Forgotten Masterpiece: EERIE #32

From the mid-1960s all the way through the earliest days of the 1980s, Warren Publications provided a bit of an alternative to the mainstream comic book marketplace dominated by Marvel and DC (as well as Archie and Harvey and Gold Key, etc.) Warren’s particular forte was in doing horror magazines, very much influenced, at least initially, but the EC Comics of the 1950s. By releasing his publications as black and white magazines, Warren avoided any oversight by the Comics Code and opened up an entirely new market–one that Marvel and DC and others would try to carve out a place in, but would ultimately be vexed by. Warren had its ups and downs, but it produced a number of memorable stories and gave an outlet to a wide variety of talents in the field, both guys just breaking in and established veterans who could stretch their legs in different ways through the limitations of black and white publishing.

One thing Warren really didn’t do, by and large, was super hero material . Despite the fact that there was clearly an audience for such characters, Warren stayed well aware of it. About the closest he ever came on a regular basis was when he contracted to reprint Will Eisner’s THE SPIRIT as a Warren Magazine. That title was only marginally successful, but it did introduce an entire new generation to Eisner’s work. But that didn’t mean that Warren and his contributors were above occasionally casting some shade and/or doing their own idiosyncratic take on a super hero story–as in this tale from EERIE #32.

The story, by writer Steve Skeates (who had worked for Marvel, DC and Tower on super hero titles at one point or another) and illustrated by Tom Sutton (who likewise did work for Marvel, mainly on the monster books) was a bit of a play on a Batman-style crime-fighter, Crime Crusher. And the punchline is easy to see coming–and something that Harvey Kurtzman did decades earlier in the pages of MAD. That said, it’s still an entertaining piece well-crafted.

That third panel seems to be a savagely pointed parody of the philosophy expressed by Steve Ditko through the mouthpiece of many of his characters, notably Mr. A.

4 thoughts on “Forgotten Masterpiece: EERIE #32

  1. >> That third panel seems to be a savagely pointed parody of the philosophy expressed by Steve Ditko through the mouthpiece of many of his characters, notably Mr. A. >>

    The bit on the second page about “You have chosen evil! Chosen to be irrational!” seems like it’s going there too.

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  2. There’s the makings of a much better story here, but the ending last panels didn’t work for me. Crime Crusher is presented as someone who strictly follows a parody rigid but still nominally “good” moral code, despite being a vampire. “What happens when he runs out of criminals?” Why not then just move on to a different city? Or make a deal with some hospital and drain accident victims who died. Does he need to actually get blood straight from people? Human blood has become really easy to acquire in the modern era since blood banks started, it’s not the 19th century anymore. He’s shown as fully intelligent and capable of planning, and that he doesn’t want the authorities to be trying to kill him (which is presumably possible even if difficult). Thus it doesn’t fit to have a twist of worrying about him turning into an unconstrained monster (as opposed to a constrained monster).

    I think it would have worked better to have the Commissioner character playing a major role in the story, exploring the seedy mentality of what sort of authority covers up for this vampire. And then have Crime Crusher discover his Commissioner friend is actually extremely corrupt, and thus feel compelled by his moral code to kill him (perfect place for a speech). The Commissioner points out anyone who helps CC is likely to be less than completely clean otherwise, so CC is going to have a hard time finding an authority sponsor who is also morally upright by CC’s standards. But this doesn’t dissuade CC, and he reflects on how he had to do it, even though he knows it’s going to make his life much more difficult in the future (another speech!). That way there’s a standard comeuppance, as well as some dilemma.

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  3. That spoof-Ditko speech is funny considering that Steve Skeates worked with Ditko so often. It has the feeling of someone finally saying what they really think…

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  4. Couple of Steranko Captain America swipes on Page 8 – no telling if any of the others were from similar sources.

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