40 YEARS AGO - March 1975
|Cover artwork by Gil Kane.|
WEREWOLF BY NIGHT #27 (Marvel Comics)
"The Amazing Doctor Glitternight"
By Doug Moench (w); Don Perlin (a); Karen Pocock (l); Phil Rachelson (c) & Len Wein (e)
This is what I'm talking about. You don't see him on the cover, but Doctor Glitternight has got to be the eeriest Marvel villain of all-time. He reminds me of the Tall Man from Phantasm, only Glitternight came first. He's evil incarnate, a stone-faced, pupil-less hypnotic sorcerer who steals souls and turns the once beautiful Topaz into the horrible creature you do see on the cover, He floats like a manta ray overhead and projects black light onto his victims, stealing their very life-force. Unfortunately he's pretty much forgotten today, but I think he's the best unused Marvel villain there is.
Glitternight was created by Doug Moench who took over the series at issue #20 and stayed on til the series ended with #43. I first came to deeply respect him after reading his run on Batman from the early '90's. For my money, he remains one of thee great Batman writers. For what it's worth he co-authored the famous Knightfall storyline that Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Rises is partially based on. By that time he was a master craftsman who easily balanced words with pictures and allowed the characters to dictate the story. At this early stage in his career, he was out of his mind, and I mean that in the best way possible.
It was 1975, the horror fad at Marvel was dying down to a quiet murmur and I imagine Moench was looking for a way out of his typecast anyway. He had just been given the keys to the new Inhumans series with new artist George Perez and it seems he was focusing more on that. By the time Inhumans hit the shelves this storyline was already in the bag and though the Glitternight story is arguably the pinnacle of this series, the fall that came after was precipitous indeed. Unfortunately, both the Inhumans and Werewolf By Night series would peter out within the course of the next two years.
When the Comics Code Authority eased its restrictions against depicting horror tropes such as vampires, werewolves, zombies and monsters, Marvel Comics jumped in with four feet. Though the trend didn't last long, the company managed to produce some great stories, especially on this series and in the pages of Frankenstein's Monster. This issue in particular is a true highlight of their efforts.
WHAT ELSE WERE THE KIDS UP TO BACK THEN?
After getting the creeps from reading Werewolf By Night it was time for a breather. It was time for something uplifting. Savvy audiences might then have turned to this album:
RUSH - FLY BY NIGHT
Rush's second album is a bit of a transition. They were about half a year away from releasing the 'Caress of Steel' album which featured a bit of more of what would come to be recognized as the Rush sound with moodier numbers and the ubiquitous side-long prog suites. 'Fly By Night' is a straight up hard rock album with mostly short, fast-moving numbers and is arguably more focused in its aims. The inclusion of the 8-minute mini-suite "By Tor and the Snowdog" announced that this was a transitional record in many ways.
Rush wouldn't come to international prominence until a year and two albums later with '2112'.
Richard Matheson is most remembered as a writer for the original Twilight Zone television show and as the writer of such novels as I Am Legend (a personal favorite and partial inspiration for Night of the Living Dead), Hell House and The Shrinking Man. He was also an elite short story writer, his Shock series alone (4 volumes) is a must-read for genre fans. While his novels were often dark and poignant, his stories were crisp, sharp and sardonic, sometimes even silly. The stories featured in Trilogy of Terror were of the latter variety, though you wouldn't notice at first glance through director Curtis's dark interpretation.
The first two segments aren't nearly as memorable as "Amelia", though they're quite good. However, they are opening acts at best, the headliner is well worth the wait. You can watch the whole film below: