Review: Scary Tales #40

Scary Tales #40 cover
Cover by Johan Roux

Scary Tales #40
Published and © by Charlton, September 1983

Title: “The Dragon Force”
Synopsis: A family of acrobats who used to work for the mob steal experimental police tech and become the Dragon Force.

Writer: Johan Roux
Penciler: Roux

Review: This was a tricky comic to grade. Objectively, it’s poorly crafted, but also weirdly fun. In the early 1980s, Charlton was barely staying afloat with a hodgepodge of reprints and new work submitted by amateurs. Dragon Force falls into that latter category. Clearly a labor of love, newcomer Johan Roux’s opus looks and reads like a Golden-Age superhero comic remixed with a ’70s crime drama and some anime. There are traces of Basil Wolverton in the art, and the whole thing feels like a long-lost Fletcher Hanks comic. Again, it’s not of professional quality, but it’s also quite fun.

Grade: D+

The Devil's Organist
The Devil’s Organist, as drawn by Johan Roux, from Scary Tales #40.

Cool factor: It’s buried deep, but there’s definitely something cool here that deserved a chance to grow. Seriously, this comic feels like it could have been a precursor to books like Flaming Carrot or Madman.
Not-so-cool factor: The Devil’s Organist. A Japanese-influenced, artificial lifeform armed with with a killer organ? Say what? (Oh, hell. Might that be secretly cool, too?)

Notable: First and, at the time of the writing of this review, only appearance of the Dragon Force. … Also includes a one-page strip titled “Witch Hunt.”
Collector’s note: According to the Grand Comics Database, there is a 75¢ Canadian variant of this issue.

Character quotable: “It’s a kind of symbiotic relationship … all the individual elements are united to form one super-fighter which we’ve named the Dragon Force!” – Dr. Henney, creator of the Dragon Force tech

Editor’s note: This review was written Nov. 24, 2021.

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