Monday, June 13, 2011

February 1962: Could Anything Match the "Terror of Tim Boo Ba"?


This month

Amazing Adult Fantasy #9
Journey Into Mystery #77
Kathy #15
Life With Millie #15
Patsy Walker #99
Patsy and Hedy #80
Rawhide Kid #26
Strange Tales #93
Tales of Suspense #26
Tales to Astonish #28


At last, a comic story that might be construed as an Amazing Adult Fantasy (although I still have trouble picturing an adult in 1961 picking up a comic book with the awkward blurb: "Ever since the dawn of time, nothing can match 'The Terror of Tim Boo Ba!'" for anything remotely adult) arrives in the guise of "The Man Who Captured Death!" (Amazing Adult Fantasy #9). A scientist builds a machine to capture the grim reaper but doesn't consider the consequences of his actions until Death shows him. NO evil skull with a sythe, Death is a patient gentleman who shows the scientist what the absence of death means to the rest of the world. Germs are unstoppable, crop-killing insects destroy the world's food supply, and the suffering keep right on suffering. In the end, Death is released and the two walk off into the unknown. A touching, affecting little masterpiece with typically superb Steve Ditko art.


Don Heck provides the art for "When Aliens Walk the Earth" (Journey Into Mystery #77). An alien spaceship is spotted over New York and earth gets ready for the worst. Combat troops are readied for battle when the ship lands in New Jersey but all thoughts of invasion seem to evaporate when a band of merry friars exits the craft. The aliens are taken to the U.N. and all kinds of secret information is traded between species. After flying away, the travelers reveal their true selves: insect like creatures who disguise themselves when they travel to distant planets to gain the trust of the residents.

In "Earth Will Be Lost Tonight" (Strange Tales #93), theatrical agent Steve Miller is lucky enough to have a cocky young singer named Don Russell enter his office and tell Steve that he's looking at the world's greatest singer. Steve is a bit on the skeptical  side until the young man belts out a tune and convinces Steve he's found gold in them thar hills. Don is an immediate hit and sells millions of records but Steve's wife, a retired actress, is not convinced: how could everyone love the same guy? "Hmmm" thinks Miller out loud, "You know, you may have something there." Based on this damning evidence, the agent follows his superstar back to the theater one night and witnesses a bizarre scene right out of a Hollywood movie: Don Russell removes his human mask and reveals his hideous alien disguise beneath. Steve overhears the spaceman communicating with his far-off planet about their invasion plans: Russell's next record will sell in the mega-millions and will include a special hypnotic pulse designed to put every man, woman and child in the world into a trance (that's supposing, I guess, that they all buy and listen to the record at the same time) while the invasion takes place. With the help of his wife, Steve concocts a foolproof plan to derail the apocalypse. Extremely silly, even for a Marvel Monster story, with plenty of gaping Kirby crowd faces.

"Never Trust a Martian" (Tales of Suspense #26) is another of those commie-bashing stories so prevalent in the late 50s-early 60s. Our enemies behind the Red Curtain become convinced the only way to topple the hated freedom-loving Americans is to trick us into thinking we're being invaded by Martians... hey, I'm not making this up. To ensure their plan will work, Russian spies infiltrate America and spread lies and panic faster than a talk show host. The x-factor the Reds never figured on was that real Martians were watching and weren't happy that their own real invasion was about to be previewed. They hustle the phonies off to Mars. Reds on the Red Planet. I never cared much for Don Heck's art on Iron Man (though I do promise to keep an open mind when we get to his run in a couple weeks), but I think it's serviceable here and on several of the monster stories.

The most fascinating aspect of "The Shootout at Scragg's Saloon" (Rawhide Kid #26) is that there is no shootout at Scragg's Saloon!  The Kid gets involved with a mentally challenged clean-up man at the Saloon who's convinced The Rawhide Kid is his long-lost son, kidnapped by Indians while still in his crib. Some ornery hombres recognize The Kid and dollar signs light their eyes. The kindly old man is caught in the crossfire and is killed but not before Rawhide makes the man's day by calling him "pa." Art by Jack Kirby.

Kirby serves up another tasty alien story with "Midnight on Haunted Hill" (Tales to Astonish #28). Little Billy is disturbed one night, while reading Tales to Astonish,  by his father who commands him to go after their missing dog in the rain. Harumphing, Billy does as he's told and finds "that darn Rex" up on Haunted Hill just as a spaceship is landing. Billy overhears the pilot order an alien off the ship, telling him he's being punished and will remain on Earth for one full year before they come pick him up in the same spot. Since it's dark and stormy, Billy doesn't get a look at the alien and when he gets back home to tell his parents the news, he's accused of having an overactive imagination because of the "funny books" he's been reading (it's happened to me in the fact, it still does-PE) and sent to bed. Not one to bury a secret, Billy tells everyone he sees in town the next day. The townspeople, smelling good coin, decide to play up the alien story and create a tourist trap out of Haunted Hill. On the fateful night, one year later, crowds gather to see if the prophecy will come true. Crafty twist ending that, I must admit, wasn't expected.


  1. From the recent NY Times review of a new non-fiction book called Area 51:

    "Ms. Jacobsen connects the appearance of a real, disc-shaped, hovering object with Stalin-era Soviet intrigue. She hypothesizes that the relic found in Roswell was the opening shot in the cold war. She suggests that the supposed space creatures were human guinea pigs, the results of American experiments as monstrous as the Nazi ones conducted by Josef Mengele."

    See "Never Trust a Martian" above. I guess that what is suitable for a comic book turns into "credible" non-fiction after 50 years!

  2. The Tim Boo Baa story has always been one of my favorites. A simple, short story with minimal dialogue. How it never got made into a Twilight Zone is beyond me. I'm sure the big shot studio could have bought the rights from Marvel relatively cheaply.

    What's the story with the Gorilla Man? I only ask because Marvel brought him back last year for his own mini-series. Maybe gorillas are 'in' as far as comics go? Gorilla Grodd was always a pretty good villain.

  3. Professor McMillion!

    In re: Gorilla Man.
    Stay Tuned til Friday, m'man!

  4. Is there no end to the talents of you gentlemen?! I love the comics of this era. I still have almost all of the Journey Into Mystery/ Thor issues of this time period (starting with the Thor ones). So many great ones in this era. I was a big fan of Daredevil as well. Hello again to Tom McMillion UTW!- I see you're "one of them there hosts" this time around. Now I'll have to catch up on what you've written so far.

  5. Jim Barwise-

    And a good day to you too sir! How have you been? Yes, the Jedi Masters have graciously allowed me to help contribute to this great new blog they have created. Glad you've joined us. Stay tuned as this site gets even more expansive with different comic coverage from Marvel!