Looking at another comic book transformation story, but this one is kinda nasty, especially when you consider that it appeared in a code-approved comic book. The comic was Unexpected #193, published with a cover date of October 1979.
At this time, Unexpected was one of DC’s Dollar Comics. Back in 1976, when most comic books had a cover price of 35 cents, DC decided to publish some comic books that cost $1. This was because newsstand owners were complaining that comic books were not bringing in enough revenue. So DC began publishing some titles that were $1, 64-pages long, and ad-free. Some of the Dollar titles included Superman Family, G.I. Combat, and House of Mystery. Nearly all annuals at this time were also Dollar Comics. Unexpected (formerly Tales of the Unexpected) actually combined three of DC’s horror comics of the time. Besides Unexpected itself, House of Secrets and Witching Hour also continued under the Dollar Unexpected title.
This story was in the “House of Secrets” section of the comic book. For this reason, the host of the story was Abel, who had been the host of the House of Secrets title. (It would be a few years before Alan Moore established that Abel, and his brother, Cain, who hosted House of Mystery, were THE Cain and Abel, with Cain condemned to kill Abel again and again and again over the ages.) The title of the story was “The Beautiful and the Damned.” The splash page sets up the story.
Any story that opens with grave-robbing is not going to have a happy ending. It’s just a matter of how unhappy the ending is going to be and for who. We meet Nora and her husband, Miles, who dig up the grave of Anderson, a chemist looking for a formula that would create eternal youth, something Nora is very interested in. So, she talks Miles (who has a bad case of whippedus unbelievablus) into excavating Anderson’s grave, which has the book with the formula in it. That Anderson had the formula buried with him because he didn’t want anyone to learn it emphasizes what a bad idea this is.
And Miles tells his wife what was wrong with the formula.
That warning should’ve been enough for anyone else, but Nora is so vain abut her looks, she pushes Miles into more experimentation.
It’s at this time that we meet Miles’ mother, who is living with him and Nora. She’s a little creepy, but is otherwise the only good character in the story.
Nora pleads with Miles to continue the experiments, telling him how much she loves him. He gives in, but the results are not pretty.
Miles, sickened by what’s happening to his test animals, wants to give up. And, as most readers expected, we finally see Nora for what she really is.
Finally, the formula is tested on a monkey, who doesn’t end up a puddle, so the test is successful on him!
You have to wonder why Miles doesn’t give Nora what she wants and test it on her! If it’s successful, she’ll get off his back. If not, well, too bad. And Nora thinks she has a better idea anyway — test the formula on Miles’ mother!
And Miles’ mother is willing. If it will mean Miles and Nora’s conflict will be done, his mother will take the chance. But Miles is NOT willing. He finally grows a pair and starts to break things off with Nora. But then, he acts suspiciously — to Nora, at least.
Miles gives himself an injection, and it seems to do him a world of good! (Earlier in the story, he mentioned he had a bad heart.) Nora is convinced Miles is holding out on her, has used the formula on himself, and is about to ditch her. So she takes action!
Unfortunately, it was the wrong action! She becomes the latest test subject for the formula — and suffers the same results as the poor animals that had come before her.
Why is her dress melting with her body? Was the formula THAT powerful? Yes. Because one of its ingredients was a VERY powerful force in its day — the Comics Code Authority! I can hear the conversation now.
CCA: The dress needs to melt, too!
ARTIST: What!? But why?
CCA: Without the dress, she’s naked!
ARTIST: But she’s a blob!
CCA: She’s still naked, and the Code forbids naked women in comics, and that’s that!
And so, all that remained was for Nora to deal with her fate —
While Miles walks away —
And Abel gives us a sort of moral.
But, Abel, the whole point is that Nora doesn’t HAVE bones anymore!
Like a lot (and I do mea n a LOT) of DC’s horror comics, they reach where a character has been transformed or punished in some way, and that’s that. But, in this case, I envisioned a possible extension that I liked — though Nora would not.
Nora was still thinking of her new situation when, to her surprise, Miles returned. He had another man with him.
“My God,” said the man. “This is her?”
“It is,” said Miles. “You see her eyes, blinking, going back and forth between us?”
“Yes, I do.” He reached down and touched Nora’s face, which made her flinch. Then, the man touched the blob she had become. To his surprise, it felt like human flesh. He picked up a handful of Nora and let it flow back to its source.
“Does she still eat?” the man asked.
“Oh, yes,” said Miles. “I’ve put together a formula that should be injected into her twice a day, once in the morning, once in the afternoon. The ingredients are quite inexpensive, and I can arrange for you to get a good supply of needles.”
“Sounds good. I’ll get some men in here to take her away.”
After the man left, Miles looked at Nora. “I’ve been examining our test subjects over the months,” said Miles. “The eternal youth part of the formula worked! You’ll be forever young, although you’ll be a young BLOB!
“And I’ve made arrangements for you to get nutrients, water, everything to keep you alive!”
The man re-entered with four other men, each one looking strong and rough. They surrounded Nora and, with some effort, lifted her and placed her in a wheelbarrow.
What are they going to do with me? wondered Nora.
A few weeks later, Nora was in her tent when the man came in with a large piece of cloth. He unfurled it and showed it to Nora.
“It’s all set!” said the man. “This will bet the rubes coming in. You’ll be the most popular attraction in the side-show!”
Nora, as best she could, looked at the banner.
Not for the faint of heart or stomach!
SEE NORA, THE HUMAN BLOB!
Nora wanted to scream, but gurgling was the best she could do.
This story is copyright 1979 by DC Comics. I in no way claim ownership of it.