Monday, March 16, 2009

Number 489

The Space Suitors

I've written about this story before. There's nothing very original about "The Space Suitors," from EC's Shock Suspenstories #11. It has a standard EC sex and revenge plot: a cheating wife and her partner conspire to murder the husband, and in the end get their EC-style justice. (Sex and infidelity are the basis of three of the four stories in this issue.) It has a science fiction setting, which doesn't have anything to do with the core of the story, just makes that EC-style justice seem all the more horrible. Reed Crandall's artwork raises it above the ordinary. He makes all of the EC clichés seem much fresher.

Nowadays gory stuff is so commonplace that any routine episode of one of the CSI TV programs can contain more gore than any pre-Code comic book, but in 1954 when "The Space Suitors" was published it would have been a startling experience for anyone not familiar with comic books to come across the panel of the murdered man's exploded head. It sure was for my brother, who was about 10-years-old when I shoved it in his face and said, "Look!" with all of the sadistic glee any big brother has in torturing a younger sibling. After that my brother would not look at another EC comic book. That was okay with me. Milt's "bloated, ruptured face" helped keep my brother away from my collection.


Tamfos said...

I suppose you're right. This is, in many ways, like dozens of other EC stories, but you have to admit the whole unfulfilled lust aspect of this is well played. These two lovers, starving to touch each other, enough to kill for the chance, and then pffft! I liked that.

Oh, and AMAZING Crandall art. Wow, what a genius!

Squa Tront said...

Strange. Although I don't own the issue with this story, I've seen that 'bloated face' panel somewhere only recently. Agree Tamfos: the unfulfilled lust twist in this spacey tale - very nice. And Crandall's art .. beautiful

Smurfswacker said...

Interesting that Crandall often showed guys in spacesuits wearing woolen watch caps. Inspired by earthbound ship fashions, I guess. Keeps your head warm, but what if the cap slips off your head and rolls around inside your helmet?

rnigma said...

Looks rather different from Crandall's Blackhawk art ... as if Wally Wood inked it.