Tome of the Bizarre

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Overview

Tome of the Bizarre began publication in October 1948 and was one of Sentinel Comics' entries in the trend of pre-Comics Code Authority "horror comics". An anthology book that featured monsters, gruesome creatures, the occult, and (frequently) doomed protagonists. In that early period it strictly fell outside of the super-heroics of its later iterations. The early issues are one of the few instances we know of schedule slip in Sentinel Comics titles, being rather erratic until issue #10.

After the advent of the CCA and the crackdown on horror themes, it transitioned to being more in-line with the other super hero titles of the brand. We could still hear about the "Cult of Gloom", but now as a collection of mooks for the heroes to defeat rather than a shadowy presence that could be coming for you, dear reader. Along with that change, we also begin seeing it as more of a home for heroes without their own titles who, nonetheless, frequently battle forces of the occult or fight strange monsters. This broadens in scope periodically, eventually being a catch-all "magic and magic adjacent" book (muddying the distinction between it and Arcane Tales when they're both being published at the same time, although the latter is frequently also just Ra's book despite the name).

It still largely exists as an anthology book without a standard cast of characters. In the 1970s Haka becomes a regular headliner for the title, as does NightMist after her introduction, but it largely retains an anthology-like structure. An exception to this is a period when the Naturalist takes over the title for 160 issues from the late 1990s through 2009 when this "magic" book also trends towards corporate intrigue. Tome of the Bizarre does have the distinction of having the most volumes of any Sentinel Comics title, currently in its 5th volume which began at the line-wide relaunch following the OblivAeon event.

Volume 1

#1 October 1948 - First issue.

#2 December 1948

#3 March 1949

#4 May 1949

#5 July 1949

#6 September 1949

#7 November 1949 - First appearance of Blood Countess Bathory and the Court of Blood.

#8 January 1950

#9 March 1950

#10 May 1950 [The information regarding the early publication schedule provided by Christopher appears to become monthly from this point.]

#96 July 1957 - The first volume ended around the time the Golden Age did. While we don't know the exact last issue, this would have been the month prior to Freedom Four #88 and the beginning of the Silver Age, so call this the upper bound on when volume 1 ended.

Volume 2

#1 January 1959 - The first appearance of Biomancer. The second volume becomes more interconnected with the shared setting of most other Sentinel Comics titles.

#17 May 1960 - The fist appearance of Plague Rat.

#160 April 1972 - Haka starts a run as a regular feature in the title.

#178 October 1973 (ca.) - Around this time, following the limited series The Curse that expanded NightMist's backstory she also begins "sharing" the headliner spot with Haka.

#248 August 1979 - The first appearance of Bugbear as a foe for Haka.

#257 May 1980 - Haka ceases to be the lead for the title and it reverts to more of an anthology book again.

#350 February 1988 - Final issue of volume 2.

Volume 3

#1 April 1988 - Haka just started his own title The Savage Haka and also appeared in the new Prime Wardens book, so Sentinel Comics felt like it was time for the previous book with the largest association with the character to get a fresh start.

#9 December 1988 - "Fanatic Christman Carol" featuring Mark Benedetto in the "Scrooge" role and begins the "Haunted Fanatic" arc. (Writer's Room 9, Episode 131, cover)

#24 November 1990 - ("B" story) First appearance of the Naturalist where he spends a few days as a Gazelle and meets the Argent Adept.

#25 December 1990 - ("B" story) Follow up where Naturalist spends some months as a Rhinoceros.

#26 January 1991 - ("B" story) End of Naturalist's origin following his years spent as a Crocodile.

#61 April 1993 - Chrono-Ranger in feudal Japan. (Writer's Room 14, Episode 137, cover)

#79 October 1994 - "Hand of Glory" story begins.

#80 November 1994 - "Hand of Glory" story ends, leaving us with the "new" Count Barzakh.

#100 July 1996 - Tome of the Bizarre Presents: The Naturalist period begins, where the title becomes for all intents and purposes the Naturalist's solo book, focusing more on Michael Conteh's life back with his company and the corporate intrigue that goes along with it, which is a bit ironic for this title.

#151 October 2000 - Harpy is tempted to join the Court of Blood. (Writer's Room 27, Episode 158, cover)

#259 October 2009 - Final issue of volume 3. Last issue of Naturalist being the headliner.

Volume 4

#1 December 2009 - New volume begins as an anthology again. The Naturalist run wasn't unpopular, they just needed the conceptual space that the Tome of the Bizarre title traditionally filled for other reasons. As the end of the Multiverse era approaches, Naturalist becomes heavily featured in the title as he works with Akash'Thriya.

#34 September 2012 - First appearance of the Agent of Gloom iteration of Spite.

#59 October 2014 - First appearance of Scholar of the Infinite.

#62 January 2015 - First appearance of Trickster Kismet (tie-in to the Dark Carnival limited series).

#71 October 2015 - Lifeline travels to the Court of Blood and makes a deal with Blood Countess Bathory.

#86 January 2017 - "Where the Undead Lie" The Freedom Five travel to the (fake) Tomb of Anubis set up by Miss Information. First appearance of Marty Adams as the new avatar of Anubis. (RPG Adventure, SCRPG Starter Kit, cover)

#88 March 2017 - Final issue of volume 4? Same month as FF #803.

Volume 5

#1 May 2017 - Part of the line-wide relaunch following OblivAeon.

#7 November 2017 - "A Conspiracy of Clones" Duplicates of various Megalopolis city officials prompt the heroes to investigate. (RPG Adventure, SCRPG Core Book, cover)