Monday, June 27, 2005

Today's Retro-review is: TALES OF THE ZOMBIE #3

(Right off the bat, last week I said I'd be reviewing Tales of the Zombie #2 this week, unfortunately, it turns out that I don't own that issue. Back when these books first came out I just had my allowance and newspaper delivery money to spend on comics, so when it came to coming up an extra $.75 for a magazine, that wasn't always possible. But, I do have issue #3, so here we go!)

That's what it says above the logo on the cover of TOTZ#3 which is graced by another Boris painting. (not as good as his painting for issue #1, but still pretty sharp.

By this issue (cover date of January 1974) Marvel had established a solid formula for their B&W monster magazines.

TOTZ's star was Zombie Simon Garth and the story to kick off this issue was his feature, a 22 page story titled "When Gods Crave Flesh!" written by Steve Gerber and illustrated by Pablo Marcos. This creative duo had settled in as Simon's regular team. Gerber was beginning to establish himself as adept at writing the strong, silent creature type and Marcos could draw a hideous monster on one panel and a beautiful woman on the next.

Donna Garth (Simon's daughter) has moved along with her father's best friend, Anton Cartier, to a Villa in Haiti. Cartier knows that Simon has been turned into an unliving monster and has done all he can to shield this information from Donna.

Bruce, a young struggling filmmaker and his ambitious wife Moria, arrive in Haiti to gather information and reference about voodoo, for an upcoming film project. They join Cartier and Donna at a local Voodoo temple where, while witnessing a ritual dance, Moria defies the rules and interrupts the service. Now she must pay the ultimate price. Can Simon arrive in time to save her?

Good story with some fine artwork by Marcos. It made me want to read more about this Zombie "hero".

After the debut of the TOTZ letters page, "Mails to the Zombie" is a six page text piece by Chris Claremont, "With the Dawn Comes... Death! It's the first of two parts and was OK, though not riveting enough that I anticipated part two.

Even worse is the following five page story, a reprint titled "Net Result". An abusive butterfly collector leaves his family to search for an extremely rare large South American butterfly. It's uncredited so I don't know who to blame for the incredible predictable ending, though the artwork was rather nice.

Next up is "Warrior's Burden". Story by Tony Isabella and art by Vicente Alcazar. It's a different kind of Zombie story centering on Gilgamesh as the eternal warrior who returns from the dead. Alcazar's artwork is crisp and stylized and a real treat to look at. I applaud the uniqueness of this tale in a magazine that could rely too heavily on standard zombie stories.

This story is followed by a text piece, "The Night of the Living Dead goes on and on and on."
Don McGregor writes a very detailed piece that covers the George Romero classic very well. Interspersed are many pictures from the film. At this time, "Night of the Living Dead" was still a recent film and fresh on everyone's mind. It was a true "horror" film that spawned a lot of copy cats, but it was the first and perhaps best.

"I Won't Stay Dead" is a 5 page reprint credited to Bill Walton. It's a rare reprint that I found to be really intriguing and I had no way to see how they were going to end it. Then I read the ending.....yuck. A really lame finish that ruins the four page set up. Nice artwork though.

Next up is a 9 pager titled "Jilimbi's World", story by Doug Moench and art by Enrique Badia. A Haiti plantation owner, John Banning, is having problems with his field workers. A rabble rouser named Jilimbi is stirring up the others so Banning and other local owners ride into the swamps and torch Jilimbi's hut. But this doesn't end Banning's problems, he and his wife Lucy soon find themselves trying to stave off an army of murderious zombies as they attack their mansion home. The attack ends with disastrous results, leaving Lucy to pay the price for Jilimibi's death. A nice little horror tale with strong detailed artwork by Badia.

Closing out issue #3 is "Zombie Feature Page". In a time (1974) looong before the internet and fan press it was a way to give information to the readers about the men and women who write and draw their favorite comics. This issues feature is Howard the Duck's creator and Simon Garth's writer, Steve Gerber.

While Tales of the Zombie #3 wasn't a great issue by any means, it was a strong effort thanks in part by Marvel's resident Zombie. As a comic reader in the early 70's if you wanted to read about Simon Garth you could only find him in the pages of the B&W mags as he never appeared in the color monthlies.

Don't forget to stop by here next week as I retro-review Monsters Unleashed #2, and as I paged through it this morning, it looks like a winner!

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