Atlas Comics Astonishing (1952) Issue 13

By: Karl Stern (@dragonkingkarl, @wiwcool, karl@whenitwascool.com)

Today I'm going to look back to the wonderful horror comics of the 1950's with Atlas Comics - Astonishing Issue 13.  Atlas Comics is the transitional comic book company between Timely Comics and the present day Marvel Comics.  This issue takes place after the peak of the true golden age of comics but before the true silver age of comics in an era usually filled with horror anthologies, true crime, and westerns.

 Hang in there.  I promise this review isn't going where you think it is.

Hang in there.  I promise this review isn't going where you think it is.

The first feature is entitled "The Three Feathers".  The story starts off with the death of an old woman, shocked into death by the appearance of a demon in her bedroom.  We soon find out though that it was no demon!  It was Albert (unknown last name) dressed as a demon in order to frighten the old woman to death in order to collect on the insurance money.

 The plot mildly thickens.

The plot mildly thickens.

At the funeral, the old woman is reveled to be Albert's grandmother and he is convinced she opened her eyes and looked at him from her casket.  We quickly cut scene to the reading of her will and Albert gets what he hoped for- his grandmother's treasure box because, according to the will, "he of all people deserves it most" (do you see a twist coming?)

Inside the box, Albert is infuriated to find a mere dart!  He picks up the dart and is overcome by a desire to kill!  He then stabs his wife with the dart and she falls to the floor.  Albert runs out into the street proclaiming it isn't his fault and gets hauled in by a detective. The detective picks up the dart and it then possess him and he stabs another detective with it.  THE END!  WHY IN HEAVEN'S NAME WAS THIS STORY CALLED THREE FEATHERS?

The next story is titled "Ghoul's Gold" and hopefully it will at least involve a ghoul or some gold.  The art style for this feature is very sketchy.  We are introduced to a man named Grimm who is at a mortuary of some sort.  He walks past multiple corpses carrying a small bag.  He lights a burner and then we are left to wonder what he is up to.  

 Rotten Timbers will be my band's name.

Rotten Timbers will be my band's name.

 

We cut scene to the next morning when Grimm walks into a bank to sell some gold.  The banker wonders where Grimm keeps getting his gold from.  The banker calls the police who investigate.  Detective Jim Bellin is assignedto the case and he follows Grimm back to the morgue where we see Grimm using the Bunsen Burner again.  The detective discovers that Grimm is making the little gold bricks inside, but how?  

Detective Bellin discovers that Grimm is stealing the gold out of the teeth of the cadavers and rushes to arrest him only for the old morgue to catch on fire.  The detective escapes but Grimm is trapped.  Why didn't Grimm make it out?  The detective discovers one of the corpses has bitten down on Grimm's hand preventing him from escaping... at least the story involved both ghouls and gold.

 Ghouls and gold just as advertised.

Ghouls and gold just as advertised.

The next feature is titled the "Death Watch".  We join a group of people gathered around dying statesman and shipping magnate Eleazar Dunnock.  A couple of newspaper reporters are there to cover the billionaire's final hours and are coldly joking about it.

A mysterious woman appears to go into the master bedroom but the newspaper reporter observes that only the doctor is allowed in so he smells a story.  After a short while the lady exits the room later and the newspaper man snaps her picture and then confronts her about why she went into the bedroom.  He then... well... sexually assaults her.

Wait... what?

OH THIS STORY DONE TOOK A TURN DIDN'T IT?

 Wait... wut?

Wait... wut?

Yes, the newspaper man forces himself on the mystery lady who does, in fact, give him a kiss.  The newspaper man then realizes that the mystery lady who he criminally molested was... Death herself!  DUNN... DUNN... DUNN...  And he dies.  The end.

There were a couple more features including "House on the Hill" and "Helen's Husband" but since we can't possibly top a 1950's news hound sexually assaulting Death herself then we will leave those for another time.  GOOD LORD THE 1950's COMICS!