“The Kiss of Death” by Bill Everett from Venus no.19, 1952 published by pre-Marvel Atlas. This is really quite a creepy story, probably one of the creepiest I’ve seen from Everett, right up there with “The Man Who Owned a Ghost” or “Zombie”.
With surprisingly modern flair, Everett pulls us right into the action as our intrepid heroes Whit and Venus find themselves confronted by two undead grappling each other in some gruesome eternal struggle. The teaser in the splash taunts: “three men were lucky, they only died… but poor old Andreas was trapped for eternity in the Kiss of Death!”
A spiritual guide by the name of Igor summons these two ghastly combatants from the ether as Venus and Whitney watched horrorstruck. They only intrude on the creepy warlock to prove him a charlatan and now witness the bizarre rehearsal for his main event.
A little old man enters the room, recanting a tale of four war buddies that fell in love with the same French maiden. She loved each and couldn’t bear to break any of their hearts. She decided to marry the last living member of their quartet. Andreas is the last but cannot find his one true love.
Igor summons the ghosts of the dead soldiers to help find the beautiful Mara. Igor draws a summoning circle and warns Andreas, Venus and Whit to stay inside the circle’s protection while the dead pierce the veil.
“Still reeking of grave rot and the stench of death…they reach out to grab us with long bony claws.”
Can Igor protect them from these hideous specters? Will Andreas find his true love?