Four S&K reprints from various 1953 issues of the original BLACK MAGIC series in this issue.
First up is the six page story “Fool’s Paradise” #26[v4#2], the tale of a criminal on the run from the law in a park, when an old man helps him escape. The old man tells him to meet a mob boss at a certain place, where he arrives just in time to stop a hit. Working for the mob boss, he rises quickly up the ranks, and plans to take over and fools around with the boss’ girl. Eventually he ends up on the run again, back in the park, where the whole thing starts over.
“The Cat People” #27[v4#3] is a six page story about a man visiting a friend and getting creeped out by some kids playing “Cat’s Cradle”. He recounts a story about his trip to Europe, where he encountered an old woman and her daughter living in the hills, and how he witnessed them turning into giant cats in a midnight ceremony using rituals similar to a “Cat’s Cradle” game and how he barely escaped with his life.
Up next is a short but creepy three page story “Birth After Death” #20[v3#2], about a pair of grave-robbers in the 1700s who are startled when their intended victim rises from the grave. The robbers are shot, and the woman lives, apparently having been mistakenly buried in a stare resembling death. Five years later she gives birth to a baby boy (with the same doctor attending. I don’t know about you, but after a bit of malpractice like that I get a new doctor), and that boy would grow up to be Sir Walter Scott!!! Out of curiousity I did a quick search, and couldn’t find any reference to Walter Scott’s mother being buried alive. Could it be these startling true stories are in fact fabrications?
“Those Who Are About to Die” #23[v3#5] is last, a five page story about an artist who has a vision of death while eating in a restaurant.
He takes this as a cue to ask the cashier at the restaurant to pose for him (no, that’s not creepy at all), but ends up painting another woman being pushed into a coffin by a skeleton. When he and his wife go to the restaurant the next day, the find the cashier is missing, but just out sick, but the woman in the painting is the server, who had just died of lung cancer in exactly the spot where the skeleton is touching in the painting.
This is a really fun issue. Although none of the stories are that great, mostly variations of themes that Kirby and others did better elsewhere, the art is really sharp and moody throughout, with a lot of different settings that Kirby does well.