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atom's Comic Book Blogs

  • atom | Male | Utah

"I have a lot of issues. . ."

I write comic book reviews that NOBODY has ever asked for!

March 2024




Welcome to Longbox Junk, where I write comic reviews even though nobody asked me to!

It's PART TEN of the 2023 Longbox Junk Halloween Horror Marathon, and the party is going strong.
But since this is a Halloween party, we MUST follow Halloween party rules.  That means at some point we HAVE to play the song.  You know the song.  It's time for the MASH! The MONSTER MASH!
(He did the mash) He did the monster mash!
(The monster mash) It was a graveyard smash!
(He did the mash) It caught on in a flash!
(He did the mash) He did the monster mash!
Aw, yeah! That's the good stuff!



Marvel (1972)

COVER: John Severin
I LOVE this cover!  I bought the comic FOR the cover.  The black frame with the giant retro-pop bombastic titles reminds me of a movie poster and THEN there's some great John Severin art inside that cool frame!  Severin rarely disappoints, and he doesn't disappoint here.  Such a good cover!  Let's get inside this thing!
While I was looking up the creator credits, I discovered that this is actually pretty much a Bronze Age reprint of the Silver Age Tales of Suspense #19 (1961) with a new cover and a few tweaks here and there.  
With a bit more research I have come to understand that, at the time, Marvel was just sort of coasting on their non-superhero titles with a lot of reprints to pad their circulation numbers. 
I'm okay with it, because TOS #19 is a comic that will run over $100. Slabbed and graded at a 9.0, it's over a THOUSAND!  This comic cost me a cool five bucks.  So it's a winner already!
Let's take a look at the three stories in here, shall we?  WE SHALL!
*Originally from Tales of Suspense #19 (1961)
SCRIPT: Stan Lee (?) & Larry Lieber (?)
PENCILS: Jack Kirby 
INKS: Ayers
A botanist relates a strange tale to some friends. . .
In his search to prove plants have intelligence, he created a formula to try and communicate with plants.  He traveled to a remote island off the Australian coast in search of the rare "Ignatius Rex" plant to test the formula.  Failing to find the plant he was searching for, the scientist uses the formula on a common weed. 
The weed stirs and begins to grow!  It speaks! It moves! The botanist watches in fascination as the weed grows into a towering giant that becomes more intelligent by the minute.
Unfortunately for the botanist, he didn't factor in that intelligence leads to personality, and the weed quickly demonstrates an evil personality, informing the hapless scientist that he is now the green thing's slave and he will assist it in taking over the world by bringing the plant-thing to the mainland and using his formula to make more of his kind!  
The scientist wants no part in helping plants dominate the human world, so he tries to escape.  Fleeing to his boat, the green thing pursues him.  The terrified human decides to strand both himself and the plant-thing on the island by pulling the boat motor and diving into the water to destroy it!
But his escape attempts are fruitless as the green thing closely follows, even fighting and defeating a shark during its pursuit!  The human finally is able to destroy the motor, enraging the plant creature, who decides to kill the scientist now that escape from the island is impossible.
The human and plant creature fight their way across the island, with the scientist narrowly surviving each encounter, until he finally ends up trapped in a dead end cave, with the green thing taunting him at the entrance.
But then, the scientist spots what he had come to the island looking for! Ignatius Rex.  The desperate botanist uses the rest of the formula on the plant, hoping that its personality won't be evil.  Fortunately for him, he is right.  
As Ignatius Rex grows in size and intelligence, the green thing comes to kill the scientist.  The two plant creatures engage in fierce mortal combat, with Ignatius Rex coming out the winner of the fight!  
Now saved from the green thing, the scientist promises Ignatius Rex that he will never tell the world about what happened, in order to keep the formula secret and from falling into the wrong hands.
So the first thing he does after Ignatius Rex helps him escape is to tell a bunch of his friends what happened.  Go figure.

The End.
Okay, not bad.  Not great, mind you. Pretty good.  It follows the tried and true path of "science gone wrong", but the reason why these story paths are tried and true is because they work.  It's not the most memorable example of "science gone wrong", but it's a decent read.  
On the art side of things, I don't want to step on any toes when it comes to fans of Kirby's art, but I've never really been a fan (Give ME Joe Kubert over Jack Kirby any day).  That said, I DO like Kirby's earlier art like we see here.  So except for some weird coloring choices, the art on this story is solid.
*Originally from Tales of Suspense #19 (1961)
PENCILS: Steve Ditko
INKS: Steve Ditko
Nick Rover is a career criminal, always one step ahead of the law.  But when the Feds get too close, Nick skips town and changes his identity to that of  "Mr. Nicholas".  He launders his ill-gotten gains by buying a small-town newspaper.  It's the perfect setup. . .OR SO HE THINKS!
As the days go by, Nick notices that several "errors" that his elderly typesetter, Olaf, makes have come true.  Nick keeps an eye on things and realizes that Olaf's version of the news is what actually happens!  Nick decides that finding out Olaf's secret is worth threatening the old man. . .

But the next day, Olaf gives Nick a headline saying that he will meet with a serious accident!  The criminal becomes obsessed with avoiding his fate and seeks protection by rushing into the police station and confessing his crimes and true identity.  Nick is safely locked behind bars, where he will remain safe for a long, long time.  
At the newspaper, we see that Olaf is indeed more than he appears.  He is a mysterious agent of fate, making things right wherever he is needed.
The End.
Okay.  Not too bad.  But it's definitely NOT a monster story in a monster comic!  It's more of a Twilight Zone-style twist story following the well-worn path of "You always get what's coming to you somehow."  For that, it's a pretty decent little story. . .but when I read a monster comic, I sort of want MONSTER stories!
*Originally from Tales of Suspense #19 (1961)
SCRIPT: Stan Lee (?) & Larry Lieber (?)
INKS: Don Heck
In Burma, a mercenary named Nick Collins helps a badly-injured man with a fantastic tale.  He says that there is a tribe in the mountains that worship an alien called Maaboo.  Supposedly, Maaboo commanded the tribe to find and gather as much gold as they could while waiting for Maaboo to return.
Over the generations, the tribe has amassed a fortune in gold, and the injured man almost lost his life trying to steal it.
Nick decides that he will try his hand at stealing the tribe's gold, but he's going to have a better angle. . .he's going in disguised as Maaboo!  Enlisting the aid of a shifty mountain guide, Nick procures a good costume and is led to the tribe.
His plan works!  The tribe are in awe of "Maaboo" and bring him all the gold they have gathered.  As they return, Nick warns the guide to keep his mouth shut or pay the price with his life.

But to Nick's horror, the "guide" begins to change before his very eyes!  Nick realizes that the guide is the REAL Maaboo!  The mercenary tries to escape, but Maaboo prevents him from fleeing.  He tells the human that the gold was a trap.  
He has been looking a long time for an example of the worst of humanity to take back to his world and study. . .and that example is Nick! DUN-DUN-DUNNNNN!!
The End.
What we have here is a decent example of the good old "The stories. . .they were all TRUE!" story path.  It's a bit predictable, but not a bad read.  It's backed up by some nice art from comic veteran Don Heck, so points on the good side of things right there.  But like the other two stories, it's just pretty good and not much more than that.


This is a comic that runs right down the middle of the road.  It's not bad.  It's not great.  It's pretty good.  Not very memorable, and all three stories follow a specific, well-traveled narrative path that will be familiar to anyone who has ever watched Twilight Zone or read more than a few Golden/Silver Age suspense or horror comics.  But for all that, it's still a pretty good read.
Like I said above, it's a bit of a minefield when you try to say something about comic legends like Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, Steve Ditko and Don Heck.  But Longbox Junk isn't about hero worship.  It's about actually looking under the cool covers of comic books and being truthful about what I find.  
The good news is that all those legends turn in some solid work on this comic (and by extension, on Tales of Suspense #19).  But it's not their best work.  Not by a long shot.  It's not their worst work, either.  No way.  I've seen MUCH worse from ALL of them.  What they give us here is solidly average.
If you're a fan of Silver Age weird suspense stories, then definitely give this one (or TOS #19) a look.  There's some legendary talent on the roster here, just don't expect legendary work from them this time. 
I'm not sure how hard this one is to find in the wild, but it looks like it's easier on the wallet than Tales of Suspense #19, so there's that.  The stories have been collected in several places, so if you don't want to dig too hard, there's that as well.  Either way, this is a pretty good comic, so keep your eye out.
UP NEXT. . .
How about some more ghosts?
This time from Gold Key's GRIMM'S GHOST STORIES!
Be there or be square.

- read more

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