Monday, October 10, 2016


Three chilling tales from Cain's endless library of haunting stories.

"The Collector"
WRITER: Marc DeMatteis
PENCILS: Jim Sherman
INKS:  Joe Rubinstein
COLORS: Jerry Serpe
LETTERS:  Clem Robins

SYNOPSIS:  At a comics and collectibles shop late one night, Leonard Ruby runs some kids out of his store.  Locking up for the night he laments that all these years the one collectible he has always sought--Unbelievable Stories #1--has always remained beyond his grasp. He has never even seen a copy available before.  However, this night is different.  Leonard gets a phone call about a kid who has a copy and he rush out to meet this kid.

After a 90 minute drive Leonard meets the owner, but this young man refuses to sell.  It turns out that the kid's grandfather created this character that Leonard is such a fan of, but the creator sold all rights to this character for only $100, not knowing it would turn out to be so popular.  He died without selling another story.

Leonard can't stand the idea of not completing his collection.  He grabs a nearby kitchen knife and murders the young man. As the kid's sister rounds the corner, she witnesses the grizzly act only to be done in herself.  Leonard rushes out to his car, but skids off the road into a graveyard.  Leonard finds himself at the grave of Ethan Dombue, creator of his favorite character. Ethan's spirit emerges and condemns Leonard for his foul deeds.

The next morning, the cemetery caretaker finds a waterlogged and nearly ruined copy of Unbelievable Stories #1, complete with a screaming Leonard Ruby on the cover.

"Black Mass"
WRITER: Wyatt Gwyon
PENCILS: Jerry Bingham
INKS:  Jerry Binham
COLORS: Jerry Serpe
LETTERS:  Todd Klein

SYNOPSIS:  1723--The town of Gaddis, New Hampshire, has experienced a fire that has burned the church to the ground, taking the life of the pastor with it.  In the days that follow, the townsfolk rebuild and a new pastor, formerly of Salem, has arrived.  Reverend Bast orders that a new bell be cast for the church and that there shall be no other music allowed in conjunction with the church, including organ music.

Rev. Bast is strict pastor and preaches on the evils of sin and the near-certainty of damnation is a set of fire and brimstone sermons that set all the people uneasy.  Bast's sermons grow in intensity and soon reconstruction on the church bell stalls.

Bast focuses on Carilla Albright, a townswoman that he has singled out for some reason as a witch.  She consumes his thoughts so obviously she must be employing witchcraft.  He draws her to the church one night and attempts to frame her as having a black mass in the church.

As he stoke the fires under the liquid metal for the bell in an effort to burn the supposed witch, the mute man who had been driven away from playing music in the church takes the opportunity to strike Bast and free Carilla, knocking Bast back into the flames.  Bast reaches up in an effort to get up, but only succeeds in pouring the molten metal on him, killing the poor reverend.

To this day, the bell forged from that metal still hangs in that church tower and a faint outline of a face can still be seen.

"A Model Murder"
WRITER: Scott Edelman
PENCILS: Tenny Henson
INKS:  Tenny Henson
COLORS: Jerry Serpe
LETTERS:  Esphed Mahilum

SYNOPSIS:  Arthur Crandell finishes working on a model of Dracula that his friend Jack has been modeling for.  The two arrange for Jack and his girlfriend to return the next day to model a scene from Creature from the Black Lagoon.

After Jack leaves, a Frankenstein monster calls Arthur's name.  Arthur assume Jack is playing a prank, but the monster says that he is indeed real.  He tells Arthur that real monsters find the models demeaning and an unfair cash grab at their expense.  Arthur argues and the monster reaches out, clasping his hands around Arthur's throat.

The next day, Jack arrives and uses his spare key after Arthur doesn't answer the door.  On a small table inside, Jack and his girlfriend discover a statuette in the likeness of Arthur and the monster from the night before.

MY THOUGHTS:  This issue is tons of fun.  All three of these stories are great reads.

It's a wonderful experience to find an anthology book where all three stories have good writing and good art.  Things get all Bronze Age-y on the art and such from time to time, but nothing that can actually be considered a complaint.

The stories aren't really too scary, but they are pretty good Twilight Zone episodes. Wait, these aren't Twilight Zone episodes? They darn well should have been!

"The Collector" is a story that I could see expanded and repurposed as a Spectre story, especially in the Spectre's very vengeful days. Kudos to Mr. DeMatties for crafting such a great tale in so few pages.

"Black Mass" is a hackneyed story, but still a well-told tale with a clever twist at the end.  I love the idea that Bast became part of the bell.

"A Model Murder" is an incredibly short story, but perfectly done to be a quick tale of terror.  If it were made part of a TV show, this would be the quick teaser before the title screen and opening credits.

All said and done, you just can't go wrong with this one.


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