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Review: ‘Haunted Horror’ #3

HauntedHorror_03

In the unregulated era before the Comics Code Authority forced the industry to self-censor in fear of inciting juvenile delinquency, lawless and raw pre-Code horror comics of the early 1950s reigned supreme. Exhibiting an ageless quality that’s just prime for reprinting, the unearthing of this lost world of vintage comics can only increase exposure, as devoted collectors and diligent editors resurrect and restore the rarest of tales and art. Now, Atom Age horror comics enthusiasts are able to enjoy an assortment of stories frowned upon by the likes of Dr. Fredric Wertham, for an affordable price.

IDW and Yoe Books continue to uncover and promote those contraband horror comics pulverized by bureaucratic inquisition, with their latest collection of re-mastered works in Haunted Horror #3.

WRITTEN BY: Jack Cole, Myron Fass, Ross Andru, Rod Palais
ART BY: Tony Mortellaro, Jack Cole, Myron Fass, Paul Gattuso, Ross Andru, Rod Palais
PUBLISHER: IDW Publishing
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASE: February 27th

From the same individuals behind Dick Briefer’s “Frankenstein” and Bob Powell’s “Terror” and “Zombies”, this critically acclaimed series is back with more chilling, excellently restored and reprinted tales that epitomize the pre-Code horror era.

The third installment boasts six distinct pieces of work from a variety of writers and illustrators, including, but not limited to, Jack Cole (“Plastic Man”), Myron Fass (“Eerie Publications”), Sheldon Moldoff (“Hawkman”), and Ross Andru (“Wonder Woman”). But like most anthologies, the collection fluctuates in terms of quality; nevertheless, each featured comic has enough admirable traits that make them worth reading.

Each story was published between the years 1951-1953, and what’s most interesting about them — besides their ability to accurately reflect the cultural atmosphere of that period in time — is the fact that most of these pieces, and others like it, were the likely cause of the Code’s creation. The bulk of the book showcases gratuitous violence, vampirism, concepts of a corrupt system due to dirty judges and government officials, scenes dealing with the incitement of gruesome crime, lurid content, the dead, and illustrations of “good girl art”; usually drawn in the pin-up tradition, which features a strong emphasis on attractive women, no matter the subject or situation. All of these characteristics, and more, were prohibited by the Code in 1955.

“Haunted Horror” #3, as well as its previous installments, serves as a good starting point for those interested in horror comics of years past, in terms of the historical significance of both script and art. With 52 full-colour pages that take readers through themes of treachery, psycho love, revenge, and murder, the artistic style of these vintage horror comics utilizes a vivid colour palette of loud pastels. It lends well to the depictions of terrified facial expressions, and the various monsters featured in the book. Concepts of supernatural abuse and comeuppance are prevalent in almost all pre-Code era comics, and such is the case with this anthology.

Perhaps there could be more context/history within the pages of the book, just as a means to sell the era. But I understand that disconnecting from the digital age of preconceived knowledge, and the existence of an established fandom, makes for a more authentic experience in terms of enjoying a comic as they did in that generation.

Issue #3 features Jack Cole’s “Hangman’s Horror”, Myron Fass’ “The Thing in the Pool”, Rod Palais’ “Weird Worlds”, Paul Gattuso and Sheldon Moldoff’s “The Eyes in his Hand”, “Haunt from the Sea”, attributed by Iger Shop, and Ross Andru’s “One Man’s Poison”.

4/5 Skulls

Reviewed by – ShadowJayd