With Halloween just around the corner, you might be in the mood to read a spooky story or two. Well, Marvel has you covered, folks, with this one-shot compilation of horror tales.
(This book contains several stories, each with a different writer and artist, so I’ll list each team by story.)
Tomb of Terror #1
Story One: Man-Thing – Descent of the Beast
Wrtier: Paul Hornschemeier
Artist: Mark Texeira
Story Two: Son of Satan – Silence
Writer: Rob Williams
Artist: Pablo Peppino
Story Three: Werewolf by Night – The Cure
Writer: Joe Pruett
Artist: Jordan Raskin
Story Four: The Living Mummy – The Heist
Writer: Joe R. Lansdale
Pencils and Tones: Giuseppe Camuncoli
Inks: Onofrio Catacchio
Cover: Travel Foreman with Nathan Fairbairn
Letters: Joe Caramagna
Editor: Jody Leheup
Publisher: Marvel Comics
So, let’s take each of these stories one by one. First up, Man-Thing – Descent of the Beast. This tale revolves, as the title suggests, features Man-Thing in a story where he mostly narrates about himself – having briefly gained control of his senses – saving a man about to die, only to loose control again and grab the man as he heads for freedom.
Not much of a plot, then. Whilst it is well-written, little actually happens throughout these ten pages: Man-Thing saves a man, before loosing control and seizing him, basically. Where the story does succeed, however, is in creating an atmosphere – Man-Thing’s narration is entertaining to read and does a good job of painting a picture of a man trapped in a torturous existence, and this is what really makes the story worth reading.
Part of that atmosphere, too, is the art. It is in black and white (like all the stories in this book), but features some lovely shading that really gives the impression of quality. The art has a realistic bent to it, and Texerira’s Man-Ting looks very imposing and creepy. Overall, the art does a great job of combining with the writing to create a story with a great atmosphere – whilst the plot may be pretty thin, this is still an entertaining piece.
Second comes Son of Satan – Silence. This story concerns our title character – quite literally the Son of Satan – tracking down a murderer, a man who claims to hear the voice of his father (an astronaut who went missing under seemingly-supernatural circumstances) telling him to kill. After a brief conversation the pair get into a scuffle, but the Son ultimately resists the urge to kill, instead handing him over to the police.
This story has a bit more substance, with some insight being gained into the mind of our protagonist, and even some character development in his refusal to kill. I will complain, however, that we don’t ever find out what happened to the missing astronaut (which this story devotes the better part of two pages to explaining) beyond a vague and short hand-wave at the end. The last panel is also somewhat confusing – it finishes on a line that I am sure is meant to be effective as a conclusion, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me and left me with a feeling of bewilderment rather than satisfaction.
The art is serviceable – more straight black and white here rather than shaded. Numerous panels are rather well-drawn and the black and white is used to great effect at times. This art does not combine with the writing like in the last story, but rather both parts work along their own lines and the end result is still something very enjoyable.
Next comes Werewolf by Night – The Cure, which features our werewolf out to kill another of his kind – if he does so, then he will be cured of his curse. He justifies this action by seeking out another werewolf whom he is sure has been responsible for several murders. He meets a Cherokee man who, despite being kind, attempts to use him to cure his own son. His plan goes wrong, however, and the Cherokee man ends up mortally injured. Ultimately, our protagonist abandons his plans of murder.
This story is entertaining enough, although I did find the main character’s narration to be a bit over-the-top at times. I wouldn’t say it’s as well-written as the previous two stories, though, and feels average at best in my book.
The art, though, is really what brings this story down. Everything seems to be in one of about five shades of grey, and it really makes the story difficult to follow when your characters are nearly the same colour as the background – especially during an action scene. Whilst I wouldn’t say this story brings the overall quality of the book down, it doesn’t do much to improve it either.
Fourth and Final
The fourth and final story, The Living Mummy – The Heist – is prose, with some illustrations included. Thus, I won’t discuss it in detail, but the text isn’t the best I’ve ever read – it’ll past the time but is hardly award-winning stuff. The three illustrations, however, are well-drawn and definitely pleasant to look at.
And the Rest
The cover is fairly average – featuring the three characters from the first three stories, and not much else. It’s colour scheme of browns ensures it doesn’t really stand out. Man-Thing is also drawn a bit thin for my liking, far from the formidable creature in the book. I do, however, like how the cover is presented in a that sort of old style, with a few exclamation marks and text promising “More pages, more chills!”
Overall, this book features a couple of entertaining stories and a couple of average ones. It is, however, 48 pages for $4, which isn’t a bad deal and the first story really does contain some nice art. If you’re in the mood for a few spooky stories this Halloween, then this is something you might want to pick up. It’s not a classic, but it is good for half an hour’s entertainment, and as such earns three stars out of five.