Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Sing It or Slam It -- Your Turn to be the Reviewer

Hey, kids! What we have here today is a mini-story from the Marvel Firsts, volume 2 trade paperback (highly recommended by the BAB, we might add!). It hails from Vampire Tales #2 (October 1973), a B&W magazine, and is the entry for that girl you'd love to bring home to Mom, Satana! Today we are providing the artwork as complete scans -- your job is to do what we usually do and heap praises/throw tomatoes (singular: tomatoe. Right, Mr. Quayle?) on this, focusing through your Bronze Age lens. Hopefully a good dialogue develops!

Vampire Tales #2 (October 1973)
Roy Thomas-John Romita


Anonymous said...

Not so much a story as a mood piece.

Interesting to note that the more Milleresque style which would cut loose in mainstream Marvel later is already on display here with Romita....the noir-ish style, the establishing long shot followed by closer shots as she ‘walks towards us’, the mixture of vertical and horizontal panels, overhead shots etc. I also like the way the background detail decreases. Starting with a photo montage....all detail, then full drawings of the street, building, sidewalk, trash cans, hydrants etc, then diminishing as she goes into the alley, moreso as he grabs her, and then by the denouement, there are just the two figures as all the background has melted away, returning only as she dumps his body and walks back into the (again fully drawn) streets.

I hesitate to say it’s just metaphor for sex as death, but it does kind of start with a lot of stuff going on and quickly hone itself to a climax that is just two bodies locked together (a not so petite mort, in this case) and only then, post-climax, does the rest of the world fall back into focus.

Phew. Anyone got a cigarette?


Edo Bosnar said...

I would agree with Richard that this is more a vignette than anything else. It also has a nice classic EC-style ending - it's always good to see a (potential) rapist get his come-uppance(in that sense, I would dispute Richard's interpretation of the sex/death metaphor, as I don't think rape is actually sex).
I have this story in Essential Marvel Horror vol. 1, wherein it is followed up by a story drawn by the amazing Esteban Maroto. And speaking of Essential Marvel Horror, I highly recommend both volumes if you don't mind black and white. I usually prefer color reprints, but there's so much excellent miscellaneous Bronze Age material stuffed in those two books, and they can be acquired much more cheaply than those three undersized, overpriced Vampire Tales TPBs.

Anonymous said...

Love her outfit.

--Matt alias Anonymous

humanbelly said...

I have this book as well (probably about 75% of the B&W Marvel horror run, in fact). I think I was maybe 13 when I got it? The covers alone were enough to enrage those emerging adolescent hormones. . .

This was indeed an extremely memorable vignette. Satanna's whole schtick of kissing the soul out of someone (with the soul materializing as a moth or butterfly) was all at once creepy, sexy, oddly chaste, and even kind of darkly sweet. Somewhere, sometime after this saw print here, the story was re-printed in a regular comic book-- and the story was COMPLETELY revamped to the rapist being a mugger/purse-snatcher, obviously to bring it somewhere within the bounds of CCA approval. But man, the pictures so obviously tell one story that having the script try to tell another one onlyl had the effect of creating a wild and nearly-comic incongruity.


J.A. Morris said...

Great Romita art, but it's not likely to make me buy this tpb or seek out other stories that featured Satanna.

Doug said...

When I read this last week, my first impression was that this story/vignette was perhaps the epitome of the Bronze Age.

It's from a B&W magazine, it involves an occult character, the crime is well outside the bounds of simple robbery/burglary, it's experimental in its length, it's art-driven rather than text-driven, it includes a new character not created by Stan Lee and/or Jack Kirby, and it's self-contained yet leaving the reader curious enough to wonder what could happen next.

All of these things are demarcations between the Silver and Bronze Ages. And isn't Johnny Romita in new territory for most of us Marvel Tales kids? This is not just a little naughty and intense, huh?


Garett said...

Nice art! I like the camera angles, the woman, and the extended moment of suspense when she hides in the alley, then he appears as a shadow.

Fred W. Hill said...

Nice little introduction to Satana, who manages to get her deserving victims to come to her for their final reward. Reminds me of one of the creepiest Bronze Age villains -- the Scavenger, from Gerber's Man-Thing. His kiss would reduce his victims to skeletons. Brrrr.

Anonymous said...

Hi Doug – great critique. You got all that from 4 pages? We are not worthy.

You’re right about the Jazzy One being in new territory for us, but actually not for him. His first two years were spent doing hard-boiled crime comics as a ghost artist. Followed by years of romance comics for DC (however, while I think the crime connection is valid, anyone who thinks that drawing romance comics is a natural segue to a rapist having his soul sucked out in any alleyway is probably going to spend Valentine’s Day alone).


Doug said...

I know many of us (me included) have remarked that we don't care for the Essentials or Showcase Presents due to the lack of color. But when reading the B&W magazines from the early Bronze Age, the art is really more powerful due to the lack of color. Would this work for standard superhero fare? Probably not. But most of the content of the magazines was noir or horror, so the blacks, wash, zipatone, etc. were perfect for those settings/moods.

Edo, I'd argue that the Man-Thing and Marvel Horror Essentials play out just fine in that B&W format. And really, I enjoy the Colan-era of Daredevil in the Essentials as much as I do the color versions.


William Preston said...

Who did the cover?

Dougie said...

I've read this piece several times- first, as a back-up in the Marvel Premiere issue that HB refers to- but I never tire of it. I like Romita' slinky super-villain look for Satana far more than Maroto's exotic hippy-occultist designs.

Wasn't she Marvel's answer to Vampirella?

Doug said...

William P. --

Jose Antonio Domingo is credited with that cover painting.


William Preston said...

Thanks, Doug! He seems to have a pretty thin output.

William said...

Just wanted to say that I have all three of the "Marvel Firsts" trades that have come out so far (1960s and 1970s volumes 1 and 2). They are all totally awesome, but I haven't started reading 1970's volume 2 yet, so I hadn't read this until now.

My first impression was that the art is fantastic. I was surprised to see John Romita doing the art for something like this, but I really love his slick cartoon style mixed that hint of realism. It embodies everything I love about comic-book art.

The "story" itself was short and sweet, and the ending was pretty cool. Makes me want to see more of this Satana character. (And I do mean MORE "wink wink, nudge nudge" Know what I mean? Know what I mean?) kidding.

The coolest thing I find about stuff like this, from the good old Bronze Age, is how much less uptight the mood of the country was back then. Nowadays, I really doubt that Marvel would publish a character called "Satana, The Devil's Daughter" for fear of all the flack they'd get.

Anonymous said...

Lack of color is a small price to pay to get complete reprints of vintage comics for only a few bucks. Frankly a lot of old comics were pretty poorly colored anyway. Not as poorly as today's gravy-stain computer colors, though!

Anonymous said...

At only a few pages, there isn't much to review. Thug chases after seemingly helpless woman, woman turns the table on thug by being a vampire and kills thug.

One aspect I always hate in "twist" stories is that the twist is never set up to achieve maximum effect. In this case, the woman looks afraid but why would she be afraid if she's so powerful? That makes no sense. If she's trying to "fool" the thug into following her, then have the story center on the thug and not the woman.

Also, the "souls are moths" aspect of the story is actually nice but not even remotely utilized to it's fullest potential. Why not have the thug be "pestered" by moths of other souls (likely damned) while pursuing the woman as a foreshadowing of his own fate? The moths are trying to warn the thug to stay away but he's so focused on robbing the woman that he can't see the warning that they are giving him.

Maybe one angle that could have been taken is that they are BOTH vampires and, upon realizing it, have a brief laugh over it and go about their business, with a third unsuspecting person witnessing their unlikely pleasant departure with puzzlement. We would have then seen two vampire worlds collide: The male vampire thug who hunts their victim down with brute force and the sly female vampire who lures victims into a trap. The two worlds merge for the briefest of moments and upon the realization, we see a bit of unintended humanity as both of them get a sly grin out of the event.

Overall, there really isn't anything here that people haven't seen before. Vampire woman luring unsuspecting human male to his death has been done before. The "soul moth" angle is the only part of the story that was fresh and could have been exploited for greater effect. My verdict: Skip it.

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