Rating: 4/5 – Fellow Comic Readers, Things were Bleak in 1977.
By ComicSpectrum senior reviewer Shawn Hoklas.
I enjoy going into my back issues and pulling something out at random to read, and lately I’ve been leaning towards older DC horror books. This time it was the Witching Hour number seventy, mostly because these are always stand alone issues and the fact that this cover was just the right amount of crazy to pull me in! Bee-men carrying a scared adult male towards a hive with a face carved into it that screams danger!
I love this era of DC Comics and while this issue doesn’t necessarily stand out with its stories or art, it’s the letter from the publisher that made me want to review the issue, but more on that in a moment. In this issue as the cover proclaims, there are three “shockers of surprise and suspense”. After opening up the issue with the three witches and some humor, the first story is the one that relates to the cover. In Drone of the Dying a hiker is suddenly attacked by a group of bees and is stung multiple times. After waking up in a hospital/institution, the sounds of buzzing is everywhere, which leads to a surprise ending that’s for sure a stretch, but fun nonetheless.
The second story titled Humpty-Dumpty Hobo has the best art by Ernesto B. Patricio but is only two pages long, and the third is a story that I didn’t enjoy all that much, but again had some nice art by Filipino artist E.R. Cruz. So again, why review this issue? It’s for the letter by Jenette Kahn, the former publisher and president of DC Comics. In it, she starts off by asking the reader when they saw an ad for $1 comics whether they:
A. Felt it was the greatest thing in comics
B: “Rip Off!” Rip Off” and no comic is with a buck!
I’m a huge fan of Kahn and I really appreciate her honesty in this article, especially when later she states, “Fellow comic reader, things are bleak”. It’s that line that stood out to me. She doesn’t sugarcoat the state of the industry back then (the issue is cover-dated April, 1977) and gives a history of comics pricing and their move towards the decision to do $1 comics when the current price was just 30 cents. This was a great snapshot of comics history and proves once again, there have always been and always will be complaints about the price of comics. If you’re not happy with current prices, then I’d recommend this issue not just for the fun stories and cover, but for the history lesson as well. You can probably find this book for not much more than a current comic, which in my mind is a steal!
Reviewed by: Shawn Hoklas
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