Saturday, August 1, 2020

The Return of the Monster

Just when you think Atlas Month is over-- here it comes again like a rampaging beast from Hell! Yes, looks like it's not quite through with you yet! And speaking of, looks like we haven't seen the last of Frankenstein's monster either! From the June 1950 issue of Marvel Tales #96, with unsigned story art credits going to Gene Colan and Vince Alascia, --and meanwhile, spooky Syd Shores turned out the seriously terrific cover art piece. So what came first, the cover or the splash?


Brian Barnes said...

Very much in the "man's adventure" category of some early comic horror stories, some bravery, a woman to rescue, and a menace.

Not of fan of the un-announced dynamite, but that's my only complaint. This one was exciting for it's longer page count, full of a lot of action and danger, and a pretty cool Frankenstein -- a lot more universal than Shelly.

I really like the enemy agent angle, that's always a good idea, if you could make an army of giant almost indestructible monsters you'd be doing pretty good in the 50s! Note that this was a plot used in a number of movies, but it's still fun to see here.

I would have never guessed Colan, his art changed a lot, and that splash, probably a little from Frankenstein meets the Wolfman, is awesome.

Glowworm said...

Armstrong may be investigating the reality behind Mary Shelly's Frankenstein--but the monster who shows up in this story is definitely based upon the Universal pictures one. Shelly's monster was intelligent and could speak eloquently. Also, he did not have the brain of a dead murderer and was not set on fire.
While merely hinted at and not actually named as such,I'm quite certain the fanatics are meant to be Nazis.It definitely sounds like something Nazis would do.
The dynamite is a strange deux ex machina if you ask me. Who leaves perfectly good dynamite lying around unused? Wile E. Coyote?
At least this one has a cute ending where our main protagonist manages to escape his adventure and wins the love of the lovely lady he shared it with.

Grant said...

I'm just glad the "Fanatics" aren't given some non-fictional country. I was sure they'd be Russians, then I thought they be Nazis as Glowworm says, or those renegade Nazis post-war adventure stories are so full of. But I think the story did the right thing by not going either way.

What I definitely didn't expect was the "body count" from the Creature's attack. The whole village?!

Mr. Cavin said...

Yeah, this was brutal. And I'm not too sure if I've ever seen the monster of Frankenstein characterized in quite this way. Commenters here are saying that this is a closer analogue to the Universal version of the eponymous creature of the titular doctor--but surely that's in appearance* only? In the movies, the monster is a misunderstood outcast, an abandoned and sympathetic golem, innocent and childlike, driven to ever greater measures of desperation attempting to escape taunting lab assistants and village xenophobes. Even in the book, desperation and hate for his creator--an enormously sympathetic trait--drive him into a murderous rage and a contempt for people in general. Rarely, if ever, have I seen the monster depicted as a frenzied berserker like this guy here, hell-bent on satisfying its own bloodlust. This inarticulate rage beast is more like a werewolf than a Frankenstein. The characterization that seems to come closest is Dick Briefer's very first version of the Frankenstein monster, from 1940.

* I really love the way Colan drew the monster's face here: Fussy and angry and expressive--Steve Buscemi by way of John Buscema.

Darci said...

Steve Chung reminded me that the Nazis already had a Frankenstein monster in 1942. See Invaders #31. One twist in that version was Dr. Frankenstein created the monster for them because he had the hots for an Axis doctor.