Forgotten Hero 101: Holo-Man

Welcome back to Rotten Ink.  On this update, I want to take a look at a superhero who never quite made it to the big leagues and never become a household name alongside Superman, Captain America and Batman, a hero who had the power of holograms as well as some other science fiction style abilities…and that hero I am talking about is Holo-Man! Yeah, I know a small portion of you readers out there know about this hero, but I am sure an even larger portion are in the dark to who this bright rainbow colored hero is.  So let’s start with the basics including how I first learned about Holo-Man and his greatness. Near our house on Royston Drive in Waynesville Ohio was Mary L. Cook Public Library, a place that my family visited quite a bit to check out books and comics and rent VHS tapes, all great stuff that helped add to the enjoyment of growing up in a small village. This library is also where I discovered the Crestwood Monster Book series and is also where I would use the copy machine to make copies of pictures of monsters from books like Godzilla, Frankenstein And The Monster From Hell and The Wolf Man that they stocked on their shelves.  They also had a small selection in the kids section of old Book and Record comic books that were bound in a green hardback binding and all were missing the record. I spent many of hours in that library looking at kids books, horror history books, comics and Rolling Stones Magazine, and it was a big part of my childhood for sure. I can even remember them having amazing book sales where they would sell bags of books for as low as a dollar a bag.  My Mom would take me and Bryan down there on these sales and we would load up with all types of good reads. So here is to all the libraries in the world that have helped shape many young minds and helped many in the world with good reads and a place to find peace and education. And at this library is were I first laid my eyes on and even read the first and only issue of Holo-Man as I checked it out to read. I can remember the first time I flipped through the book and saw the lack of action I knew I was in for some boring stuff and I was right! The young Matt just didn’t like Holo-Man all that much, and after this first reading he became a joke of a character between my brother Bryan and I.  At one point I think we made a beat and the loser had to check out the comic again and read it if they lost! And for some reason as a kid I thought Marvel Comics made this character, and it was not until much latter that I discovered that it was Atomic Comics and this cheesy hero was a big flop with kids and readers. So I guess I should also say thank you Mary L. Cook Libary for also introducing me to Holo-Man and his lackluster adventure.

Mary L Cook Library

Back in the 70’s, Peter Pan Records created a branch called Power Records that was a way to showcase record-based dramas featuring comic book heroes as well as TV and movie characters. Besides doing large LPs, they also started to do small 45 ones that were packaged along with a comic book and were called “Book And Record Set.”  They would be a great way for comic fans to get a little more bang for their buck as they cost more than a regular comic. Power Records didn’t pick sides in the comic war as they put out just as many DC as they did Marvel and sometimes they would even put out an independent title like they did with Holo-Man. Besides normal LPs and the Book & Record sets, they also did story books with records that were mostly based around movies of the time like Star Trek The Motion Picture. Growing up, my brother and I had lots of these style books and most of the time, the poor record would get lost or scratched and we mostly just used them as normal books! But while this style of comic isn’t not made anymore, those who had them growing up know how cool it was to read your comic/book and have a record playing the adventure you were reading acted out as a play.

Superman Book and RecordPower Record LogoIncredible Hulk Power Record

Back when I use to rent the Book & Record comics from the library, the back inside cover use to be this really cool yellow background picture that showcases many of Marvel’s top heroes as well as monsters and movie tie-in characters that included Captain America, Hulk, Man-Thing, Dracula and Apes from Planet of The Apes. I can admit this now as I ended up buying these very books from a library sale when I was a youngster, I used to try and peel off those pictures as I wanted to keep them and tape them to my cardboard playhouse I had in my room.  For some reason I really wanted Jack Russell aka Werewolf by Night as I was a huge fan of werewolves in films and comics. It was something about the black pen drawings on that yellow background that made my young mind also work into over time to set up fake fights between the characters and make up stories of how Dracula would be defeated by The Hulk or how The Thing would survive on the Planet of the Apes. I had such a great imagination when I was a kid. I am sure you’re wondering if I was ever able to peel any of them off and tape them up, and the answer is no as the picture was glued to the back of the hardback book binding and when trying to peel they would just rip and you would end up with half a character or a headless one. Below is a picture of that image and to this day for some reason I think it’s badass!

The Heroes of Power Records

While I am a old school metalhead who loves to listen to music that makes me want to bang my head and allow metal health to drive me mad, I still enjoy a good pop release that is filled with catchy songs and fun loving beats. One of the modern pop rap divas that I have found myself enjoying is Iggy Azalea, who is a beautiful young woman from Australia who has a soothing voice as she raps, well at least that’s my opinion. I first heard of her thanks to Youtube as I saw her video for a song called Fancy where she dressed up as Alicia Silverstone from the film Clueless.  The song was catchy, and her appearance caught my attention and lead me to watch more of her videos as well as listen to interviews she did. Then I noticed that she was being played on the radio more and more often as well as guest starring on many other rap and pop songs for other artists. So while I was working on this write up for Holo-Man, I was re-listening to Iggy and decided to share my thoughts on her first E.P. “Your Life” as well as her first full release called “The New Classics.”  So sit back and let me tell you about the hit and misses of these releases. In 2013, Iggy put out a E.P. to showcase her talents and build up a fanbase before her first album dropped.  This E.P. was called Your Life, and it only really has 3 songs with the rest being remixes.  This is kind of annoying but I can forgive it with it being only a E.P. my favorite song on this hands down is “Bounce,” a really catchy song that mixes pop rap with Bollywood beats.  This truly is a good song and was even used for the trailer for Spy starring Melissa McCarthy. The rest of the songs on the E.P. are okay but most are just remixes of the same song. Iggy Azalea’s first full album was the 2014 release called The New Classic, and it’s a perfect mix of rap and pop music that is filled with lots of catchy songs as well as some really silly and cheesy ones. Some of my favorite songs off this album are Fancy, a pop rap treat for the ears that has her teaming with Charli XCX that has catchy beat and some fun lyrics. My other favorite is her other radio hit Black Widow where she and Rita Ora sing about making their one time lovers hate them. But just wanted to share real quick what I was listening to when I wrote this update, and I am not afraid to say I am a Iggy fan and look forward to her next release.

Iggy Azalea Change Your Life EP CDIggy Azaleaiggy azalea new classic cd

Who is Holo-Man and what is he about I am sure your thinking to yourself, and some of my readers who have read comics most of their lives are trying to remember if they ever seen an issue of Holo-Man in their local comic shop or even on a spinner rack at the grocery store. And to answer the question, Holo-Man was only made in the Book & Record set as far as this nerd knows. But one puzzling aspect is that Holo-Man had his own fan club as well as was on a coin that was featured alongside Marvel characters who also had coins made! So it makes you wonder if Atomic Comics who created Holo-Man and Marvel had some sort of partnership where crossovers or even help distribute his comic series. Holo-Man had a huge push with merchandise, a fan club, a book & record set and the coin, so what went wrong and why was only one issue made? Did the comic sell that badly that no other issues were ordered? Did Atomic Comics go out of business and the character fell into a fate of no company to call his own? Whatever the reason that Holo-Man was not a top notch hero in the world of comics one thing was for sure is that for $5.00 you could become a HoloSquad Member!

Holo Man AdSo you know as much about Holo-Man as I do, and you learned about my introduction to this Z-Grade tight wearing hero. But even if he is a cheesy hero and his comic only lasted one issue and had to be packaged with a record, he’s still made his mark in the world of comics no matter how small the impact was. Plus you know that Atomic Comics must have had so much faith in the character and they were hoping that readers and kids would bond with the character and make him a household name like Superman and Spider-Man. I should also think Ebay for having this comic for me to review for this pre-thanksgiving update snack that is backed with enough comic sci-fi cheese that it should keep us stuffed till then. I want to remind you that I grading this comic on a standard 1-4 star rating and base it on how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So if you’re ready to relive this comic adventure with me and see just how well Holo-Man holds up (or is that degrades?) let’s turn on a lava lamp and travel to the world of holograms.

Holo Man 1

The Adventures Of Holo-Man # 1  **
Released in 1978   Cover Price $1.50   Power Records   #1 of 1

A pair of Syrian spies break into a top secret lab in Texas and rig up a laser to explode when it’s next fired up.  They do so because The President of the United Sates is at the lab and is about to watch a laser/holographic fusion demonstration put on by Dr. James Robinson and his assistant Hugo, and they hope they all will be killed in the explosion! As the test starts and the laser overloads, James jumps in front of the President and saves him but takes a blast of Holographic rays.  This takes James to a portal in the galaxy and he meets Laserman who fills him in on his new powers of becoming the first ever living Hologram known as Holo-Man! As Holo-Man he can travel through time and dimensions, can blend in with his surroundings and can make illusions to confuse his enemies, but he must charge a charm every 12 hours or his powers become weaker. James wakes back up in the lab and finds Hugo dying who tells him that the accident was caused by the Syrians and he was the one that gave them the blueprints because they were holding his family hostage.  He also tells James that the Syrians are going to use holographic missiles to confuse the American people and then set out a real attack to take over our great nation. Hugo dies as Holo-Man rushes to the White House and tells The President about the Syrians plan, and they decide that they must stop it before it happens.  When Holo-Man leaves, his power is weaker and he must charge his disc but as he looks up the fake missiles are already filling the sky as panic people are running for their lives.

This comic ends on a cliffhanger with fake missiles in the skies as poor normal people are panicking and Holo-Man is standing around looking shocked at what he sees even though he knew the attack was in the works and that the first wave of missiles are fake. This issue is clearly an origin issue with the idea of making comic readers become attached to the hero.  It’s plot is very simple, foreign bad guys try to kill our President, a scientist who is not only super smart but brave takes the brunt of said accident and turns into a superhero who in turn must stop the bad guys from invading America. The major issue is that Holo-Man/James Robinson is not fleshed out enough for me to really stand behind him and allow him to become a hero that I would care about reading more adventures of. What I did gather about Holo-Man is that he is smart and loyal to America and while he has powers that allow him to create holographic illusions and travel in time, he does not have any type of super human strength so a well trained thug with fists of stone could knock him out with a well placed punch. Another downside to Holo-Man is the fact his powers can be drained if used too long and he must spend time to charge his HoloDisc that he must keep safe. While I understand his family was in danger, Hugo still is a traitor to is country and single handedly has helped turn America into an upcoming warzone. Laserman is a mix of Zeus and a Wizard and rocks a white long beard and just flings powers on James and gives him one of the quickest crash courses ever on what his powers are. I would say he would have to be one of the worst mentors in comic history. The President looks a lot like Jimmy Carter who would have been the President at the time of the comic and records release. While I read the comic first by itself I later did listen to the record to help add to the over all cheese and fun of this comic. I must say that this comic is slightly better then I remember it being as a kid, but with that said it still is a bland yet entertaining comic. Shame on Power Records and the creators of Holo-Man for not finishing this story as the end makes it appear that all hope is gone and that America is going to become like Red Dawn with Syrians instead of Russians taking over. The art work is done by Joseph Giella and has that classic 70’s comic look, and is well done for what is really a throw away comic. Over all this is as cheesy as I remember it being and for all accounts is a superhero that time has truly forgotten.

Holoman Art 1

Reading back to back comics about superheroes that have cheesy outdated powers and even goofer costumes gave me the idea to have a fantasy warfare that will pit 3-D Man against Holo-Man in a battle of might and power. The setting will be downtown Belmont, Ohio during a Thanksgiving Day Parade right outside Rich’s Pawn Shop in the year of 1983. So let’s sit back and see who will win this showdown of epic proportions as 3-D Man vs. Holo-Man!

Holo-ManVs Boom3-D Man

A float for Renaissance Music is going down the street as the Godzilla masked Mr. G is waving at the people watching the big parade as its followed by a Mike-Sells float that is throwing out potato chips the the hungry crowd.  One couple watching is Hal Chandler and his wife Peggy who wave back and as they do so Hal notices that near Ritch’s Pawn Shop a man in a trench coat is looming around looking as if he is a man on a mission! Hal fears that this man might be a pervert flasher and fearing that his wife might be his target he slips away and puts on his special glasses and transforms into 3-D Man.  As the red and green hero rushes off the knocked out body of Hal hits the near by dumpster and looks like a drunken fool who couldn’t handle his liquor. As 3-D Man rushes to the trench coat menace he grabs him by the shoulder and off comes the coat to show before him a man in rainbow colors and a red cape! The man turns around and screams “Who dares put their hands on Holo-Man, the master of holograms as he tries to enjoy this parade?” as 3-D Man says “ I do as I am 3-D Man the master of 3-D, and you my friend is no watcher but a flasher!” These words send Holo-Man into a rage as he is really there to watch and not show off his goods, and he places a powerful hit onto 3-D Man’s jaw knocking him through the window of Belmont Catering. A crowd starts to gather as people watch as 3-D Man leaps from the window filled with anger and knocks Holo-Man to the ground and starts pounding on the his face.  Holo-Man after a minute of having his face smashed is able to kick 3-D Man off him with the power of a mac truck and knocks him across the street, and stands to his feet his face bloody and swollen he looks at 3-D Man who is back to his feet holding his ribs.  Holo-Man knows that this is his chance as he bull rushes his opponent and starts landing punches to 3-D Man’s body like Rocky hitting a slab of meat, the punches are powerful and you can hear ribs cracking and breaking. 3-D Man falls to his knees as Holo-Man turns to the crowd to let the crowd know that the fight is over, but he should never had turned his back to 3-D Man who uses all his power to place a punch to the back of Holo-Mans head and through it as his fists exits the master of hologram’s mouth killing him on the spot. The crowd screams in horror and runs away as the police are nowhere to be found.  This buys 3-D Man some time as he crawls to Hal and enters awakens his brother only for Hal to wake up and find that his wallet, watch and shoes have been stolen and his wife had ran off with a young scientist form Dayton named Bruce Banner.

Winner: 3-D Man

So as you can see even though 3-D Man won, he still lost as his alter ego has been robbed of his wealth and his wife and as the super hero his ribs have been almost smashed into powder. But to be honest ,this would be a great fight between two very silly superheroes who are very much dated, but still have a cool factor to them. Our next update will be our traditional Thanksgiving Day update and will once more feature the greek hero Hercules.  This time he will be teaming up with none other than The Three Stooges thanks to Dell Comics and their adaptation of the classic comedy film The Three Stooges Meet Hercules.  So make sure to save some room for this cheesy and fun update after your turkey and/or ham feast. So until then have a safe holiday, read a comic or three, support your local horror host and as Bill & Ted would say “Be Excellent To Each Other.”

Three Stooges Meet Hercules Logo

The Witching Hour Is Close At Hand

Greetings, Inkerinos!  It’s Juliet, once again reporting for guest writing duties here on Rotten Ink.  The last few times I’ve been here, I’ve primarily talked about comics based on TV shows that meant a lot to me at one point or another.  Today, we’re going to do something a little different and talk about a comic series that was not based on a TV show but something else that had a huge impact me on me, Anne Rice’s The Witching Hour.49712

For many people, the instant association you make upon hearing Anne Rice’s name is Interview With A Vampire, and while I love that book and the series of books based around the original title, The Witching Hour and the subsequent Lives of the Mayfair Witches series (which did end up crossing over with the Vampire Chronicles books at a few points) remains my favorite of her work.  The Witching Hour was released in 1990.  At the time Rice had already released several Vampire Chronicles novels, the Sleeping Beauty erotica trilogy written under the name A.N. Roquelaure (that I maintain is infinitely better than 50 Shades could ever dream of being, and by the way, a new installment, Beauty’s Kingdom, is being released this month!!!), and many one-shot novels like Cry to Heaven, The Feast of All Saints and The Mummy or Ramses the Damned.  Before I tell you too much about the plot of The Witching Hour, I want to share with you a bit of how I came to read the book, and why Rice’s work is so special to me.

Broadway Opening Of 'Lestat' - Arrivals

Anne Rice

My mother grew up in New Orleans, which is where Anne Rice is also from and where the majority of her books take place at least in part.  There are few authors who hail from and/or celebrate New Orleans in their writing that I can recall my mom reading, talking about, and when I was old enough, sharing with me:  Anne Rice and mystery writer Julie Smith.  More recently I fell head over heels in love with the writing of Romanian-born Andre Cordrescu and was happy to return the favor in a sense by sharing with my mom his New Orleans, Mon Amore. I knew who Anne Rice was long before I actually read her books and actually briefly met her prior to that as well.  The occasion was a book signing here in Ohio at what was then a great, independent local book store (that’s now sadly owned by a chain), and I believe it was for the release of Servant of the Bones.  Because we knew the lines were going to be insanely long, my mom and I went to the bookstore right after I got out of school.  Two things stick out from that day:  my mom and Anne Rice chatting for quite a while about New Orleans and seeing some of the best-dressed goth kids in my young life in line to have their books signed and thinking that I’d LOVE to dress that way.

The Garden District in New Orleans

The Garden District in New Orleans

It would be only a couple more years until I read The Witching Hour, my first time being from the signed hardcover edition my mom had gotten that day.  The book had both an immediate and lasting impression on me as both a reader and writer.  At the time, The Witching Hour was the first adult book that could be considered to be in the horror genre I had read, but even after I moved on to other works by other authors in the genre, it has a special place in my heart because the worldbuilding and family history that make up the story felt really akin to the numerous fantasy paperbacks I spend several summers checking out from the library.  It was a perfect entrance into the horror genre for that, and the fact that it meshed gothic horror with a modern story and an added twist of ritual and magic (which is basically what I would later spend my college career studying…well, the Ancient Greek version of ritual and magic).  I was already writing when I read The Witching Hour, but it’s the first book I can remember reading and thinking, “I want to read more things like this” and then thinking, “maybe I should write things like this” and examining what it was about the story and its structure that worked for me and thinking about how I could apply those elements to what I wanted to write and how to bring a story together to make it effective for a reader.

This is the real house in New Orleans that the Mayfair mansion is based on it.  Anne Rice lived there for many years, and yes, I've made it a point to go see it on every trip to New Orleans since reading the book.

This is the real house in New Orleans that the Mayfair mansion is based on it. Anne Rice lived there for many years, and yes, I’ve made it a point to go see it on every trip to New Orleans since reading the book.

So what is it about?  Without giving away too much, it’s about a family of witches.  But it’s far more complicated than stake burnings and spells.  There’s a mysterious being known as Lasher whose attachment to the family goes back centuries and a prophecy involving the thirteenth witch, all of which is revealed through present-day action and a comprehensive history of the Mayfair family compiled by a strange organization called the Talamascha.

The Witching Hour spawned a sequel called Lasher, and a third book, Taltos followed. In 2000, Merrick began weaving the Vampires Chronicles and the Lives of the Mayfair Witches together.  This would continue in Blackwood Farm and culminate with Blood Canticle, in which Rowan Mayfair and the vampire Lestat finally meet face to face.  At the time, Blood Canticle was to be the final volume of both series as Rice was leaving the horror genre supposedly for good.  Now that she’s returned to her roots with Prince Lestat and a new volume of her Sleeping Beauty erotica series, I can’t help but wonder if (and get super excited at the remote possibility that) Anne Rice might give us another Mayfair Witches story at some point.

LasherNovelCover_TaltosLrgMerrickBlackwoodFarmBlog_Rice_BloodCanticle

Unlike the Interview With a Vampire/The Vampire Chronicles, which had a bit of merchandise and a higher pop culture status because of the films based on two of the books, The Witching Hour/Lives on the Mayfair Witches was pretty contained to the books themselves.  The one notable, though to my knowledge unintended, tie-in was an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation called Sub Rosa that had a plot very similar to the Witching Hour.  Millennium Comico began what was intended to be a 13 issue series based on The Witching Hour in 1992, perfect timing as Lasher was coming out in ‘93.  We’ll talk about the fate of the series after the comics so remember that we grade these on a 1-4 star scale and look for entertainment value, quality of the story, the art and how true the books stays to the source martial.  So let’s travel to New Orleans’ Garden District and meet the Mayfair Witches.811556_01

The Witching Hour  #1  ***1/2
Released in 1992     Cover price $2.50    Millenium Comico    #1 of 13

This first issue opens with a doctor who’s been haunted by strange dreams ever since his meeting with a strange Englishman named Aaron Lightner who works for something called The Talamasca.  In their conversation, the doctor had recounted to Lightner how he had first encountered the Mayfair family in their New Orleans Garden District home when he had been summoned to treat Deirdre, a young woman in a seemingly waking coma who was under the care of her three aunts.  As the doctor began to explore treatment options with many roadblocks from the aunts, it was revealed that Deirdre has a daughter in California, and there are strange signs and mentions of “Lasher.”  Then one day, a strange man appears on the front porch.  He’s there to visit Deirdre and oddly, she seems to respond to him, even calling the name Lasher.  But just as soon as he appears, the man disappears.  Lightner tells the doctor that he’s recorded other stories, ghost stories, from the Mayfair house in which people claim to have seen the same man.  We then move, via a tabloid cover, to California where Michael Curry is grappling with both his strange psychic powers and a recent near-drowning from which he was saved by a mysterious woman he’s now obsessed with finding.  Michael reflects on his childhood in New Orleans, thinking he saw the ghost of a man in the Garden District and then blacks out dreaming of being visited by an Englishman there to hear his story.  Next we meet Father Mattingly, a New Orleans priest who recalls Deirdre as a troubled child who claimed to have visions of visitations from a man who her aunts claimed was the devil himself. It’s revealed that Deirdre’s grandmother, Stella, was murdered by her brother Lionel – a crime that the family covered up, and Deirdre’s mother Antha committed suicide by jumping out the window of the house.  There’s talk among the older priests of the legacy of the Mayfair women; their vast wealth and jewels, the fact that even when they marry they do not take their husband’s names, and, of course, the mysterious man who seems to haunt the family.  Father Mattingly wanders to the Mayfair house and notices Deirdre on the porch, but is interrupted by Aaron Lightner who invites him to lunch.  Later that evening, he passes by the house again on his way back to the rectory and notices a young man standing on the porch caring for Deirdre and muses that although he could not save her, he’s glad that this man is there to help her.

As I’m sure you noticed, there’s A LOT going on in this first issue, and yet we barely got anywhere.  I had kind of figured that would happen.  Actually when I agreed to cover The Witching Hour comics for Rotten Ink, I remember telling Matt that I had no clue how they could possibly manage to turn the book into a coherent comic because, as I mentioned above, it’s massive and in-depth and spans years and locations and characters.  This first issue, however, does a damn good job of it.  It’s a really visual book with beautiful, at times water-color-esque artwork that I think really works for this type of story.  A lot of attention was obviously paid to the way the visuals could do what Anne Rice’s prose does in terms of moving the story along and giving you the necessary information to start to piece together the story.  I’m already concerned, however, as to how in the world they’ll ever get this story accomplished in a mere thirteen issues.  I suppose that From Hell was originally done in eleven issues, but those had twice the page count of this first issue.  I fully acknowledge that some things will have to be cut for clarity and space, but it’s not obvious to me what that will be — I’d assume it’s going to be a truncated version of the Mayfair family history as Rowan’s story will probably begin to take precedent as we get further into the series.  Let’s get to issue two and see if that’s indeed the case.512HF8oJwKL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

The Witching Hour  #2  ***
Released in 1993     Cover price $2.50    Millenium Comico    #2 of 13

Issue two begins with Dr. Rowan Mayfair watching a TV broadcast featuring an interview with Michael Curry where he implores the woman who saved him from drowning to come forward so he can thank her.  Rowan recounts the events of Michael’s near death experience, but we learn that she has secrets of her own.  Like Michael, Rowan is plagued by abilities she cannot control; she can kill people via some kind of telekinesis, which we see play out in a flashback from her childhood.  Nevertheless she finally agrees to meet Michael, and with Aaron Lightner looking on from the shadows, the pair form an immediate connection, sharing their deepest, darkest secrets through conversation and their powers which give them an almost psychic bond.  But, Michael is due on a trip to New Orleans, which has Rowan very apprehensive because she was born there but forbidden by her adoptive mother to explore her family history.  Michael’s first stop in New Orleans is to the Garden District house from his youth, the place where he saw the so-called ghost, the moment he attributes to awakening his powers.  At the gate, he sees the man, unchanged from his childhood, and then the figure comes at him, passing through him and confirming that it’s some kind of otherworldly being.  Aaron Lightner is there to witness the whole thing and informs Michael that it’s imperative that they talk.  The book ends with a page of text about a dark ages magician and alchemist called the Talamasca, the first historian of the mystic and the order that grew out from his followers, saying that only its most experienced members deal with witchcraft.IMG_0177

And here we go!  At least I think so.  I hope so. Okay, I should back up.  This issue begins by establishing Rowan and Michael, their powers and their relationship.  It’s a lot to cram into a few pages, and I wonder if people who’d not read the book would understand the depth of the connection and all of the psychic powers information.  Then again, I’m not sure if this is the type of comic that would have gotten a lot of attention from people who hadn’t read the book.  Maybe…maybe not.  It’s odd because this issue felt both slow and rushed until the very end – then it was just right.  When Michael finally arrives in New Orleans and has the experience at the house, I was excited.  Perhaps it’s because that’s the first real moment of action in this issue that wasn’t just a flashback or vague psychic vision.  Actually, and this going to sound weird, the text-only page was the most exciting for me.  I adore the Talamascha. I’m a bit of a sucker for secret societies that study the mystic, and I love that this is one of the things that connects the Mayfair Witches series to Rice’s Vampire Chronicle books (David Talbot is a high ranking member).  I haven’t found any evidence to prove this theory, but I’ve often thought that it was the inspiration for the Watchers Council in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  To make things cooler, this comic included tear-out Talamasca calling cards AND my copy had both cards in tact.  How cool is that?!  Check out the picture above.  Speaking of pictures, the art in this issue was good. It definitely wasn’t as clever in the layout department as the last one, but still a very solid offering.  Let’s get to the next one.218898-19377-116150-1-anne-rice-s-the-witc

The Witching Hour  #3  ***
Released in 1993     Cover price $2.50    Millenium Comico    #3 of 13

Rowan awakens from a dream about an incident in her past at a strange hospital.  As she catches her breath, she realizes that someone is standing outside her house and comes face to face with the vision of a man, the same man, she realizes, that Michael has been seeing.  Meanwhile in New Orleans, Aaron Lightner formally introduces himself and the Talamascha, explaining that Michael holds a enormous power and mistakenly thinking that it was Rowan who sent Michael to New Orleans because the infamous belongs to the Mayfairs and will be hers.  Back in California, Rowan receives a call from one of the aunts who had cared for Deirdre, her mother, who is now dead.  Rowan is torn between joining Michael in New Orleans and keeping the promise she made to her adoptive mother to never set foot in the city.  Aaron continues to explain what he and the Talamascha know about the Mayfair family, saying it’s strange that the man made himself visible to Michael because he ought to be after Rowan.  He goes on to say that the Mayfairs are a family of witches and that the man has been attached to the family for centuries.  We see, in a flashback, the circumstances under which Deirdre was made to give up Rowan and learn that there’s a green jewel that’s passed down to the Mayfair women.  Aaron becomes panicked upon learning that Rowan is traveling to New Orleans for the funeral and gives Michael the Talamascha’s journals on the history of the Mayfair Witches.

And here we have a shift from the first part of the book to the second.  But first let’s talk about covers.  The cover for this one is a bit confusing to me because it’s kind of more appropriate for what I assume will be the topic of issue 4, the original Mayfair witch.  Regardless, there’s A LOT happening in this issue, and we move back and forth from Rowan in California to Aaron and Michael in New Orleans with flashbacks sprinkled in.  I think the back and forth worked really in terms of the page layout – without much need for explanation, the reader could move seamlessly from place to place.  That can be challenging in the wrong hands, even with visual support from the artwork, which was the most straightforward/regular comic style we’ve seen in the series so far.  As I’ve mentioned before, I’m curious about the pacing of the issues.  It’s taken us three issues for the set up, which seems about right, but the history of the Mayfair Witches is pretty exhaustive so I’m curious how they’ll pull off that AND the actual story of Rowan, Michael and Lasher.  So let’s get to issue four and see what happens.

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The Witching Hour  #4  **1/2
Released in 1993     Cover price $2.50    Millenium Comico    #4 of 13

The history of the Mayfair Witches begins as told by Petyr Van Abel, an agent of the Talamascha in the 17th century.  Petyr arrives in a small French village, where a comtesse named Deborah is to be burned in the square as a witch.  As a child, Deborah had escaped Scotland with the help of Petyr after her mother, Suzanne was also burned for witchcraft. On their journey from Scotland, Deborah refused to speak, save for conversations in the night with someone or something Petyr could not see.  At the Talamascha motherhouse, Deborah had exhibited a strange power, the ability to read the mind of anyone she touched with bare hands through visions, a similar power to Michael’s, and she calls upon a being known as Lasher.  Petyr finds himself falling in love with Deborah, but his loyalty to the Talamascha prevents him from acting on his affection.  Later, when she’s about to be married, Deborah visits Petyr for one night of passion, and he does not see her again.  Back in the village, we learn that Deborah’s daughter Charlotte has escaped the village and it’s persecution, and Petyr vows that he’ll do anything to save Deborah including calling upon “her devil” if need be.  We end in the present with Michael realizing that Deborah is one of the figures that’s been plaguing his dreams and realizes that Lasher is the first word he said after coming back to life from his near-drowning.

I adore the history of the Mayfair Witches so it was fun to finally see it getting under way in the comics.  It’s a very detailed story, but I thought that for the most part, the visuals helped move things along.  The only flaws with the artwork were that the handwriting sections of Petyr’s journal (used as narration) were a bit hard to read and transitions between years and places weren’t as obvious as they were in the last issue.  A couple of times, I had to go back and re-read a section to be sure I was in the right place.  Again, not sure how that would go for someone who hadn’t read the book and was coming at the story completely fresh.  Speaking of the book, this issue did a great job of capturing the feeling of unraveling the story of the witches along with Michael as you and he read the history.  So let’s find out what happens to Deborah and where her daughter Charlotte ended up in issue five, which came out 3 years after issue 4…..uh oh.2901137-ann5

The Witching Hour  #5  **
Released in 1996     Cover price $2.50    Millenium Comico    #5 of 13

It’s the morning of Deborah’s execution, and she’s brought out the village square to burn for her crimes.  She claims innocence but then summons Lasher whose presence is made known in a violent storm.  Deborah is transported to the top of the highest building in the town and then throws herself from it, falling to her death at Petyr’s feet.  Back in the present, Rowan has arrived at her mother’s funeral and is overwhelmed by the large, strange Mayfair family.  Aaron Lightner arrives to apologize for Michael’s absence and accompanies Rowan to her mother’s coffin.  We return to Petyr’s narrative as he arrives in Port Au Prince to visit with Charlotte, who’s revealed to be his daughter.  Charlotte’s husband has fallen ill, and she seduces Petyr in the hopes of baring a daughter who can also communicate with Lasher.  Ashamed of what he had done, Petyr leaves the house later that night and sees Lasher himself, who tortures him with visions of Deborah and the undead.  Petyr’s final letter to the Talamascha reveals that he’s gone mad, terrified to leave Port Au Prince for fear of Lasher.  Back in the present, Aaron tells Michael that with Petyr’s death, the Talamascha decided not to engage with the Mayfair’s directly, but simply to observe them from afar, which is what they’ve been doing ever since.  He then tells him that it’s imperative that Michael continues to read the history.

…..And that’s it.  Seriously.  The series just ends.  Not only do we miss out on the rest of the history of the Mayfair witches, which is an awesome story, but we basically entirely miss out the whole Rowan-Lasher story, which is a big freaking deal because (spoiler alert): she’s the thirteenth witch.  The writing was all over the wall, or rather, the page with this one.  First of all, it came out three years after the rest of the series and was only labeled as issue #5, not #5 of 13 like the others.  The artwork was different than (though trying to mimic the style of) the rest of the series, and even the paper seemed cheaper.  It strikes me as more strange that they even bothered with a slapped together fifth issue so far after the fact rather than just never continuing the series after issue 4.  After waiting that long, it must have been such a disappointment to original readers/fans of the series.  Obviously they didn’t know that they wouldn’t finish it when the book was planned, but part of me wonders if it wouldn’t have been wiser to do a series focused exclusively on the history of the Mayfair family rather than incorporating the modern story into the book.

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This was a disappointing end to a promising series, and it feels like an extra shame because there’s so little out there about the Witching Hour.  Perhaps if another Lives of the Mayfair Witches book does come out, a great modern company like IDW or Dark Horse will take on some kind of comic adaptation of one of the stories.  Here’s hoping. While I go back to my bookshelves, it’s time for you to join Matt on a field trip to the Rotten Ink theater for another installment of Marvel at the Movies, coming up next time.

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