In this particular issue we didn't see too much of the newly extended Creepy Family. Uncle Creepy hosted all the stories, and Sister Creepy hosted a particularly interesting entry of "Creepy's Loathsome Lore." At the bottom of the back page, we got a little vignette of Cousin Eerie talking his usual smack against his familial rival and sometimes partner-in-crime Uncle Creepy, and he made some statements implying that EERIE may be back on its way, or at the very least, our nefarious uncle will be horning in on more of our nasty uncle's territory. Since the sales have come in and it seems the first issue of CREEPY sold out, it would appear the revived horror anthology title will be around for a while, and that it was a success. As noted in my previous review, issue #2 was much better than #1, which was itself a good start. But how does #3 hold up to the first two issues?
Once again, we get five stories, four original and one classic tale from Uncle Creepy's archive vault. And once again, it would appear that during its first year, the new CREEPY is utilizing multi-part stories, as not only is its initial three-parter concluded in this issue, but we also get the first entry of a new two-parter. This is in contrast to what we usually got in the original CREEPY, which tended to steer clear of multi-part tales.
The first story in the third issue is "X-Change" part one, where we once again see an alternate history of the (supposed) death of Adolf Hitler. Could this story be wolded? I am not certain which history of the Wold Newton Universe [WNU] version of Adolf Hitler is accepted as canon in the "consensus" WNU at this writing, so I am not sure if this story must be relegated to an alternate universe, which is yet another reality where Hitler was found to have put into action an elaborate plan to fake his death in that fateful bunker in 1945 and escape alive--though certainly not in the form the world was once familiar with. This thoroughly bizarre take on the Hitler-survives-WW2 theme has most of its story occur in 1978, where two members of the State Department show up at the home of an old German woman, a former school teacher who once made a deal with the Nazi regime to save the life of her half-Jewish son. Various flashback sequences recounted the different disturbing schemes that medical scientists in the employ of the Third Reich engaged in to create a double of Hitler to take the fall for the real guy when it was believed Germany's defeat was imminent. The results, as one might expect, weren't too pretty, especially when you consider Dr. Mengele was involved. The plan that was finally enacted resulted in Hitler becoming...well, I would hate to give such a spoiler here, but the cover of this issue of CREEPY gives you more than a small hint. It's hard to imagine Hitler actually resorting to such a plan, but since he was determined not to be taken by the Allies, especially not the Russians, one may surmise that his desperation may actually have led him to such an unbelievable escape plan-cum-surgical-procedure. Readers will have to wait until the next issue for the conclusion to this tale, but this two-part story should be of great interest to any creative mythographer or horrorphile who is interested in the various rumors of Adolph Hitler's survival beyond WW2. And btw, the artwork of this story by Dennis Calero was superb, which only made this story all the more distressing to read.
The second tale, "Pelted," was a rather formulaic story of a man who committed a murder in an attempt to be initiated into a Russian mob. After this successful initial kill, his acceptance into the ranks of the Russian Mafia is officialized by a tattoo of a knife-wielding demon being embedded on his chest. Soon after getting the tattoo, however, the unfortunate individual discovers that the ink emblazoned into his skin seems to have a life of its own, and his dark act was soon to have dire consequences for his soul. This story didn't stand out, as many readers will anticipate the rather obvious ending by the second page of the story; it's an amusing little morality lesson, and not much more.
The third tale is part three of "The Curse," where Jude, the man given the "gift" of making nearly anything he can conceive of become reality for himself or anyone else, finally comes full circle with the evil he has wrought with the power. Some years after first discovering his reality-altering ability, after learning he can put his "gift" to use for making a profit, he has created a huge corporation called the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and he caters to making the dreams of corrupt individuals with chilling requests a reality. But when Jude discovers the truth about his mother, who first had the "gift" and mistakenly gave it to her son, he realizes that she has set out to correct her mistake. Could this three-part story be wolded? I saw no obvious crossover material in it, but I am hoping that a future creative mythographer can find something that I may have overlooked to bring it into the WNU. Unfortunately, the third and final part of this tale was anti-climactic to an extent, as we all knew that the good times wouldn't and shouldn't last for someone like Jude. Nevertheless, the ending did give us a degree of poetic justice as Jude meets his comeuppance--and we discover the terrible price he paid for this power.
The fourth original tale is called "Maquiladora," and zombie fans will find some interest in this one. This story is told mostly in journal entries from the main character, sans dialogue, as he recounts to his American family about his day-to-day travails as the newly hired head honcho of a third rate Mexican clothing factory. Though there is nothing strange about the man's words, the pictures accompanying those words make it clear that things are anything but normal in that facility, as the hired help are reanimated corpses who have to be maintained in rather disturbing ways to keep up the work. The madness progresses as the work load increases, until finally not even the walking--or working--dead can tolerate this man's managerial practices, which includes literally taking parts of the workers to make up for needed materials. This leads to a not really unexpected ending, but one that is quite unhappy for the man's family when they receive a certain package in the mail from his disgruntled employees. This story may be seen as somewhat confusing by some, but it is an evil little entry that will make zombie fans smile with a malicious grin. You may not have to pay rotting corpses money, but they sure as hell don't come maintenance free.
The fifth tale is a classic from the Warren days of this mag called "The Disintegrator." This may actually rival the first tale as the best in the book, and for those who never read it before, it's a quite welcome addition to this issue. It's the tale of a man with strong anti-war inclinations who learns that the hand-held laser he attempted to develop is actually a very powerful disintegrator that can totally vaporize any solid object the beam strikes. Realizing to his horror that this gun can be turned into a weapon of war with truly dangerous potential, he initially only uses the weapon to blackmail his corrupt former business partner into giving him the money that his ex-boss stole from him after forcing him out of the security company he founded, only to have his former partner make a play for stealing the gun. This leads to a rather unexpected ending where the ethical protagonist of this story realizes that his weapon was much more than it seemed...and while I won't give any spoilers here, let's just say that creative mythographers with an interest in mutants in the WNU really need to take a look at this story, and may hope to see it wolded in the future.
This issue's installment of "Creepy's Loathsome Lore" is all about lycanthropy, which I believe will be of great interest to my friend and colleague Crazy Ivan Schablotski, the webmaster of the Therionthropy 101 website and an expert on werewolves and other therionthropes in fiction and folklore. This two page look through the history of werewolf folklore distinguishes between those who may have simply worn the hides of wolves to take on the savage attributes of the animals for battle or other purposes, and those who were said to use occult means to take on the actual form of a fearsome wolf. The former category included one panel descriptions of the Norse warriors called the Ulfhednar from around the year 900 A.D., who "wore the hides of wolves as they slaughtered their enemies--a sign of their relentless brutality and fearlessness." These Ulfhednar were likely related in some way to the berserkers, who similarly wore bear hide to take on the savage attributes of bears in battle.
Also placed in this category was the infamous Peter Stubb, who according to legend received a wolf pelt from a demonic being he met in the woods that enabled him to transform into a werewolf, in which form he ravaged the German countryside in the 16th century for over 20 years, taking many child victims along the way. Peter Stubbe's name has been spelled in many different ways in the various chronicles, depending upon who is recounting it, and here Sister Creepy spells it this way: Stubbe Peeter (interesting to see his last name and first name transposed). Here, however, Stubbe was described as being a sorcerer, and one of many throughout history who wore a wolf pelt to take on the form and attributes of a wolf following in the tradition of the wolf warriors of past eras. This entry was rather ambivalent as to whether or not it considered Stubbe of the first or second category of lycanthrope, as the panel depicting him showed him in human form but wearing a wolf's head pelt (if I recall correctly, I believe the legends describe the pelt as being in the form of a belt that he strapped around his waist to trigger the metamorphosis into lupine form).
Sister Creepy then described how the "wolf madness" once took "Europe by storm" when, according to folklore, many became werewolves after signing a pact with the Devil. The ancient lore and all magickal practitioners familiar with the mystical trick known as shaping an etheric body of transformation are well aware that the Devil pact was hardly the only way to make the transformation, of course, and one didn't have to sell their soul to some demonic entity in order to become a werewolf. Creative mythographers are also aware that in the WNU, many different breeds of werewolves exist, some of which take on different forms (the four main forms are described in my index on "Curse of the Werewolf" elsewhere on The Warrenverse site), and some of which have different characteristics, including their relationship to the full moon. But the variations of lycanthropes in the WNU do not end there; some are cursed and transform into a savage beast against their volition, whereas others take on the attributes of the lycanthrope willingly in a shamanistic manner, therefore usually having far better control over their bestial half than the cursed variety, and who tend to be able to transform at will rather than being slaves to the rays of the full moon.
Most interesting of all here may have been the brief description of Operation Werewolf, a.k.a., Unternehmen Werwolf, a covert project conducted by Nazi Germany in 1944 by Heinrich Himmler.
The inside back cover of this issue had a discussion of certain aspects of the book by Uncle Creepy himself, including the creative crew that will be working on upcoming issues, and the new trading card collection and other CREEPY items that appear on the outside back cover of the book, thereby bringing back some of the glory of those classic ad's from Captain Company in the old Warren mags. It's not quite the same at this point, but maybe we will see an expansion of ad's for weird and wondrous items as the comic continues to grow in popularity (one can hope!).
So how did the third issue add up? It benefited from its highly outre' first story about Hitler's war survival, and I am sure everyone who read part one of this tale will be looking forward to the fourth issue to see its conclusion, which will hopefully feature Hitler's final fate in that reality. One overly formulaic story that didn't amount to much took the quality of this issue down a bit, though the zombie story was rather interesting, albeit also somewhat confusing. All in all, the third issue didn't quite measure up to the excellent second issue, but it certainly didn't suck, either. The Creepy Classic tale was a good choice, and anyone who never read it before will find it a worthwhile addition to this issue. The book seems to have maintained a good quality, and while not all the issues are equal to each other, there are enough truly stand out stories that serve to make this revival of an old friend possibly the best horror anthology comic on the market today. I am hoping to see the fourth issue equal or surpass the second issue, thus proving that this comic will maintain a high standard throughout its existence.
As soon as the fourth issue comes out, I will conclude my review of the first year of the new CREEPY. Stay tuned.
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