Dark Shadows | Issue #15


Dark Shadows | Issue #15
The Night Children
Gold Key Comics | August 1972



Creepy kids drive Barnabas Collins to Hell in this issue, along with the requisite curses, strange monsters, and otherworldly transformations characterized by the series.

Angelique, the witch, conjures two Night Children, demonic creatures in the form of innocent youths, to seek out and destroy Barnabas Collins. Any potential victim with goodness in their heart will be trapped in their gaze, locked under their malevolent control. They show up at Collinwood under the pretense of looking for their lost dog, only to lure Barnabas out into a clearing in the woods.

Of all the children’s dark powers, the ability to lie seems strangely lacking. When Barnabas calls them out as Night Children (due to their lack of shadows), they immediately cry out in unison, “Yessssssss!” However, Barnabas is soon debilitated and laid out in repose for the morning sunrise, the rays of light fatal to his vampiric form.

The evil cherubs return to Collinwood, breaking up a dinner party where Professor Stokes, ever the pedant, bores everyone with his incessant small talk of the Black Arts. Placing the guests under their control, the Night Children attempt to create a ritual that will destroy the great estate. Suffering the effects of the full moon while locked safely away in the cellar, only Quentin escapes falling into the hands of the children. His cursed heart the only one at Collinwood that holds enough darkness to keep their powers at bay.

To its detriment, this issue seems to improvise (or, more critically, just plain make up) a significant number of consequential rules over the course of its brief page count: five victims are needed to complete a double pentagram ritual, since the supernatural fire the Night Children seek to create cannot be generated from a figure of four (four being a symbol of good); only those who “linger in both worlds” are able to see the entrance to the Black Pit, which is fortunate for Barnabas after the Night Children escape into it; unless saved by an (undisclosed) act of kindness, Barnabas will be trapped forever in the Black Pit if Angelique catches him in his human form, or if he is killed there; and, finally, there are creatures who carry fallen spirits down into the Black Pit called Zozos, that are essentially flying monkeys.

On the plus side, Barnabas fights flying monkeys.



Dark Shadows (Issue # 9)




Dark Shadows, Issue #9
Creatures in Torment
Gold Key Comics | May 1971

Hans Silber, hunter of supernatural beasts, follows the rumors of mysterious happenings to Collinwood, where he vows to flush out and destroy any unnatural creatures with his pistol loaded with silver bullets. Accompanying him is his companion, Desdemona, a deceased young woman trapped between life and death in her still animated, undead body, desperately wishing for her own spirit to be released. Posing as a princess recently moved to Collinsport, Desdemona acts as Silber’s divining rod, pointing out the potential targets for his self-appointed mission of cleansing those not belonging to the mortal world.

Deflected in her suspicions of Barnabas Collins (who bluffs an offer to show her the village church), Desdemona instead happens upon Quention Collins transforming into his wolfen state under the light of the full moon. Recognizing a kindred cursed spirit, she immediately falls in love with Quentin, vowing to protect him from Silber’s murderous intentions. Although thinking him innocent, Desdemona nonetheless fingers Barnabas as the targeted creature of the night to Silber, who puts a deadly trap into motion.

Quickly developing into a doomed love triangle of sorts between Quentin, Desdemona, and Silber, this issue puts Barnabas more into the role of observer—with Julia Hoffman trailing behind in her perpetual state of worry. The canon of werewolf lore is probably violated here, with the freshly bitten victim transforming immediately into a newly created werewolf, allowing the conclusion’s attempt at poetic justice.

Rather than establishing any sort of elaborate guise, seekers of the supernatural in Collinsport need only to stand watch outside The Blue Whale, where any number of victims have stumbled out the doors into the waiting arms of monsters.


Dark Shadows (Issue #8)




Dark Shadows, Issue #8
The Vampire Trap
Gold Key Comics | February 1971

Barnabas Collins’ inexplicably on-again-off-again curse is back “ON” at the start of issue eight, The Vampire Trap. His blood thirst is thwarted when his intended victim drives him away with a concealed crucifix. Meanwhile, another member of the Collins family grapples with a supernatural affliction, as Quentin Collins locks himself away in a basement cell at Collinwood. In order to keep the residents of the village safe, his only recourse during the full moon—and his inevitable transformation into a wolf—is to imprison himself until the safety of the morning light.

Complicating the struggles of the afflicted Collins family members is the appearance of a mysterious guest at the great house. At the behest of Elizabeth Collins, self-processed student of the occult Ambrose Tybalt arrives at Collinwood to study the family history. Although Julia Hoffman fears that he intends to uncover Barnabas’ terrible secret, Tybalt may have a more sinister motivation at hand.

Although the victims of the failed vampire attack ultimately wrap up the story by resolving the danger presented by Tybalt, the strength of this issue derives not from the supporting characters, but from Barnabas and Quentin grappling with the burden of their respective curses.

Brooding questions of morality aside, the cover dispenses with the photo stills from the television series to deliver a cool image of Barnabas rising from his coffin, and the story panels feature a number of action-packed scenes, as indicated:

Transformations: 4
Physical Altercations: 3
Vampire attacks: 2
Stakings: 1
Seances: 0


Dark Shadows (Issue #6)





Dark Shadows, Issue #6
Awake to Evil
Gold Key Comics | August 1970

Following a series of brutal attacks in Collinsport, Barnabas suspects that Quentin has once again fallen victim to the curse that transforms him into a werewolf under the light of the full moon. While the angry townspeople turn their suspicion toward Collinwood, Barnabas moves to protect Quentin, and discovers an empty crypt in the mausoleum—leading him to the true source of the evil plaguing the town. The danger is closer than Barnabas realizes, however, as a dark magician arrives at the estate and preys upon Elizabeth.

The dark pall of Collins family history once again reaches into the present, nearly destroying the lives of the present occupants of Collinwood. This time, the nineteenth-century tomb plundering exploits of Captain Nathaniel Collins in Egypt has set in motion a chain of events that reaches across time—oh, never mind the details, Barnabas fights a mummy!