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Monday, 24 April 2017

DC Special 4 - Abel debuts

DC Special 4 (July/Sept 69) consists mostly of reprints from old issues of House of Mystery, Tales of the Unexpected, Sensation Mystery and House of Secrets. But aside from the great Neal Adams cover, the issue is significant for two reasons. It is the first time the hosts of the various DC horror books are brought together to interact with each other (although honestly they do very little of that), as well as seeing the debut of Abel, shortly to become the host of the revived House of Secrets.

The framing sequence has a group of children holding Egor, Cain's pet gargoyle, as hostage, demanding to be told frightening stories. Cain, the host of House of Mystery, is with the Three Witches, from the Witching Hour, and the Mad Mod Witch, from The Unexpected. The kids have no idea who the guy on the end is. Cain explains that this is his brother, Abel, and that he is soon to take up residence in the House of Secrets. Abel's cowardly personality is not in evidence yet.

The characters take turns introducing the reprinted stories. Because the tales were not made to have hosts, this reduces the host scenes to a couple of panels wedged in between entries. I guess because he is the new kid on the block, Abel gets to introduce two stories, while the others each get one.

The Phantom Stranger, recently revived in Showcase, also shows up towards the end of the issue. His entry is done well, with no one uttering his name in the few panels before he starts his story.

Only at the conclusion, after he has vanished, does one kid explain to the other that the mystery man was the Phantom Stranger.  While the reprinted stories are, by and large, nothing special, the innovative framing sequence works well. By the end of the 70s, it would be such a standard thing to see.

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