"The amulet – it has power to control him! While he wears it, he is yours to command. Providing, of course that you carry the matching talisman."
Anonymous Voodoo cultists
"Altar of the Damned"
Tales of the Zombie 1.jpg
Tales of the Zombie
Title: "Altar of the Damned"
Volume: 1
number: 1
Cover date: July, 1973
Cover price: .75
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Curtis Magazines
Credits
Editor-in-Chief: Roy Thomas
Writers: Roy Thomas; Steve Gerber
Pencilers: John Buscema; Tom Palmer
Inkers: Tom Palmer
Cover artists: Boris Vallejo
Cover inker: Boris Vallejo
Cover colorist: Boris Vallejo
Letterers: Joe Rosen
Editors: Roy Thomas
Navigation
Previous:
Next: Tales of the Zombie #2

"Altar of the Damned" is the title to the first story featured in issue #1 of the Tales of the Zombie illustrated magazine series published by Marvel Comics and Curtis Magazines. It was written by Steve Gerber and plotted by Roy Thomas with artwork and inks by John Buscema and Tom Palmer. It was lettered by Joe Rosen. The second story is called "Zombie!" and was written by Stan Lee with artwork and lettering by Bill Everett. The third feature is called "Iron-Head" by artist Dick Ayers. This is followed by "The Thing from the Bog" by Kit Pearson and Marv Wolfman. It was illustrated by Pablo Marcos. The next tale is "Mastermind", written and illustrated by Tom Sutton. The final story is "Night of the Walking Dead" by Gerber, Buscema and inker Syd Shores. All stories were edited by Roy Thomas. This issue shipped with a July, 1973 cover date and carries a cover price of .75 cents per copy.

"Altar of the Damned"[edit | edit source]

Main article: Altar of the Damned

Deep in the bayous of Louisiana, a Voodoo cult performs a macabre ceremony. A man named Simon Garth is strapped to a slab of rock. Attending the ceremony are a group of naked dancers and an obese gardener named Gyps. The mambo (priestess) prostrates herself before Simon's body holding a knife. She drives the knife down, but rather than stabbing him with it, she actually cuts the ropes binding him to the rock. She shouts for him to "Go" before the others take notice of what she has done. Gyps and the other practitioners do indeed notice their mambo's betrayal and give chase. As Simon races through the swamps, his thoughts cast back to recent events.

Flashback:

Before becoming a victim of the occult, Simon Garth was the senior partner of Garwood Industries, the South's leading coffee distributor. While leaving his lavish estate one morning, he found his gardener, Gyps, complaining about his duties. Garth admonished the surly man, and warned him to shape up. Garth's twenty-three year old daughter, Donna, raced out of the house to ask her father something, but he had already left. Stopping before Gyps, she noticed that the man was carrying a piece of root. Gyps told her that it was called "Johnny-The-Conqueror" root and it was a piece of Voodoo gris-gris. He kept it as a charm because he felt it might bring him good luck.
At Garwood Industries, Simon Garth presided over a board meeting. Arguing with his partner, Brian Stockwood, he demanded that the company should increase production. Stockwood tried to reason with Simon's irrational behavior, but Garth grew even more violent, grabbing Stockwood by the neck, calling him a "joke".
Back at the mansion, Donna decided to go skinny-dipping in the pool. Gyps took notice of this and approached her. Shocked, Donna spun around, having no idea that Gyps was watching her. Before Gyps could press his amorous advances even further, Simon showed up and began punching the gardener in the face. He fired him and swore that if he ever saw him again, he would kill him.
That evening, an inebriated Gyps returned to the Garth estate for revenge. He smashed an empty whisky bottle across the back of his head, and tied him up. He brought him out to the Voodoo camp deep in the swamp and offered him to the practitioners as a human sacrifice.
What neither Garth nor Gyps knew however, was that the Voodoo mambo was actually Layla, Simon Garth’s office secretary. She was secretly in love with him, and could not bring herself to take his life, so she set him free.

Back in the present, Simon continues to run for his life. Gyps manages to circle around the swamp and catch up to him. He plunges a sacrificial dagger into his chest, killing him, and brings his body back to the camp. He digs a shallow grave, and dumps Simon's body inside. Gyps is still angry however, as he does not feel that Simon had suffered enough before dying. He grabs Layla, and while holding a knife to her throat, forces her to conduct a ritual that will raise Simon Garth from the dead.

The ritual works, and Garth rises from his own grave as an undead zombie. Almost immediately, he begins attacking everyone within his vicinity. One of the Voodoo cultists slips an amulet around the zombie's neck, and the creature stops moving. He hands a second amulet to Gyps and explains that so long as he possesses the Amulets of Damballah (providing that the Zombie continues to wear its companion piece), he will have total control over him. Gyps orders the Zombie to go into the swamp until he is ready to summon him.

Appearances[edit | edit source]

Featured characters[edit | edit source]

Supporting characters[edit | edit source]

Antagonists[edit | edit source]

Minor characters[edit | edit source]

  • Brian Stockwood
  • Mambo Layla (1st appearance)
  • Anonymous voodoo practitioners

Organizations[edit | edit source]

Races[edit | edit source]

Locations[edit | edit source]

Items[edit | edit source]

Vehicles[edit | edit source]

Miscellaneous[edit | edit source]

"Zombie!"[edit | edit source]

Simon Garth - Zombie!

Simon Garth, the Zombie, wanders through the swamps of Louisiana, until it is time to answer the call of his master, Gyps. Gyps is the former gardener to the Zombie's human alias, Simon Garth. In possession of the Amulets of Damballah, Gyps orders the Zombie to go into town to get him money.

The Zombie wanders into the French Quarter of New Orleans, but the revelers take little notice of him. Those who do react, merely think that he is simply another partier wearing an elaborate costume. The zombie attacks a pedestrian, but a policeman takes notice and gives chase.

The Zombie returns to Gyps' cottage, but the surly gardener is enraged to see that he came back empty handed. He then orders the zombie to attack a young woman at the main house. Gyps plans on staging her rescue from the zombie in order to gain her affection.

The Zombie breaks into the woman's room, but feels an uncontrollable urge to turn away. A part of Simon Garth's humanity recalls this woman as his own daughter, and he is incapable of killing her. The Zombie returns to the garden shed and strangles Gyps. He then wanders back to his own shallow grave and lies down.

Appearances[edit | edit source]

Featured characters[edit | edit source]

Supporting characters[edit | edit source]

Antagonists[edit | edit source]

  • Gyps (Only appearance; dies)

Minor characters[edit | edit source]

Organizations[edit | edit source]

Races[edit | edit source]

Locations[edit | edit source]

Items[edit | edit source]

Vehicles[edit | edit source]

Miscellaneous[edit | edit source]

"Iron-Head!"[edit | edit source]

Bronson is Iron-Head.

Bronson is a grave robber and a murderer. To avoid being captured by the authorities, he accepts a job as a deep-sea diver on a private yacht. Working for a captain named Mister Nash, Bronson discovers that the ship's crew have located a cache of black diamonds at the bottom of the South Pacific. He decides to murder the crew and keep the diamonds for himself. Donning a heavy diving suit, he blows up the yacht and swims to the ocean floor for the diamonds.

Securing his treasure, Bronson slowly walks until he reaches a nearby island. The island is populated with superstitious natives who mistakenly believe that Bronson is some sort of water god. Dubbing him "Iron-Head", they hold him in high regard and keep a steady vigil over him. Bronson is afraid to remove his helmet, because if he reveals himself as a normal human, the natives will kill him. He holds out as long as he can, but within a few days, he begins to fall weak with hunger. The natives will not let him out of their sight, and he refuses to expose himself. Finally, one of the natives cuts off his head with an axe, revealing that he was never truly a god at all.

Appearances[edit | edit source]

Featured characters[edit | edit source]

  • Bronson

Supporting characters[edit | edit source]

  • Mister Nash

Antagonists[edit | edit source]

  • Unnamed Caribbean natives

Minor characters[edit | edit source]

Organizations[edit | edit source]

Races[edit | edit source]

Locations[edit | edit source]

Items[edit | edit source]

Vehicles[edit | edit source]

Miscellaneous[edit | edit source]

"The Thing from the Bog!"[edit | edit source]

In the peat bogs of the Northern Jutlands in Denmark, a peat-cutter named Fredrick Corter and his stepson Thomas discover a bog man half-buried in the muck. Fredrick immediately grows concerned and warns Thomas away from the dried husk. Thomas recalls how two years past, his mother (Mother Feere), invoked a spell to give life to the buried corpses in the swamp. The demons who answered her call however, struck her down with a violent and painful death. In her final moments, she told Thomas the words required to raise the bog men.

Thomas also recalls when Mother Feere told him the history behind the bog men. She told him that the original bog men were once powerful sorcerers who had cut ties with their elemental brethren. A fight broke out between the two camps, and the more powerful sorcerers banished their adversaries to the bog. Centuries later, a witch was executed and buried in the bogs. She eventually rose as Mother Feere and slaughtered the descendants of those who executed her. The only one to survive her rage was a young boy, Thomas. Mother Feere took him in and raised him as her own son.

Fredrick Corter pulls Thomas away from the grave and takes him home. He warns him never to go near that patch of land ever again. He meets with some colleagues and prepares to burn down the entire bog.

Thomas sneaks out of the house and goes to the shallow grave of the bog man his father and he unearthed earlier. He recites the incantation that brings them to life, but regrets it immediately after. He knows the spell that will return them to their previously inert state, but he is too scared. He runs back towards the village to find his father.

Fredrick Corter sees Thomas, and realizes that he is responsible for resurrecting the bog men. Before his son can provide an explanation, Fredrick shoots him. The bog men surround Fredrick and the other hunters and overwhelm them.

Appearances[edit | edit source]

Featured characters[edit | edit source]

  • Thomas

Supporting characters[edit | edit source]

  • Frederick Corter

Antagonists[edit | edit source]

  • Mother Feere

Minor characters[edit | edit source]

  • Belial (Cameo appearance only)
  • Mammon (Cameo appearance only)
  • Satan (Cameo appearance only)
  • Tallie Corter

Organizations[edit | edit source]

Races[edit | edit source]

Locations[edit | edit source]

  • Northern Jutlands

Items[edit | edit source]

Vehicles[edit | edit source]

Miscellaneous[edit | edit source]

"The Mastermind"[edit | edit source]

Another glorious creation.

A crazed inventor creates a creature in a laboratory that he names Manaak. As Manaak comes to life, the inventor tells him that he is indestructible, immortal and virtually superior to every other human being on the face of the planet. Manaak responds to this by saying, "If I am truly all these things, then logic requires I ask you one simple question. Who needs you, 'master'?" With that, Manaak lunges towards his creator.

Appearances[edit | edit source]

Featured characters[edit | edit source]

  • Manaak

Supporting characters[edit | edit source]

  • The Master

Antagonists[edit | edit source]

Minor characters[edit | edit source]

Organizations[edit | edit source]

Races[edit | edit source]

Locations[edit | edit source]

Items[edit | edit source]

Vehicles[edit | edit source]

Miscellaneous[edit | edit source]

"Night of the Walking Dead!"[edit | edit source]

Donna Garth meets with New Orleans police detective Sam Jagger. Jagger takes her to the morgue where she identifies the body of Gyps, the gardener. The coroner reveals that the cause of death was strangulation. The only strange evidence found at the scene was one of the talismans of Damballah. Having little idea as to its true purpose, Jagger lets Donna keep the amulet. Donna concentrates on the item and thinks of her father.

Miles away, Simon Garth – the Zombie rises from his grave. He begins shambling back towards town when he encounters two hunting dogs. He throws one against a tree, then smashes the other repeatedly into the ground until it dies. The hunter comes upon the slaughtered dogs and runs in terror.

Back in town, Donna Garth leaves the police precinct and gets ready to get into her car. A heroin addict named Gene Griggs startles her and steals her handbag. He runs off and finds shelter inside of an abandoned building. Griggs is disgruntled to find that Donna only had three dollars in her purse, but he feels that he might be able to sell the talisman. He also finds a small .38 handgun and shoves it into his pocket.

Later that evening, Griggs stalks the French Quarter of New Orleans and accosts two pedestrians. He shoots them both, but one of them, a woman, is still alive. Griggs attempts to steal her necklace, but she scratches at his face. He finishes her off by shooting her directly in the face.

As Griggs turns around, he sees the Zombie standing before him. He has no idea that the Zombie is attracted by the presence of the talisman and Griggs tries to stab him to death. When this fails, he tries to shoot him, but the Zombie grabs Griggs' wrist and turns the gun back on him. A shot goes off and Griggs falls over dead. The Zombie begins shuffling away, leaving the amulet of Damballah lying on the ground next to Griggs' body.

Appearances[edit | edit source]

Featured characters[edit | edit source]

Supporting characters[edit | edit source]

Antagonists[edit | edit source]

  • Gene Griggs

Minor characters[edit | edit source]

Organizations[edit | edit source]

Races[edit | edit source]

Locations[edit | edit source]

  • New Orleans
  • New Orleans Police Headquarters (7th Precinct)

Items[edit | edit source]

Vehicles[edit | edit source]

Miscellaneous[edit | edit source]

Notes & Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • First Marvel Comics appearance of the Zombie. His first actual appearance was in Menace #5, published in 1953 by Atlas Comics (the Silver Age precursor to Marvel Comics). Donna Garth and Gyps also made their first appearances in Menace #5, though they are not provided with actual names until this issue.
  • "Altar of the Damned" and "Night of the Walking Dead!" are also reprinted in Tales of the Zombie Annual #1.
  • Brian Stockwood is referred to only as Stockwood in this issue.
  • First appearance of Detective Sam Jagger.
  • First and only appearance of Gene Griggs; dies in this issue.
  • First appearance of the Mambo, Layla.
  • Although never specified by name, the Satan that appears in "The Thing From the Bog" is likely Marduk Kurios.
  • The indicia of this issue lists the title as "Zombie", not "Tales of the Zombie".
  • The Haitian Junior Chamber of Commerce consulted as technical advisers for the Voodoo-related segments in this issue.
  • Scenes of Simon Garth and Donna Garth from "Zombie!" have been altered to reflect the modernized appearance of the characters. In the original story from Menace #5, Simon has short dark hair and Donna has dark hair as well.

Recommended Reading[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

External Links[edit | edit source]

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.