I'm just going to go ahead and assume that everyone's been good this year, and therefore you deserve your gift - the greatest comic book story ever told! That may sound like hyperbole, and it's possible that I'm just biased towards the story, as it features both my favourite Golden-Age Hero (Zero, the Ghost Detective!) and a villain so spectacular that it must be seen to be believed! So, with no further ado, I give you, from the pages of Feature Comics #71, dated September, 1943 :
|If necessary, all images can be bigified through clickery.|
You know what's super-comforting? That there are a host of other ghost detectives out there equal in skill to Zero. After all, were he 'peerless' among ghost detectives, then if something bad were to happen to him, it could be disastrous for the whole world! Since he's just on par with all the other Ghost Detectives, however, there's plenty of backup available were things to take a left turn.
So, as the story begins, Zero is out in a country manor, enjoying a dinner with friends, as Ghost Detectives are wont to do. They implore him to tell a story about one of his adventures, and he naturally selects one about a werewolf. This winds up being a controversial choice, as another guest strenuously objects to the topic. Why?
This proves to be a prophetic pronouncement, as just one panel later:
Okay, that caption was just needlessly convoluted. Also, doesn't it seem like Zero, the Ghost Detective, ought to know about this whole werewolf resurrection lore? Isn't that his entire bag? One last thing - why is the werewolf wearing a red dress?
Anyhoo, the partygoers do the only natural thing in this situation - they all run outside to look for the werewolf ghost! This ends in a predictably tragic fashion, when-
Because this information will be important later, I'll point out that Lila's brother is the hysterical man who was worried about werewolf ghosts. Now that the werewolf has been established as a threat, Zero tells everyone to head back inside while he deals with the situation.
Now there's an excellent question: What IS a werewolf doing around here? Also, how can you argue with that villain's fashion choice? Yellow cape on green suit? Bravo! Also, for you colour-blind readers out there, just FYI, this is meant to be a different character than the guy in the red gown who was howling on the hill earlier.
The attacker lunges at Zero, nearly pushing him into a well. Naturally Zero wins the skirmish, and turns his assailant away, revealing the man's secret identity-
Good motive, totally understandable reaction to Zero's recklessness - all this only leaves one question - why was he growling like a werewolf when he attacked? Jim won't get a chance to explain, since-
Luckily Zero, presumably having read the introductory panel, knows the only way to deal with a werewolf ghost:
Since he's terrible at throwing, Zero is left with just seconds before the werewolf ghost mauls him to death. Thankfully, at the last possible moment, he remembers that he's a superhero who's themed around killing ghosts, so he simply takes out the weapon he designed to do just that:
With the werewolf ghost dead (again), now there's one final plot twist to reveal - when Zero and the other partygoers find Jim's body, they're shocked to discover that he's turned into a werewolf!
Rather than condescendingly pointing out that Jim was standing next to that man while Lila was murdered (as, with all honest, I probably would), Zero patiently explains the bizarre twist ending, putting a cap on the story, and turning it into the greatest comic ever published:
There could be backstory here, they might have revealed that this was the werewolf that turned Jim into one before he killed it, and now it's back for revenge... none of that nasty 'plot' stuff makes an appearance, though. Back in the 40s they knew how to wrap up a tale:
"Turns out he was a werewolf too. Huh."
If every story ended this way, there would be no war in the world.