Dark Shadows | Issue #19

Dark Shadows | Issue #19
Island of Eternal Life
Gold Key Comics | April 1973

Stumbling upon a corpse—invisible to mortal eyes—washed up on the beach, Barnabas Collins encounters a murderous band of pirates living an eternal life beyond the conventional limits of time.

Why pirates? Why not pirates?

A voodoo priest, serving the pirates and exhibiting an uncanny resemblance to a living Troll Doll, places an “Umba—Umba—Umba” curse on Barnabas, stripping him of his free will and leaving him at the mercy of the captain’s commands. His will imprisoned in a small vial, Barnabas’ reduced state echoes the fear expressed by General Jack D. Ripper (from Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove) of a “conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.” Unable to resist, Barnabas is forced to pillage a luxury yacht with the rest of the brigand, in the only sequence of the story that remotely approaches swashbuckling—a strange shortcoming for a pirate adventure.

Later, Barnabas meets Lani, a beautiful native girl also trapped beyond time with the pirates on their island hideaway. Unlike Gauguin in Tahiti, Barnabas does not debauch himself, but plans their escape by summoning the powers of his vampire curse to fight off the voodoo spell imprisoning him. Challenged to be more than mere window-dressing in this issue, Lani muses philosophically, “Who are we to question the fates?” before rowing away in a hidden canoe.

A quick and rather convenient resolution presents itself, when the pirates considerately allow their only weakness to be exposed. The final showdown crashes another voodoo ceremony recycling the same  “Umba—Umba—Umba” chant, cutting short Barnabas Collins’ tropical sojourn.

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