A Tribute to the of

I had the pleasure of speaking with Bernie Wrightson on the 9th and he’s in good spirits and feeling great after his recent and thankfully brief medical issues. It was good to hear him so upbeat and we shared a few stories and laughs.

As any DC fan worth their salt already knows, Bernie co-created the Swamp Thing along with Len Wein and also did stacks of pages for Joe Orlando in the House of Mystery and the House of Secrets.

The Siren of Satan!” was written by Robert Kanigher and lushly illustrated by Bernie and it appeared in the Orlando-edited House of Mystery #181, with a publication date of July/August 1969 and a stunning cover by Neal Adams.

In fact, that Egyptian sarcophagus is a foreshadowing for this tale, which involves Jason, a man obsessed with an ancient Egyptian priestess in her own sarcophagus kept within a vault. He refers to Re-Na as his beloved and vows to bring her to life, despite the 2,000 year old curse that accompanies her.

Jason implores the ancient beauty to come forth and we are then given a glimpse into the past with Re-Na’s backstory. Much like Helen of Troy, Re-Na’s stunning looks get her lots of attention and influence, but a high priest warns her that Ro-Tan is a jealous god and for all eternity she is cursed to lead pursuers to their doom. “Ro-Tan claims you for all eternity! An evil curse will be the lot of any man who loves you! And it is eternal!

Naturally, Re-Na is getting bored hanging around the palace with no one for company but a stone god and a pet serpent, but the curse rings true time and again as suitors show up, only to die awful deaths. Finally, So-Tar a general, vows to defy Ro-Tan and make the beauty his queen. It seems even a mighty warrior like So-Tar, however, is not immune and he is taken by a massive lightning bolt.

Re-Na seems nonplussed, confident that others will come, but apparently Ro-Tan has had enough of her shenanigans and causes her to die abruptly. With that, the priests prepare her for being sealed into the sarcophagus with her face carved upon it as a warning to others and to ensure she will be shunned for all time.

The decree doesn’t seem to work for very long, however, and the gorgeous tomb is uncovered by archaeologists and transported by seagoing vessel, but the curse takes hold and the ship goes down in a storm, sending Re-Na to the bottom, only to be discovered years later by hard hat divers. Ultimately it was sold at a salvage auction where the beautiful sarcophagus was bought by a smitten Jason, along with his fiancée.

His obsession grows along with his paranoia and night and day his only thoughts are of the sarcophagus and the lovely within. He even draws away from his fiancée, Mary Ellen and ultimately steals away in the night, moving the tomb from his home to a forgotten cemetery mausoleum. Each time he visits he continues to implore the lifeless vessel to arise and live again.

Finally, the worried Mary Ellen seeks out Jason and finds him silently kneeling at the side of Re-Na’s remains. She reaches to touch him and the figure collapses into a pile of dust. Mary Ellen screams as she runs from the vault and the final panels show the lovely carved face of Re-Na looking toward the reader with the captions suggesting she is looking for another man to lure to destruction.

Not a bad little 10-page tale, but the real star here is Bernie Wrightson. I can’t adequately describe the detail and skill shown in these pages, but suffice it to say, it echoes in his new work on Frankenstein, Alive, Alive. The line work, cross-hatching, shadows and incredibly detailed backgrounds are a sight to behold and I’d recommend anyone doing so. It’s a treat to see the work of the master of the macabre. Bernie just never fails.

September 1st will be here before you know it and when you turn the page of the calendar, don’t forget to drop by the Silver Lantern for a new review. Don’t forget all the goodies in the archives, not to mention the tremendous amount of Silver Age data compiled by the webmaster. Notes are always welcome at: professor_the@hotmail.com.

Until next time...

Long live the Silver Age!

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