Real Name: Miles Keston
magic-user, circa 1953;
Occupation: Bookstore owner/partner
Group Membership: None
formerly Walter Prelle
Enemies: "Bast," Walter Prelle
Known Relatives: None
Base of Operations: London, England
First Appearance: Uncanny Tales#14/6 (November, 1953)
Powers/Abilities: Miles Keston demonstrated no skills beyond knowledge of rare books. He studied the Black Book of Bast and obtained some experience in sympathetic magic ( using a "voodoo doll").
(Uncanny Tales#14/6 (fb) - BTS) - For 20 years, Miles Keston shared an apartment and co-owned a musty little bookshop in a London side street with Walter Prelle. Walter was senior partner, and Miles came to resent him for taking care of the money and forcing them to live below their means. The resentment grew to hatred, and Miles even wished to kill Walter, but feared getting caught too much to ever go through with it.
(Uncanny Tales#14/6 (fb) - BTS) - Walter knew of Miles hatred, but he hated Miles even more so. Knowing how Miles' mind worked, he hired a stranger to sell Miles the Black Book of Bast.
Tales#14/6) - Miles was impressed with the book, but Walter dismissed it as
worthless, as most people didn't believe in the occult. Walter convinced him to
keep the book himself since no one else would want it, and Miles angrily agreed
to take it, to touch it up and mend it, and then to sell it.
As they walked home that night, Miles dwelled on how much he hated Walter. That night when he touched the book while wishing he could kill Walter with impunity, the Book suddenly opened by itself. Miles saw that the open page was -- unlike the rest of the book -- made of human skin, and he read its passages, which told of how to kill a man by making a doll in his image. Fascinated, Miles read the book all night long, then tested it out with a minor spell in which he held one of Walter's socks over a dying candle and muttered an incantation. A foul wind swept through the room and Miles seemed to see a crocodile head in the shadows. When Walter got up, he complained of a terrible pain in his foot, and sent Miles to open the shop without him.
Pleased with his success, Miles began assembling a doll, using bits of Walter's clothing, fingernails, hair, etc., and each day it began to look more like Walter. When the doll was completed, Miles followed the next instruction to find a pin in darkness (the only kind of pin that could inflict and exchange the pain of death). After three nights of searching, he found a pin in the filth of a Soho alley at midnight. Wishing to torture his enemy before killing him, Miles scratched the pin across the doll's arm, and Walter cried out and came out of his room holding his bleeding arm.
Waiting until Walter fell back to sleep, Miles then grabbed the doll, ran into Walters room, called on Bast for power, and then began plunging the pin into the doll. Walter, however, then arose and revealed that he had controlled Miles the whole time, controlling his every move, his feelings, his mind, and his sight. The doll had actually been made in Miles image!
Miles collapsed as pain lanced through his vital organs, and he fell screaming. The last thing he saw before dying was the image of his partner's face...the face of a crocodile.
Comments: Stan Lee is credited
as editor for the book, and Joe Sinnott as penciler and inker, according to the
Grand Comics Database, but I'm not sure if Stan or someone else would have
The Uncanny Tales story was reprinted in Tomb of Darkness#17.
WTF is up with Bast?
As seen here: Bast was a cat god, and was never really involved in black magic. More recently, Bast has been revealed to be Wakanda's Panther God.
The easiest explanation would be considering it an error, in which the writer just didn't do good enough research. But that's not the No-Prize method!
I think this being was more likely the offspring of Set-spawn Damballah. Once worshipped, perhaps, by a cult of Wakandans dwelling near Serpent Valley (African equivalent of the Savage Land). Only to have those cultists driven into exile by the Panther and White Gorilla cults, way back in time immemorial.
Some sources say that Bast was revered by practitioners of witchcraft, but I have never seen a reference to Bast being crocodile-headed or of being associated with black magic.
There are a few other Egyptian gods associated with crocodiles
- Ahemait (possibly the Devourer) was the most malevolent of these and may be the most likely suspect.
From this site: http://www.godchecker.com/pantheon/egyptian-mythology.php?deity=AMMIT
AMMIT: Also known as AMMAM, AMEMAIT, AMMUT, AHEMAIT The Devourer of Souls. She's a demonic Goddess who is part hippo, part croc and part lion, a scary combination that's put to good use when a soul's judgment day comes.She lurks under the Scales of Justice while OSIRIS, THOTH and MAAT weigh up the evidence. If your soul is deemed unworthy, she pops out and gobbles it up.
- Sobek/Sebek was the crocodile god. He was fed the hearts of sinners. The Greeks called him Suchos. Sobek was basically for crocodiles what Bast was for cats. Worshippers of Sobek mummified crocodiles and buried them in his sanctuaries.
SEBEK: Also known as SOBEK, SOCHET, SUCHOS Crocodile God of Might and Power. But only where pharaohs are concerned. The rest of us have to fight our own battles. SEBEK is depicted as a large crocodile, and has all the dangerous attributes you might expect: cunning, treachery, deceit and sharp pointy teeth.
His biggest shrine was located in the city of Crocodilopolis.
Zen Harawada notes that Sekhmet was noted as "one of great magic" so maybe it was a frame job?
In addition, the "voodoo" aspect of this would fit more with the Loa, such as Dam-Ayido (Damballah) or his twin brother, Sagbata (Baron Samedi). Perhaps a god from another pantheon impersonated Bast (and took on an inaccurate appearance)
I vote that it was Ahemait, possibly in an alliance with Sagbata, who took advantage of Bast's good name to draw others into black magic
Thanks to Zen and Will U for help on some myth information on this one.
Profile by Snood.
No KNOWN connections to:
The apparent power behind the Black Book of Bast, it was allegedly an ancient god with the head of a crocodile. It may or may not have actually possessed Walter Krelle, or actually taken his form.
Black Book of Bast
An ancient text printed on papyrus, it contained at least one page made of human skin. This page of how to kill a man by making a doll in his image. Under some circumstances, the book would respond to the touch of its holder, for instance opening to the above page when its holder wanted to secretly kill someone.
It presumably drew power from "Bast" (see comments)
The senior partner of Miles Keston in
ownership of a bookstore, knew of Miles hatred, but he hated Miles even more so.
Knowing how Miles' mind worked, he hired a stranger to sell Miles the Black Book
of Bast. He controlled Miles the whole time, controlling his every move, his
feelings, his mind, and his sight. While Miles made a "voodoo doll" to kill him,
Krelle actually duped Miles into making a doll of himself. He seemed to suffer
injuries from Miles use of the doll, but when Miles made the fatal stroke and
unwittingly killed himself, Krelle revealed his involvement. As Miles died,
Krelle's face took on the crocodilian appearance of "Bast."
--Uncanny Tales#14/6 (14/6 (fb) - BTS
images: (story (not including
framing) pages, without ads)
Uncanny Tales#14/6, p1, panel 1 (Prelle)
p2, panel 2 (Keston)
panel 4 (Book)
p4, panel 6 (doll)
panel 8 ("Bast")
Last updated: 11/19/06
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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