Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Monsters Of The King - Titan!

In Tales of Suspense #28 we meet Titan, the Amphibian from Atlantis who invades the surface world and threatens to destroy it all. But a single human seemingly agrees to betray mankind and goes with Titan to his fellow creatures deep beneath the sea. There the human describes man as possessing great weapons and all but unbeatable. Though it means his death and the hatred of his fellow man, this single human's deception convinces the Titans that invasion is a waste of time. This is a singular story in one respect as according to sources Russ Heath, the famous artist for many a war tale and others over the decades inked Jack Kirby on this story.

More monsters rise next time.

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Dojo Classics - Terror Beneath The Sea!

If ever a movie qualified as a "time waster" then this charming and harmless bit of 1966 Japanese sci-fi fluff is it. Terror Beneath the Sea stars Sonny Chiba and a curvaceous American blonde as a duo of reporters who uncover an underwater kingdom ruled by a mad scientist and his minions and the mutant/cyborg fish-men he's created to eventually take over the world.

There's precious little mystery here as the reporters investigate a failed missle test and are quickly captured by the fish-men and begin to unlock the secrets of the underwater base which seems to be located almost adjacent to an island and presumably would be relatively easy to locate for the military who nonetheless seem at a loss.

This movie is overacted with a tenacity and consistency that almost results in an actual style for the whole shebang. The action sequences are extremely long and seem keyed to rhythms of suspense I'm not immediately familiar with. The final battle beneath the waves is a heady affair with a great deal of exotic pistol shooting as well as some pretty potent spear-gun action.

This movie has the veneer of hip 60's super-spy genre all over it, with a number of scenes triggering memories of James Bond sequences, but without actually being rip offs of same. Sonny Chiba is intense in the lead and while not always believable is relentlessly earnest. The lead actress Peggy Neal is a specimen for sure and seems to have nearly zero actual acting ability, but she sure is dandy to look at. Also of note is Franz Gruber who plays a well-meaning Navy man who gets more and more worked up as the movie unfolds until you actually begin to worry about his health.

This is not a "good" movie, but it is a diverting entertainment of the highest order. It's sleek and delivers what it seems to promise which ain't much. But that's more than a lot of movies do.

UPDATE: My opinion has not changed. This is a light frothy entertainment which doesn't make much sense. Enjoyed the mutated cyborgs more this time around, their inane acting really set the tone.

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Monday, October 16, 2017

Monsters Of The King - Two-Headed Thing!

The Two-Headed Thing rears its ugly heads up in Strange Tales #95. Not to be confused with other Marvel "things", this is the one with two heads, not just one. To read the story of the Two-Headed Thing go here.  Suffice it to say this critter proved more than a bit problematic for a certain convict trying to evade the long arm of justice.

More monsters from the mind of the King tomorrow.

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Tom Sutton's Creepy Things!

I likely said this before, but alas it remains true -- Tom Sutton is one of the most underrated artists of his generation. The Yoe Books publication Tom Sutton's Creepy Things gives us a nifty insight into one of the finest stylists of the Bronze Age of comics. Sutton's career in comics was an off and on again affair for many years before he finally began to submit work to Warren Magazines. There Nicola Cuti became aware of him since he illustrated some of Cuti's scripts and when Charlton needed talent during the expansion of the early 70's he tagged Sutton and the "Bear" as Cuti called him found a home.

(Tom Sutton's first Charlton cover art -- not included in this collection.)

This volume showcases many of Sutton's outstanding covers for the little Derby company, notorious for its small by reliable payments and also some of his best stories. Some are written by the old pro Joe Gill and many are penned by Cuti. But more than a few of these are written and drawn by Sutton himself. Among them are masterpieces like "Terrible Teddy" and "Bones" from Ghost Manor, "Journey to Lost Rlaak" from Haunted Love, "Grave Story" from Midnight Tales, "Subway Stop" from Haunted, "The Game Keeper" from Ghostly Haunts, "The Kukulkaton" from Monster Hunters, "The Well" from Creepy Things, and "Through a Glass Darkly" from Ghostly Tales. Many of the stories were written by Cuti and drawn by Sutton for Midnight Tales, the stellar anthology overseen by Wayne Howard -- among those are "Lost in Transit", "The Kilgore Monster", "Goo", and "The Tower Maiden". And there are more stories such as "The Weirdest Character I've Ever Known", "Mother's Boy", and "Where's Cyrus Bull?" written by Joe Gill. Great stuff.

(Sutton in the Charlton years.)

The volume also features a number of pages derived from original artwork when possible from the collections of editor Michael Ambrose (of Charlton Spotlight fame and a friend of the Dojo in times past) and Bryan Fowler. These pages really allow you to see with startling clarity the potency of Sutton's art. This volume is a gem for any Charlton fan and a must for any fan of Tom Sutton.

Here are most of the covers featured in this tome.

Beautiful. Thanks to Michael Ambrose and the folks at Yoe Books for giving us this tome dedicated to a real master.

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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Monsters Of The King - Googam!

After the mighty Goom was collected by his keepers and returned to space, his progeny named Googam hid and stayed behind on Earth. He revealed himself in Tales of Suspense #17 and while still a growing monster hid with an Earth family with the clear of intention of killing them when he no longer needed their aide. Others saw Googam but the community didn't rise to face the menace. He was defeated when he played games with a young boy and was tricked into some quicksand. Later Googam revives and becomes a strange part of Fin Fang Foom's crew, but that's a whole other story.

More Kirby monsters shamble out of their holes tomorrow.

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The Heap - Volume Two!

Under a simply delightful Frank Brunner cover, the second volume of the complete The Heap gives the reader a real glimpse of the many varied ways in which the Heap saga unfolded in the pages of Airboy Comics. The Heap stories here are of a varied stripe, with the bizarre plant-human hybrid which evolved from the remains of the WWI German flying ace Baron Von Emmelman getting involved or not so much as the stories unroll. The stories of The Heap more and more reminded me of Will Eisner's The Spirit stories, in which the main character is a relatively minor part of the tale but does often show up to play a critical role at some juncture. Devoid of the ability to speak, The Heap is a hard character to write, but whomever the writers are here (they are almost never identified in the credits) they do a dandy job of creating little parables in which The Heap is a weird figure of judgment or personification of nature.

Eventually the single most important event occurs in this volume, about a third of the way through, when "The Good Heap Artist" makes his debut. That artist, long unknown to his many fans in the early 50's when these stories were arriving on the newsstands from Hillman Comics, is named Ernest C. Schroeder. Ernie Schroeder who passed a way over a decade ago now, took the world of The Heap, which had wandered around from genre to genre trying to find a fit for the mossy beast and created a delightful fusion of mystery and myth.

Things still shifted from time to time and Baron Von Emmelmann's long and ever-changing history would come into play, but increasingly the origins of The Heap were less important than his mere being and his presence was ubiquitous as he wandered the globe appearing in stories which often had their beginnings in events centuries before. The best of The Heap stories are modern fables, populated with good and bad people and weird monsters, The Heap no less among them.

Schroeder would continue on the series until its demise. More on those issues next week -- same Heap time, same Heap channel.

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Saturday, October 14, 2017

Monsters Of The King - Goom!

In Tales of Supsense #15 the outer space monster Goom comes to Earth following a signal meant to contact alien life. But Goom proves to be a menace, lifting cities into the sky and regressing humans to early childhood. But it turns out the mighty Goom is a deviant and his fellow aliens follow him to Earth to return him to the relative safety of imprisonment. Goom has since returned to Earth several times.

Look for more of the menace of Goom tomorrow when his kid shows up.

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