Halloween has long been my favorite holiday, so I’ve decided to return to reviewing comic books with some regularity this month. Every week this month, I’ll post at least one special Halloween-oriented review, criticizing the issue based on its reverence for this hallowed holiday season through four distinct categories worth up to five points each. The comic that earns the total possible 20 points could be one of the best Halloween issues ever!
The Occult Files of Dr. Specktor #12, February 1975, Western Publishing Company (Gold Key Comics)
PREMISE: When the curious Dr. Spektor investigated the presence of “evil dark gods” on the “mystic Mount Algol,” a demon wolf “injected its venomous curse” into his veins, transforming him into a werewolf! Now, the good doctor roams the world in search of a cure . . . and in fear of the full moon! (Man, I totally could’ve written those old origin blurbs at the top of Silver Age comics!) Anyway, the classic werewolf origin, coupled with Dr. Spektor’s presumably preexisting penchant for the occult, grant this issue four out of five points in the premise department.
STORY: At the beginning of this issue, Dr. Spektor leaves his lady love behind for her own good . . . only to promptly fall for another, even more helpless chick! In this case, she’s the daughter of Dr. Tong, a self-styled wizard he seeks to help his condition, until Tong captures him to drain his wolf-power for himself! Tong has also found and captured the Frankenstein monster, and when Tong’s daughter ruins the power-draining experiment, the two classic creatures battle it out! It’s an awesomely epic little scrap that ends when the two monsters tumble out the window, into raging waters below. While Dr. Spektor surfaces to say good-bye to yet another forbidden love, the Frankenstein monster is nowhere to be seen -- perhaps on the loose once again! A crazy mad scientist and his faithful assistant, a werewolf, Frankenstein’s monster -- together under the roof of dark, foreboding castle? If that isn’t Halloween, I don’t know what is! Five points!
ART: I wish this issue credited its creators, but so many older comics didn’t take the time or space to do so, presumably in favor of art and story -- or at the greedy publisher’s behest, perhaps? Anyway, this issue of Dr. Spektor was drawn like a ‘70s acid trip, and I mean that in the best way possible. Loose expressive lines, psychedelic shapes and colors, and frantic choreography make for an engaging tale even during those talking-head panels; further, interestingly, some 30 years after World War II, the Asian nemeses are still yellow-skinned, pointy-eared, and buck-toothed. Alas, again I wish the artist had thought to use a little more black in his backgrounds, to emphasize the creepiness of it all. Three out of five points.
PACKAGING: Despite the more modern interpretations of the werewolf and Frankenstein monsters inside this issue, its cover depicts them in their iconic glory, hands at each others’ throats in a timeless struggle for who’s scarier. Dr. Tong’s daughter adds an elements of intrigue and mystery to the image, too, as the tireless damsel in distress with at stake than her own safety. Like last issue, I can see the hardcore fanboy using this comic as a Halloween decoration, in a classic Universal Studios movie monster kind of way. Four points.
TOTAL: Sixteen out of twenty points. I’m glad I picked up this issue! Unlike Dr. Spektor’s, my curiosity paid off.