Comic Book Cats, number 51: House of Mystery #241

Comic Book Cats, number 51: House of Mystery #241, drawn by Frank Robbins, written by Jack Oleck and lettered by Ben Oda, published by DC Comics in May 1976.

“Paid in Full” is described by House of Mystery host Can as an “eerie black cat tale.” Hold-up man Cass, wounded in a shoot-out with the police, hops a freight train out of town. Coming to Kentucky, he is nursed back to health by elderly Martha Wright, who lives in a cabin with her cat Lucifer. Unfortunately for Martha, Cass realizes she is a witch and threatens to shoot Lucifer if she does not use her magic to conjure up money for him.

Cass then orders Martha to give him “a new face, a new body” so that he can evade the police. She creates a formula that will do this and the criminal thanks the old lady by murdering her. Burying her in the woods, Cass downs the formula. It does indeed give him a “new” body, one that is only six inches tall. And waiting for the now mouse-sized Cass is a very angry Lucifer, ready to enact revenge.

I know that my experience with Frank Robbins’ work parallels a number of other readers, in that initially, I disliked it, over time I gradually learned to appreciate it, and now I now really enjoy his art. I feel Robbins’ work was more suited to war, adventure, mystery, and horror stories than superheroes. DC’s horror anthologies were the perfect venue for Robbins’ talents. He definitely drew the heck out of “Paid in Full,” rendering an atmospheric little tale that is capped off with a strikingly ferocious black cat on the prowl.

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