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The Terrible Truth...,
This review is from: Creepy Archives Volume 12 (Hardcover)
Over the past few years the Creepy and Eerie archives have kept me chained to my reading chair. I've been so engaged I couldn't put them down, eagerly reading them from cover to cover. Well, the terrible truth with this most recent volume, Creepy Archive 12, is that I began reading it the day I bought it but now months later it still sits near my shackles...unfinished. I just forgot to come back to it.
Creepy 12 reprints issues 55 to 59 but issue 55 is a Yearbook in disguise and only the cover and a lame Creepy Crawley game are presented....so only four full issues are complete.
Creepy 56 has a nice Sanjulian cover but, as is typical of this era, the blurbs win out over the image. Why did Warren feel the need to hit us over the head with the deceptive NOW! FULL COLOR COMICS! when there was only one color story? The covers during this period feel jammed...crammed full of words. And then, my God, THEN there are the stories!!! The first few tales aren't even worth ragging on...they're just boring Satanic ritual tales that fail to deliver any kind of punch. The ever popular Doug Moench can't seem to conjure up any real horror with the first tale and John Jacobson leaves us hanging up in the rafters with the second one. Thankfully the pace picks up a bit with a unique tale entitled "Consumed by Ambition". It's written by Jack Butterworth and drawn by Martin Salvador and is a vampire tale with a twist that's truly original. I really liked this one. Then comes "Lycanklutz" written and drawn by Richard Corben! Although it leans a little to the silly side, it is so well done that it doesn't matter. It's clearly the best story in the entire volume. A real classic! Next, "The Way of Flesh" is forgettable. I had to go back and reread some panels just to remind myself of what my opinion of the story was. Then I looked back to see who the author was only to find that Doug Moench wrote it...enough said. The story left me confused.
"The Bell of Kuang Sai" is reminiscent of stories done in the 50's...but it's just not as memorable as those were... Then there's another lame game board.
Creepy 57 has the best cover of the five issues presented in this collection. Thankfully it's not overrun with copy. "The Destructive Image" by Donald F. McGregor and illustrated by Ramon Torrents is the first story of the issue but sadly it fails to engage the reader. I think you'd have to be smoking something pretty strong to buy into the plot of this tale. Coming in at 11 pages it's just a bad trip. Speaking of bad trips, "The Hope of the Future" is well....what can I say. I really don't like to trash an artist, really I don't... but Doug Moench has given us another droll, disconnected tale with an ending that beats the worst of them. "The Bloodlock Museum" written by Jack Butterworth and drawn by Martin Salvador is a short tale of revenge that's better than the anything else in this issue then sadly, Doug Moench authors the last three stories and to save space and time I'll just say that it's a thumbs down on all three. Again there's another game...good god, enough is enough...
Creepy 58 is a special Halloween issue and the first tale, "Change Into Something Comfortable" is a story with Halloween costumes as a theme. It is the second best story in the whole volume. Unfortunately the author and artist credits are omitted on the first two stories so I can't be sure who's responsible for authoring this tale (either Doug Moench or Steve Skeates), but it's clearly Richard Corben as the artist. (Dark Horse might be responsible for the omissions although Warren was sometimes guilty of this same thing so I'll point no fingers). If Doug Moench was responsible for the story I'd love to give him the credit due because it's a great horror tale done in the classic Creepy tradition. The second uncredited story "An Excuse for Violence" is just that. "Shriek Well Before Dying" written by W. Eaton and drawn by Jose Bea is ok, but just ok. Jose Bea's work is wonderful but it doesn't carry the story. The tale is one of selfishness and greed that ends with a nod back to the Bates Motel...except that it's Daddy who's still hanging around. "Soul and Shadow" written by Gardner Fox and drawn by the wonderful, but aging Reed Crandall is my favorite of this issue. It's a little predictable but it's a refreshing escape from the standard fare that Warren was giving us in 1974. "The Walking Nightmare" by Donald McGregor and drawn by Munes is a tale that is overly long and in need of a good editor...someone who could cut it down and/or throw it out. I'd suggest the latter.
Creepy 59 with it's cover of an axe murdering Santa is beautifully illustrated by Sanjulian. I remember very well how disturbing I found this image when I first saw it on the news stand all those many years ago. Granted I was just a teen then, but the image has stuck with me ever since. Sadly, I couldn't remember anything at all about "Destiny's Witch", probably because it drags on for 12 pages and when it was over I felt like I'd been punished. It's written by John Jacobson and drawn by Ramon Torrents and although Torrents is a very good artist his work here does nothing to support the story.
"A Dark and Violent Place" is next and it comes in at 14 pages. Unfortunately it is a lame version of "The Phantom of the Opera". Authored by Donald McGregor and drawn by Adolfo Abellan the story is not so much bad as it is dull. It doesn't help very much that Abellan's stylistic art is messy and scratchy. During this period Warren moved from the standard 8 page story to the expanded length of 10 or more pages on many or most of it's stories. I believe that some tales might have played out better if they were shorter and that's an editorial decision....and there's the rub. I blame most of the blandness on the Editor, Bill Dubay and his choices. I know I've said this before in reviews of previous archive volumes but it bears saying again. Dubay was the mastermind, or should I say, the Phantom behind Warren during these years. To illustrate my point, the next story, "Spare That Tree" written by Jack Butterworth and drawn by Martin Salvador comes in at 7 pages. Although it's not a fantastic story, it spares us boredom and comes right to the point. Thus it is a much more effective story. Unfortunately it's followed by "Bless Us, Father..." written by Bill Dubay himslef. Although it's not overly long, Dubay uses the gimmick of telling two stories simultaneously, side by side, and in my opinion it's a disaster. Although the story is drawn by the masterful Richard Corben, his usual wonderful style gets muddied in the mess of the story telling. I had to go back and forth, rereading and organizing the two stories in my head. By the time the tale was over I was left with a headache ....and that's when I gave up on this archive volume...with two stories left to read (one by Moench). I just lost interest. When all is said and done, I suggest taking two aspirin and going bed...your own nightmares just might be better than most of what's in this volume.
My apologies to Dark Horse for the two stars. They are faithfully and beautifully bringing us all of the Warren comics from Creepy and Eerie...the good and the ugly...and they deserve high marks for the work they are doing.