Sunday, June 23, 2024

The Haunted Castle

Here's another forgotten Golden Age horror hero leftover from a few months back, Yarko the Great Master of Magic battling gangster goons in a haunted castle. As Yarko's descriptive blurb in the splash indicates, he achieved his mighty mystical Eastern powers in sort of the same way that Dr. Strange would a couple of decades later. These are total kiddie matinee adventures with fun low-fi art and a cut-to-the-chase grade school level of writing, but I totally dig on moments where Yarko perplexes guys wearing sheets into really thinking they're skeletal ghosts, or when he actually calls upon true demons from Hell for an awesome assist. From the February 1941 issue of Wonderworld Comics #22.


Brian Barnes said...

I know the author didn't mean this (and they wrote comics like I did when I was a kid writing "Iron Dog" -- the comic about Iron Man's dog -- where somebody just phones up at the "only nearby" haunted castle to get the story going) -- but I like to think Yarko isn't really a human, and his backstory is just made up.

He's some kind of trickster god. He could, at anytime, have solved this instantly but instead he is doing everything in the most roundabout and showy way possible. He is *screwing* with this criminals. "All criminals dies of heart attack" isn't that hard to say backwards. No, he's (it) is a showman. He doesn't even have an internal monologue; instead, he's pre-announcing everything that just goes his way (and alters reality.)

I don't even think Fakir (ha) even exists. I think he's a human that Yarko transformed to draw in criminals for his amusement and then Yarko just destroys his own creation, only to probably remake him later. Heroes are only as good as their villains, after all!

BTW, I really like the cape on Yarko, it goes a lot to showing motion in what is a pretty static comic.

JMR777 said...

How many magic superheroes were back then? They might as well have established a Coven of Crimefighting, with an enchanted decoder/two way radio ring for each member.

The story does move fast, not a wasted page for the setup, just action, action and more action.

"There's only one haunted castle nearby" a trope that would be used repeatedly in Filmation's live action show Ghostbusters back in 1975 (anyone remember that one?)

Mr. Cavin said...

I really like panel three of page four. In the preceding panel Yarko has confronted Fakir, asking--nay demanding!--the man give up a little exposition. I like to think he's done this for our sake too. But in panel three Fakir is all, like, tough luck Jack! I'm not ever telling you what the plot of this comic is. And he doesn't. And we never really find out.

I'd like to think that the brace of damsels in this yarn had just been motorists with a blowout, who arrived at the castle one night looking to use the phone. It's a standard set up; happened all the time back then. And now Yarko has graciously given them the place to live in, free and clear! Thanks Yarko!

secretbasementlab said...

I would love to see a reprint collection that spotlights these supernatural/magic-themed golden age crime fighters.

Grant said...

One big question is, what was the "alien smuggling operation"?
I guess just what it sounds like, smuggling immigrants for cheap labor / slave labor or whatever.
Is that a rare crime to put into an adventure comic? Let alone a really escapist one like this?
Either way, the story just drops it after mentioning it once.

I kind of hope Brian Barnes is right about Fakir being some kind of Yarko creation, but not just because it's a clever idea. What he does to him is such an "execution," and apart from Conan comics and a few others, I'm not too fond of those in comics.