Black Magic #6 (October-November, 1974)
“The Thirteenth Floor!”
“The Girl Who Walked on Water!”
“I Wouldn’t Let Him Die”
Writer – Joe Simon
Pencils – John Prentice, Bill Draut, & Jack Kirby
Editors – Joe Simon & Jack Kirby
Cover Price: $0.20
Well, we’re just about a week away from Halloween… so, we might as well have at least one installment of #boohauntedblog!
Let’s kick it Bronze-Age and get down with some’a that Black Magic.
Our first tale opens with man named Clement Dorn… and he’s not in great place. He is contemplating suicide… even considering throwing himself out a window right then and there… unfortunately, or fortunately rather, there are too many people around, and he’d rather “go out” without a bunch of gawking witnesses. I dunno, I figure there’ll be plenty of gawking when he goes splat, no? Anyways, he decides to hop into the elevator and go up a few floors for his jump. He winds up… on the Thirteenth Floor!
The thirteenth floor is darkened… and looks kind of like a bank line-up, folks are standing single-file before a desk. At the desk, a pair of nebbish fellows are “checking in” the patrons… of whatever this line might lead to. Turns out, it’s not entirely unlike an airport… folks in line are waiting for their flight. Turns out… our friend Dorn ain’t on anybody’s manifest.
Then after the sound of a plane landing, a pilot all clad in golden gear emerges. He’s informed by the desk that not all of his passengers have checked in yet… and also, they’ve actually got one extra (Dorn, of course).
Then… another pilot, this one dressed in all black with a red cape, enters the scene. He’s told that his passenger has arrived… and Dorn fears that it might be him. It’s not.
Realizing the destinations of the “flights” offered on the thirteenth floor, Dorn starts to panic… he asks if he can leave, and they’re all “Yeah, of course…” after all, he’s not on the manifest. On his way out, he overhears that the passenger they’re waiting for is a woman. Next thing we know, Dorn is waking up in the elevator.
With a new lease on life, our man heads outside the building… and witnesses a woman being hit by a car… right on schedule for her “flight”.
Our next story opens with a woman named Lisa. She is attempting to visit with her abusive twin sister, Peg. After being told by some dude that “she ain’t here” she runs into a fella by the name of Mark Kenyon. He becomes rather enchanted by her, and takes her to a gross little diner to get to know her better.
He learns that Peg, her twin, is a “bad girl”… always getting into trouble… like, serious trouble. Anyhoo, this chance encounter blossoms into a serious relationship, and three months later, Mark pops the question. She, unfortunately, cannot say yes… she’s still dealing with her twin-sister-flavored trauma.
Mark decides it’s time for him to become a bit more proactive… and maybe try and track down Peggy himself. He visits some of the seedier areas of town… and while everyone he speaks to knows of Peg, none of them know where she is. He does finally happen across her though… and wouldn’tcha know it, she’s the spitting image of Lisa. Starting to see where this is headed?
Mark tries to reason with her… telling her that she’s sick, and needs help. Which… I mean, that’s probably the worst thing he could’ve said. She refuses to come with him… and later on, Lisa tells Mark to just leave things alone. Curious…
He doesn’t, though! Mark visits Peggy yet again… and almost winds up getting shanked!
Mark returns to Lisa’s apartment… but, she’s not home. Her landlord approaches to see if she can help him… and here’s where the other shoe drops… as far as the landlady knows, Lisa doesn’t have a twin sister! Mark heads inside and, when he finally puts two and two together… someone enters behind him!!!
Our final story (not counting the text piece) opens with a couple of businessy fellas watching a young girl walking on water! Apparently, she can walk up walls too!
We jump back to earlier that day where the nerdier businessman, Ernie is trying to convince his partner Walt that he’d seen young Anna Marie Kunowski performing the amazing feat. He takes Walt to Anna’s house where she demonstrates her ability to walk up walls. Seems weird to have a pair of middle-aged dudes visit a 14 year old girl… but, whattaya gonna do?
Next, she demonstrates her ability to walk on water. Walt and Ernie posit that it’s a simple case of mind over matter for the girl. She’s so out to lunch that she doesn’t realize that gravity is a thing… and as such, isn’t governed by its laws… or something.
The next day, our heroes are already putting the wheels in motion to exploit this girl and her amazing “powers”. They’ve already arranged with a lawyer for contracts to be written up… they’re going to take this show on the road!
After work, they pop in for another visit with Anna Marie. Her mother answers and tells the awful men to stay away. Bout time, right? Anna bursts in the room and proceeds to share her tale of woe. Ya see, she walked down a wall in front of a kid named Tommy Nagle. Young Tommy thought it was a heckuva gag, and so… he opened a third story window, and attempted to walk down the wall himself. This didn’t end well.
Our heroes still manage to convince Anna Marie to perform her feat for “the press”. They want her to show the world that, get this, gravity… is strictly for squares! Ay yai yai. Later on we rejoin our trio at the lake… and “the press” shows up. “The Press” is… just one dude with a pencil.
Anna Marie takes her first step onto the lake… and plummets underwater! Ya see, after seeing what happened to Tommy, she has a fear of falling… game over, man. Ernie and Walt are outta luck… unless they find another kid so out to lunch that they don’t know they can’t fly.
We wrap up with a text-piece… but, nobody reads those anyway. It’s right here if ya want it!
The thing about these old horror titles… I enjoy ’em, but I can’t really point to “why”. They’re not exceptionally good (or bad)… they usually end in the most anticlimactic ways… and it’s really hard (at least for me) to get truly engaged when they only get six-pages to tell the stories.
Not to say I’d want to see any of these tales bloated out to “novel-sized epics” or anything… I just have difficulty really forming any attachment to characters and concepts with so few pages.
Like I said with yesterday’s Hex #1 review… these stories all feel like episodes of Twilight Zone… unexceptional, at points completely predictable… but with the ability to stick with ya.
I think the “meatiest” story we get here is probably the Lisa/Peggy twin deal. I mean, it was predictable from the word “go”, but I had a pretty good time with it. Sometimes knowing exactly how a story is going to turn out is a turn off… other times, you just enjoy the ride.
The “cover story” about the Thirteenth Floor… another predictable one, to be sure. The symbolism was so blatant, I’m not even sure we could even call it that. Enjoyable enough… and, I’ll admit, the twist ending kinda surprised me. Wasn’t expecting to see that poor woman getting hit by the car!
The “water walking” story was more of a comedy than anything. Outside of that one Tommy kid falling down, the stakes were incredibly low. Just a couple of shysters trying to exploit a girl so out to lunch that she doesn’t realize she can’t walk on walls and the like. It was silly… and ended the best way possible. Ernie and Walt, dejected and back to their mundane jobs… however, now with a taste of “hope”… they’re not going to give up on finding another dopey kid whose “abilities” they can take advantage of.
Overall, you get a pretty good package here. Three short subjects that don’t overstay their welcome. If you don’t have any hangups about “getting comfortable” with short stories (like I do), I bet you’ll dig this lots. Naturally, this issue isn’t available digitally. If only Batman were in it! If you’re gonna dig for the single issue, it shouldn’t break the bank!