Magical Mystery Tour


Daring Mystery Comics 70th Anniversary Special #1

For some reason, I thought Marvel was done with their 70th Anniversary Specials, but I’m very pleased to see that they’re still being released. This one features (along with one of the finest covers I’ve seen in ages) the adventures of a guy called the Phantom Reporter. He’s a normal reporter trying to track down the tough stories, hunting for the leads that will let him discover who killed a childhood friend-gone-bad. But when he gets too close to the truth, the criminal syndicates come after him, and he puts on a gag mask to try to disguise himself, then ends up unleashing ungodly amounts of whupass on the mobsters. And after that, he realizes he doesn’t have to play by the rules of journalism to get at the truth of who killed his friend — he can just hit gangsters ’til they tell him what he needs to know. But his final opponent may be too tough to beat. After the main story, there’s a classic story from the Golden Age about the Phantom Reporter and his multiple secret identities…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Absolutely outstanding noir adventure. You got your mask-and-fedora hero who’s willing to bend the rules, you got a mourning mobster willing to talk to someone who’ll help him get justice, you got a femme fatale who may have dark secrets, you got complete scoundrels running the whole show. They could’ve made this a movie serial back in the ’40s…


Mystic Comics 70th Anniversary Special #1

More noir adventure, this time with a magic twist — namely a Golden Age hero called the Vision, a crimefighter from another dimension who can manifest through clouds of smoke. The mob is desperate to rub him out — after they hear about some weird lights coming from a local professor’s home, they sneak a gangster into the home to work undercover as a gardener, and he soon learns that the Vision is really an interdimensional traveler named Aarkus who has become trapped in our world. An experiment to send Aarkus back to his world is disrupted by the fake gardener, and the resulting accident with the dimensional gateway releases a cosmic monster able to induce horrific hallucinations in any humans it encounters. And again, once the main story is over, we’re treated to an old story about the Vision, this time drawn by Jack Kirby as the Vision faces attacks by werewolves…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great magical adventure pulp, with a great dose of horror. I loved the creepy zombie who menaces the professor and his daughter, and the hallucinating farm family trying to kill each other are chilling, especially after the Vision banishes their illusions, and they realize they may have already killed another family member. And the backup story with King Kirby illustrating a werewolf story is also wonderful.

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