« The other three players dropped out… I could feel the tension buzzing right out of their twisted bodies… »
Poor, naïve Lou Beltram!
I first laid eyes on this one when I visited, in the fall of 1976, a tabagie (a tobacco shop) at a recently-opened shopping mall. For some reason, they had a batch of comics dating from 1973. This was one*.
The cover feature, « The Strange Game », is a typical product of the early 1950’s horror boom: it doesn’t make a lick of sense, but it is fairly irresistible stuff, at least from the perspective of an 11-year-old. This wacky cover art, from this May 1973 issue, is the work of company man supreme John Romita Sr., Marvel’s heavy-handed art director of the period.
This time (sorry!) you’re getting the story right here, since… who else would get interested in such a boneheaded piece of claptrap, badly drawn to boot? (technically speaking… I do, however, find its primitive ineptitude quite charming). Suspend all disbelief and critical sense, and enjoy!
The tale in question, scripted by an unknown writer and illustrated by Marty Elkin (reportedly Gil Kane‘s cousin!), was reprinted from Atlas’ (what Marvel Comics were called back in the day) Strange Tales #9 (August, 1952).
Oh, and something was nagging at me about a particular panel… so I did a little digging, here’s what I found: while swiping from Jack Davis has long been a national pastime, here’s one of the earliest infractions not perpetrated by Howard Nostrand (who’s fine in his own right, but he did have that singular, corner-cutting vice).