HOUSE OF SECRETS #50 - Ho Hum, Earth's Getting Destroyed Again...

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Chuck Gower

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HOUSE OF SECRETS #50 - Ho Hum, Earth's Getting Destroyed Again...

This period in the history of DC Comics was NOT one of my favorites. There's probably a fair amount of GREAT work from this period I'm just not aware of, but... there's also so much bland junk, it's difficult for me to even begin to wade into these waters....

The Senate hearing on Comic Books in 1957 had allowed publishers like DC and others to put out a Comics Code, aimed directly at their biggest competitor (EC Comics) and put them out of business. But it came at the expense of talent and output, stripping the comic book story of any real danger.

Luckily though, we at least get this cover by Dick Dillin with inks by Sheldon Moldoff... which is actually pretty cool and maybe the best part of the whole package.

 

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(HOUSE OF SECRETS #50 cover-dated November 1961, on newsstands September 26, 1961, with cover art by Dick Dillin and inks by Sheldon Moldoff)

 

Inside.... well, I'm not trying to talk down about the abilities of the people who did this work. It's not lazy, it's not sloppy, it's well crafted within the confines of what they were able to create in. The same as those pamphlets the religious nuts hand out in front of rock concerts.

With the same goal: Get the message across without being offensive or crude.

Here we start with a Twilight Zone story about a guy who causes people to lose their face. He's almost like a human face eraser, just by looking at them. Granted, it slowly fades away, but he realizes he's the cause of it. A key clue is in the background early in the story if you're looking for it (I wasn't.)

 

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(HOUSE OF SECRETS #50 cover-dated November 1961, on newsstands September 26, 1961, with art by Bill Ely)

 

It's not that the story is BAD... it's a bit hokey, as were a lot of these back in the day, but BACK in the day, this is what we had and it wasn't much different than network TV.  Which is the problem. Comics had lost its ability to go up and beyond what network TV could do. Why read comics if you could watch the same type of thing on TV?

The art was done by long-time artist Bill Ely, who was a sure draftsman. By that I mean, he wasn't at all bad - at times, some of his work is actually quite good - but mostly he had the 'Curt Swan' style of functional blandness.

 

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(HOUSE OF SECRETS #50 cover-dated November 1961, on newsstands September 26, 1961, with art by Bill Ely)

 

Was everything like this in the very late '50s, early 60's?

No, of course not - I probably haven't even read 1% of the stories from this period, but... Rip Hunter... Time Master might be the greatest thing ever. I mean... Nick Cardy drew it, so automatically that's a great start!

Hey! For a $1, there's a beat-up copy out there somewhere!

 

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(HOUSE OF SECRETS #50 cover-dated November 1961, on newsstands September 26, 1961, with cover art by Nick Cardy)

 

We get some Count of Monte Cristo type of story next drawn by Howard Sherman (another long-time artist from the Golden Age who'd slowly fade out by mid-'70s for DC) and after that the latest Mark Mirken story. I say that like I know who Mark Mirkin is. I don't. 

But you have to admire anyone who watches the earth get blown up and as his girl cries out in horror, he says, "Steady Elsa". That was the standard American story. The girl is hysterical. The guy is an All-American rugged Marlboro Man who never loses his cool. 

Artist Mort Meskin created Mark Mirkin, and by this point his career was starting to run down. He'd been a big deal in the Golden Age (he was a big influence on Steve Ditko) but retired from comics 4 years later.

 

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(HOUSE OF SECRETS #50 cover-dated November 1961, on newsstands September 26, 1961, with art by Mort Meskin)

 

Here's one I'm curious to check out though - Russ Heath's Sea Devils. Always liked these covers (with Jack Adler's color and wash effects).

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(HOUSE OF SECRETS #50 cover-dated November 1961, on newsstands September 26, 1961, with cover art by Russ Heath)

 

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