Where evil twins and friends come together to lovingly snark Point Horror and other teen genre fiction
 

Recap #221: Detective Comics #49: Clayface Walks Again!

Detective_Comics_49

Detective Comics 49 Cover

Title: Detective Comics #49 – “Clayface Walks Again!”

Writer: Bill Finger

Penciller: Bob Kane

Inkers: Bob Kane, Jerry Robinson, George Roussos

Letterer: George Roussos

Editor: Whitney Ellsworth

Initial Thoughts

Last year I reviewed Detective Comics #40 as part of my attempt to freshen the air in May since I spent all of April 2018 talking about my best friend’s death in my recaps.

Honestly I’m still not sure it did much to help.

Anyway, I figured it’d make since to review the follow-up story in May 2019.

Detective Comics #40 was the debut of Basil Karlo, the first Batman villain to call himself Clayface. Rather than being a shapeshifter as most people know the later Clayfaces to be, Karlo was a famous horror actor driven over the edge when one of his old movies was being remade and he wasn’t asked to star in it. Donning the guise of Clayface, one of his previous characters, Karlo tried to kill off the cast of the remake but was stopped by Batman and Robin.

I mentioned Karlo has all the earmarks of a prototypical slasher movie killer, so it’s especially fitting the follow-up story feels like a typical slasher sequel. Karlo’s back and out for revenge against the people who thwarted him, Batman and Robin. He also wants to kill Julie Madison, the actress who survived his previous killing spree and thus serves the role of the prototypical Final Girl. Out of all the Batman love interests, Julie’s remained my favorite and it’s disappointing this story was her final appearance in the Golden Age Batman stories.

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Recap #219: The Witching Hour #1

Witching Hour #1 Cover

The Witching Hour #1 Cover by Nick Cardy

Title: The Witching Hour #1, a.k.a. “Anne, this isn’t about you”

Creators: Neal Adams, Pat Boyette, Dick Giordano, Dennis O’Neill, Alex Toth

Cover Artist: Nick Cardy

Summary: During DC’s latest foray into the horror / mystery arena, editor Dick Giordano conjured up a triumverate of witches to host an anthology series produced by some of comics’ biggest names. In this first issue, writer / artist Alex Toth provided a framing sequence (with an epilogue drawn by Neal Adams) that introduced readers to the cronish Mordred, motherly Mildred and beautiful Maiden Cynthia – as well as their bumbling pet zombie, Egor. Each witch then brewed a potent blend of horror and dark humor crafted by Toth, writer Denny O’Neil and artists Pat Boyette and Jack Sparling. It was an effective spell that would entrance a loyal audience long into the next decade.

Initial Thoughts

Wow Jude’s actually writing about DC Comics and it’s NOT incoherent ranting, who’d have guessed?

As part of my attempt to start Year Three off strongly, I’m including a review of my favorite of DC’s old horror anthology comics from the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Well, it’s up there alongside “Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love.”

DC had a whole slew of horror comics, “House of Mystery,” “House of Secrets,” “Tales of the Unexpected,” “Ghost Castle,” “Doorway Into Nightmare,” “Sinister House of Secret Love,” etc. “The Witching Hour” was first published way back in 1969 and ran for 85 issues before the main characters were transplanted to “The Unexpected” upon the book’s cancellation.

“The Witching Hour” stands among one of my favorites due solely to the hosts that narrated its stories. Every, well, most of the issues, had a framing device focusing on three witch sisters, Cynthia, Mildred, and Mordred. The issues would take place at midnight, where the sisters would welcome the reader and try to see which of the three had the most gruesome tale to tell.

I only own about a couple dozen or so issues ranging from most of the first ten to a few sporadic numbers throughout the run. From the handful I own I can clearly see the formulaic rot that set in, when the humorous framing stories were reduced to a one page joke opener that lacked the style and panache of the earliest comics.

The Three Witches In Sandman

Cynthia, Mildred and Mordred in The Sandman

The three witches were later incorporated as part of Neil Gaiman’s “The Sandman,” alongside many of the other horror host characters like Lucien from “Ghost Castle” and the brothers Cain and Abel. Cynthia, Mildred and Mordred were introduced as aspects of the Fates/Furies dubbed “The Three-In-One.” Cynthia was established to be the Maiden of the trinity, while Mildred was the Mother and Mordred (who acknowledges her name’s wrong) is the Crone.

They repeatedly appeared at least once per story arc but in different forms before becoming the antagonistic Kindly Ones in the comic’s penultimate tale.

As of recently, they’ve been popping up in some newer DC works. Cynthia appeared in 2018’s Valentine’s Day anthology as a love interest for DC’s version of the Bride of Frankenstein. The three were later antagonists in a Catwoman/Sylvester and Tweety crossover by Gail Simone and have been bedeviling Harley Quinn in her solo series.

The witches are truly the only reason why “The Witching Hour” remains my top fave of the horror anthologies, and they’ve been especially prominent in some of my DC story ideas. Onto the recap!

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Recap #218: Graveyard School #16: Don’t Tell Mummy by Tom B. Stone

Graveyard School #16 - Don't Tell Mummy

Graveyard School #16 – Don’t Tell Mummy Cover by Mark Nagata

Title: Graveyard School #16 – Don’t Tell Mummy, a.k.a. “Morton Explains It All”

Author: Tom B. Stone, a.k.a. Nola Thacker, a.k.a. D.E. Athkins

Cover Artist: Mark Nagata

Summary: Please Don’t Feed The Mummies…

Take a Graveyard School class trip to the museum with Park and his friends. Sneak away from the others. Rattle the dinosaur bones. Jump out and say “Boo!” to the museum guard. Play a little hide-and-seek. But whatever you do, don’t go near the mummies. One of those mummies isn’t wrapped right, as Park found out just before he disappeared…

Initial Thoughts

Now we’ve reached a real treat in the Graveyard School franchise, and while it’s not one of my all time favorites I can understand why it’s so great. In this book, we’re introduced to one-shot character Morton who might be the franchise’s Ensemble Darkhorse. How do I know this?

I can say I was the person who created the Graveyard School wikipedia page AND the TV Tropes page, but some time later some person added entries and tropes pertaining to Morton. I know it wasn’t me, and it amazes me that Morton had some fans out there despite how obscure this wonderful series is. But it’s easy to see why because Morton’s awesome. She’s sarcastic and take charge and doesn’t take anyone’s bullshit.

Come everyone, come with me as we appreciate Morton.

Oh and Wing get ready for a surprise appearance from someone we haven’t seen since 2017.

[Wing: I love the sound of Morton, and I already wish she wasn’t just a one-shot.]

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Recap #216: Deadtime Stories #17: Faerie Tale by A.G. Cascone

GOT ANY SCABS?! They could be worth gold
Why HELLO, it’s me! The Scab Fairy!

Title: Deadtime Stories #17 – Faerie Tale, a.k.a. “Reject Ridge High”

Author: A.G. Cascone, a.k.a. Annette and Gina Cascone

Cover Artist: Mark Fredrickson

Tagline: This is no tooth fairy!

Summary: Who’s watching while you sleep?

The first time Colin saw the tooth fairy was after he’d lost his first baby tooth.

His parents laughed when he told them. They said it must have been his imagination. Kids never really see the tooth fairy.

But Colin kept seeing her every time he lost a tooth. And even though it was a little spooky to actually see a fairy, he still kind of liked it and felt pretty special.

But now that he’s older, Colin is starting to see other fairies in his room at night. Some of them are pretty scary looking. And they’re starting to take a lot more than baby teeth!

Before he knows it, Colin finds himself stuck in a truly grim fairy tale. And he doesn’t have much time to figure out how to escape.

Initial Thoughts

This month for Point Horror I’ve planned out a small fairy tale theme for my recaps. I decided on this months ago when I realized this month’s “Graveyard School” would be “Jack and the Beanstalker.” Well, even though with all the delays I’ve stuck to my decision. I never really get to talk about my interest in fairy tales so I saw this as a fun change of pace and a good way to start the new year.

“Faerie Tale” is the last of the Deadtime Stories series and it’s one of the more difficult entries to find. People used to charge ridiculous prices for it on Amazon, but I got lucky last summer and found a cheap copy. Now I’m sure you all remember how awful “Grandpa’s Monster Movies” was, but this book is a delight. In fact it’s one of the funniest YA horror books I’ve ever read. I’m sure part of that comes from my fascination with fairy tales, yet I won’t spoil all that happens.

Suffice to say though, the summaries aren’t exactly truthful over what happens in this book. I was always under the impression “Faerie Tale” was about a kid who could see fairies all his life, and as he got older they started to turn more malevolent and creepy looking. That’s not what happens at ALL.

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Recap #202: Graveyard School #14: The Tragic School Bus by Tom B. Stone

Graveyard School #14 Cover

The Magic School Bus Has A Midlife Crisis

Title: Graveyard School #14 – The Tragic School Bus, a.k.a. “Skip Wolfson in: ‘Screaming Yellow Honkers’”

Author: Tom B. Stone, a.k.a. Nola Thacker, a.k.a. D.E. Athkins

Cover Artist: Cam DeLeon

Summary: The Next Stop May Be Skip’s Last…

Skip Wolfson can’t believe he almost missed the bus again! One more late morning and he’ll be in big trouble at Graveyard School. But as he walks down the aisle to find a seat, something tells Skip that he got on the wrong bus. The unbelievably wrong bus. Is it because the driver looks like a skeleton? Or is it that the other passengers seem to have been dug up out of a grave? Skip finds himself wishing for detention instead. Anything but a one-way trip to the terminal of the undead!

Initial Thoughts

I referenced this book last year in my recap of “Boo Year’s Eve” when Jordie Flanders brings up Skip’s fear of buses. And now has come the day when we learn how that fear started.

Not one of my favorite books but I’m sure Wing’s gonna love it because it features the return of Skip Wolfson as the protagonist! And to that end, because this has one of the funniest scenes in the entire series, I’ve prepared a little something extra as a gift to Point Horror.

The amazing thing about this book is that it can be viewed as a follow-up to “Little Pet Werewolf” without being a direct sequel. Thacker works in sly nods to Skip’s previous role as the main character without blatantly spoiling the last book.

[Wing: SKIP! I love you, Skip!]

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Recap #200: Jingle Belle: Grounded by Paul Dini and Stephanie Gladden

Title: Jingle Belle – Grounded

Writer: Paul Dini

Line Art and Cover: Stephanie Gladden

Colors: Felix Serrano

Letterer: Troy Peteri

Editor: Rob Levin

Summary: A fan favorite holiday character returns! When Jing again breaks her parents rules, she is forced to spend Christmas Eve GROUNDED. But when Santa is also caught in a lie, he has to share the same punishment! Neither father nor daughter can leave the North Pole until they apologize, and with the contentious Kringles not speaking to each other, Christmas is doomed!

Initial Thoughts

Last year I reviewed the “Santa Claus Vs Frankenstein” Jingle Belle one shot, and I promised to follow up by doing the Krampus story this year.

For those who don’t recall, Jingle Belle is Santa’s incorrigible teenage daughter (technically 151, which comes out to 16 in elf years). Jing often gets into a lot of ridiculous misadventures and finds herself put on the Naughty List, much to her father’s eternal frustration. Along for the ride is Jing’s best friend and fellow holiday icon Polly Green, the official Witch of Halloween.

Now last year, Wing got a bit peeved by how the complaints on the Santa Claus myth were brought up by a strawman political character whose arguments turned out to be part of a ploy to go after Santa because he’s an easy target. Well Wing, if you were disappointed over the resolution in last year’s comic, I’m certain you’ll be rather fond of what happens this time.

[Wing: Recap #200! It’s been a great time. Thank you all for reading and commenting and recapping. I love this snarky little book club.]

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Recap #199: Graveyard School #12: Scream, Team! by Tom B. Stone

SOCCER RIOT!

Title: Graveyard School #12 – “Scream, Team!” a.k.a. “The Bad News Belville Bears”

Author: Tom B. Stone, a.k.a. Nola Thacker, a.k.a. D.E. Athkins

Cover Artist: Cam DeLeon

Summary: Belville Bears 13

Grove Hill Tigers 0

They’re big. They’re mean. They’re ugly. And they’re totally killing the Graveyard School Tigers. The Belville Bears used to be the worst soccer team in the universe. But now they’ve gotten good. Wicked good. Unnaturally good. Tyson Walker knows something is wrong. But can he stop the new monster team before they turn the Tigers into kitty litter.

Initial Thoughts

We have our first non-skateboard related sporting book in the series. And it’s got an all-star cast! Tyson! Algie! Kirstin! Skip! Maria! And Jason Dunnbarr who is surprisingly a lot nicer than he was in his first appearance!

“Scream, Team” offers more world building to the land of Grove Hill by introducing us to Belville Academy and giving us a better grasp of the land beyond Graveyard School. I referred to this book in my introduction post by mentioning how this is such a refreshing change of pace to sports tales. It really enforces ideas about healthy sportsmanship, and that parents who scream and rave about their kids always winning is NOT the right way to raise a child.

Here’s hoping you guys enjoy this more than Nola Thacker’s other “Scream Team” novel.

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Recap #196: Spellbound by Christopher Pike

Spellbound by Christopher Pike

Spellbound by Christopher Pike

Title: Spellbound by Christopher Pike

Summary: No one knew how the girl had died.

They found Karen Holly in the mountain stream, her skull crushed. There was only one witness to the tragedy, Karen’s boyfriend, Jason Whitfield. He said a grizzly had killed her. But a lot of people didn’t believe him. They thought Jason had murdered her in a fit of rage.

And now weeks have passed, and Jason has another girlfriend, Cindy Jones. And there are the new kids in town, Joni Harper, the quiet English beauty that Cindy’s brother, Alex, cannot get out of his mind. And Bala, the foreign exchange student from Africa, the grandson of a powerful shaman.

Together they will return to the place where Karen was killed.

Some will die.

The others will come face to face with a horror beyond imagining.

Tagline: You can close your eyes….It won’t help. [Wing: Except, spoilers, that’s exactly what it does.]

Initial Thoughts

This is one of my favourite Pike books, though not my absolute favourite. There are monstrous women and full moons and hunger, and it is all pretty great — except for that girls fighting over boys and boys fighting over girls and racism everywhere. /o\

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Recap #195: The Upturned Stone by Scott Hampton

It’s the Haunted Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!

Title: The Upturned Stone, a.k.a. “The Haunted Pie”

Writer/Artist: Scott Hampton

Tagline: “Ghosts aren’t frightening, really.”

“What’s frightening is the thought of them.”

Initial Thoughts

It’s like “Stand By Me” but with ghosts and sexual abuse.

I first discovered this tale a few years back when Comic Book Resources did a countdown of “Scariest Comics of All Time,” and being the sucker that I am for Halloween and pumpkin related horror tales, I immediately sought to hunt this book down and acquired one of the original print copies.

This story isn’t all plot, and while Halloween is what sets off the chain of events, the entire book doesn’t take place solely on the holiday itself. What starts off with a pumpkin growing on top of the grave of an unnamed child becomes a journey into adulthood and a quest for revenge.

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Recap #193: Quiet House by Norman Prentiss

Rock on, dudes

Title: Quiet House, a Halloween short story, a.k.a. “That Got Dark REALLY Fast”

Author: Norman Prentiss

Cover Artist: N/A

Tagline: N/A

Summary: On October 29, the Halloween decorations disappeared from the Myrick lawn. Instead, an official sign appeared at the edge of the property: “Quiet Zone: Death in the Family.”

This year, Jeremy would finally be allowed to trick or treat without his parents’ supervision, and he’d been looking forward to visiting the neighborhood’s most famous October attraction. Now, after all his anticipation, it felt like Halloween had been cancelled. To his young mind, even a grieving family deserves some version of the traditional “trick” but Jeremy’s impulsive act of revenge has far-reaching, terrifying consequences.

Initial Thoughts

I came across this digital short story last year on Fantastic Fiction while I was doing a search for a random story I once glimpsed on Amazon a couple of years ago. You have to understand I’m prone to doing that if I have some bare trace of memory for a book or story and I’ll sometimes dedicate too much time on Amazon and Fantastic Fiction to try and locate it.

I came upon this story in my searches and thought the title sounded interesting. I purchased it through Amazon Kindle for a dollar, which is where I suggest you buy it as well to show support because this story, this, this is… I did not come into this story prepared for how dark it goes, and was assuming it’d be some “Tales from the Crypt” esque journey where the neighbors get revenge on Jeremy for his trick.

You aren’t prepared for how brutal this goes.

You can find more of Norman Prentiss’s work on his website here: http://normanprentiss.com/

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