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Saturday, March 26, 2005

EC - A Kind Of Justice (Crandall)

A Kind Of Justice
art by Reed Crandall, story by Carl Wessler
Shock SuspenStories #16 (1954)

Before his EC work, Reed Crandall is probably best known for his work on BLACKHAWK for Quality before it was acquired by DC. Following EC he did some really nice work on Warren's black and white mags of the 1960s. He's got a very detailed realistic style that can be kind of shocking when applied to the subject matter in some of these stories.

This is an especially hard-hitting story, the kind of thing that definitely wouldn't have made it past the Comic Code the next year. It features a girl in a small town being assaulted in a shack and threatened by her attacker if she talks. As we follow the story, the police pick up a passing stranger, take him in, letting it be known to the general population what he's suspected of, coercing a signed confession out of him and then letting the increasingly out of control mob deal with him. The most striking thing in this story is how Crandall shows the crowd devolving into an animalistic fury and then the aftermath. Of course we find out at the end that the man killed was innocent, so there's no justice at all in the story.

Very dark and depressing (though a tad overwritten, as Wessler can be), and Crandall definitely sells it. This is one of my favourite of the EC crime stories I've read.

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