Jul 25, 2017

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 881: Weird Mystery Tales #4, January-February 1973


Though I don't remember exactly, there's an excellent chance that I bought this comic purely for it's Cthulhu-esque front cover. As I read through my collection, I'm both surprised and unsurprised at the amount of writers who dip into the Lovecraftian well in these kinds of anthology titles. I mean, it makes sense, and speaks to that idea that we all feel like we're the first to discover a thing, but of course we're not. And in the Seventies, there were quite a few writers, both at Marvel and at DC, that obviously had a pretty good knowledge of old HPL.

The other cool thing about this comic is that Destiny, eventually of Neil Gaiman's Endless, is the host of the series. I hadn't realized that he was one of the pre-existing characters Gaiman had folded into The Sandman, though with Cain and Abel, hosts of House of Mystery and House of Secrets respectively, it makes sense. And Mike Kaluta's opening page for today's comic really establishes the look of the character that would continue into Gaiman's acclaimed work.

There is something to be said for the very different artistic and narrative styles of the mystery/horror comics of the 70s. As both of the big two start pushing back against the restrictions of the Comics Code, we can see creators really trying to figure their way around the draconian measures in place on comics at the time. There's not much blood in these comics, but there is some real darkness, tales of immortal imprisonment and of astral battles unresolved. Rather than stories of being killed or of the traditional monsters, we have more existential horror occurring, which, really, is the kind of horror that sticks with one after a reading. The monsters are amusing, to be sure, but when we're faced with articulations of real fear or circumstance, the horror comic does its job (scaring us, that is) much more efficiently.

This was a good one. I enjoyed it. To be continued.

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