Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Secret Of The Silver Sword!


Chamber of Darkness was an important comic book in a few ways. It marked a rare instance when Jack "King" Kirby was given a writer's credit in his first stint at Marvel, a moment at the end of that era when he just about to slip away to the Distinguished Competition. His story "The Monster" is somewhat cliched but is a highly charged emotional tale.


It's cover featured with a handsome image by Kirby and Bill Everett. The design is likely Marie Severin's as we know she had a few goes at this particular layout.








The second story is a whopper by Tom Sutton who uses the then approved device of introducing the story himself. While Chamber of Darkness, like its companion Tower of Shadows had a ghost host (Headstone P. Gravely and Digger respectively if I recollect) he was dispensed with soon into the run and Marvel allowed the creators to intro their own stories. "The Man Who Owned the Worlds!" is a nifty little thriller in the vintage Twilight Zone mode.








But as interesting and important as these first two stories might be, it's the final story "The Sword and the Sorcerers!" (called "The Secret of the Silver Sword!" on the cover) which really is remembered from this issue. Written by Roy Thomas this is the story of Starr the Slayer a barbarian monarch from another dimension who has to take some profound steps to insure his own survival. The story was a practice run for Barry (Not-Yet-Windsor) Smith before he and Roy teamed up to bring the world the most famous barbarian of all -- Conan.








The story has a wild energy thanks to Smith's offbeat layouts. He wasn't afraind to try things, that's for sure. It's easy to see how the design of Starr would influence Conan who would debut on the stands in just a few months.

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4 comments:

  1. I always liked ol’ H.P. Gravely (had to be a Roy Thomas creation there.)

    I picked #4 up in a comic bin at Half Price Books about 2 years ago. I don’t think they realized what they had here, but I was ecstatic when I got it home and realized it contained the pre-Conan Star The Slayer story….I’m missing maybe 3 issues of the Chamber of Darkness 8 issue run yet (Became Monsters on the Prowl with issue #9.)

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    1. I was the perfect age for the debut of both Tower of Shadows and Chamber of Darkness, eagerly picking up both issues. But something must have happened because I only got a few after that. I filled them in back in the 80's and they remain some of my fave back issues. Digger became part of Marvel continuity, but Gravely has not to my knowledge.

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  2. I don't know if you've seen the original pencils of "The Monster" in an early issue of the Jack Kirby Collector.
    (1) They are absolutely beautiful and complete pencils, pretty amazing considering Jack's workload at the time.
    (2) In the original ending, the two druid-type narrators pull back their hoods to reveal it's Stan and Jack! I don't know why the editorial decision was made to delete that; it was a charming idea that was in keeping with the motif of creators hosting their stories, and tied off the narrative nicely. The new version makes the opening superfluous.

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    1. Now that you say that it seems to ring a bell. I'll have to investigate further. Jack really seemed to throw himself into this horror stuff, not what I expected from the master of Kirby-tech.

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