Friday, May 8, 2009

House of Mystery #181

House of Mystery #181 (On Sale: May 8, 1969) has another beautiful cover by Neal Adams, with some wonderfully moody coloring.

We begin with "Sir Greeley's Revenge" by Otto Binder and Frank Springer. Except for a single story printed in House of Mystery #257 in 1978, this is the last DC story by the great Otto Binder. This is also the last DC story for Frank Springer for seven years. This is a great little story about orphan Tim Halloway taken in one cold winter night by the rich and powerful Sir Greeley. He is a kind man who takes an immediate liking to the poor child, particularly when he find that Tim has a natural ability on the piano. The Sir's affection for Tim does not sit well with his spinster sister Abigail and his nephew Percy.

They try to toss Tim back to the streets, but Sir Greeley steps in and lets them know that they too stay at his house solely due to his generosity. Sir Greeley provides Tim with the best of piano teachers and Tim's abilities grow, but death comes one night for Sir Greeley. At the reading of his will, Abigail and Percy learn that they are only given half of Sir Greeley's estate and the the other half goes to young Tim, provided he can perform at a concert and not make a single mistake, thus proving him worthy.

Abigail and Percy begin to distract Tim from his practicing for the concert, forcing him to ride horses, which they purposefully startle in an unsuccessful attempt to break Tim's arm. The ghost of Sir Greeley returns to keep young Tim on the right path. The next day Abigail makes Tim split logs for hours, creating swollen, bleeding hands that are unable to practice. Seeing the depths to which his kin will stoop, Sir Greeley's ghost lures Abigail and Percy to the basement where they uncover a cache of gold coins which rain down upon them. Suddenly they realize that the coins are filling the room and that it is too late for them to escape. They die swallowed up by the fortune they craved.

When the concert finally comes Tim plays flawlessly and wins the entirety of Sir Greeley's estate, which pleases the old ghost very much. Reprinted in House of Mystery #229.

After a Page 13 by Sergio Aragones we have "The Siren of Satan" by Robert Kanigher and Bernie Wrightson. The artwork is vintage very early Bernie Wrightson, with lots of cross-hatched backgrounds and Frank Frazetta-inspired figures, but the story by Kanigher is a real turd involving the ancient Egyptian princess Re-Na. She was the most beautiful of women, but the god Ro-Tan placed a curse on anyone who would fall in love with her. Even after her death, we see that throughout the centuries, one captive of her affection after another died from the curse of Ro-Tan. Her beautifully carved sarcophagus eventually makes it's way to America and is purchased at auction by Jason, who, believing that everyone is plotting to steal Re-Na from him, hides out at the House of Mystery and shelters the sarcophagus in a nearby cemetery.

When Jason's fiancé traces him to the House, Cain points her to the cemetery where she finds Jason slumped over the sarcophagus and at her touch his body turns to dust. We are then asked who will next fall victim to the curse? Could it be you?

Sergio Aragones ends the book with another round of Cain's Game Room. The entire contents was reprinted in Showcase Presents: The House of Mystery Vol. 1 TPB.

Edited by Joe Orlando.

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