3: Twists on Old Tales
Misty had a lot of fun putting new takes on old legends and myths, particularly Greek ones.
The Eyes of the Gorgon
Artist: Rafael Busom
Reprint: Best of Misty #3
Jenny despises how her Uncle Seth, a famous sculptor, has an unhealthy obsession with the Gorgon legend and says he is so glad he has the next best thing to the Gorgon’s head to help him with his sculptures. Two men disappear while visiting Jenny’s house and Uncle Seth sells two incredibly life-like statues of them to the museum. Jenny opens Uncle Seth’s secret box to find out just what is with him and his Gorgon mania. She finds out Gorgon-obsessed Uncle Seth performed experiments on eyes to prove the legend and got struck off for it, and recalls he experimented on her eyes too when she was little. Afterwards he had her wear dark glasses except when sleeping, but she stared at the two men without the glasses…then everything adds up. Uncle Seth catches Jenny snooping into his box, but her glasses fall off, and her Gorgon gaze turns him into stone.
Uncle Seth (not a very imaginative name) falls into the category of mad scientists who ultimately meet their downfall at the hands of their own creation. The reason for his obsession with the Gorgon head is not hard to seek – he lusts for its power and uses it to create his sculptures; first starting with animals and then moving up to humans. In so doing he turned an innocent girl into a freak and a Gorgon, and condemned her to a lifetime of hiding her power behind dark glasses.
Artist: John Richardson
A medieval princess hears voices urging her to free them. Their voices draw her into the North Tower, which she is forbidden to go to. The voices trick her into opening what turns out to be Pandora’s Box. The evils are unleashed and the princess is revealed to be Pandora (no sign of Hope). “Mythology tells us that when Pandora released the sickness and plague and evil and greed into the world, it was her curiosity that was to blame… but now you know – the inside story!”
Sorry Misty, but curiosity still came into it. Those voices clearly aroused Pandora’s curiosity when they called to her for help, and her curiosity just got too strong. Still, having Pandora set in medieval times is an interesting take on the legend.
When the Rain Falls…
Artist: Eduardo Feito
Reprint: Misty annual 1985
In ancient Rome, Marcus and Amanda are separated when they are sold to different owners at the slave market. They both begin to hear a voice calling their names, and the voice reunites them. Convinced the voice is a call to freedom, they follow it, and notice heavy storm clouds gathering. They meet lions, but the lions do not harm them; the lions also hear the voice and run away towards it. Marcus and Amanda follow the lions and come to Noah’s Ark and sanctuary as the Flood begins.
Even though these two slaves are not as badly treated as some we’ve seen in Misty, the story is really effective in illustrating the horror of slavery by showing the actual process of selling slaves at the market. It’s also quite a surprise to use a biblical character as the rescuer in this story.
The Golden Princess
Artist: Isidre Mones
Everyone hails Princess Elina, who is called the Golden Princess because everything about her is gold and she is generous. Lucas and “Bad John” plot to break into her castle to steal gold, but are surprised to find everything in her fabled gold store is totally worthless and anything but gold. Elina catches them and removes her gloves, revealing herself as Midas’s great granddaughter and inherited the golden touch. She turns them into gold statues and will give this gold exhibit, called “Thieves Caught in the Act”, to her cousin as a wedding gift.
Essentially, this is a comeuppance story, but it has deeper qualities than that. Stories of the golden touch are usually far less happy than Elina’s. She has found a way to live comfortably with it, while others, including her fabled great-grandfather, find it is a curse. It would be far more so for Elina if she were greedy like they were, but instead she is generous. But things could turn very nasty for her if some greedy person did find out about her golden touch.
The Black Gauntlet
Artist: Josep Gual
At the village of Dunraven Elaina is selected as the sacrifice to the dragon. The knight of the black gauntlet appears. He says he fought the dragon before and lost, but now he’s trying again. This time he succeeds and kills the dragon. The grateful Elaina gives the knight a flower, and the villagers rejoice to be free of the dragon. When Elaina tells her mother the story and describes the knight, the mother is stunned. She says Elaina’s father was a knight but was dishonoured for marrying her, a peasant girl, and was condemned to wear a black gauntlet. He tried to prove he did not deserve the gauntlet by fighting the dragon the first time it appeared, but the dragon killed him. She shows Elaina the gauntlet. Elaina recognises it as the same gauntlet the knight wore, and it contains the flower she gave to him.
A knight slaying a dragon to save an Andromeda-type damsel in distress is a familiar theme, but this one is really moving. It’s not just a matter of saving the damsel. It’s also a matter of proving yourself, make up for an earlier failure, and show you don’t deserve to be stigmatised just because you went against social custom. The father’s return from the dead enables Elaina to finally meet the father she never knew and he meet the daughter he never got the chance to raise. And boy, is he handsome! He is every inch an honourable, noble knight and deserved better than what he got in being forced to wear a badge of shame.
When using the subject of myths and legends, Misty drew the most heavily on sea creatures, particularly ones who bewitched people with song, and Greek legends. Genies were also popular when Misty wanted to do a “be careful what you wish for” story. We also get some surprises and surprising twists, such as the Silkie (not a monster we hear much about), the dragon, the Loch Ness Monster, and the Pandora legend turned inside out and shifted to a medieval setting.