October 13, 2011 by The Belated Nerd
Monsteroso – Amazing Adventures #5: The alien child Monsteroso accidentally presses the escape pod button of his parent’s spaceship and is carried down to Earth where the pod crashes in the African jungle. Monsteroso’s unconscious body is discovered by an American circus owner who sells the supposedly dead creature to a New York museum. The alien child awakes and explores the city until the military attacks him. The frightened monster tries to flee by climbing to the top of the UN building. The army shoots him with a tranquilizer dart and he falls into the river. His parents suddenly arrive and rescue their child warning the earthlings that, “It is fortunate he is unharmed. Fortunate…FOR YOU.” and leave Earth.
The Spider – Journey into Mystery #73: A physicist working at an atomic research lab in New Mexico goes into work one day unknowingly with a spider in his pants cuff. The creature becomes bombarded by the atomic rays and grows to a huge size, gaining the power to think and speak, and then attacks the humans. The physicist tricks the spider into snagging a missile test with its web and when it climbs towards it, the missile detonates and kills The Spider.
Fin Fang Foom – Strange Tales #89: In his debut, Fin Fang Foom was merely an ancient hibernating dragon who is deliberately awakened from his slumber in a cave by an anti-communist Taiwanese man, Chen Liuchow, whose homeland is under threat from the Red Chinese. Chen uses a special herb to awaken the dragon, and taunts Foom with the threat of another herb that will put him back to sleep. Chen goads Foom into chasing him, and leads him straight into the Communist invasion force, which Foom destroys. With the Red threat eliminated, Chen leads Fin Fang Foom back into his cave, where the sleep herb returns Foom to his hibernative state. But that wasn’t the last the Marvel Universe would hear from Fin Fang Foom.
The Abominable Snowman – Tales to Astonish #24: A TV producer receives a request to produce a film of the Abominable Snowman so he and his crew set off for the Himalayas. Unconvinced that such a creature exists, the producer dresses up in a costume, but one of his assistants sees him and follows behind. Suddenly, the fur-clad producer is seized by a much larger furry creature who claims that he had been searching for him. The creature (revealed to be a lizardman in disguise) takes the producer to a drill machine and the assistant sneaks in too. They travel deep underground to a city of lizardmen who have been looking for a lost explorer who wears a shaggy costume for protection from the cold. He must still be alive as they live for a thousand years. They are hostile to the producer and attempt to place him into a cage. He makes a break for it and runs into the cave of a thousand winds. While he is helplessly buffeted by winds from different directions, the assistant sneaks up behind the lizardmen guarding the cave’s mouth and lobs explosives at them which throw them into the cave’s strong winds as well. The assistant extends a rope to the producer and they escape toward the black pool which holds a ”octo-monster”. They escape from its clutches and come across the drill machine while fleeing the lizardmen. They take the machine back to the surface and destroy it with the remaining explosives.
Bruttu – Tales of Suspense #22: A milksop scientist working on an experimental machine is thinking of a comic book monster when an accidental discharge of energy transforms him into the creature’s likeness. He goes on an unintended rampage through town because he can no longer speak and communicate his non-hostile intentions, the military authorities attack and drive him into the woods. While approaching a small house he gets the idea that he can write with an object, but the owner drives him away with a rifle. He loves his research assistant and, coming to the realization that the army will eventually destroy him, resolves to see her one last time. He approaches her home and uses a rake to write in the ground he means no harm, but since the scientist disappeared when the monster appeared, the woman jumps to the conclusion that he “has killed the man I loved.” Since he realizes now what a fool he has been for wanting to be big and strong since the woman he loved loved him just the way he was, he returns to the atomic machine and bathes in its rays once more thinking of the man he had been. He changes back and embraces his true love.
Category Comic Books, Science Fiction | Tags: 1961,Amazing Adventures,Atlas,Bruttu,Fin Fang Foom,Jack Kirby,Journey into Mystery,Marvel,Monsteroso,Stan Lee,Strange Tales,Tales of Suspense,Tales to Astonish | 2 Comments
September 26, 2011 by The Belated Nerd
The Glob (Journey into Mystery #72) is an alien advance scout for an invasion from space. He lies in wait for years in an old Transylvanian castle disguised as a statue and can only be resurrected by the application of a special paint. An unwitting painter brings the monster to life but ultimately succeeds in defeating the Glob with a can of turpentine.
Klagg (Tales of Suspense #21) is an alien who visits Earth and becomes so upset with the war-like ways of humanity that he declares war upon all the nations of Earth. A young lay-about convinces communist agents to join forces with the free world to confront Klagg. Seeing that the various nations are able to set aside their differences and band together against him, Klagg decides that there is hope for humanity and suspends his campaign of destruction.
Robot X (Amazing Adventures #4) is a thinking robot who is the propaganda target of the editor of a local paper. Robot X builds a robot army in a secret factory and assaults the town to capture and expose the newspaper editor as a Martian in disguise. The Martians knew that they could not manipulate thinking robots and had to turn the humans against them. With the alien plot foiled, Robot X and his fellow robots deactivate themselves so that humans will not need to live in fear.
Moomba (Tales to Astonish #23) is the leader of an alien fifth column disguised as African wood carvings (I suspect he stole the idea from the Glob’s people). Moomba gives his command to strike and all the carvings get up and begin to attack their human owners. The wood they are made from is so hard that fire and bullets can’t harm them. Eventually, an African witch doctor defeats Moomba and makes him promise to leave Earth along with all of his wooden warriors.
Zzutak (Strange Tales#88) was created by magic paints supplied to a comic book artist by an Aztec elder. The artist is hypnotized by the paints to travel to Mexico and create Zzutak, but after hearing the elder’s plans, he mutters under his breath “Zzutak is your enemy” while painting a second creature. When the magic paint brings the second monster into existence, it begins a battle with Zzutak. The elder tries to get them to stop fighting, but they ignore him. During the fight, the columns supporting the temple are damaged and the whole structure soon crashes down on all three of them. The elder survives, but a blow to the head has caused amnesia and his plans are lost forever.
Category Comic Books, Fantasy, Science Fiction | Tags: Amazing Adventures,Atlas,Comic Books,Jack Kirby,Journey into Mystery,Marvel,Monsters,Stan Lee,Strange Tales,Tales of Suspense,Tales to Astonish | No Comments
September 21, 2011 by The Belated Nerd
The Jack Kirby cover of Tales of Suspense #23 depicts a scene from a Stan Lee/Steve Ditko backup story called The Creature from the Black Bog. Ordinarily, the cover of ToS would show a scene from the Kirby drawn first story in the book. The lead story that month (“I Entered the Dimension of Doom”) contained a number of features that would have made for an exciting cover; a two-dimensional world populated with frog-faced creatures and a giant “hypno-creature”.
Kirby’s cover is strikingly threatening compared to the rather sweet and endearing story and artwork by Lee and Ditko. (I like the way Ditko draws old people!) One aspect of the cover that is an improvement is the title. The Creature in the Black Bog makes more sense than the Creature from the Black Bog.
Category Comic Books, Science Fiction | Tags: Atlas,Comic Books,Jack Kirby,Marvel,Monsters,Stan Lee,Steve Ditko,Tales of Suspense | 4 Comments
September 13, 2011 by The Belated Nerd
You can quibble about the number of tails and legs all you want, but you can’t deny there is a resemblance between Jack Kirby‘s three-headed monster that appeared in Fantastic Four #1 in 1961 and Toho studios’ King Ghidorah who debuted in 1964. Some nerdly scholar should seriously explore how much (if any) cross-pollination there was between the Atlas/Marvel offices in Manhattan and the Toho studios in Tokyo.
Since I’m hardly a scholar nor very serious, I only have one question: Who needs Godzilla or Rodan for eradicating three-headed space dragons when you’ve got Mr. Fantastic?
Category Art, Comic Books, Film | Tags: 1961,Atlas,Comic Books,Fantastic Four,Ghidorah,Jack Kirby,Marvel,Toho | No Comments
August 27, 2011 by The Belated Nerd
An odd feature of early comic books was the mandatory two pages of text required for publications to take advantage of second class mail rates. Until someone stumbled upon the clever substitution of a letters page, every comic book published until the early Sixties had one of these text stories. I’m uncertain what difference it made to the post office. If a comic book without pages of text wasn’t a magazine, what was it? Art? Think of the prestige comic book publishers could have garnered if they’d just spent a few pennies more on stamps!
This month’s mandatory two pages of text comes from Tales of Suspense # 21. Author unknown.
Category Comic Books, Fantasy | Tags: Atlas,Comic Books,Marvel,SDRAWKCAB,Tale of Suspense | No Comments
August 24, 2011 by The Belated Nerd
The debate over the ratio of creative input between Stan Lee and his artists is one that has raged for years and is revived each time a new Marvel film is released or another member of the old bullpen passes away. Not surprisingly, these debates center on Marvel’s most iconic and popular characters, probably because that is where the money was, and continues, to be made. Any debate involving the comparative contributions of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko inevitably revolves around Spider-Man. The major evidence in that debate are the evolving credits found on the splash pages of the first 38 issues of The Amazing Spider-Man. (From “Written by Stan Lee; Illustrated by Steve Ditko” to “Scripted by Stan Lee; Plotted and Drawn by Steve Ditko”)
Curiously enough, nothing is ever made of the fact that the only writing credit Stan Lee predictably received (or took) in the years before the birth of the Marvel Universe with Fantastic Four #1, was on those stories drawn by Steve Ditko. In the Atlas years of the late Fifties and early Sixties, Stan and his brother Larry Lieber not only plotted many of the stories for artists like Jack Kirby, Don Heck and Paul Reinman but they also wrote all of the captions and dialog. Yet they were never credited as Stan was on the splash page of every Steve Ditko story. Mind you, the credit is in the form of Stan’s own signature, sometimes before and sometimes after Steve’s. To my knowledge, neither man has commented on this (at the time) unique convention.
Which brings us to this five-pager from Tales of Suspense #22 (Oct. 1961). Even with his face obscured, the writer before the typewriter on page two looks remarkably like a certain editor.
If I was a stickler for logic, I might be tempted to call shenanigans for the depiction of such earthly props as a mid-20th Century typewriter, waste basket and desk on page two, only to be replaced with the odd furnishings in the last panel. I don’t fancy the idea of “nightmare pills”; that’s what I used to call Tylenol PM.
I don’t know if it was Stan or Steve who came up with the initial idea for this story but whoever did may well have been inspired by an episode of The Twilight Zone (“The Eye of the Beholder”) that aired the previous November. In that story, the props were also illogically earthly. And we all know that aliens all like a good smoke!
Category Comic Books, Science Fiction | Tags: Atlas,Comic Books,Marvel,Stan Lee,Steve Ditko,Tales of Suspense,Twilight Zone | 3 Comments