Tuesday, July 7, 2009

If You Blinked You Missed: Tales of Evil

Tales of Evil, which started life as Atlas/Seaboard's answer to DC's House of Mystery/House of Secrets/Witching Hour, et al ran for three issues from November 1974-April 1975. Edited by Larry Lieber, ToE (man, that sure takes the spookiness outta the title, dunnit?) began with no regular feature (making the first ish fit snugly into the "competent but dull" category), but added one with each successive issue in an effort to stand out and gain a more steady readership. Being an Atlas/Seaboard title published by Martin Goodman, no doubt a mandate came down to rip-off popular horror/mystery heroes of the day, hence we got Swamp/Man-Thing rip-off Bog Beast in issues 2-3 and Man-Monster, a horror hero with a bit more originality than the usual A/S fare in issue #3.

Bog Beast, the story of a creature from a subterranean society sent to the surface to study mankind was first brought to life by writer John Albano and artist Jack Sparling. BB has gotta be one of--if not the--grossest-looking "heroes" in the annals of comicbooks. Somebody at A/S had a lot of faith in BB, though, because he not only appeared in two issues of ToE, but in the second issue of their black and white Weird Tales of the Macabre, as well, with writer Gabe Levy and artist Badia Romero contributing all but the debut story. A couple of years ago, 20th Century Danny Boy uncovered an unpublished (in the U.S.) BB strip by Levy and Romero that had most likely been created for ToE #4 that had been published in an Australian comicbook, Fearful Spectres. Enough typing! Here's the scarlet swamp-monster's dazzling debut, "The Fifty Dollar Body!" from Tales of Evil #2!

With a name like Man-Monster, you'd think the following Rich Buckler/Tony Isabella/Gary Friedrich/Mike Vosburg collaboration from ToE #3 would be pretty generic. Well, it is and it isn't. The name, playing on the popular DC and Marvel monster heroes of the day like Man- bat, Man-Thing, and Man-Wolf, isn't all that original, I'll give ya a big 10-4 on that, good buddy. The premise about a regular guy uncontrollably turning into mindless, raging monster was old back in 1975, 'tis true. But, there really was some energy and originality going on in the mix. I mean, the guy gets turned into a monster by an undersea bacteria, for cryin' out loud! The villain, Hellblazer, is interesting and unusual enough. And Paul (Man-Monster) Sanders' strained relationship with his pop makes for some good, soapy drama. Naturally, after coming up with the series' coolest concept, Tales of Evil was cancelled. Hence the "never" under the "To Be Continued" blurb on the last page (kudos to the original owner for that witty bit of editorializing). Enjoy, Groove-ophiles!

1 comment:

  1. Loved these, especially Rich's Man-Monster & Demon Slayer rocked! Loved his FF, Deathlok, covers & Vampire Tales Morbius stories too!



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