The EC Archives: Shock SuspenStories—Volume 1

ec archives shock suspense stories volume 1 cover trade paperback tpb
10 Overall Score
Story: 10/10
Art: 10/10

Classic comic, social justice


Comic Info

Comic Name: Shock SuspenStories

Publisher: EC/Dark Horse Comics

Writer:  Bill Gaines/Al Feldstein

Artist:  Jack Kamen/Jack Davis/Joe Orlando/Graham Ingels/Wally Wood

# of Issues: 6

Release Date: 2021

shock suspenstories #1 cover review

Shock SuspenStories #1

Reprints Shock SuspenStories #1-6 (February 1952-December 1952).  There are many horrors in the world.  While some horrors involve monsters and ghosts, others involve man.  From officers afraid to fight in a war to lustful wives with wandering eyes, danger comes in many forms.  The horror and fantasy can shock and amaze…but the danger could be right in front of you!

Written by Bill Gaines and Al Feldstein, The EC Archives:  Shock SuspenStories—Volume 1 is a Dark Horse Comics reprint of the classic 1950s EC horror, sci-fi/fantasy series.  Featuring art by Jack Kamen, Jack Davis, Joe Orlando, Graham Ingels, and Wally Wood, the issues have been collected multiple times and in multiple forms.

While EC series are iconic, I hadn’t really read any of them.  I watched Tales from the Crypt and other similar anthology series (and stories from this volume were featured in the show), but I had never gone back and read the classics…which are arguably comics that changed the direction of comics forever.

While Tales from the Crypt and The Vault of Horror might get more attention because of gore and guts, Shock SuspenStories feels like it could be a bit more important of a title.  The series frequently dives in to what would now be labeled as “social justice”, which is ironic since comic books and other mediums are often thrown around as “things that should stay out of politics”.  Shock SuspenStories dove right into it in the 1950s despite being a medium for kids.

shock suspenstories #5 cover lynching review

Shock SuspenStories #5

In general, the books are solid, but the social issues are some of the better and more memorable stories of the collection because they feel just as relevant today.  “The Patriots” in Shock SuspenStories #2 (April 1952) has a mob of Americans attacking a man who seems to sneer at Korean War vets.  The man is killed for being a Communist but it is revealed that he is a vet himself whose scarring received in fighting for the country didn’t allow him to smile.  “The Guilty” in Shock SuspenStories #3 (June 1952) features a Black man accused of killing a White woman.  He is presumed guilty, beaten, and eventually shot in the back by the sheriff who forces him to run…only to be proven innocent.  Shock SuspenStories #5 (October 1952) features “Hate!” which involves a group of men who end up killing a Jewish family while trying to force them out of the neighborhood.  One of the men discovers he is adopted and Jewish himself…and faces the same treatment.  The final issue in the collection Shock SuspenStories #6 (December 1952) has a reporter trying to bust the Klan…and failing miserably.  What is shocking about these stories is their self-awareness for the time and the fact that the men largely go unpunished for their actions in the course of the story.  The collection also smartly includes letter pages which demonstrate how some of the stories were received.

With stories like these and stories which include dirty cops framing innocent people, the stories of gore and more typical horror and serial killers seem to fall by the wayside.  These stories probably scared parents more than having their kid see severed heads and guts.  Unfortunately, the series also feels just as contemporary today as it felt then.  Proving that problems like these don’t just “go away” and often resurface in different forms and different means.  Shock SuspenStories is a great read and worth picking up in a great, clean, neat format.  The EC Archives:  Shock SuspenStories—Volume 1 is followed by The EC Archives:  Shock SuspenStories—Volume 2.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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