Haunted Love #4 cover

Haunted Love #4, October 1973

Two more tales of Gothic Romance lurk beneath this effective Joe Staton cover.

“Ding Dong the Witch is Dead!” by Joe Gill and Steve Ditko is told in flashback: we discover that plain Henrietta is jealous of the attention the handsome Edward gives all the other girls in the town of Salem. To redress this, she seeks the advice of local witch Dame Mangus. Mangus introduces Henrietta to Satan, and Henrietta signs away her soul. In return she is made beautiful, and Edward is lovestruck. However, you should never get what you wish for, and soon Henrietta realises what an utter bore Edward is and breaks up the relationship. She curses Satan for his trickery, and the evil one kills her — having determined that she is the one for him. In her coffin, watched by her few mourners, her corpse smiles…

Gill and Joe Staton tell of a weird “Reunion” in the issue’s second story. Lovestruck Daniel and Cleo are out sailing when disaster strikes and Cleo is drowned. Months later the forlorn Daniel is approached by a fake spiritualist, Tony, and his assistant, Nadia, a medium. At first Daniel smells a rat, but is eventually persuaded to take part in a seance to try to reach Cleo. He parts with a thousand bucks, and the seance begins. However, Nadia is soon really in contact with Cleo, and her spirit is forced out of her body. Daniel recognises that Nadia has become Cleo and the pair soon marry. Elsewhere, Tony is haunted by the understandably upset ghost of Nadia.

0-0-0-0-0-0-0

A lovely issue, this one. Two very effective stories that wouldn’t be out of place as episodes of the Twilght Zone. Joe Gill produced a huge body of work over the years, much of it at Charlton. He was a hack writer in the best sense of the word, able to turn his hand easily and — most important! — quickly, to any style of story required. Western, war, horror, mystery, funny animal… he did them all.

I think it fair to say that Steve Ditko is not at his best here, but Joe Staton’s work is quite lovely in places. The splash page to “Reunion” is great.

image ©2010 Charlton Publications Inc/the respective copyright holder