Chamber Of Darkness #2: "The Day Of The Red Death!"

Chamber Of Darkness #2
"The Day Of The Red Death!"
December, 1969

Stan Lee: Editor
Roy Thomas: Scripter
Don Heck: Artist
Lettered By: Sam Rosen

The Red Death has struck the Earth.  The blood-red pestilence has
surrounded the area of a dying world.  Death was everywhere, expect for
the inhabitants within a certain bunker.

Arms manufacturer Rupert Griswold had seen the disaster coming and locked
himself within his bunker, along with a chosen few.  The lovely Lenore
sees that Griswold is winning again, whether it be war or poker.  The
eight of them are perhaps the only people left alive on the planet.  The
card game is a power play between Rupert Griswold, Prince Marco, and the
other two players.  The winner is to be crowned the undisputed king of
the new world.  Those who were within the bunker could concentrate on
their own entertainment, while outside waited the Red Death.

George Harris stood in one corner, watching the poker game, and thinking
his own thoughts.  He wonders if he's any better than those whom he built
the bunker for.  Harris had not raised his voice for those who sought to
enter the bunker before dying, and had watched them in their final
moments all the same.  The air is pure, thanks to the filter he created,
but George Harris wonders about himself.  The movie star named Carlotta
believes the engineer to be a foolish weakling, and not a worthy mate for
her needs.  The once Betty Jean Wannameyer from Cantrell, Kansas knows
that when the Red Death has done its work, she will be the queen of all
she surveys. 

It was the result of scientists at work on a new poison gas, in a arms
plant owned by Rupert Griswold.  If they could control the gas, man need
not enter the battlefield ever again, and Griswold would reap a fortune.
One of the scientists did not like the look of the gas, its color was too
close to death itself.  FROOM!  A sudden explosion showered Dr. Farnum
turning his face into the deepest of red.  The gas continued to spread,
thriving on the air itself.  Carlotta Moore can imagine what the Red
Death could have done to the citizens on the streets of various cities,
but it's not her cross to bear.

All that is left of life on the planet are them, thanks to the air
filter.  Seeing that the actress is not too happy about being one of the
last two women on Earth, Griswold asks if she wants to join in on the
game.  Carlotta wants more than a mere card game for amusement, and each
of them head for their room.  They are to don costumes and participate in
the masquerade ball.  While the masque was about to begin, the Red Death
waited from without.  The males guests are impatient for the lovely
ladies to arrive, but soon change their tune when they behold the fairest
of the fair.  Although those who were weaker and who suffered from
misfortune, they would be the rightful inheritors of Earth.

Time passes within the confines of the bunker, until the clock strikes
midnight.  The time of death and new life with the unmasking.  Griswold
searches the group for George Harris, but Carlotta tells him that the
engineer is probably brooding somewhere.  As she starts to mention how
Harris is a waste of air, Rupert Griswold sees that their associate has
just arrived.  The festive mood dies in their throats when they see the
crimson rags and the grim mask being worn, as a representation of the Red
Death itself.  The employer wants his employee to remove the costume at
once, but George Harris refuses to comply.  Two of the male guests decide
to have some fun at their silent friend's expense.

They manage to catch him, then see that he's now barely able to stand.
Rupert Griswold has the pleasure of unmasking him, and immediately
regrets it.  The engineer's face is red, for the Red Death now walks
among them within the bunker, and is in the very air they breathe.  They
find the air filter control switch in his hand, and know that they will
soon be dead.  Since all of them were evil, none of them deserved to be
the new Adam for a new world.  Better a dead world than one ruled by the
likes of them.  As each of the guests dropped in turn, the dark decay
descended upon them, and the Red Death rules over all.

On the cover of Chamber Of Darkness &2, the Red Death makes its entrance,
and crashes the party.

Smilin' Stan does the introduction for the story, one in the style of
Saki, Lovecraft, Ambrose Bierce, and Poe with a Mighty Marvel update.

George Harris resembles George Harrison, who also enjoyed having a smoke.

Carlotta Moore learns that following the Red Death can be a tough act.

Frank Farnum was the Daredevil villain known as the Masked Marauder.

We learn in this story that not all arms manufacturers were as glamorous
as Tony Stark.

The Red Skull employed his dust of death as his weapon of choice.

Smilin' Stan informs us that the people in the bunker were unaware that
no one else was killed by the Red Death outside of a twenty mile radius.

In Doctor Strange &11: "Shadowplay!" (December, 1975) by Steve Englehart,
Gene Colan, Tom Palmer, and John Costanza, the Master of the Mystic Arts
attends the Dance of the Red Death.

Steve Chung
"The Review Of The Red Death!"