Friday, March 14, 2008

Weekly Dose of Weird!

This scene is, like, total splitsville, man!  TOWER OF SHADOWS #9
Tower of Shadows #9 -- I always like it when a horror comic has a cover that has absolutely nothing to do with the contents. Like, not even close! I wonder which one is not a "super thriller?"

I. "Pickman's Model" -- Roy Thomas and Tom Palmer themselves introduce this story by H.P. Lovecraft. Our narrator, Thurber, tells how he was writing an article on weird art and was examining the horrific and morbid work of a painter named Pickman, when he was invited to see his North End studio. There, he sees the most horrific painting of all, depicting a creature with such realism that it looks like it could reach off the canvas. Grabbing a picture Thurber thinks Pickman has used for background reference, he is startled by Pickman's use of a revolver to keep "rats" at bay, and flees. Only then does he see that the reference photo is not of the setting, but of the subject, standing in Pickman's studio.

II. "The Haunted Room" -- A nondescript 50's guy designs and creates a "bismuth atomic bomb," and plans to hold the world ransom with it for some unknown reason. Needing a place to hide it, he rents an old house in the country, but is warned never to enter the "haunted room" that has been closed for centures. He stashes his bomb there, then heads to New York to threaten the UN, only to realize that he is naught but a ghost since he entered the room.

III. "The World That Was Lost" -- A guy who looks like Professor Xavier charters a yacht for a month with the intention of finding Atlantis. When they reach exact co-ordinates, the wheelchair bound man leaps off the deck into the drink. Turns out he's a merman who, uh, evidently can breathe in the air.

IV. "The Threat From the 5th Dimension!" -- Dream demons who look like demented paper dolls try to kidnap a guy in his PJs, but the fact that believes in them drives them off. Going to see a doctor for help, he is told he is crazy -- only his doctor is an advance agent for the demons. The man decides the only way to save the world is to tell his story to the world -- through Tower of Shadows.

Overall Weird Factor: 4 (out of 5).

Talk about your wildly varying quality! The first tale (the only non-reprint of the bunch, which was common for Marvel horror mags of this period) is excellent, and the closer, with art by Steve Ditko, is really far-out. The two middle pieces (with art by Don Heck and Jack Kirby, respectively) are average, without any real innovation or twists. Still, Lovecraft and the super-bizarre last segment combine to make this one weird little comic. Tower of Shadows would become Creatures On The Loose with the next issue.

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