Time for a new comic for Retro-Reviewing, and this time it's Adventures Into the Unknown #1, published by American Comics Group in 1948! The very dark cover for this issue is by Edvard Moritz, who did some work on the interiors, too!
The inside front cover featured a table of contents (with stories out of order, by the way) plus a disclaimer from the publisher called “To Our Readers.” It reads: “Superstition is ignorance. It's part of the dark ages from which man emerged centuries ago. But great classical authors such as Edgar Allan Poe, Horace Warpole and many others have done much to keep alive the tradition of the 'ghost' story—and to this day, teales of the mysterious unknown still grip our imaginations! This despite the fact that there are no such things as ghosts! There never were – there never will be! Yet, since stories of the superational will live forever, we invite you to enjoy the following 'Adventures Into... the Unknown!'” The background for all this is a tombstone with a large hooded spook standing behind it, showering down bones and skulls from its outstretched hands.
The first story in this book is “The Werewolf Strikes,” an eight-pager with art by Edvart Moritz. The tale begins in “the frozen timberlands of Northern Canada,” where three men – one armed with a rifle, one with a lasso, and one with a rope – have cornered a large gray wolf. Before they can capture or kill the wolf, it leaps for the guy with the lasso (smart wolf, that) and attacks him as the guy with the rifle shoots! The other guy with a rope ties up the wolf, and two other men come over with a crate labeled “John Wilder, Zoological Import” on the side. Apparently, the wolf did kill its target, and Wilder (the guy with the rifle) muses over the situation:
In a nearby cabin, a woman is hanging garlic up on the wall, and when her husband questions her (I'm assuming it's her husband), she says it's to ward off werewolves! She's certain that Jacques the logger, who was bitten by a wolf and disappeared, became a werewolf! That night, at Wilder's camp, Wilder shows off his captive to Barbara (his wife?) before they head off to bed. After they leave, the wolf changes to Jacques, and he escapes the cage, and makes his way to Wilder's tent, and he abducts Barbara!
Pursuing his wife's captor, he runs up at him with a gun! The two grapple, and Wilder shoots Jacques! Jacques flees in search of a doctor, but he turns back into his wolf form again, and decides to return to the cage, hoping his wound will be treated. The entire camp is awakened by the howls of agony, and Wilder has returned. Wilder treats the wolf's wounds. Ten days later, the Wilders are out at sea with their captive en route to San Francisco, and as it nears the Golden Gate, the beast makes a second attack on Barbara!
Barbara flees the wolf, but stumbles down a flight of stairs. She seems all right, and the ship's doctor advises Wilder to get her into a taxi after the ship docks. Another ten days pass, and the wolf is on display at a zoo, where it's considered the most vicious-looking beast anyone's ever seen. What they don't know is that at night, the wolf escapes its cage and starts a reign of terror!
Now, ACG's writers have obviously mixed up the weaknesses of werewolves and vampires – first there was the woman hanging up garlic, and now, the caption informs us that werewolves cannot cross running water! This makes the wolf vulnerable, and it is shot by a policeman. Later that night, at John Wilder's home, Wilder and his wife are arguing over whether the wolf is responsible for the slaying when the radio informs them that the wolf has been wounded, but it got away! Suddenly, at the window...
Barbara screams for her husband to help as the wolf attacks! John manages to reach a table where a silver paper knife is, and attacks the wolf! As expected, it has the usual effect on werewolves...
OK, this story really went around and around before it really got to the point, if you ask me. It took way too long to mention Jacques, and then there was just one ridiculous thing after another. I don't even understand why the had the werewolf being affected at all by ordinary bullets when they planned to have it killed by the silver knife – and isn't it a good thing that was handy, on the table, in the same room the werewolf was attacking Barbara in?
Next time: “The Living Ghost,” a story I've referred to here at the Random Acts of Geekery before!
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