Dark Shadows (Issue #2)

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Dark Shadows, Issue #2
The Fires of Darkness
Gold Key Comics | August 1969

The spirit of Angelique, the witch whose curse doomed Barnabas Collins to the eternal life of a vampire, starts a mysterious fire at Collinwood. Her plan to draw attention to Barnabas and thereby threaten exposure of his dark secret succeeds when the fire investigator finds an inexplicably unburned patch of carpet on the floor—in the shape of a human figure—after the flames are extinguished. Not realizing the imprint is that of the vampire’s shadow, Investigator Hull surmises that a murder has been committed at Collinwood, and the body removed.

Fearing that Hull’s extra scrutiny of Collinwood will ultimately reveal the nature of his curse, Barnabas vows, “He must die!” Discovering Hull at home with his fiancé, Barnabas is interrupted before he is able to complete his murderous mission. The comic book Barnabas mirrors the early incarnation of the character on the television series—an amoral villain who is determined to protect his secret at all costs—before popular support from viewers transformed him into a somewhat more sympathetic, albeit still deeply conflicted, leading man.

Fortunately for Barnabas, a scapegoat emerges in the form of an old hermit who witnessed the fire, and tries to extort money for his silence. Barnabas attempts to frame the old man for starting the fire, ending the inquiry at Collinwood without requiring the murder of the investigator. But will Inspector Hull be satisfied with Barnabas’ tidy conclusion?

Although her chosen method seems unlikely and completely unreliable, The Fires of Darkness illustrates Angelique’s continuing pleasure with tormenting Barnabas Collins, her actions solely driven to cause his eternal suffering. This issue also features a strangely depopulated Collinwood, with William Loomis, Victoria Winters, and Julia Hoffman name-checked but altogether absent from the story.

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