Issue by Issue – Tales of the Zombie #5

Writer – Steve Gerber, Doug Moench, Chris Claremont, Tony Isabella
Artist – Pablo Marcos, Russ Heath, Gene Colan, Syd Shores, Dick Ayers, Frank Springer
Inker – Pablo Marcos, Mike Esposito, Frank Springer

The Palace of Black Magic finds Simon Garth in New Orleans, back home and now under the control of the down and out Phillip Bliss who decides that after helping him out, the least he can do is repay Garth by giving him his eternal rest. Sadly that does not last long as writer Steve Gerber brings new threats into the zombie’s un-life in the form of gangster Mr. Six and his master, voodoo priest Papa Shorty. It is a bleak tale and not only because it finds Garth not in control of his actions, never mind being a zombie in the first place, but because with the introduction of Bliss in the last issue, Gerber has created a tragic figure that most can empathise with and here, as he cannot help but obey, Garth ends up killing the man – a tragedy compounded. Providing some of the most beautiful illustrations to be found on any comic page is Pablo Marcos once again, the man’s haunting visuals being exactly that and it not only enhances the story that Gerber is telling, but brings it to stunning life. Additionally like the magazines that preceded it, there is far more to read including a review of the 1932 feature film, White Zombie by none other than Doug Moench who perfectly describes why it is a classic of the genre. Following that is a delectable tale of a man who looks to reunite with his wife and discovers that she has been turned into a zombie and by story’s end, gets her revenge upon the man who made her thus. Pencilled by Russ Heath, the man proves again why he is a comic legend. Chris Claremont continues and finishes up his prose tale With the Dawn Comes Death which then sees Moench with another article upon Brother Voodoo, one of the most underrated Marvel characters of all time. In a tale of bruised egos and vengeance through voodoo in the old west, creators Tony Isabella, Syd Shores, Dick Ayers and Mike Esposito tell the story as only they can with their exceptional talents. History has shown that man has always found something to argue about with his neighbour and such is the case here which not only looks gorgeous, but is a compelling read that shows what happens when people mess with forces they should have no part in. Finally in a story of some thieves who get in way over their heads, Moench and Frank Springer close out the book with a touch more voodoo and it makes for a very well-rounded issue. As with all the previous books though, it is the lead story that carries it all and while each tale thus far has been horrific in various respects, it continues to make for a truly inviting escape, with the reader hoping during each conclusion that maybe one day, Garth will finally be able to sleep the long sleep.

5 out of 5

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