This has the best science fiction material yet for EC Archives.
In this collection, five stories adapted from Ray Bradbury stories and one from Harlan Ellison. The rest of the writing is credited to Al Feldstein.
This collection contains Weird Science 19-22 and Weird Science-Fantasy 23-24. House ads, letters pages and text stories from the original issues are also included. Paul Tobin does a nice introduction.These issues are packed with great ideas and some fantastic art. Even Carlos Badilla’s recoloring seems to be better than before and not as jarring.
The best story, in my opinion, is “The Loathsome!” by Wally Wood and Al Feldstein. I’m a big fan of Wally Wood and this story is his best art in this volume. I love the destroyers and the atomic cloud casting a harsh light in between them. The tension and emotion throughout is intense and the ending is great.
One of the best stories in this volume is “The One Who Waits” by Bradbury, Feldstein, Williamson, Frazetta and Krenkel. This creepy story could have easily been made into a movie or an episode of Twilight Zone or Outer Limits. Many fans of Bradbury name this story in their list of favorites among his short stories.
There is fantastic art by good friends Williamson, Frazetta and Krenkel in the classic “50 Girls 50”, “Two’s Company…” and “A New Beginning”. This last one has probably the best art from the three in this volume as they’re also joined by Bernie Kriegstein. I especially see a lot of Frazetta’s touch in this one. Each of these stories shine as well. “Two’s Company” is such a chilling tale.
“Fish Story” and “Upheaval” are credited only to Williamson and Krenkel. The art is gorgeous on these as well. The stories are good attempts to provide a different view on life on other worlds.”Keyed Up” is an excellent and eerie tale with fitting art by Joe Orlando about the last two survivors on an ill-fated interstellar voyage. What do you do if you’re trapped alone for months on a ship with someone you hate? What if you blamed him for the deaths of the other crewmembers? What would you do if you tried to explain an accident to someone who wouldn’t acknowledge your existence? This sci-fi thriller is worth the read.
“The Flying Machine” by Kreigstein, Bradbury and Feldstein amazed me. Kriegstein really channels classic Chinese art styles from the splash page on. For 1954, Bradbury writes an immersive script that conveys the cultural differences, the burden of being Emperor, along with the fallibility of being human. It’s a brutally frank and quietly beautiful at the same time.”Confidential” is another peek inside the studio at EC with a fourth-wall tearing epic. Tales like these and the one in Weird Fantasy must have inspired other publishing companies to do behind-the-scenes satire.
“Right on the Button” with art by Bill Elder and “Surprise Package” with art by Jack Kamen are also good stories that could’ve had better endings. “The Precious Years”, with art by Wally Wood, starts slowly but picks up steam mid-way. This story about a man alive for more than 500 years and the ennui that’s gripping him must have been quite thought-provoking back in the 50s.
“My World” is an artistic tour de force by Wally Wood. All five covers by Wally Wood are amazing as always. Al Feldstein’s sixth cover is good, just not up to the expectations set by Wood.I’ve just hit on what I consider the best stories or the best art in the collection. Each tale is worth reading. Sometimes the material is a bit dated, sometimes it feels derivative because so many sci-fi stories have mimicked plot points or the twist since then, and sometimes I’m shocked to remember that these stories were written more than 60 years ago. Some of them feel just as fresh and innovative in the modern age.
This volume really makes me look forward to getting the last volume in this line and finishing up Weird Fantasy archives as well. Thanks Dark Horse for listening to the fans and improving these reproductions.