The Gilded Age. Everything that was glorious and terrible about 19th-century America, all wrapped up in dollar bills, powered by ambition, and suckled on trampled hopes. For the spectral skeleton-man Sergeant Spangles, it’s also the perfect recruiting ground. There’s a war to be fought out there in the cosmos and like any war, it needs soldiers. Edwin Drake, down-on-his-luck dreamer just might be one of them. He’s sick, he’s broke and his wife’s fed up with his empty dreams of prosperity that never amount to anything. And so, Sergeant Spangles appears to make him an offer. Edwin will pledge his immortal soul to be a soldier in that mysterious cosmic struggle when his mortal life ends. In return, the skeletal apparition promises him nothing less, than the American Dream. Wealth, fame, happiness, and a chance to change the world.
Star Spangled Tales #1 is the first in what will hopefully be a long-running anthology series by Rodrigo Magela, a relatively new freelance artist with promise, and writer Dan Torrey, lover of American History and all things Horror. Taking cues from such classics as the Twilight Zone and Tales from the Crypt, Torrey and Magela paint for the reader a picture of a married couple almost broken by poverty, failure, and unrealized hopes. Edwin Drake means well and wants only the best for himself and his wife, but in such a hard and ruthless time, good intentions aren’t enough. And so it is the right mix of despair and desperation that drives a man like Edwin to deal with the likes of Sergeant Spangles. Spangles is a figure both slightly ludicrous with his star-spangled hat and pristine white suit, and yet menacing with a demeanor that simultaneously combines the harshness of Gunnery Sgt. Hartman from Full Metal Jacket and the silver tongue of a used car salesman. The Gilded Age was rightly named, for beneath the glamour of advancement, prosperity, and brilliance, was a thick layer of corruption, abuse, and discarded morals equal to that of today’s America. The perfect producer of desperate recruits for Spangles and the perfect setting for horrors both paranormal and chillingly human.
The American Dream is a truly wondrous thing, but it has never been free. Nothing of real value can claim that. Millions have struggled to obtain it. Some have even succeeded. The road to the American Dream can be long and painful. Is it any wonder that Sergeant Spangles’ offer can be so tempting? An escape from failure and disappointment. A shortcut of sorts to the success you’ve always dreamed of. But be warned, there is always a twist to Spangles bargains, a price that includes more than just your soul. How shall Edwin Drake pay for his American Dream? Follow along for yourself and find out. I certainly intend to.