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The Crypt of Terror #17

The Crypt of Terror was the book that used to be called International Comics, International Crime Patrol, and Crime Patrol, and would soon become famous as Tales From the Crypt. Issue #17 was released in April 1950. The first story is Death Must Come! The story involves two scientists who are both in their 70's. But while one of them is old and wrinkled, the other looks like he is still 25. We find out they discovered the secret behind aging. They found that the body develops a wax that covers the glands in the body and prevents them from functioning efficiently. There is a gland in the spleen that destroys this waxy build-up, but as you get older this gland stops working. They read about a young man who was killed in an accident, dig him up and put his gland inside one of them. The subject of the experiment stays looking young, but he needs replacement glands every so often, and the time in between shortens with each operation. He has called his friend to do another transplant, but the old man refuses. There is a fight and the old man dies of a heart attack. The man with the transplanted gland sends for a messenger and as he waits he can see himself rapidly aging. When the messenger arrives the scientist knocks him out and then kills him. But when he opens the young man up he discovers that his spleen has been removed and thus he has no gland to take. The scientist rapidly dies of old age. The art style in this segment is stiff, and the story is weak. One can't help but wonder if the gland stops aging and the messenger didn't have one, why didn't he age prematurely? A bit of a soft start for the most famous horror comic of all time.

The Man Who Was Death is about Edgar Bowman, executioner. Edgar loves his job, but doesn't have much sympathy for the screaming and crying of the convicts he puts to death. He becomes famous for being so good at frying people in the electric chair that other states invite him to come put their prisoners to death using the gas chamber and hang man's noose. But poor Edgar is at a loss when juries start returning verdicts of not guilty. He decides that criminals are evading justice, so he goes around killing the former defendants with electrocution. Of course the cops see a pattern and they nab him, and the story ends with Edgar on his way to the chair, screaming and crying. Then there's a couple pages of filler. Alibi on Ice is just a few paragraphs of a cop solving a mystery that hasn't even been properly set up. It's like they printed the last couple of paragraphs of a short story. Tell Tale Marks at least bothers to tell you what happened and why, but is another silly partial story whipped up to fill out a page count.

The Corpse Nobody Knew finds a private detective going on vacation with his wife. They find a body in their room, but it's unidentifiable. He leaves to report it, and tells his wife to stay. She can't open the window, and finds that it's because there is paper jammed in it. (For Pete's sake lady, maybe try a little exercise.) It's a receipt from a "street walker photographer", who is apparently someone who takes pictures of random people on the streets then gives them a receipt. They take to receipt to the shop get a copy if the picture. Meanwhile hubby the detective meets the hotel detective who tells him the hotel manager robbed the safe and took off. He even tells the cops what plane the manager was on. But it turns out the photo, which wife picked up with the taped up receipt, showed the hotel detective at the airport buying the ticket for the flight he claimed the manager was on. (Incidentally, the angle of the picture suggests it was taken by Spider-Man.) So the master criminal gave a story which could be proven false as soon as the plane landed and it was found that the manager wasn't aboard, and then took the one clue that proved his guilt and hid it in the room with the corpse. I feel pretty sure this is a left-over (along with the 2 filler prose stories) from when the comic was Crime Patrol.

The final story, Curse of the Full Moon finally has a horror element. It has a man on holiday in Europe with his buddy. He scratches himself on a wolfsbane thorn, which is apparently enough to make someone become a werewolf. He becomes convinced after finding blood on his coat after a dog is mutilated. He then goes with his friend to Paris, where a woman is killed and he finds he has her shoe. They go to London and a bellboy is murdered and the man finds his hat in his coat pocket. He goes to his friend for help, and his friend reveals that he murdered those people and planted the evidence and now is going to kill him. The end. While it was nice to see a traditional horror element, it still turned out to be another pretty dumb crime story. I guess the switch took place too quickly for the writers to change gears in time. The good thing is I know this book will get better in later issues.


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