The cover story in this issue is “Lone Shark”, a brilliant 7-page story about a shark who, as a result of undersea atomic explosions, grows a tumor that serves as a second brain, giving it human level intelligence. What really makes the story special is that it’s told from the perspective of the shark.
I fell in love with this story based on the splash page when it was covered in a “Kirby Obscura” column a few issues back in THE JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR. I couldn’t not buy it when I saw a copy for sale. It doesn’t disappoint. From the punny title on, it’s a masterpiece, with a nice sense of humour in the shark’s “voice”, complaining about the scavenger fish that follow him around, expressing curiousity, complaining about those damn headaches. He becomes almost sympathetic by the end. And the artwork looks great, following his undersea roamings.
The Kirby Checklist also credits him with the one page “The Strangest Facts” feature, a sort of “Ripley’s” collection of stories. It’s printed kind of dark in my copy, but the half-page of a “Juoslavian Amazon” soldier from 1915 is really nice, as is the odd drawing of a swearing parrot.
Kirby also draws the cover to this issue.
This was the final issue of BLACK MAGIC produced by Simon&Kirby, though the book would be revived by Prize a few years later, and then eventually resurrected by Simon as a reprint vehicle for DC in the 1970s.