Tuesday, 20 April 2010

House of Secrets #127. Haven't we been here before?

House of Secrets #127, cover
Cain and Abel, Karloff and Lugosi, Ant and Dec. Twosomes to send a shiver down the spine of the most hardened of souls and, in the 1970s, there was no fear greater than reading the latest issue of House of Secrets.

Well, OK, probably, buying an ice cream was more frightening than reading the latest copy of House of Secrets.

But I didn't care. It was a DC horror mag and that was good enough for me.

In fact the only DC horror title that had any ability to confer fear on the reader was Ghosts because, as it said on the front cover, all the stories inside were true - even the ones that involved only one person who ended up dead at the end of the tale and had no witnesses, meaning the writer would've had to be psychic to have known of the events within.

What with this and Sea Monkeys, I always got the feeling advertising laws in the US were somewhat more lax than they were in good old Blighty.

House of Secrets #127, headless executionerBut each of DC's horror mags had a clearly differentiated identity and there was of course, a huge difference between House of Mystery and House of Secrets. House of Mystery featured a house, and House of Secrets featured a different house.

For those still not certain, House of Secrets was the one narrated by poor old put-upon Abel and House of Mystery was done by his brother Cain.

All of which leads us to House of Secrets #127, an issue I first got on holiday sometime in late 1970s.

In the first tale, a man in post-revolutionary France wants to know who the masked axeman is who's ruthlessly decapitating dissidents.

In the second, a man enters the Amazon Jungle back in the days when you could still call it a jungle, rather than a rain forest, without fear of upsetting David Attenborough.

He finds some Indians with loads of emeralds, steals them and then gets eaten by piranhas.

In the the third, a man steals a magic pool cue that guarantees its owner victory and is promptly squished by giant pool balls.

House of Secrets #127, piranhasI can't deny it, this is basically the same issue that got published over and over again every month for years, with just the names changed. The only thing missing is the story about a man/child who dresses up as a monster for selfish ends and then bumps into the real monster.

I once read a book.

In fact I once read more than one.

One of them had Daleks in it.

But, in the book I'm referring to, its feminist author asked, "Does the fact that the baby I'm carrying will be male mean that, even at birth, it'll be born a male oppressor?"

Frankly, I didn't get the feeling she was a barrel of laughs.

As an equally deep thinker, I must ask, "The House of Secrets, does this lack of fear and originality mean I must despise it?"

House of Secrets #127, magic pool cueNo.

It doesn't.

Of course the mags weren't scary. They were comics. I'd be a bit worried if things that could scare people into lunatic asylums were being sold for 8 pence to children. Why, I'd expect to pay at least 12 pence for a thing like that.

And the originality point is pointless. By the time you reach issue #127 of anything, what're the chances you're going to be doing things that have never been done before?

So, for me, it's a question of kick off your shoes, sit back, dig the skeleton-fixated Luis Dominguez's fab cover and then soak up the cosy familiarity of it all.

Cosy? That's something they never called Sea Monkeys. Vicious they were. Vicious.

No comments: