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The EC Archives: Tales from the Crypt, Vol. 2

The EC Archives: Tales from the Crypt Volume 2 (Ec Archives, 2)The EC Archives: Tales from the Crypt Volume 2 by Al Feldstein
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another fun collection of six issues from the classic EC comics run! After the first few issues in Volume 1, the format has solidified into the Crypt-Keeper, the Old Witch from HAUNT OF FEAR, and the Vault-Keeper from VAULT OF HORROR all getting to introduce a tale in each issue, with the Crypt-Keeper getting to go twice because it’s his series.

The stories are as cheesy and charming as ever. I was pleasantly surprised to come across a few I remember being adapted for Amicus anthology films. In this volume, you’ll find “Reflection of Death,” about a man who doesn’t realize he’s come back from the dead until everyone screams when they see him, which was in 1972’s TALES FROM THE CRYPT movie. There’s also “Bargain in Death,” about gravediggers encountering a man who faked his death for the insurance money and mistaking him for a ghoul, and “Drawn and Quartered,” about a down-on-his-luck painter doomed by a spilled can of paint thinner, both of which were in 1973’s THE VAULT OF HORROR movie (the latter starring DOCTOR WHO’s Tom Baker). There’s also a story called “The Living Death,” about a hypnotized man who can’t die until he’s released from hypnosis, which is clearly a riff on Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar.”

These comics are a lot of fun, and I can see why they were so popular back in the day. Once again, I’m grateful to Dark Horse for releasing these trade collections in full color and at a reasonable price.

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And Then I Woke Up

And Then I Woke UpAnd Then I Woke Up by Malcolm Devlin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A stunningly original piece of science fiction-horror, Malcolm Devlin’s novella works both as a story in its own right and as a metaphorical examination of the power of narrative, from the stories we tell ourselves so we can survive to the political narratives we choose to believe. It’s an incredible piece of work that lifts a mirror to society and hits hard with the reflection it presents. If I have one complaint, it’s only that I wish it were longer so Devlin could really dig deep into the metaphor and unearth further observations. Highly recommended.

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Doctor Strange Epic Collection: A Separate RealityDoctor Strange Epic Collection: A Separate Reality by Roy Thomas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As a newcomer to Doctor Strange in the comics, I picked up this collection on the suggestion of a knowledgeable friend. Instantly, I learned things about the character I never knew. For instance, in the early days, Doctor Strange wore a mask that covered his entire head in order to protect his identity! He even went by the pseudonym Stephen Sanders for a brief time! He has a magic-wielding girlfriend from another dimension named Clea, and unlike in the MCU films, Wong has no magic but is instead Strange’s manservant, who does things like fix meals, chauffeur, and clean Strange’s cloak of levitation for him!

The story arcs collected here feature some of Doctor Strange’s most iconic classic villains: Nightmare, the Undying Ones, Shuma-Gorath, Sise-Neg, and Silver Dagger. They’re all good fun, with a healthy dose of psychedelic surrealism whenever Strange enters another dimension of reality. Modern comics readers who are used to more naturalistic dialogue might find the highly dramatic and excessively declarative dialogue of writers Roy Thomas, Gardner Fox, and Steve Englehart over the top, but it was the style at the time and there’s a certain period charm to it. The art is excellent, particular that of Frank Brunner in the later issues.

This is a very enjoyable collection that I would recommend for Doctor Strange fans and newcomers alike. It’s pricey, but the book is worth it for the full-color art. I look forward to reading more Doctor Strange in the future!

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Josh’s Worst Nightmare

A while back, I had a fun conversation with author¬†Josh Schlossberg for the Josh’s Worst Nightmare podcast about death, decay, aging, and transformation. How can these topics be “fun”? You can find out for yourself now that the podcast is available! Click here to listen!