Panels From Beyond the Grave #31

CHAMBER OF CHILLS (#1, November 1972)

You know that I love anthology films, but did you know that I love anthology comic books?  Probably.  I think I mentioned it somewhere, and besides, my obeisance to Creepshow would have tipped you off eventually.  I'm just now penetrating the yawning reservoir of obscure horror anthology comics.  Good God, there are so many to pore over.  If you thought these babies stopped at EC titles (Tales From the Crypt, The Haunt of Fear, etc.), you are sadly mistaken.  Almost every publisher dabbled in the anthology field, including Marvel.  Fans tend to forgot that Stan Lee adored monsters with the same ardor he earmarked for superheroes.  If you want proof, check out Chamber of Chills.

I was lucky enough to procure the first issue, and while the stories don't live up to that orgiastic whopper of a cover, I feel comfortable giving Chamber #1 my stamp of approval (or my "ribbon of ratification," as I like to call it).  The opening yarn is certainly worth the incidental newsstand price.  It's a bitchin' werewolf apologue with a twist dubbed "Moon of Madness, Moon of Fear."  Normally, I wouldn't spoil such an ending, but I can't imagine too many of my readers seeking out a copy of this comic to call their own.  But I digress; backpackers (around three of them...a flock, a contingent maybe) step into a figurative puddle of shit when they encounter a were-werewolf.  A what?  Why, it's a bloodthirsty creature that transforms into a human being once a month.  Surprise, assholes!

The second spine-chiller falls under the "suspense" tab, which isn't necessarily counteractive.  Unfortunately, it's rather humdrum.  If any frightful fable required a mucous, multi-tentacled devil beast, it's this one.  The inmates at a (seemingly minimum-security) prison stage a revolt against their contumacious cock of a warden.  Despite expressly dismal artwork, "They Wait in Their Dungeon" is a resounding dud.  That leaves us with "Delusions of a Dragon Slayer."  I guess I would describe it as a quixotic interpretation of a repressed man's near-death fantasy.  Personally, I'd be happy with scenes of fiery destruction, but we get weird surrealism instead.

The dragon on the cover appears in a single panel.  Single!  As in less than several!  I do appreciate the imaginative plot and the bold color scheme, but a dragon should never personify a wrecking ball.  Dragons should personify dragons.  They don't need a deeper meaning, man.  Were it not for "Moon of Madness, Moon of Fear," I would be forced to classify the inaugural edition of Chamber of Chills as average.  At least the rest of the comic looks gnarly.  It's fucking hard for me to rebuke a horror anthology of any kind.  Expect similar reviews to surface in the months ahead.  NOTE: This book has nothing to do with Harvey Publications' Chamber of Chills, an anthology series that ran from 1951 to 1954.

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