Rating: 4/5 – It’s 12 O’Clock…It’s Time for Some Great Comics!
by ComicSpectrum senior reviewer Shawn Hoklas.
I’m a huge fan of the Warren, Skywald and other horror magazines of the 1960s and 70s. Fantastic art by legendary creators could be found throughout these books, especially in the Warren line of magazines. Frank Frazetta, Gray Morrow, Tom Sutton and many more had their art showcased within Creepy, Eerie and Vampirella while artists and writers like Gardner Fox, Len Wein and Bill Everett could be found in the pages of Skywlad’s line of books. But magazines weren’t the only place you could find some amazing talents working within the illustrated worlds of horror and science fiction. DC in the late 60s and throughout the 70s published quite a few horror anthologies including House of Mystery, Ghosts and The Witching Hour and many more. The Witching Hour, like most of the horror comics and magazines that came after E.C. of course used a host, or in this case hosts, which included three Witches. Mordred who resembles a classic witch with the high hat and long nose, sister Mildred who’s a heavy set woman with a not so pretty face and the sexy step-sister Cynthia who wore a mini skirt and boots. In this and other issues, the three Witches have a character or the reader decide on whose tale was the scariest. In this third issue of The Witching Hour, I’d have to select Mildred’s as the best.
In “The Turn of the Wheel”, Alex Toth and Vince Colletta draw and ink a medieval kingdom ruled by an awful King called Klaus the Cruel. Within his dungeon lies a wheel that serves as a symbol of the people’s torturous oppression. A group of townsfolk decide to steal the wheel and the King does everything in his power to get it back. He becomes obsessed with his mission, becoming even more despicable than he was when he owned it. Of course there’s a twist ending that I wouldn’t want to spoil here, but it did leave me guessing until the end. Alex Toth’s art is of course fantastic, especially in the character work. The King ages throughout the story and he looks more menacing with each subsequent time period. Although Toth’s work does look better, like many of the artist’s work mentioned above in black and white, it’s still a great looking story!
If we’re ranking the stories, the second one titled “The Death Watch” told by Mordred would be my second favorite. Not because of the art, but because of the story. It’s only three and a half pages with an ad taking up half of the fourth page, but they’re able to pull it off. Without credits I’m not sure who wrote or drew the story, but I’ll give the credit to editor Dick Giordano. This short story has a younger man being rushed to the hospital after a horrific car crash. As his parents rush to the ER, we see doctors desperately trying to save him which ends in another twist ending that works because it’s so quick, and as a reader you don’t have the time to see it coming.
Finally, Bernie Wrightson’s pencils can be found in the last story told by Cynthia. An average man is abducted from a different dimension and transformed into a Conan-like figure that’s perfect for the pencils of Wrightson. Wrightson is able to draw a warrior battling a four-armed man army while riding atop a snake like horse! It’s classic sword and sorcery with a bit of horror thrown in. Although his pencils aren’t as detailed as what we’re used to in his later years, it’s still an impressive work and uses the coloring of the time surprisingly well.
After the third story concludes, we see the Witches again as they brag about their storytelling and depart ways until the next issue. The Witching Hour will have Wrightson and Toth again in later issues, as well as Neal Adams and more. It’s a great title that ran until 1978 and DC’s infamous Implosion, where it then combine with Unexpected. Although the early issues of The Witching Hour aren’t cheap unless found in rougher shape, if you do get a chance, try and add these to your collection as they make for some quick and entertaining reads while delivering some gorgeous and haunting art.
Reviewed by: Shawn Hoklas
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