Indescribable monstrosities? But alas not in a good way! There's a bit of foreshadowing in the fact that John Landis has so little to say in his forward on page 4. (Less than a half page). And after trudging through this volume of Creepy 11 I see clearly why. There's so little good to be said about it. I have had this book on my desk for weeks now and every time I try to read it I'm bored to tears and left to ask "What happened?" I remember this period well, back when it was fresh material, how I was left unfulfilled then...how I kept waiting for the usual thrill I knew was waiting for me each time a new issue of Creepy found it's way to the newsstand. I had come to know such wonderful frights from past years and had such faith in this great magazine that I assumed that the now "more mature material" was just a little out of my reach, that somehow I wasn't mature enough to get it. I was positive that if I just stuck with it long enough I'd get it. But I never did "get it" and it was a great source of sadness for me...like losing a best friend. For me the greatest thing about rereading these issues, Creepy 51 - 54, is that I have been more mature for many years now and I have more perspective....I know when I've been left out in the cold...and I've stopped wondering..."What happened?" I think even Dark Horse might have had a glimmer into this when they put a Frazetta cover on the front slip...to improve the overall image of this volume.
Before I descend into the ripping which I believe this volume deserves I have to say that Dark Horse continues to maintain only the highest of quality in all that they do. They deserve high marks for the excellent and faithful presentation of these volumes. The problem is the material itself. Wait! I can point my finger even more squarely...Bill Dubay. If I haven't already lost you in the downward spiral of my rant I'll most likely find myself on the firing line with this statement. It seems that Dubay has a large following of loyal fans...but I'm not one of them. I've heard it said, he single handily took a great magazine and made it "mature". What he really did was to wipe out any reference to the past. The Creepy I knew use to be fun as well as scary...now with these issues there's a banality to everything, even the violence...a white breading that brings the horror to the modern sensibilities and makes them "real and relevant". Also, Doug Moench and Steve Skeates dominate this volume...and that is one of it's major faults. The stories I like best are often by other authors...
First Creepy 51 has great art! Sanjulian's cover is beautiful and Estaban Maroto does a fantastic job of illustrating the cover story...but it's a boring story. (Moench) The Dracula color story is beautiful, but it's only a teaser...a toe in the water. It goes nowhere except as a lush commercial intended to entice you to buy the 120 page volume...Will Dark Horse ever publish that? It could be good...don't know...never bought it. Then comes one of the most disastrous stories to come along in a long time..."His Brother's Grave" by Kevin Pagan. Unfortunately Auraleon's art is static and uninspired and the story is just bad. The finale reads..."Born of insane, undying will...supernatural energies...god knows what...."Well, god knows what is right!
"Bed of Roses" is another Doug Moench story that goes nowhere. Maniacal murders now seem to be all the craze...forget about vampires and werewolves....lets just do crazy and let that be good enough...
Creepy 52 is a little better. Nice Sanjulian cover and the story it illustrates isn't bad. Again Maroto does a fabulous job. And the Moench story is better than much of what he's done in previous issues. Then comes "The Last Hero" by Steve Skeates...What can I say...I had to force myself to get through it...so predicable I knew what was coming before I even turned the page. The same with "Halve Your Cake and Eat It Two" Honestly I'm getting bored trashing Doug Moench, but this story is a drag. Not scary, not interesting...again predicable.
"Them Thar Flying Things" is one of the better tales in this volume and Jose Bea's art is always a pleasure to look at. My favorite story of this issue is " The Man with the Brain of Gold". It's just so odd that it stands out and Reed Crandall's work is a refreshing nod to the past glory of the truly golden years of Warren's publishing. "The Killer" by Steve Skeates is again a maniacal murder story...a complete bore.
Creepy 53 starts out looking like it's back to the horror the way things use to be. The cover by Sanjulian is frightening. But when you go inside the issue it's the same trend...down. "A Scream In the Forest" by Greg Potter is the first story and it's actually not that bad...considering what we've been fed up till now. Moroto's work is flawless. "The Stone of Power" by Skeates is a yawn. There's no there when you get there AND THEN comes the biggest mess of all "Freedom's Just Another Word". Story by Dubay! I found this story to be offensive on multiple levels. First it is incredibly predicable and secondly it is racist and violent for no reason other than just because it can be. Society was changing in the 70's and exploitation was all the rage. Shock was the answer to anything that was "creative". Just like the panel where the stereotype Daddy says "There can only be one reason for it...that Nigger's lusting after our white women!" God, I hated this story. It's violence for violence sake and it should have never been published. It was extreamly poor judgement...and from the editor no less. Just because he could. In comparison, "The Creature of Loch Ness!" by Moench is not nearly as bad...at least it only offends banality. Why Moench is so popular I don't get.
The next tale, "It" is good...that's all...just good, but it's a huge relief from the previous fare. It's a nod back to what Warren use to be like. Tom Sutton is a wonderful artist, but unfortunately this is not his best work.
Then, Creepy 54. Hated the cover. By Dubay of course. Bad choice of concept, but one that will be used more and more frequently by the Editor. "The Slipped Mickey" is unique if nothing else and Richard Corben's art work helps to make it as successful as it is. The middle of the story drags a little bit but this is Doug Moench's best work in this volume.
"This Graveyard is Not Deserted" is only worth looking at because it is one of Crandall's last works for Warren before he looses it completely. The story is...ummm...I can't find the words...oh, wait...bad!
"Decent Into Hell" comes next. And it's title is symbolic of what has become of the Warren franchise during these years. Near the end of this tale, the main character, Atlas, say's it best..."And I strain...strain under the gargantuan mass borne upon my bruised back...I pray this crushing weight will relieve my agonized mind of memories..."
There's a few more tales to rag on in this issue but the crushing weight of my negative rant has left me in agnoy...purchase this volume at your own risk...for diehard Warren fans only....