Gemstones EC Archive collection is stunning. This is the gold standard for quality "Archive Collections". Volume 2 of EC comics "Shock Suspense Stories" continues on from volume one with more great art and more "Jolting Tales Of Suspense". As some might be aware, EC comics were the highest quality comics of their time. Best writing, best art, best quality, and the most eye catching covers. Unfortunately for EC, the covers and the interiors happened to catch the eye of a certain Dr. Wertham. Wertham published a book called "Seduction of the Innocent" in which he cited EC comics repeatedly as a contributing factor to the moral decay of 1950s youth.
Indeed, in Volume 2 of "Shock Suspense" we see covers portraying a terrified woman with a knife held to her throat as a man hold's her by the hair. We see a man handcuffed to a corpse while vultures eat at the decaying body. And perhaps even more disturbing, a drug addict lying in his bed, screaming, tears running down his face, his drug "paraphernalia" on the table next to him. Strong stuff.
Most stories often started innocuously enough, but quickly descended into violent, gory tales with ironic, surprising and "Shocking" endings. Some were tales of racism. Some tales were adaptations of Ray Bradbury stories. In this volume, there are two Bradbury stories. The art on the covers and the interiors is stunning and lush. With talent like Al Feldstein, Jack Kamen, Al Williamson, Wally Wood, Joe Orlando, Reed Crandall, its no wonder EC was the company to beat in quality.
This volume reprints Shock Suspense Stories issues 7 through 12 complete, cover to cover. This includes all the "text" stories, the readers' letter section and advertisements. It also has a foreword by Dean Kamen, son of EC artist Jack Kamen. I am slowly trying to purchase all of the EC archives. However, I started with the Shock Suspense collection first as these are my personal favorites of the EC titles. But I highly recommend not just this particular volume, but all of the EC archives. They aren't just gory, decadent fun, they are comic book history.