Papercuts: Marvel’s Chamber of Chills

Papercuts: Chamber of Chills from Marvel Comics

By Ryan “HB” Mount

 

In the late 1960’s and into the 1970’s DC Comics was not the only producer of many horror genre comics.  Marvel seemed to be in an arms race against DC with the amount of horror comics they were producing at the exact same time.

Chamber of Chills was just one of Marvel’s titles and it was published from November 1972 through November 1976 and ran for 25 issues.

Much of these books remain uncollected and unavailable digitally, making the only way to consume these titles is visiting your local comic shops and searching back issue bins or tracking them down online.

Chamber of Chills #1 (Marvel)

This was a heck of a first issue.

First issues are always difficult.  Typically, it is either a cold opening with just enough to grab onto or on the other side of the spectrum, it is an info dump and ruins a series before it event gets started.  Well then, how do you start an anthology series that has no overarching story thread and give readers enough to want to come back for the second issue?  This issue solves that quandary.

It was hand curated by Stan Lee and Roy Thomas in a true collaborative effort.

Out first tale might have been the most straight forward tale of Werewolves with a very specific twist.  The turn was so great, that to this day, I have not seen it been used in any other interpretation of Werewolves.

The second tale was written by Stan Lee himself.  For a man known for his fantastical tale, this was a very dark, reality based commentary on the prison system.  It was the darkest tale of the three.  Stan was certainly playing with his narrative style as most panels were surrounded by dialogue which may have been perceived as over writing but the last panel makes it all come together and deliver a crushing blow.

The final tale was clearly to appease Roy Thomas who spent much of his career introducing sword and sorcery tales into the Marvel Universe.  However, the actual tale was written by Gerry Conway, another great comic writer of the 1970’s.  The story was mainly one of a barbarian, but with modern day consequence.

It is clear that the further most horror anthology series are published, the quality begins to dip and rely more and more on reprints, but this first issue was simply spectacular.

Each tale was very well written and the art complimented it well.  While there was no top notch artists listed on the creation of this book, they all did their best with workman style art that still holds up over time, perhaps more than even those of newer generations.

Ratings: 4.5 out of 5

  

Chamber of Chills #2 and #3 (Marvel)

Issue #2 contained two very different tales of Vampires. One in the Old West and another millions of years into the future.  Hard to image back to back tales featuring similar monsters being compelling, but one was more of a cursed story and the other one felt like the original Alien film, only the aliens were vampires.  The third story was another Roy Thomas influenced tale of sword and sorcery which may not entirely fit the genre, but would certainly appeal to a larger audience.

Issue #3 may have contained less sword and sorcery, but ventured into adventure genre comics with a horror bent for the first tale.  The real gem of this book was “All the Shapes of Fear.”  Written by George Effinger and art by Don Heck, it clearly took place during then present day and had the artwork to match.  However, it was one of those haunting tales with a tale of redemption and if you can find this issue in the wild, might be worth picking up.  It may be one of my favorite anthology style stories featured in any comics.

Ratings: 4 out of 5

Chamber of Chills #4 (Marvel)

The main highlight of this book, was that one story contained very early artwork of comic book legend, Howard Chaykin.  While it was done in a style of that time and looks much different than modern era Chaykin, it still had elements that he uses today.  Each character has his signature strong chins and was already drawing very seductive and sultry women into his work.

If you are a fan of Howard Chaykin, this issue may be worth tracking down just to be able to see his early starting points.  While the overall issue was fine, filled with weird and interesting tales, his artwork began to stand out even back then.

Ratings: 3.5 out of 5

Chamber of Chills #5-#7 (Marvel)

Issue #5 marked the beginning of the reprints for the series.  The issue contained four total stories, with three being new and one tale a reprint of a previous pre-comic code story.  The unfortunate part of the reprint is that there was no credit given to the artist or the writer in the book.  Also, given that it was surrounded by modern storytelling, it really stood out amongst the issue and not necessarily in a good way.

Issue #6 was three more tales, with two new stories at the beginning and the final tale one being a reprint.  This issue overall felt fresher than #5.

Issue #7 was fine, but it already seemed like this was the end, even though there were 18 more issues to be printed, the remarkable care and thought put into issue #1 seemed long gone.

Ratings: 3 out of 5

 

After the publication of #7, #8 began to be all reprints of older materials.  And #7 also happens to be the last issue that was available immediately.  Overall, I think if you are a fan of Marvel from the 1970’s this should be a series you track down.  If you want to see where modern horror anthologies really started to take their shape, I’d also recommend these first 7 issues.

 

If you like what you read, make sure to like it and share it.  Follow me on twitter @hebruise and let me know what you liked, what you did not, which horror books you are into and your suggestions to be reviewed!

Transmissions from Lexington Comic & Toy Convention 2017

Another year, another trek into the hallowed halls of Rupp Arena to aimlessly wander the floor of the Lexington Comic and Toy Convention. What wonders would I encounter this year? Would I see any familiar faces? Would I finally ask every former Power Ranger to the big dance? THE ANSWERS ARE INSIDE.

I got a couple press passes this year, so me and my wife – a great photographer and the best person in the world – decided to act super professional.

These are our professional faces.

We were greeted by the two-story-tall Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. He was still smiling, which meant those darn Ghostbusters hadn’t tried to turn him into marshmallow goo just yet. He was still living his best life. And now he was here, frozen in time and greeting all who entered the doors. Shine on, you crazy diamond.

As we descended to the main floor, we came across a set-up from Star Wars. Okay, so it may have been less a “set-up” and more a “thieving ring.” Any unsuspecting soul who found themselves lingering in the area were swarmed by a pack of Jawas. Within minutes, anything electronic on their person had been removed from their pockets while the Jawas fought among each other for possession of the object. Anyone who decided to try to reclaim what they felt was rightfully theirs was treated to the barrel of an AT-ST’s gun pointed in their direction.

Look man. If you’ve seen A New Hope, you know what the Jawas are about. You only have yourselves to blame.

Did we encounter any other Star Wars folks? We may have seen a few.

General Leia Organa and Rey were travelling around together and they happened to run into an Imperial Officer. Instead of fighting right there in the middle of the isle, they decided to put aside their differences and pose for a picture.

Shortly after this picture was taken, Leia and Rey escorted the officer to a dark corner and disposed of him. Imperial scum.

I’ve often said that Obi-Wan Kenobi and Xena: Warrior Princess would make a good couple. Now I have proof.

I originally thought that this was Old Man Luke Skywalker, but the robes indicated that he was Obi-Wan. THE ROBES NEVER LIE.

As you can see in this picture, we encountered the fearsome Kylo Ren with very few people around. Nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide. He lit up his lightsaber and we briefly froze. We decided our best defense was to laugh at him, talk loudly about how he’s just a wannabe Vader and repeatedly referred to him as “Poor Lil’ Bennie.” He began sobbing and ran to the nearest restroom. Ain’t so bad.

Sure, Solo blindly took out one Boba Fett. But two? I don’t think so, bucko. Into the Sarlacc Pit with you while Boba Fett and the missus live a long, happy life together.

You know what I love about Deadpool in terms of cons? Versatility. Sure, you may occasionally get a Captain America or Batman with some variation (usually depending on what era they’re repping), but there’s not a huge difference in the look. But Deadpool? Anyone can be Deadpool and it would fit in with the character and the comics.

Take this little tyke. He’s just a tiny little Deadpool and he’s wearing Batman shoes. They’re not even in the same comic universe, but I believe that, somewhere, Deadpool owns a pair of Batman shoes.

Cowboy Deadpool. I have absolutely seen Deadpool in this outfit. Throw this version of Marshal Will Kane in High Noon and that movie would have been over in 10 minutes.

I love this one. Deadpool Dixon and Carl Grimes. Deadpool is rocking Daryl’s vest – down to the angel wings on the back – and crossbow, but is still very much Deadpool.

Spider-Man would look out of place in something like this, but Deadpool can pull it off.

It has been a while since I’ve watched an episode of The Walking Dead, so it’s quite possible Daryl Dixon is actually just Deadpool now. If that’s the case, I need someone to tell me so I can start watching that show again.

I don’t love the idea of Alice teaming up with the Umbrella Corporation, but I assume there’s a good reason behind it. Maybe they’re infiltrating Umbrella so a couple of her friends are wearing stolen outfits? They would pick out Alice in a hurry in that dress, but she’s got superpowers so I guess that doesn’t matter too much.

Whatever your reason, Alice, I trust your judgment completely.

Of everyone I ran into, this was my favorite costume. It’s all the little touches. The jagged horns that look like have been torn off. The cigar she kept with her at all times. The beer in the hand. It’s all wonderful. It’s all perfect.

The dragon in the background is giving some serious side eye in this picture. Hellboy (Hellgirl?) picked up on that and smacked him around a bit after I took this picture. Negan – big, bad Negan – just cowered in the corner as it happened. He may be the big man during a zombie apocalypse, but he’s useless as a dragon caretaker.

“I knew who I was this morning, but I’ve changed a few times since then.”

You don’t say.

I’m a sucker for a good themed costume, and this one is perfect. They have the banner. They have the coconuts. They have the Rabbit of Caerbannog. While walking the floor, I could occasionally hear the tapping of coconuts in the distance. When they exited the building, I heard the familiar call of “Run away! Run away!”

The children didn’t seem too interested in crime-fighting, so I walked by them with my guard down. I found out that was a mistake when they both took billy clubs and smashed them into my knees. While I writhed on the ground, the group calmly walked away, silently laughing to themselves.

Never underestimate the strength of children.

Even without one sock, this child is infinitely more incredible than I will ever be.

We found Lego Batman at the base of the escalator. For the life of me, I don’t know how he was able to actually get on the escalator. For all I know, he’s still standing down there.

There is a whole lot of awesomeness in this picture, but it’s Little Hulk that really kills me. Really going all-out with the flex there, Hulk. I would absolutely watch a movie starring this version of Hulk and Black Widow. She looks like she is absolutely ready to brawl.

We’ve got the Spider trio of Spider-Man, Spider-Gwen and Silk. We also have Ant Man and Wasp. And there, in the middle of it all, is Squirrel Girl. I honestly thought I would see a handful of Squirrel Girls, but we only ran into this one, and she was terrific. Always happy. She seemed genuinely thrilled to be there and to have people excited to take pictures of her. She may have actually been the real Squirrel Girl, stepped directly out of the pages of a comic and into our world.

Of course, I found it a little irresponsible for all these heroes to pose for a picture while Kylo Ren casually strolled behind them. Way to keep humanity safe, you guys. You’ve been through superhero training and this is the best you can do? Shame on you. Shame on you.

I can’t imagine that Ice Man outfit is comfortable, but it looks amazing. Fashion over function, my dear boy.

Let’s talk about the act of going to a comic convention for a second. This is a ridiculously cool costume. We took this picture in the main opening, so there’s a little bit of space of maneuver, but the main floor is packed. I have a hard enough time getting through some of the aisles as a regular human being. How does one make their way through the swarm of bodies when you are a god who has arms sticking out on either side of you? Do you just not go to the main floor? Or do you make peace with the fact that you’ll just smack a lot of people in the face with your extra arms and they’ll have to deal with it?

I’ve often thought about following one of these people around to see what they do, but I have a feeling I would just get really frustrated. That life isn’t for me. But for her? Man, she looks so cool she can do whatever she wants.

Even Blade has to take a break to check his messages every now and then. That’s probably how he finds out where all the vampires are. He just searches for #vampirerave and goes from there. Vampires never learn, man. Not everything has to go on social media, you know.

Bunch of suckheads.

I’ll grant you that I haven’t been to a ton of conventions, but I’ve been attending them for a few years now and this is the first time I’ve seen Green Goblin and Cyclops. Those are fairly well-known characters, so I was a bit shocked this was the first time I had seen either of them.

Kudos to Batman for repping the gun. It may be an unpopular opinion, but I’m perfectly fine with Batman shooting some supervillains from time-to-time. Call me crazy, but I don’t think The Joker is going to suddenly become reformed after his 1,000,000th trip to Arkham Asylum.

I’d watch a team-up of these two.

Okay, I’ll be honest. I would only watch it if Punisher killed the Power Ranger 5 minutes into the movie. The Power Rangers were a bit after my time so I have no love for them. I’m old. I can’t help it.

“I can’t see me lovin’ nobody but you / For all my liiiiiiiiiife…”

The moment Michael realizes he left Jason chained at the bottom of the lake.

Where else can you see Doctor Strange riding an escalator behind a T. Rex? I mean, besides my dreams every night.

We only got a chance to attend one panel, but it was a fun one. We’re pretty big fans of iZombie, so we had to make sure we caught this one. Sadly, Rose McIver had to pull out of the convention, but we got to hear some great stories from Aly Michalka and Malcolm Goodwin.

Every year I say I’m going to go to more panels, and every year I forget. I’ve never been to a bad one, though. If you go to a convention, always make sure to do some research ahead of time and try to get to at least a couple panels.

 

Last but certainly not least, there is always a lot of great art. If I had unlimited funds and wall space, I would walk out of every convention with a truck full of art. Some of it is mass manufactured, but there is always a ton of unique, handmade art.

This Peach/Mario take on Bride of Frankenstein and Frankenstein’s Monster is one of my favorite things I’ve seen. I’m still kicking myself for not buying it.

I did walk out with this piece of art, though. We have a daughter who is getting ready to turn two and we’re looking for art for her room. I’ve been looking for Batgirl and Spider-Gwen stuff, because I’d love to get her started on some strong, female superheroes. As it so happened, Rico Renzi – colorist for the Spider-Gwen series – was at the convention this year. I stopped by his table and this immediately grabbed my eye. Rico was incredibly nice and gracious, and now I have this nice piece of art of start my daughter’s collection.


Conventions are always exhausting but we always have a blast. I’m already looking forward to the next one.

Papercuts: 03-22-2017

Papercuts: March 22, 2017

By Ryan “HB” Mount

This week, we take a look at the reintroduction of two fan-favorite characters, Vampirella and Marvel’s Man-Thing with new jumping on points and big departures from status quo of the characters long histories.

Vampirella #1 (Dynamite)

After reviewing the #0 issue, there was a ton of mystery of where this series was heading.  I never would have thought from #0 that we were getting Vampirella in dystopian future Los Angles.  Perhaps as comic readers, we should welcome drastic changes and see where the story leads before rushing to conclusion.

This should not come as a surprise, but it felt like Paul Cornell was writing another episode of Doctor Who and not Vampirella.  There was a huge world presented with a lot of mystery and not a lot of explanation.  There was also some future speak dialogue which was alright for an opening issue, but hopefully does not bog down the story for the long term.

The art in this issue was fantastic.  While I appreciate the mood that the zero issue had set up, this set up a much different landscape.  There are remnants of Kirby and Moebius in the design work and spoke to my sensibilities.

There is also something to be said about a book taking a lot of chances.  There appears to be another narrative happening outside the panels on the page and certainly not conventional, I again think that a book taking some risks, should be something given some praise.

While this book is anything but traditional Vampirella, there are so many interesting things happening that this new launch deserves several issues before making a full judgement.

Ratings: 4 out of 5

Man-Thing #1 (Marvel)

If you were a child of the 1990’s and you saw that teen horror writer, R.L. Stine was writing a comic book, you would naturally be excited.

While for a long time, Man-Thing has been a lumbering and haunting character with oddly defined powers of portal jumping and instilling total fear into people, Stine decided to take the character in a completely new and different direction and is bound to rub some longtime fans the wrong way.

After reading this issue, you are left wondering if Stine had recently watched the 2005 film, Man-Thing which wanted to tell a funny story of how that film came to be made.  There were certain references from character designs to statements from characters in the book that leads us to that conclusion.  I was unsure if Stine was going for a Howard the Duck type of story for this book, but there the writing was not clever enough to hook readers.  The departure was so far removed from the original character that many old-time fans will have nothing to grab onto and new readers won’t have enough either.

The art was fine and seeing Man-Thing on the page was a real treat, when it came to everything else, it seemed clunky and rushed.

Ratings: 2.5 out of 5

 

Quick Cuts:

Zombie Camp #1 – This is a book has its issues, but it is intended for kids. Enjoy the simplicity.  Ratings: 2.5 out of 5

The Darkness Visible #2 – Mike Carey continues to tell a compelling story of a society where demons and humans struggle to co-exist.  A couple more layers added on in this issue.  Ratings: 3 out of 5

Eclipse #5 – New Arc.  Go back and pick up the trade, then jump in. Ratings: 3.5 out of 5

Grim Tales of Terror (Vol. 3) #2 – Teen horror meets idle hands. Ratings: 2 out of 5

Grim Tales of Terror (Vol. 3) #3 – New art style for the book. Typical fare. Ratings: 2 out of 5

Richard Corben’s Shadows of the Grave #3 – The art alone is enough to add this to your monthly reading, but the creeps and scares keep it essential for any fans of the genre.   Ratings: 3.5 out of 5

Lady Killer 2 #4 – Dexter meets Mad Men. Beautiful art.  Ratings: 3.5 out of 5

Spook House #3 – Horror Anthology for kids! Ratings: 3.5 out of 5

When not writing about horror comics, Ryan enjoys long walks on shark infested beaches or at least watching them on the screen.  If you like what you read, tweet out the link to the column and use the #papercuts.  If you want to read more, follow Ryan @hebruise and look his other comic columns and interviews over at Two-Headed Nerd.com.

Paper Cuts: 2/2/17

Monsters Unleashed #1 (Marvel)

In a rare treat, a proper Marvel U book makes it to this week’s reviews.

If you are a fan of strange monsters appearing from nowhere and causing total havoc, this comic will scratch the Godzilla-sized itch you need to have scratched.

If you are or were a fan of Marvel comics, then this comic feeds that hunger.

The premise is very simple: giant kaiju monsters are falling from the sky.  Every team across the Marvel Universe looks to defeat them with their own signatures that every fan can recognize.  For readers who are not current, it also serves as a very soft reintroduction to the current state of the Marvel universe without beating you over the head with it.

Steve McNiven on art is simply breathtaking.  His monsters are weird while maintaining the wackiness of horror monsters from the 1970s and before.  In the wrong hands this book would come across as ridiculous, but it manages to take the most absurd and turn it into threatening, real life danger for all the Marvel Universe.

There is also a little bit of mystery built into the storytelling with Else Bloodstone – the Monster Hunter – interesting and compelling even when there are not giant monsters tearing up major cities.

This is an absolutely amazing, cross-genre mash up that is great for kaiju horror fans, kids who love current Marvel comics and everyone in between.

Ratings: 4.5 out of 5

Hook Jaw #2 (Titan)

You had me at shark.  The combination of sharks and comics – while not the easiest to execute – is the easiest sale to me that you will ever make.

Yet,  Hook Jaw is a baffling book.  While there were no hints that it was not taking itself seriously in issue #1, in this issue, it beats the reader over the head with the unsubtle self-awareness.  It mentions that Hook Jaw was once a 1970s comic book.  It highlights the fact that the hard-assed, no-nonsense character is pulled straight from an 80s movie.  It then proceeds to bring in every trope under the sun; from dolphin loving hippies to CIA conspiracies.  There is nothing to grab onto from a character or writing standpoint. Without those things, it just makes this a mindless book about sharks

If you are going to have a mindless book about sharks, the art needs to be so amazing and captivating that it can overcome a lack of a coherent story or poor writing, but the art is passable at best.

I do not like to judge books so harshly, but it’s hard not to compare this to White. Between these two shark books, one is clearly superior to the other, and Hook Jaw most definitely does not win that battle.

Ratings: 2 out of 5

Ex Mortis #1 (451 Media)

While this first issue was released back in November, the third issue comes out this week on Friday, so I thought I’d circle back and highlight this series. It’s always good to check out these smaller independent books.

There is nothing earth shatteringly original about this book.  If you are a fan of Hellboy and the BPRD, Marvel’s The Howling Commandos, or DC’s Frankenstein: Agent of Shade, this books follows in that tradition.  It’s World War 2 and monsters are being developed and deployed from both sides.

The art in this book is black and white, and is rather well done.  The artist clearly has an affinity for Jeff Lemire’s shading style.  Sometimes the line work came across as unfinished, but that could be because this was a PDF format from the publisher and not the finished comic.  The only other critique is that there was a lot of ink on the board, and I’m not sure it added anything special to the art.

Overall, absolute fun story and good art.  Give this series a read.

Check it out here.

Ratings: 3.5 out 5