Four Color Fear is 320 nicely reprinted pages, comprised of 39 horror stories from such 1950s horror comics as This Magazine is Haunted, Witches Tales, Web of Evil, Black Cat Mystery, Strange Terrors, and Chamber of Chills. The overwhelming impression I get after reading these dusty old relics is that EC might not have been the first, they might not have been the only one, but they certainly were the best. It's not even a close race. EC excelled at not just its art but also its stories. The other companies could ape EC's stable of artists (and do a decent job as in the case of Howard Nostrand's "homage" to Jack Davis, "Dust to Dust," which looks just like Davis) and rip off their ultra-violent storylines (Tales from the Crypt's sadistic butcher story "T'aint the Meat...It's the Humanity" becomes Mysterious Adventures' sadistic butcher story "Chef's Delight"). But if you're buying Four Color Fear for anything besides offbeat nonsense, you're obviously going to be disappointed. If, like me, you relish this stuff, you'll need this book.
Inside you'll find: "Wall of Flesh" about a crazed scientist who creates, well, a wall of flesh that absorbs anyone who touches it; Reed Crandall's ludicrously entertaining "The Corpse That Came to Dinner" about a young couple who discover the undead corpse of their recently deceased friend eating out of their refrigerator; "The Flapping Head," with typically nice art by Al Williamson but atypical story about a flying vampire head seeking to rebuild its body; and what must be not just the goofiest comic in this book but possibly in all of pre-code, "Green Horror" about a lusty, jealous and murderous cactus!
As a bonus to the stories, there are 32 full-page reproductions of classic covers (with comments on each) and editor Greg Sadowski provides exhaustive notes for each story as an afterword and drops a hint that we'll be seeing a separate volume devoted to Atlas. Based on the job done here, I'll be looking forward to that book.