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Ditko. Death. Destruction. All under one roof. – Eerie #10

August 26, 2011

I have a stupid aversion to black and white comics. There are exceptions to that rule, resplendent works like From Hell and some of the better alternative underground books. More mainstream material rendered without colors, well, it just doesn’t fly. This is dumb, I know. When people tell me they don’t watch black and white movies just because they’re in black and white, I call them morons. Ignorant, filthy morons. Yes, I see the irony there.

Enter Eerie. It’s a title much beloved by many, treasured as a showcase for funky horror tales crafted by many industry heavyweights. I recognize its significance as such, but I’ve never been able to get into it all these years after its initial publication. It’s just not my thing. Again, I recognize this is likely more a failing on my part. And I do very much like the oft-stunning cover art. But nevertheless…

Still, it’s nice to see work from artists that I love in a different setting. Shakes things up, shifts the capes and tights paradigms, you know? And we have a prime cut here. There’s some Neal Adams in this particular issue, but I’ve never been able to get into his stuff. Fear not, though, because Steve Ditko contributes the cover story. Now there’s a guy I can get behind.

Let’s have a gander.

Here’s the Alfred E. Neuman of Eerie giving you the low-down on Ditko’s and scripter Archie Goodwin’s “The Warrior of Death!”:

This Zahran is a bad dude, a Genghis Khan on crystal meth, steroids and 5-Hour Energy. A killing machine. A bipedal Jaws with delusions of grandeur. But, as we all know, even crazed megalomaniacal killers eventually come to the end of the line and face death (or Death, as it were):

Few, however, have the stones to bargain with said Reaper, but that’s just what Zahran does. Seeing how he’s sent a lot of business Death’s way, he questions why one would want to ruin a good thing. Death mulls it over and agrees, granting Zahran immortality and freedom from injury. Keep ’em comin’!

A deal with Death. This couldn’t possibly go wrong, right?

It starts out well(?) enough, with Zahran first annihilating nearby enemies and marvelling at the Wolverine-esque results:

Off this bare-chested juggernaut goes, amassing armies and conquering everything in his path, with his own invulnerable husk as the spearhead:

Finally he comes to the great cities of the West, and outside one a champion challenges him to single combat — a valorous knight named, fittingly, Valric. Zahran scoffs at his bravery and picks up the thrown down gauntlet, but gets a rude awakening as he’s about to deliver the killing blow:

Apparently there were unwritten and unspoken codicils to the Death-deal:

So immortality cancels out immortality. File that knowledge away, it could come in handy some day.

And that’s that.

The brevity of this tale, like so many others in these mags, keeps it from elevating to a truly top-notch read, no matter how much I may like it. It’s just a constraint of the format, and not really a comment on Goodwin (though the “immortal can kill immortal” bit seems a bit trite). Ditko’s art is quite pleasant — even Death gets the classic curved-back fingers — and the shading makes it more appealing to the eye than a lot of the starker black and white works. It’s also far superior to the reprint shades in those cheap, heinous Essentials trades and their loathsome kin. God, how I hate those things.

I’m going to keep trying with Eerie. I hope to grow to, if not love it, at least like it a bit more. I shall persevere. Unstoppable. Like Zahran.

One Comment leave one →
  1. bluekatt permalink
    November 13, 2012 6:27 am

    i normally dont like ditko’s art
    but he really really shines here maybe its the abscense of color and the introduction fo duo tone that helps his art so much

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