Grim Ghost #2, Atlas Seaboard

The Grim Ghost #2, March 1975

 “The Grim Ghost Returns…”

Script: Michael Fleisher

Art: Ernie Colón

The luxury liner Varonia heads towards New York. Aboard, an explosion acts as a diversion while a gang of three crooks attempt to steal the priceless Moonstone Buddha. The Grim Ghost appears astride his horse. “It ain’t Roy Rogers and Trigger!” quips one goon. The Grim Ghost gestures and the criminals melt away to nothingness.

Later, Matthew Dunsinane hosts a party at his mansion. The guests note how strange it is that Dunsinane shuns modern things like electricity, and his clothes resemble those of a colonial—not surprising as we know that he is actually the Grim Ghost! Two of his guests are Police Commissioner Marten and his daughter Jaqueline. Jaqueline immediately takes a shine to Matthew, intrigued by the fact that he claims his portrait was painted by Gilbert Stuart—the 18th Century artist that painted George Washington!

Some police arrive to inform the Commissioner of a situation in progress: the Magruder Boys are holed up on a city rooftop with three hostages. The Commissioner leaves, and Jaqueline finds herself talking to thin air as Matthew too disappears.

On the roof the Magruder Boys taunt the Commissioner as he climbs a fire escape. Suddenly the Grim Ghost joins them. He fires his flintlocks and the Magruders are cast down to Hell, to be met by Satan himself. The Commissioner can’t believe his eyes as he watches the Grim Ghost race away through the night sky. When backup arrives, he claims the Magruders must have escaped.

Later that night, both Marten and his daughter dream: he of the mysterious horse rider, she of Matthew Dunsinane…

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The cover, by Colón, is probably the best of all the Atlas colour comics. It’s striking and effective, somewhat anticipating the style of modern cover artwork. Interestingly, the title of the story given on the cover—“Journey of Death!”—is not the same as the one inside.

The story itself is so-so, with the Grim Ghost appearances being fun, but the way the bad guys are dealt with is extremely perfunctory. The Ghost just fires his guns and the population of Hell is increased, the criminals he encounters posing him no threat. The way the Ghost gleefully alludes to his own criminal past while dispatching the goons is a nice touch—and the general sense of enjoyment he gets doing so is reminiscent of the Spectre stories Fleisher penned at DC a year or two earlier. The deaths are nowhere near as inventive here though!

A good sampler issue of what Atlas had to offer.

Image ©2011 the copyright holder