THE NEAL ADAMS CHRONICLES: A heaping helping of Halloween-season horror — and then some…


SPOOKY – sinister or ghostly in a way that causes fear and unease. — Merriam-Webster definition.

13. Green Lantern #85, DC. Part of a spooky cover is that it strikes fear into your heart… and that doesn’t mean only monsters. This Green Lantern/Green Arrow cover was not just iconic because it was the first time comics dealt openly with the drug epidemic, but because it struck fear into the heart of every fan of Speedy. He was a hero – how could he be an addict? If it could happen to Speedy, it could happen to anyone! Speedy was an early member of the Teen Titans. He was an integral part of the DC Universe. If that doesn’t cause unease in the reader – it certainly should.

12. The Witching Hour #13, DC. A truly unsettling cover. Neal pulls out all his printing knowledge and production skills (with DC’s production manager Jack Adler) to make this not only a spooky cover but a technically fascinating image. The victim of the cover is in finished pencil, one of the things Neal was best at. The terror comes from a spider, but not just any spider – one with a skeleton’s head. That terrifies our poor victim and makes this one of the creepiest covers Neal ever did for The Witching Hour!

11. House of Mystery #178, DC. A story-based cover that causes the reader to anticipate the terror that is to come. Another one of skills that Neal excelled at, storytelling, is on full display here. Visually, this is a simple image. The main focus is an elaborate, four-poster bed. The three boys, hiding under the bed, summons up childhood memories that we all have. Who didn’t sneak under a bed during a game of hide-and-seek at some point? It may seem like a tame image… until the reader sees the footprints… cloven hooves. Of the devil perhaps? Did those three boys hide under the bed of Lucifer himself? Are they doomed? Are they already in Hell? It’s up to the reader to decide.

10. Superboy #160, DC. Another unsettling cover that showcases Neal’s exceptional compositional skills as well as his drawing and coloring. Having spent a long time working over other’s layouts, Neal is given the opportunity to start handling the entire image himself. His covers were driving sales up, even if he had nothing to do with the interiors. In this case, Superboy has done something so awful that he exiles himself to the moon. But it’s really the image, the drawing, that makes the anguish in Superboy palpable. The cover stands out for the sadness, the eerie quality of a lost, emotionally devastated Superboy in space.

9. House of Secrets #88. An absolutely beautiful cover that looks like the comic-book version of a horror/romance novel. Drawn and colored to look like a painting, the gossamer-garbed woman is fleeing some mysterious terror in the spooky house behind her. Has she fled a jealous lover, an angry father or a nameless horror? Does Dracula himself live in that house? Once again, Neal’s artistic ability turns this cover into a haunting image that burns itself into the reader’s psyche.

8. Megalith #4, Continuity. Years before this cover was drawn, Neal had seen an impressive and ambitious cover of Superman transformed into a demonic creature that was perhaps a werewolf. That cover was by Brian Bolland. Searching for a werewolf concept, Neal remembered that cover and drew his own heroic character Megalith as a werewolf (with Rudy Nebres’ help). That creature, possibly the strongest human ever, is now a slavering, taloned werewolf. NOT something you want to meet in a dark alley.

7. Detective Comics #413, DC. This is a truly unsettling cover. Batman is not the focus, but rather a police/father/authority figure for two young boys who, possibly in the daytime, put up a scarecrow. Now, for a nefarious and possibly supernatural reason, that scarecrow has become a living… ghoul? The face of the evil scarecrow, combined with the green coloring, makes this a horrific image. Still haunts me today.

6. Monsters Unleashed #3, Marvel. A painted masterpiece. “Whoever know fear burns at the Man-Thing’s touch!” The reader who knows that saying realizes that those two men are not just being grabbed, but they are burning alive with pain unlike anything they have ever felt. The Man-Thing is a hulking swamp creature brought forth by the evil these men were doing. A cover that reminds us to be good or the Man-Thing will get you. (It doesn’t hurt that their victim is a beautiful woman. We’re actually glad the Man-Thing arrived to save her because she’s so damn sexy!)

5. Dracula Lives! #3, Marvel. Now one of the most terrifying villains of all — Dracula! On the parapet of a Gothic castle, the Prince of Darkness has grabbed a beautiful young woman and prepares to flee with her where she will be savaged by the monster. Her paramour (?) will attempt to save her, but will fail miserably. This stunning woman is lost to the fangs of Dracula and that hurts us to our very core. A powerful and exquisite painting by a master of composition and style, harkening back to the days of Hammer Horror movies and the great Christopher Lee.

4. Limited Collectors’ Edition #C-51, DC. Easily one of Neal’s most powerful covers. Using the pencil style for the mysterious, puppet-master Ra’s Al Ghul, Neal creates the feeling that Ra’s is so powerful and ethereal that even the Darknight Detective cannot defeat him. When Ra’s says Robin dies, he dies. The body of the always-cheerful and helpful Robin lies in the foreground, surely dead. Batman screams as he never has before, his muscles straining in agony, his anatomy perfect. This is a hero who WILL have revenge. This cover strikes right to the core of the fan, the reader. Robin dead? Is it a trick? And look how angry Batman is… I’ve never seen a scream of pain and fear like that before. On this cover, Death has won.

3. House of Mystery #177, DC. This cover was always super-creepy. Even before Pet Sematary by Stephen King (1983), this image sent a chill down your spine. The reader sees these kids watching a mysterious man digging a grave — digging UP a grave (?) — in a cemetery. What is this man doing and why are the kids watching? And why are creepy cats gathering around them? Only one boy notices that they might be in big trouble. Neal controlling this whole image makes the reader conjure up a host of questions. The perspective and the dark coloring make this cover especially eerie.

2. House of Mystery #189, DC. Why does Neal think cats are horrifying? I don’t know, but daammmmmnnnnn, he makes them evil! This cover offers no mystery. That cat, in some manner, has lured the victim into a sewage-filled pit where he is rapidly drowning. There is no question that the cat is responsible and downright EVIL! The cat is watching the man drown for a reason we will never know, but I’ll tell you, I don’t want that cat coming after me. As always, Neal’s exquisite drawing hammers home the horror and creepiness.

1. Salvation Run #7, DC. 1973’s Batman #251 featured the return of the evil, maniacal Joker. Neal inked the issue himself, creating several iconic images of Batman and the Joker — but this cover blows away every image of the Joker from that classic comic. Neal, having refined his skills and grown as an artist, creates the scariest image of the Joker ever. Not only is he a laughing clown, but his hands are covered in dripping blood. THIS is the scary Joker that is Batman’s greatest foe… the “creature” that kills without mercy or humanity. This single image combines everything Neal is famous for, as well as an image no one else could do. Challenged only by Brian Bolland’s Killing Joke cover… this is the Joker! And woe to the poor soul who sees him… because YOU’RE NEXT!


— Dig This Glimpse at the Upcoming NEAL ADAMS DC CLASSICS ARTIST’S EDITION. Click here.

— BLACK CANARY: Dig This Gorgeous Example of Why Nobody Drew Her Better Than NEAL ADAMS. Click here.

Peter Stone is a writer and son-in-law of the late Neal Adams. Be sure to check out the family’s twice-weekly online Facebook auctions, as well as the, and their Burbank, California, comics shop Crusty Bunkers Comics and Toys.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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