New Reviews of Old Comics
The top line of the cover says it all “Nostalgic 1950s EC Comics!” If you come across something like that for a buck and don’t pick it up, well, friend, you may want to re-examine your identity of “comics fan,” because the influence of EC comics on just about every comic story and creator that came after them cannot be underestimated. As I have previously written, I’m not the biggest science-fiction fan in the world, but even I couldn’t pass this one up. The Frank Frazetta cover of a modern man fending off Neanderthals with a club on the edge of a mountain just draws you in; it justifies the dollar all on its own. Inside we’re treated to four stories from EC’s superstar stable of artists.
First up is “The Chosen One” a Wally Wood story narrated in the first person by a father who has just seen a glowing orb land in front of his house. He knows why they’re there and spends the next six pages telling us about his extraordinary son. As any EC reader will know, these stories often have the ironic twist ending so I don’t want to spoil it in a review. Suffice to say it is an unpredictable ending albeit slightly illogical. This is Wally Wood so the art is what you would expect (very good) and the story is a decent read. All in all, a good start to the issue.
Next up is an Al Williamson six page story called “Vicious Circle.” Again we have first person narration, but this time it looks like a tribe of cavemen dispensing justice among their group. The “criminal” in this case has a friend who takes exception to the rule of law, which leads to a meeting with the tribe elder that relates the story of how these well-spoken cavemen came to be. They’re not just cavemen, but modern humans who have shunned technology after society collapsed. That’s just the plot and does not give away the twist ending, which is pretty insightful for a six page comic story. I’d have to say I enjoyed this one more than the first story, which was still pretty good.
Our third story is “Genesis” by Reed Crandall which starts with the end of a colonization experiment on Mars. The main character relates his story in the first person (of course) about how everything came to this point in time, with him as the last Earthling still on Mars. He was one of the first to explore the red planet, leading to a mass colonization which didn’t go so well. Yes, there is a twist ending and no I’m not giving it away. While I didn’t like this story quite as much as the previous two, it was still worthwhile. Reed’s artwork was much better than the story, where the highlight for me was the Martian hare. Who knew Mars had bunnies?
Joe Orlando provides the last story “Adam Link In Business” told in the first person by a robot named Adam Link. It says “Adapted from the third of the Adam Link stories by Eando Binder” so I don’t know if that’s true or if Joe created this one outright. Regardless, it’s one of those robot-is-way-too-much-like-a-human and he struggles to blend in with humans while retaining his robot identity type of stories. Or at least that’s my take on it. Like all good robots he is willing to sacrifice his own desires over that of the humans he knows. Of the four stories in this issue, I’d rate this #3. Not bad, but not as good as the first two, though slightly better than the third story.
On the whole, it’s hard to beat an EC comic for a good read, no matter what genre you find. Horror, war, crime, science fiction or fantasy, they all have redeeming qualities. I’ve read numerous others in various formats over the years and truly lousy stories in EC comics are a rare thing indeed. If you’re not already familiar with EC do yourself a favor and pick up some reprints next time you hit the comic store.