Wednesday, June 22, 2011

June 1962: The Origin of Aunt May and Uncle Ben??

This month

Amazing Adult Fantasy #13
Journey Into Mystery #81
Kathy #17
Life with Millie #17
Patsy and Hedy #82
Patsy Walker #101
Rawhide Kid #28
Strange Tales #97
Tales of Suspense #30
Tales to Astonish #32


Aliens study earthlings in a attempt to learn our weaknesses in "The Unsuspecting" (Amazing Adult Fantasy #13). In the shape of mist and traveling in a spaceship disguised as a cloud formation, these aliens put two and two together and realize the best way to bend earthlings to their will is to disguise themselves as television sets and use the boob tube's influence to conquer earth. It's not something that wasn't done in EC Comics years before but the subject matter does give weight to the word "adult" in the title. Strangely, the story title listed on the contents page is "The Unsuspected." This was the best cover Ditko did for AAF. Nicely eerie, far more than the silly story it illustrates about a race of fish men who decide to invade New York and are turned back by an unusual guardian.

On the flip side is the cover for Journey Into Mystery #81, which I've always thought looked like an alien taking a dump (look at it closely--he's clenching those teeth!). The story it illustrates, "The Ruler of Earth" is a goofy hodgepodge of Lee/Kirby's distrust of Communism and their belief that man can find a way to get along together on earth. Ostensibly, all races but those that believe in Communism have the inherent goal to make peace. When an American scientist comes up with the perfect solution to the Cold War (by inventing a machine that will rule and dole out advice to the human race), Ygor Redsky and his bearded commies will stop at nothing to destroy the machine, dubbed ROE (Ruler of Earth) so that they may once again strive for world domination. Too bad for them then that ROE can pretty much think on its own and quashes the rebel plans. The story itself (never mind the see-saw political views) is clumsily plotted. The opening sees a couple coming upon a deserted army base in the desert in the year 1990. The story is then thrust back years before in a flashback that doesn't bring us back to our starting point.
Another story in JIM #81 rates a mention, not for the dopey story but for its sharp Gene Colan art. The story concerns a couple of big time hunters who get wind of a giant gorilla named Kunga (a little too close to the cheesy flick Konga, no?) and realize they can reap the rewards if they can catch him alive and sell him to science. When they take a shot at the big monkey and he flees, all bets are off and they decide the ape is just as valuable dead as alive. Before they can corner the beast, however, he climbs into his spaceship and flies back to, I guess, The Planet of the Apes. In a particularly moving climax, the two hunters, who were, only moments before, cash-hungry and blood-thirsty, opine that the gorilla was from an intelligent race in space and had come to our world to make peaceful contact only to be stalked and terrorized. When, oh when, will mankind learn? Sheesh! The afore-metioned Colan art reminded me quite a bit of the work Al Williamson used to do for EC.

After winning a shoot-out contest (and donating the booty to a local widow), The Rawhide Kid finds himself chased by a posse in "Doom in the  Desert" (Rawhide Kid #28). Once in Dead Man's Desert, Rawhide runs out of water and wanders aimlessly from mirage to mirage until finally collapsing. Along comes Luke Gorby, who steal the Kid's six-shooters and leaves the Kid to bake. Ironically, The Kid is saved soon after by Gorby's sister, who takes The Kid to her cabin and nurses him back to health, asking only in return for her kindness that Rawhide not kill brother Luke. Finding it tough to holster vengeance but obliged to the girl for her nursing, The Kid agrees but when Luke comes a-callin' on his sister and sees Rawhide at the dinner table, guns are a-blazin'. Gorby heads out into Dead Man's Desert where he loses his way and dies in a sandstorm.

Stan Lee and Steve Ditko say "Goodbye to Linda Brown" in Strange Tales #91. A young lady named Linda, bound to a wheelchair begins having strange dreams and "sleep walking." The strange thing about this Strange Tale is not that it's revealed in the end that we're saying goodbye to Linda Brown because she's a mermaid and it's time to hit the water (nor is the strange thing that Linda never seems to notice that she has a flipper under her blanket), but that Linda has an Uncle Ben and Aunt May. Clearly, she's the sister that Peter Parker never knew he had. I've got a feeling this was meant for Amazing Adult Fantasy and the axe had fallen so had to be rescheduled for another zine. (This, my friends, is why I enlisted at Marvel U. Where else do these little factoids get covered? Kudos to Peter! -JS)

How could a story called "The Ghost Rode a Roller Coaster" (Tales of Suspense #30) be possibly labeled a "Tale of Suspense"? How about Tales That Tell Their Story in Their Title? Amusement park owner Charles Harris hires Walter Burke to build him the most frightening rides in the world. Burke, terminally ill, needs the work so agrees to low pay and long hours. Harris, the prototypical "boss with no heart" pushes the man into exhaustion and, eventually, death. Just before shuffling off, Harris finishes what he promised would be the most frightening roller coaster of all time. Jumping on board to give it a try (with no assistance), he's soon joined by the ghost of Walter Burke (hence the title) and finds that the scary roller coaster goes up but doesn't come down in the typical fashion. Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers provide the art.

The art world of the 1920s is all abuzz about "The Girl in the Black Hood!" (Tales to Astonish #32, art by Don Heck), a photographer named May Dusa. Though art fans are hot for her work she's never allowed a photo of her face to circulate (May's always got a camera hood over her head). A crook named Jones decides he's not only going to rob Dusa but see her face as well. After scheduling a sitting with the photographer, Jones shows up and threatens her with a gun. When she raises her hood, we find out that May Dusa is actually...

1 comment:

  1. I believe this marks the last month (probably until today!) that Marvel did NOT publish a superhero comic. Thank God!!! Peter has done a heroic job of slogging through these early, obscure titles.