(EC, 1950s; Russ Cochran, 1988)

EC Comics was always known for quality stories and artwork. Even after some of their comics became the subjects of debate, criticism and, ultimately, censure in 1954, due to the publishing of Fredric Wertham's Seduction of the Innocent, EC went on to publish stellar comic work, even by today's standards.

Worthy of note among those works is Impact, all five issues of which have been collected in a large hardback edition.

Published in black-and-white format, the stories contained in the Impact package do exactly as they promise: they produce a twist at the end that, for the most part, the reader doesn't see coming. And, considering these tales are nearly 50 years old, that's saying something; most of today's comic stories don't accomplish such a feat. Though a few of the stories read like soap-opera tales, these are, in truth, engaging human interest stories.

One of the most notable in the collection is Bernard Krigstein's "Master Race," published in 1955.

Before the public consciousness had grown accustomed to the horrible images of the Nazis' extermination of millions of Jews, Krigstein's comic story brought it out into broad daylight, not regarding the sensibilities of the post-war reader. If ever there was a historic comic story with a significant message, as timely as it was timeless, this is it.

The reprints boast such classic Golden Age artists as Jack Davis, Bernard Krigstein, Jack Kamen, George Evans, Joe Orlando and others. Representing various art styles, all are reality-based and enjoyable to the extreme. From storytelling techniques to use of panel layout, these stories demonstrate why, sometimes, the old ways are the best ways.

The Impact collection is recommended for all ages, though it will probably be enjoyed most by adults who can bear the "culture shock" of decades-old stories, and, of course, who love a good yarn.

[ by Mark Allen ]
Rambles: 4 January 2003