Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Classics - Strange Adventures #153

As discussed in this review, in the early 1960s DC had an amazing variety of comics for sale.

But it also was known to repeat certain elements that (presumably) resulted in strong sales. Gorillas is the best example - hardly a month went by without one of DC's titles featuring a gorilla.

Another one that made recurring appearances in the pages of Strange Adventures (such as this issue from 1963) was The Faceless Creature.

This was (I believe) the third appearance of that menace, and by this time the idea of a giant orange alien with a human body, pointed ears and no eyes, nose or mouth, was apparently running out of steam.

(In case you're wondering, apparently that alien race had evolved out of the need for eyes, a nose and a mouth. Go figure.)

There are no credits on that story, but it appears to be drawn by the great Gil Kane (though I admit I'm not the best at spotting art styles, so I may be wrong).

Whoever wrote the story was wise to keep his or her name (and face) hidden - the story is mighty weak sauce. The alien escapes from the trap they put him in last issue, threatens to destroy the Earth and his home world, and is thwarted through a perfectly silly method.

The excellent art is the only reason to read this story.

But the backup series is lots of fun, as the Atomic Knights travel to a devastated Detroit where the community is trying to rebuild the auto industry (a story torn from today's headlines).

It's worth it for the final panel, where Gardener Grayle brags that, now that he has a car, he can properly court his sweetheart Marlene.

How good is it? It's one of the rare stories where - in DC's pre-credit days - they allowed the artist, the superb Murphy Anderson, to sign his work!

Well worth tracking down for the backup story. The Faceless Alien may get the cover and the attention, but his days were numbered. He was effective, but he was no gorilla.

Grade: B



Anonymous said...

Gil Kane did indeed pencil the first story, Sid Greene inked it, and Gardner Fox wrote it.
I never understood why Murphy signed some of his stories but not others. Maybe it didn't occur to him to make it a regular thing. But when he did, editor Julius Schwartz let it stand, policy or not! And it allowed some of us early fans to put names to art styles before credits were allowed.

Sam Kujava

Chuck said...

Sam, Julius seemed to allow Murphy lots of sign his work whenever he wanted - I suspect he wanted to keep Murphy happy, since he was his best inker (and in my opinion his best artist). Murphy also occasionally would put "-30-" in the final panel of a story. I asked him about it at a comics convention years ago, and he smiled and confirmed that it was a throwback to his journalism days - newspaper writers always put that at the end of their stories.

El Vox said...

It seems the gorilla motif was also in some of those early serials like The Phantom Creeps and others. I wonder if that might be a carryover into comics. I guess it just seemed a horrific threat (and still is). Who would want to run into one of those beast in a dark alley?

Chuck said...

El Vox, perhaps it goes all the way back to King Kong? Julius Schwartz said in many interviews that the DC executives always looked at the sales results from each comic, and realized that the sales spiked when they had a gorilla on the cover - so we saw lots of gorillas in the '60s.