Characters Appearing: Layla (Voodooienne), Papa Doc, Samuel Jagger, Zombie (Simon Garth)
Tales of the Zombie #8
Issue(s): Tales of the Zombie #8
Layla, who, as Simon Garth's secretary, loved him from afar before he became a zombie (at her hand!), tries seeking emotional support from him now, but of course he's unable to respond.
She leaves him behind to navigate the dangers of the ghetto herself, and she reaches her destination: Papa Doc, her grandfather (assuming he's being literal), who gives her a "gris-gris" that will remove the zombie curse and allow Simon Garth to go to his eternal sleep.
Note that it is a portion of Layla's life that is apparently animating Simon.
In the meantime, though, the Zombie has wondered off. It seems that a firefighter discovered the half of the Amulet of Damballah after Papa Shorty dropped in in Tales of the Zombie #5. The firefighter, Fred Miller, may fight fires while he's on duty, but he sure knows how to have a good time on his days off.
He's summoned the Zombie unwittingly, but he and his friends eventually figure out that Fred can control him thanks to the Amulet.
And their first thoughts turn to necrophilia.
God, the 70s were weird.
They do rule out sex, but they definitely don't mind dancing with him.
Fred eventually turns to more serious matters, like having the Zombie take care of their annoying neighbors and bosses.
But it turns out that one of the swingers is a secretary that reported to Layla, so the Zombie winds up being sent to kill her (she's returned to her home for some sleep since Garth had wandered off).
He doesn't quite kill her, and eventually recognizes that the woman he's just smashed was Layla. She tears off his half of the Amulet of Damballah, freeing him from Fred's control.
And that allows Garth to go and murder the swingers.
In the aftermath, police lieutenant Jagger finds Fred's half of the Amulet of Damballah, which he says he's been looking for for "two years". As i mentioned in the Considerations for last issue, i'm assuming that time period is topical, since the series has only been published for about a year and most of the issues take place in quick succession.
It's explained in the lettercol for this issue that Steve Gerber's theme is that since birth control has made it possible for people to have sexual relationships without emotional ones, that people can lose their capacity for empathy, and that's why the swingers in this story are able to manipulate the zombie and harass/kill their neighbors and bosses without caring. In the story, that's not really developed fully, and the swingers just come across as being depraved without reason (although i should mention they didn't intend to kill the one boss in the pool, just scare him). Also looking at this from the perspective of it being the second to last Zombie appearance in this series, it feels more like another weird detour instead of something core to the Zombie's story. But it's definitely a Steve Gerber story.
This issue also has "Night of the hunted!" by Larry Lieber and Ron Wilson and "Makao's vengeance" by David Anthony Kraft and Alfredo P. Alcala, and the usual tedious text pieces about voodoo. I do want to call out the Ron Wilson story. It's got his characteristic art, with big bulky figures, and i like it.
But the story is about black prisoners in a prison run by a white warden who likes to let the prisoners escape so that he can enjoy hunting them through the swamp. And it's definitely a racial theme, with the prisoners saying that they're trapped in "Whitey's world".
But the solution to their predicament is that one of the prisoners is a voodooist, so he raises a bunch of zombies to kill the warden.
I don't know. I guess it could just be considered a revenge fantasy story. But the idea that the solution to black people facing racial discrimination is zombie voodoo... it just seems kind of offensive (and yeah i know that Ron Wilson is black).
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: Both last issue and next issue take place in close proximity to this one.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Essential Tales of the Zombie vol. 1
Seriously? Birth control turns you into a sociopath and a killer? You'd think they'd put that on the label...
You've got to love the double standards for the art in the 70s--a swingers orgy and while all the women are in their underwear or lingerie, all of the men are fully dressed!
Posted by: Dermie | January 20, 2015 10:17 PM
Gerber's complaints here seem a bit dated--the pill had been around since the early 1960s, and swinging got its start around 1965 or so(admittedly it was much more widespread in the 1970s).
Posted by: Mark Drummond | January 24, 2015 6:37 PM
Oh yeah, back in the '70s we grooved the zombie-dancing swinger parties all the time. Just loved 'em. Couldn't get enough of 'em.;)
Posted by: Holt | February 4, 2018 9:13 PM
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