Hand of Fate

Chronological listing of all issues – with comments and annotations. We mention date of publication, cover motive and cover artist (if identified). The number in brackets links cover motive to story inside. Especially for ACE HORROR every issue has been indexed at the Grand Comics Database – the link will show you all available data, including cover shots and story descriptions.

Just click the underlined issue labeling.

A miniature splash page indicates that you can find this entire story in our „Stories“ section. Just click to read it.

THE HAND OF FATE / 19 issues, formerly MEN AGAINST CRIME


Only appears from the second issue (#9) on: Fate

December 1951
Cover: Meet your fate (0) – Ken Rice
“The Revolt Of The Heads” (Lou Cameron + Rocco Mastroserio)
“Canyon Of The Living Dead” (Jim McLaughlin + ?)
“Death Howls By Moonrise” (Maurice Gutwirth)
“Monster Of The Bayous” (Mike Sekowsky or Bill Walton ? + Vince Alascia ?)

The Ace horror family’s ‘baby’ takes its first steps mostly in Leroy letters. One story and the one-pagers are handlettered.

Premiere for a great artist (and a discovery I share with Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr.) – Lou Cameron begins his Ace horror work! But he does so incognito and flanked by a trusty wingman: Rocco „Rocke“ Mastroserio will be his inker for over a year.

Looking at “Monster Of The Bayous” I can’t shake a sneaking suspicion. Though credited to Mike Sekowsky & Vince Alascia I think this could be the artistic duo of Ben Brown & David Gantz (of „Purple Claw“ fame) as well. They did work for the company and signed a story from CRIME MUST PAY THE PENALTY #30 (“A Death Mask For Scarpa”, Feb. 1953). This style is driving me insane anyway. Could also be Bill Walton or Albert Tyler…

Monster Of The Bayous” is posted on my German website – to read click on underlined title.

PS: Then again I thought it could be Norman Nodel inked by Vince Alascia. Calling Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr. again for an expertise, he thinks it’s probably Bill Walton. And we both agreed that there is too much Sekowsky credit in Ace books. Will be holding a conference on this matter. So stay tuned…


February 1952
Cover: That’s my name on the stone (1) – Ken Rice ?
“It Is Written: I Die Tomorrow!” (Ken Rice)
“Secret Of The Witch’s Urn” (Mike Sekowsky + ?)
“Strange Rendezvous At 17 Rue Noir” (Ken Rice ? + Rocco Mastroserio ?)
“Vengeance From A Restless Grave” (Louis Zansky)

Lettered like the previous issue mostly in Leroy.
“It Is Written: I Die Tomorrow!” introduces the title’s feature character – Fate.
Fate is destiny, omniscient and cloaked in robe and hood. Strange he doesn’t make an appearance not until this second issue.
In HAND8 they posted him big on the cover, but no Fate inside. Probably no one noticed – or cared, knock on wood. From now on the editors will mind their title’s promise. Fate will be hosting stories (as narrator) or be actively involved in them.

Fate is not a nice guy, by the way. He’s aloof and even cruel. Have a look at “Strange Rendezvous At 17 Rue Noir”. Businesslike and in a stone-cold way Fate collects the gambler’s life. This is going to be standard procedure.

Artwork’s a puzzler here. Looks like it’s Mastroserio inking Rice now (and not Cameron as usual). A one-time collaboration. Or is it?

HAND9 impresses with neatly knitted stories of a literary claim. This series seems to reject all that drivel ordinarily passing as pre-code horror. HAND OF FATE will be presenting a distinguished line of horror, able to restrain itself.

Secret Of The Witch’s Urn” is posted on Karswell’s fantastic blog “The Horrors Of It All“ – to read click on underlined title.

Vengeance From A Restless Grave” is posted on the wonderful “The Fabulous Fifties“ blog – to read click on underlined title.


April 1952
Cover: No, father! You mustn’t meddle with fate! (0) – Ken Rice
“One Awful Night With A Fiend” (Mike Sekowsky + Vince Alascia)
“Beware Of Shiva’s Flaming Wrath” (Jim McLaughlin + ?)
“Bride Of The Golden Skull” (Mike Sekowsky + Vince Alascia ?)
“Lure Of The Zombie Diamonds” (???)

Lettered again like the previous two issues mostly in Leroy. Fate makes his appearance in the third story. This cover is done so elegantly it has been wrongly credited to EC’s Johnny Craig for quite some time.

Again the Ace writers unfold stories of high complexity, surpassing even EC’s literary yarns.
“Beware Of Shiva’s Flaming Wrath” is about the Indian “suttee”-ritual, the cult of Siva and a curse of fire and blaze – with a cameo of Siva in person! All this executed on seven pages and involving five main characters. This is artful writing, folks.


June 1952
Cover: Freed from that cursed Mandarin’s chest (3) – Ken Rice
“Roots Of The Evil Tree” (Louis Zansky)
“The Final Curtain” (Lou Cameron + Rocco Mastroserio)
“The Man Who Bought A Genie” (Bill Molno + Rocco Mastroserio, hidden signature)
“The Brew Of Frightful Faces” (Jim McLaughlin)

Lettered again like the previous three issues mostly in Leroy (each three stories). This is the most constant pattern up to now in all titles.
Record run of four covers in a row by a single artist: Ken Rice.

Fate is hosting the first story and appears in the second – only to be verbally abused by a mime: „Ha, you’re not even a good actor! Get out of my way, you cheap costume horror!“.
A genie poses as fate-character in the third story.

At first glance there’s irritating artwork in “The Man Who Bought A Genie”. A touch of Cameron? A hint of Zansky? A mixture of both? I’m confident that it is Bill Molno’s first job for HAND OF FATE. There’s a hidden signature on the box in the second panel: „Molno“ and „Rocke“. „Rocke“ being Mastroserio’s nickname. Sometimes you just get lucky.

The plot of “The Brew Of Frightful Faces” by the way pops up half a year later in Jack Katz‘ “The Ugliest Man In The World” (OUT OF THE SHADOWS #7, January 1953, Standard Comics): a movie shoot, makeup artists, a deformed face and a mysterious cave where a strange tribe is living.

“Roots Of The Evil Tree” blends elements from Pinocchio (entities out of wood), Frankenstein (birth in a thunderstorm) and even King Kong (scaling skyscrapers) – cool. “Roots Of The Evil Tree” is posted on the blog “Ragged Claws Network“ – to read click on underlined title.

“The Final Curtain” takes us into the world of a theater company. We get a sniff of Hamlet and Macbeth (washing of bloody hands) as well as the myth of Sisyphus.


August 1952
Cover: Fate saved her (0) – John Chilly ?
“The Man Who Pawned His Soul” (Bill Molno + ?)
“Cauldron Of Evil” (Jim McLaughlin)
“Dr. Chaney’s Macabre Creation” (Mario Rizzi)
“The Grave Will Not Wait” (Chic Stone)

Leroy takes a step towards domination: the one-pagers fall prey to the all-consuming stencils, so it’s just one story done by hand now. Fate is involved in three stories!
For the second time a lead story by Bill Molno. This is going to happen just once more in Ace horror history.

The cover baffles me every time. How can one get the size ratio of objects that wrong?!
The strong motif (air plane crash!) is ridiculed by the fireman’s monologue. The visual perspective of things seems to be far off, as well. Pathetic!
I’m still trying to identify this “artist”, he did other covers, too, spotted him on Ace’s war books. I am afraid that it could be ‘roughs’ by Ken Rice, actually, but it’s a mystery.

Postscript June 2013: I’m willing to put the blame on John Chilly. This is probably his fourth cover for ACE HORROR. Others are BEY16, BAFF10 and WEB12. All from early autumn 1952. Think he’s swiping a Rice man’s face.


October 1952
Cover: The crystal shows the future, but only fate can change it (0) – Lou Cameron ?
“Necklace Of Death” (Lin Streeter)
“Demonized Sweetheart” (Ken Rice)
“Under The Telamone’s Spell” (Louis Zansky, signed “LZ”)
“Fate’s Final Scoop” (Bill Walton ?)

Again only one last story is handlettered. Fate hosting the first story and appearing actively in the last one.
First (and so far only) time to find a signature by Zansky – prominently positioned in the splash.

Should you be looking at this book on the Digital Comic Museum – the discoloration throughout this issue is caused by the mildew nesting in this book. Being a comics historian is no picnic, folks.


November 1952
Cover: Something is strangling me (2) – ???
“The Spirits Sing Tonight” (Mike Sekowsky ?)
“Meet Me At The Cemetery” (Sy Grudko)
“No Escape From Nightmare” (Jim McLaughlin)
“Devilish Dolls Of Death” (Louis Zansky)

First issue of this series to be completely lettered in Leroy.
Cover has a McLaughlin touch, but something is wrong here. Collaboration with Cameron?
Fate again hosting the first story and appearing actively in the third one. Is this some kind of pattern? Fate once active, once passive? Mostly, but not always.

Innovative splash by Zansky in “Devilish Dolls Of Death”. Three panels layered on top of each other. Ace horror comic books are taking a creative direction – the page layouts are being designed more openly.

Burn, baby, burn – see if Fate will care!

“Meet Me At The Cemetery” is one of the first solo horror jobs by “filler artist” Sy Grudko. Identified it on a second run through all the books.

Devilish Dolls Of Death” is posted on Karswell’s fantastic blog “The Horrors Of It All“ – to read click on underlined title.


December 1952
Cover: What kind of a masquerade party is this? (0) – Jim McLaughlin
“Dead Ringer” (Mike Sekowsky + Mario Rizzi?)
“The Mystery Of The Tarot” (Mike Sekowsky + ?)
“Ring Of Evil” („Ace Baker“ + ?)
“The Doom Of The Lucky Devil” (Bill Molno)

Second issue to be completely designed in Leroy letters.
HAND15 seems to have been drawn by up to eight artists and sets a teamworking record.
Another record: Fate is an active protagonist in all four stories!
And proves to be a cruel, almost sadistic peeping Tom. Coming onto poor Hubert and punishing him? But who lets planes crash in the first place and leads innocent people into temptation to rearrange their curriculum vitae?! Hm?
Again Fate gets scalded for his looks by a gangster: „What kind of a nut are you, sneaking around draped in a sheet?”

The air plane crash story “Dead Ringer” would have fitted nicely to the cover of HAND12.


Signed cover by Giusto

February 1953
Cover: Pay for your folly (0) – „Ace Baker“ = Frank Giusto
“Specters Stalk The Bloody Tower” (swipe artist ???)
“The Clock Of Doom Strikes Loud!” (Mike Sekowsky ? + Mario Rizzi ?)
“The Black Curse Of Rhan Giva” (Louis Zansky)
“Havoc On The Midway” (Sy Grudko ?)

Completely in Leroy. Third issue in a row. Fate once active, once passive.
My favorite HAND cover. A beautiful woman menaced by a mysterious evil, Fate lingering in the background mumbling pompous drivel. This the best you’ve got? Yes, it is.

We show you this issue’s cover here, because it is credited to (and confirmed in person by) Frank Giusto. If you enlarge it by clicking it, you can even spot a signature „FG“ right next to the balloon.
Giusto remembers vividly doing that cover (according to the book „Matt Baker – the Art of Glamour“, TwoMorrows Publishing, 2012) – and I quote: „One [cover I did] was the HAND OF FATE, because they had a pair of ghost hands coming out of a grave strangling some bimbo“.
Tch, tch, tch. Bimbo? Frank.
The correct term would be „fuckpuppet“.

Specters Stalk The Bloody Tower” is posted on Karswell’s fantastic blog “The Horrors Of It All“ – to read click on underlined title.

For an explanation what we mean by “swipe artist”, please see our entry for BAFFLING MYSTERIES #13 – and click the above link for a quick glance.


April 1953
Cover: Malevolent mirror men (4) – Dick Beck
“The Sorcerer’s Spectacles” (Bill Molno + ?)
“Beware The Snake Queen!” (Charles Nicholas + ?)
“Orchids From The Dead” (Ken Rice ?)
“Mirror Macabre” (Louis Zansky)

No aberration from our motto “Everything must be Leroy”. Fate intervenes in two stories.
Nice cover by Dick Beck, his only one for Ace horror. Alas!

“Orchids From The Dead” is one of the whackiest stories Ace ever spewed forth. Sadly Ken Rice’s sloppiest job for Ace as well. Probably a cheap shot done in a hurry.
Rice returns with this story (after five month’s absence), but seems to have his hands full with other jobs. Ace has launched two war books in these times (WAR HEROES + ATOMIC WAR). Additionally to their crime, romance and horror titles.

The 2-page-text story („The Sabre Of Gregory Tamoric“)  is highlighted with two small illustrations by Lou Cameron, a unique occurrence at the house of Ace.


June 1953
Cover: That evil hand will drag us into darkness (0) – ???
“The Phantoms’ Vengeful Return” (Chic Stone)
“Potion From The Unholy Cauldron” (Sy Grudko ?)
“Web Of The Spider Woman” (Bill Molno + ?)
“The Spectral Executioners” (Ken Rice)

The cover seems to be referencing a story from WEB18 (“Out Of Blackness They Come!”).
Fate again once the host and once the protagonist.

Now we have an interesting exception, a breaking of the mould. “The Phantoms’ Vengeful Return” is handlettered, but no reprint. Because it’s drawn by Chic Stone who joins the Ace staff as late as the beginning of 1952.
And it is a story featuring Fate.


HAND OF FATE #19    
August 1953
Cover: Go back to your pirate grave (0) – ???
“The 5 Lives Of Otto Marlin” (Lou Cameron, signed)
“Stampede Of The Centaurs” (Jim McLaughlin)
“Satan’s Sinister Bargain” (Louis Zansky)
„High Priestess Of The Snake People“ („Ace Baker“) – reprint from CHALLENGE OF THE UNKNOWN #6

The reprint is handlettered, the rest in Leroy, business as usual. Two stories feature Fate (being involved in one of the two). The reprint of course is not a Fate story.

Damn strange cover by Unknown. Could be Ken Rice, but just looks off.
Very good example for leroyed screaming – got no style. I feel like there’s a story to this cover, but not in this issue…
One of the finest issues Ace ever published, though. Four beautiful stories, executed in their best way by four fantastic artists. Please find two of them in our scan section.

“Stampede Of The Centaurs” poses another prime example for myths being remodeled into an Ace horror story. We are regaled with living centaurs, the Hydra monster, the crown of Helen of Troy – all stirred together with a dramatic plot about jealousy and murder. And a beautiful woman blowing up the whole schmear. Accidentally, of course.


October 1953
Cover: Elephant prints! (0) – Jim McLaughlin ?
“Death Was The Bridegroom” (Ken Rice)
“The Phantom Gladiator” (Lou Cameron, signed)
“Long Shall The Undead Wail” (Louis Zansky)
“Dynasty Of Disaster” (Chic Stone)

Competely Leroy lettered. Fate once actively, once passively involved.

Absolutely whacky cover – but most fitting for Ace horror. A man sprawled across the floor, supposedly trampled by an elephant. The woman delivering “information exhibit A” (“Elephant prints!”), the miniature statuette of an elephant being “information exhibit B”.
The reader (being judge and jury combined) has to put the pieces together and reconstruct a crime of supernatural nature. This crap NEEDS a balloon to get any sense into this picture.
Elephant prints! Why not an attacking elephant bull in the first place?

Anyway,  Ace delivers a lot of bull – harhar.
Step right up, folks, take a look at the invisible bull. But what’s that in the corner? Elephant crappings!

“Death Was The Bridegroom” may serve as a cautionary tale. Metaphysical mumbo-jumbo garnished with too much drivel, unwinding without any suspense to a declamatory end.
Ace’ weakness in story writing. They sometimes just couldn’t shake it off.


December 1953
Cover: When you got the jaws open… it sprung the gate! (0) – ???
“Strange Gift From The Unknown” (Jim McLaughlin + ?)
“Revenge Of The Haunted” (Lou Cameron, signed)
“Phantoms Of The Forgotten” (Louis Zansky)
“Invitation To Your Wake” (Sy Grudko ?)

Competely Leroy lettered. Fate working hard for his money, appearing in three stories. This time getting ranted at as follows: „Going around rigged up like the veiled prophet doesn’t give you the right to interfere with peoples’s business! Now out of my way, screwball!”

No wonder Fate is such a grumpy character…

Again a mystery cover. Who did this? I think it’s the same guy who drew the flesh-eating plant on BAFF19 (January 1954). My observation is that Ace handed out cover assignments in batches. “You there, come in and draw two covers.” Same procedure next week: “Ah, once you’re in the office, won’t you do three covers? Yeah, for our next three horror mags, thanks.”

Invitation To Your Wake” is great nonsensical fun and crudely drawn – I suspect a sloppy job by Sy Grudko. Hmm, looking at it just now again, it’s probably NOT Grudko, but I’ll let it stand for the moment (so please antagonize me on that one)! It is posted on Karswell’s fantastic blog “The Horrors Of It All“ – to read click on underlined title.

Far out issue, by the way. A monster hunter, an undead wild west posse and the synod of evil…  Come again?!

Strange Gift From The Unknown”  is posted on Karswell’s fantastic blog “The Horrors Of It All“ – to read click on underlined title.

Phantoms Of The Forgotten” is posted on Karswell’s fantastic blog “The Horrors Of It All“ – to read click on underlined title.


March 1954
Cover: Each door is a year (0/1) – Ken Rice ?
“To Behold His Doom” (Lou Cameron, signed)
“Whom The Image Strikes” (Chic Stone)
“Curse Of The Sapphire Fiend” (Jim McLaughlin)
“The Night Of Friday 13” (Lou Cameron, signed)

Competely Leroy lettered. Fate once actively, once passively involved.
On the cover a couple travels into the future. The first story is (a bit) about that.
Unique occurrence: you get two fresh stories by Lou Cameron. Best deal in HAND OF FATE’s run.
In addition to it, “The Night Of Friday 13” poses a highlight in Ace’s horror opus. Absolutely cool story about Death taking a relaxing break. Told in first person by the reaper himself! Click to read in our “Stories” section.

To Behold His Doom” is posted on Karswell’s fantastic blog “The Horrors Of It All“ – to read click on underlined title.

Whom The Image Strikes” is posted on Karswell’s fantastic blog “The Horrors Of It All“ – to read click on underlined title.


June 1954
Cover: Run! Run! We can wait! (1) – ???
“He Who Robs The Dead” (Lou Cameron, signed)
“Shattering The Time Barrier” (???)
“Hell Beyond The Crystal Ball” (Richard Case)
“Thrust Of A Ghost Lance” (Jim McLaughlin + ?)

Again that mystery cover art we saw with HAND21. This looks like McLaughlin inks, but whom is he inking?!
Competely Leroy lettered. For the second time in HAND’s run Fate is an active protagonist in all four stories!
In the lead story “He Who Robs The Dead” Lou Cameron designs panel borders out of bones. Gives it a scary and at the same time ironical touch.

Mystery artwork in “Shattering The Time Barrier”. Am completely at a loss here; spotting art, anyone? This story has been under examination to be possible contribution by Myron Fass, but is probably not.
Postcript January 2015: “Shattering The Time Barrier” now posted on Karswell’s blog – and we all are still wondering who the art could be by…
I got a faint suspicion about it, though. Am getting a Jay Scott Pike vibe now (who did ONE horror story for Ace, in WEB OF MYSTERY #3, in 1951, three years ago). It’s highly improbable, cause Pike is working almost exclusively for Atlas/Marvel since about 1950. But his „Curse of the Condemned Gypsy“ is getting reprinted in September 1954 – in BAFFLING MYSTERIES #22. Hmm, hmm, hmmm.

Next story in this issue (“Hell Beyond The Crystal Ball”) bringing up the next surprise: a contribution by Richard Case who has been absent for over two years.

He Who Robs The Dead” is posted on Karswell’s fantastic blog “The Horrors Of It All“ – to read click on underlined title.


August 1954
Cover: If you are guilty you shall pay (1-4) – ???
“The Man Who Would Be Fate” (Lou Cameron, signed)
“Lord Of The Tattered Realm” (Ken Rice)
“12 Symbols To Hell” (Louis Zansky)
“Beast Of The Bayous” (Jim McLaughlin + ?)

Competely Leroy lettered and last issue to present all new material. Fate is involved in the lead story, then acts as host in another two. Cover is universally valid and may point to all stories.
Great issue by Ace’s “Big Four”: Cameron / Rice / Zansky and McLaughlin. Only one in the run of this series. And the last one in the history of Ace’s horror books (number four out of four).

Again the contents of this issue are pretty far gone. Fate abdicates and lets a power greedy individual run the universe? A junk spirit with devil-like qualities does voodoo magic?? Zodiac beasts at the command of a mortal man??? And a woman turning into a were-alligator????

The second “filler” is special: The first (and only) Ace one-pager to be told by a first person narrator, a castle tourist guide.

Lord Of The Tattered Realm” is posted on Karswell’s fantastic blog “The Horrors Of It All“ – to read click on underlined title.


November 1954
Cover: You cannot hold back time! (3) – ???
“Who’d Believe Kasimir Raades?” (Ken Rice)
“Big Top Nightmare” (Lin Streeter) – reprint from BEYOND #5
“Death Wears No Face” (Lou Cameron, signed)
“Trial By Ghost Light” (Ken Rice) – reprint from BEYOND #4

Fate only appears in the two original stories, not in the reprinted ones (because they come from early issues of BEYOND).

A quick explanation concerning the two number 25s (25a and 25b). In those critical weeks at the end of the year 1954, there must have been some editorial mix-up, maybe panic even. The almost simultaneous publication (one in November, the other in December) led to confusion in numbering. The December issue should have been a number 26.
The editors probably rushed this issue to the newsstands to avoid approval through the newly founded Comics Code Authority.

The run-of-the-mill story formula of discovering the elixir of eternal youth takes nice turns in “Who’d Believe Kasimir Raades?”. The Ace writers truly explore the tragic component of this classic plot.


December 1954
Cover: Go back to the living and make amends! (0)  Jim McLaughlin ?
“The Last Hiding Place” (Lou Cameron, signed)
“Rendezvous With The Phantom Gypsies” (Ken Rice) – reprint from WEB OF MYSTERY #5
“The Witch’s Wicked Words” (Larry Woromay)
“When His Number’s Up…” (Louis Zansky)

Exciting last issue. Just one reprint. All the other horror books at this point in time featured two reprinted stories. The misnumbered HAND OF FATE 25b (which should have been a #26!) rewards us with a very special third original story: “The Witch’s Wicked Words”.
A fast paced action story, atypical for Ace.


This is Larry Woromay swiping Jack Davis art from VAULT OF HORROR #36

The art looks startingly like Jack Davis, which can’t be, because he was strung up at EC. So Howard Nostrand, the famous Davis-imitator from Harvey, comes to mind. But it took Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr. just the batting of an eyelash to confirm that it’s the talented Larry Woromay (of Atlas/Marvel fame, later on Eerie Publications). So enjoy his only work he ever did for Ace Horror!

Cameron’s “The Last Hiding Place” is a mad, mad, mad story about a gangster couple and a carnival witch turning them into a tiger woman and a werewolf – makes absolutely no sense at all. Baddie. The dark side of Ace horror.
We have no information about authorship or the writing staff, but I wonder if Cameron sometimes did his own stories.

The Last Hiding Place” is posted on Karswell’s fantastic blog “The Horrors Of It All“ – to read click on underlined title.

In “When His Number’s Up…” Zansky again touches the world of high finance and murderous businessmen. Compare to “Slaves Of The Undead Brain” in BEYOND #30 (January 1955).


By the way:
If you want to read a story which is not presented here or linked – please go looking for the whole book on sites like Digital Comic Museum or  Comic Book Plus.


For the record: HAND OF FATE – Top Spotted Artists (number of stories in brackets)

Louis Zansky (11)
Lou Cameron (11) 2 with Rocco Mastroserio
Jim McLaughlin (9)
Mike Sekowsky (8)
Ken Rice (7)
Bill Molno (5)
Sy Grudko (4)
Chic Stone (4)

Each 1: Maurice Gutwirth, Mario Rizzi, Lin Streeter, Bill Walton, Charles Nicholas, Richard Case, Larry Woromay and „Ace Baker“.