there with Kirby, etc.

Maneely sneaks in some nudity on page 2, panel 5! The story is OK, not quite the great ones that Atlas usually delivered. It's in the "trade places with the monster" category but, honestly, I can't see him being trapped in the box for long. It seems about anybody would eventually be overcome with the desire to look inside.

The witches/sisters are a great visual, I love the cross panel sound effects and the sequence where our pal burns up. Maneely just ruled, period, with almost everything he drew.

The Black Crows is fun, that's a really good concept (it logically doesn't work, sheet music is a lot more than just dots on the page but I'll allow it because it's such a fun concept.) I do have to wonder about the abrupt fate of the wish granter -- was he a previous scarecrow? Was this another switch places story? It seemed to be going somewhere but was truncated.

I like the more cartoon-y crows and especially the ghastly last panel.

Nice stuff!

Grant said...

Except for the nose, Luke Bramby looks a little like Conrad Janis of MORK AND MINDY and QUARK.

I could understand him messing with the box if it STOPPED giving him what he wanted, but what is the point of doing it beforehand? That's a little like harming the Golden Goose to see what makes it lay those eggs, while it's still LAYING them.

JBM said...

Thank you Mr.K. for these great Halloween treats. It was covers like that had me buying Nat. Lamp.

Mr. Cavin said...

Exciting. After all these years, I just assumed the Al Luster well had dried up. I think my first comment here was to request more of his stuff. Ha! I dug this story. It doesn't particularly showcase that freewheeling weirdness that I love most in Luster's work, but that bird attack on the last page is marvelous.

I am also interested in the overarching mechanism of the story. It hints at something pretty complicated in the clockwork of this local morality: If both parties are equally bound to the contract, what third party enforces that? But also: Who stood to gain from the deal and why? Usually in stories like this, some Devil wins at the end, gaining by both reaping a soul and by bolstering the balance of evil in the world. But in this story the figure who offers the bargain is just as much a tool of the plot as the victim is, as the very birds themselves are. The benefit is to bring more art into the world, but two people have to die to make that happen. It's kind of fourth wall breaking, in that it intimates a higher authority no less wanton than a writer experimenting with omnipotence just to amuse a horror audience.

I like the Russ Heath cover on that issue, too.

(And I love all the Maneely, always, especially that splash! But this was comment already running long!)

Todd said...

Anyone else feel these stories ended too abruptly? Maybe I was reading them too fast.