"Your words are twisted and unclean … like his! I have made you a thing like him!" - Andrew Bennett
I guess around the 16th Century Andrew Bennett was a man about court after his exploits in the war against the Spanish. He has one true love, Mary. Naturally the true course of love is never going to go down well in a horror book, so one evening Bennett gets waylaid and turned by an old vampire, who he kills, his last act as a human. Bennett tries to keep his affliction secret but the blood lust gets him and he drinks Mary. While Bennett might be slightly emo on things, Mary is embracing the new lifestyle and set on a course of world domination, as you do.
Throughout the ages Bennett has hunted Mary, wanting to destroy the evil she has become. This has led him to the late 1960s where he, along with human companions Dimitri Mishkin and Deborah Dancer, is waging war with Mary and her agency "The Blood Red Moon". Can the Scooby gang defeat Mary before her final plans can be put into play? Let's slice the garlic and see how things haven't changed down the decades.
Guess it goes without saying that I… The Cursed is cobbled together from various U.S comics, but at 96 pages you sure get your Andrew Bennett on. Murray Comics, which had the zany idea of a cat as a mascot (you could join a club and everything), pretty much dominated the scene at the time but stuck to a fixed U.S only format that eventually spelt the end of the company in the long term. Standard U.S comic book size, black and white, second tier artists, plot that made some appallingly melodramatic turns, no wonder people turned their tear filled eyes to Eerie and Creepy.
The story is told in nine chapters, with some jumps in the plot flow that suggest just maybe a few chapters fell by the way side. Clearly the original story was published as separate episodes in those anthologies that did the rounds back in the day, and Murray Comics failed to get the rights to reprint them all. But hey who cares, comic readers are pretty dopey right? No wonder this Company fell out of favour! If after a consistent plot then you are in the wrong place, Andrew Bennett jumps all over the U.S battling Taoist monks, vampire gangsters, and all manner of hoodlums in pretty much a chaotic dance of weirdness. The comic is trying to be hip, but major hip failure, it sort of screams out to have Stephen King hitting the script rather than the bombastic series of Writers it has to rely on. Horror may have been moving to a more modern approach at the time, but I … The Cursed completely missed that boat as it labours through its traditional schlock to reach a certain level of boring morass with the Reader.
Naturally since the book is talking down to kids who read it at night under the covers with the aid of a torch, that's like the only people who read horror comics right? - there has to be some heavy handed moral stances taken. Firstly there's a strong anti-drugs message, strangely the script manages to compare vampirism to drug stupor, which makes you wonder if you shouldn't knock something back while trying to labour through the pages. The Writers apparently don't get the irony of their plotting vampires being far removed from the almost zombie like druggies depicted, it's worthy of a NSW Liberal Politician's view of reality. Interesting idea none the less, however simply woeful in the execution, you get the feeling the message was being written in and the script was being bent out of shape to fit it. Similarly there's a heavy handed anti-racism approach that even depicts hooded KKK victimising a black family. Not surprisingly the moral crusading gets lost pretty quickly, but the Writers can pat themselves on the back in a sort of smug fashion.
Surprisingly I think I've found the well spring of the emo vampire that gave rise to such abominations as Edward Cullen. Andrew Bennett would give most Goth teens deprived of their Smiths tickets a run for their money. Rather than biting the bullet and getting the job done Bennett spends great swaths of the comic rallying to all and sundry about his condition, toughen up princess came to mind. On the bright side Bennett wasn't hitting on gloomy teenage college kids or sparkling during the daytime, at least he was something of a badass as our American cousins would say. But dear god in heaven it's a push to read through some of the morose writing in this book.
On the bright side of the intercontinental divide, the vampire mythos are strictly adhered to in the book, there's no deviation to make the blood suckers any less supernatural. Plenty of bat and wolf action, staking goes down heavily, and crucifixes will ward off evil. I'm not a fan of the basics being tossed on the scrap heap by second rate Writers who haven't researched their topic. While on the subject of second rate writes, Roget's Thesaurus has a lot to answer for!
Okay out of room here, but a word on the art. It's dated, looks like a 1970s attempt at comic book illustration, fails in comparison to the output of Warren Publishing. It gets the job done without really having you reach for the dictionary to find new words of praise.
We have this nostalgia thing happening here at ScaryMInds, don't worry it'll eventually wear off, and occasionally dive into by gone ages to see what was going down, hence a review of the nondescript I… The Cursed. Really wished I hadn't gone down this road as the book is pretty turgid to be honest, hence no possibility of a recommendation.
If you must find a copy then your only means of acquisition is either via a second hand store or perhaps eBay. No idea where our review issue came from, have a sneaking suspicion someone was spring cleaning and found a place to dump it.