Tarzan Family #64: the Bicentennial blog continues!

DC SALUTES THE BICENTENNIAL

#23

Tarzan Family #64

TarzFam_64_WP

Published bi-monthly, fifty cents, August

Cover artist and Editor: Joe Kubert

            Tarzan Family began as Korak, Son of Tarzan from Gold Key Comics and first published in January 1964 until issue #45 in January 1972. DC Comics bought the rights to the Korak character as well as his more famous father and continued the son’s comic with the original numbering (#46) beginning in June 1972 until #59 (October 1975). The book was renamed Tarzan Family while continuing the sequential numbering until it was cancelled with issue #66, December 1976. This was part of a “Family Series” DC launched in 1975 as companions to Superman Family (which had debuted the year before – an amalgam of the Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen and Supergirl titles): Tarzan Family, Superteam Family and Batman Family. They were “Giant” comics containing mostly reprints for fifty cents, with the lead story (and sometimes a second feature) as a new piece.

            Tarzan Family featured Korak in a new tale and reprints of a Tarzan Sunday strip as well as reprints of the comic book adventures of other Edgar Rice Burroughs creations such as Carson of Venus and John Carter of Mars from earlier issues of Korak or other DC comics.

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            Korak the character, the son of Tarzan and Jane Porter, appeared first in the Tarzan novels and movies (although in the popular Johnny Weissmuller movies he was replaced by the adopted “Boy”).

***

            “The Gigantics”, Robert Kanigher ( w ),  Ruby Florese (a).

            Korak is still searching for his lost love Meriem, his search takes him to the peak of a high mountain where he is snatched up by giant Roc. The bird flies him to a hidden kingdom of giants. The King orders Korak be sacrificed, but his daughter is charmed by the little “doll” and wants him for her own. If the priests agree, she may have him.

korak

            Korak watches as a Vestal is sacrificed to the gods. If it rains, Korak may live with the princess; if it does not, he must be sacrificed.  There is much thunder and lightning, but no rain. Guards come to carry away Korak, but with the help of the princess’ diamond, he escapes. The princess puts Korak back into his cage and escapes with him into the wilderness.

            To be continued…

***

            “Lights of Doom”, Robert Kanigher ( w ), Noly Zamora (a)

            A John Carter of Mars tale. John Carter and Tanna, Princess of Barsoom are transported aboard an alien spacecraft. The aliens heal Carter and tell him to be their spokesman as they promise to cure all Barsoom of their ills in exchange for their fealty. He refuses, breaks free of their force field, takes command of the ship and crashes it back to the surface of Mars. As he and Tanna leave the ship, an ominous shadow covers them; they turn to face their new adversary …

            This was a new tale continued from the previous issue and to be continued … but never concluded … the storyline was never finished!

***

            “Battle with Bu-Gash”, Russ Manning (w/a)

            A reprint of a Tarzan Sunday newspaper strip with Joe Kubert art and story bookending the tale. There is no indication of where each week’s strip begins or ends; is it one strip per page? Heavily edited to fit the standard comic book page? Perhaps, perhaps not, but the storylines jump without much explanation…

            Tarzan rescues a bull elephant from the Sahara desert, leading it back to the jungle. He then rescues a baby gorilla from a Pangolin (a lizard). Tarzan fights off the baby’s father Do-Ag. While they battle, a rogue gorilla named Bu-Gash swings off with the baby and his mother. The baby falls and breaks its leg – certain doom to a species unable to heal one another. Tarzan mends the leg and Do-Ag and Bu-Gash do battle. Bu-Gash is defeated and flees the tribe.

            Meanwhile, Korak helps Nubilia become chieftess of a human tribe, having helped oust the tyrant chief Imbaza (the coup is never shown; presumably it was in a previous strip not published here). Korak questions how a supposedly peaceful ruler commits murder to obtain a throne.  Leaving the village, Korak watches a hippo save an antelope from the jaws of a crocodile – animals helping each other out of instinct? Can man learn this? Korak then swings into the midst of a battle between two apes vying to be king of their tribe. “Tarzan is coming, Leave us,” says one ape. “That is what I intend to do,” says Korak. 

***

            “Pirates of Venus”, Len Wein ( w ), Mike Kaluta (a)

            Carson of Venus tale reprinted from Korak, Son of Tarzan #50 (February 1973). Descending from the Venusian trees, Carson bids farewell to his dead friend Kamlot. But Kamlot is NOT dead – merely paralyzed from the spider-beasts venom! Together they kill a basto – a gigantic boar – for their meal! They are then both captured by Klangan – bat-winged creatures – and flown as captives through the forest to a vast Venusian sea.

 

 

The Ape Vine: a half-page letter column discussing mainly issue #62. Letters by Steve Kalaitzidis of Toronto, Ontario (spotting an error – John Carter fights a race from Edgar Rice Burrough’s Carson of Venus tales), Mark Schneider of Concord, Mass (positive, but criticizing the sameness of the Carter/Carson stories – the editor says considering the previous letter, that makes sense!) and David L Klees of Newton Centre, Mass (asking for a tabloid-size edition of the Hal Foster Tarzan strips – I would have agreed! They did a tabloid of Dick Tracy, why not a Tarzan reprint? Alas, it was never to be…). E. Nelson Bridwell answered the questions and announced this was Joe Kubert’s last issue as editor. Joe Orlando takes over with the next issue. After that, there would be only one issue left before cancellation.

***

Join me next time for DC’s Bicentennial issue #24: Richard Dragon, Kung Fu Fighter #10

 

Original Material copyright 2015 Michael Curry

Images used are copyright their respective holders and reproduced here under the “Fair Use” doctrine of 17 USC 106 & 106a for the purposes of criticism and comment.

 

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Blitzkrieg #4 – one of DC’s best ideas…

DC SALUTES THE BICENTENNIAL

#20

Blitzkrieg #4

Blitzkrieg 4 

Published bi-monthly, thirty cents, August

Cover artist and Editor: Joe Kubert

            Blitzkrieg was a unique idea in comics and a bold move for DC. It ran for five issues (from February 1976 until October 1976) and was a war anthology focused on the Nazi’s view of World War II. Some stories (such as the main story in this issue and in the first) – featured a soldier aghast at the atrocities of war amongst his more leering, villainous comrades. Other stories’ themes included evil Nazis getting their come-uppance, a common theme among DC’s horror books. The Nazis as a whole were never shown in a sympathetic light, although showing the humanity in individual soldiers was common.

            I hope Robert Kanigher and Joe Kubert were proud of the series. They should be. In a few months these co-creators would team again for the equally excellent Ragman book.

            The series was cancelled with the next issue.

***

“The Tourists”, Robert Kanigher ( w ), Ric Estrada (a)

            Three Nazi soliders tour Paris. While riding a tour boat on the Seine, they are shot at and subdue a sniper. They shoot down another sniper pair on the Eiffel Tower – a young couple caught in the slow elevator. At a cafe near Notre Dame Cathedral they invite local ladies for a meal. The brother of one of the ladies shoots at them, killing even his own sister. They return fire and kill him. They visit the Louvre. While walking through the Jewish quarter and watching citizens being removed, a woman throws a grenade hidden in a loaf of bread. They give chase and she throws herself in front of an ongoing train rather than be captured (an image depicted on the cover). There are more assassins at the Arc de Triomphe are defeated, but not before they replace the Nazi flag with their French colors. Why do they take such risks with their lives for such foolhardy things, one of the trio asks. Franz, the thoughtful and bookish member of the trio, who is only interested in seeing the sights for likely the only time, says, “Perhaps we must convince them first … that they ARE defeated.”

***

The Souvenir” same creative team.

            The Afrika Korps’ Feldwebbel named Wasser (we never learn his first name) collects souvenirs from every battle to send to his wife. But the British on the road to Cairo have been slim pickings (a watch that has been burning in the sun for days, for example). His company raids a fort and he finds a framed picture of Churchill. Perfect! Not really: the picture is booby trapped and explodes. His comrades joke that he has collected his last souvenir.

***

Battle Album by Sam Glanzman gave us a brief history and overview of the Chance Vought Corsair during WWII and Korea.

 

 

Blitzkrieg Briefs: letters for issue #1 from Craig Kenner of Massillon, OH (positive, and gave the letter column its name); Cadet Captain Ruby S Nelson of Jacksonville, AL criticized anachronistic mistakes on weapons and uniforms; Drury Moore of Springfield, IL told us the German Army was quite democratic among their officers and enlisted while the US Army, who fought for our freedom, was strictly autocratic; and Thomas Edward Bigham of Matt, Mass said the magazine was fair-minded in its portrayal of the Nazis.

***

Join me next time for DC’s Bicentennial issue #21: Secret Society of Supervillains #2

 

Original Material copyright 2015 Michael Curry

Images used are copyright their respective holders and reproduced here under the “Fair Use” doctrine of 17 USC 106 & 106a for the purposes of criticism and comment.

Weird War Tales #47: DC’s Weird Bicentennial Salute!

DC SALUTES THE BICENTENNIAL

#14

Weird War Tales #47

WWT47

Published bi-monthly, thirty cents, August

Cover artist: Joe Kubert

Editor: Joe Orlando

WWT logo

          The Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups of comic books. “You got your horror comic in my war book!” “You’ve for your war book in my horror comic!” I loved this comic book, just LOVED it! It combined the two genres at which DC excelled!

            Weird War Tales debuted in September 1971 and lasted 124 issues until June of 1983. It was an anthology of supernatural stories set during a war. Any war. Vikings, Nazi’s, Yanks & Rebels and post-apocalyptic tales were represented.

            Although not a “personality” such as Cain, Abel or Destiny, the comic was “hosted” by death – a skeleton dressed in a uniform appropriate for the story.

            By the 1980s, regular features or “stars” were introduced – alternating between GI Robot, the Creature Commandos and the War that Time Forgot (dinosaurs) – sometimes alternating between features, sometimes teaming with each other. By that time, though, it had lost some of its horror pedigree in favor of more quasi-superheroics.

***

Bloodbath of the Toy Soldiers”, George Kashdan ( w ), Rubeny (a)

            In a post-apocalyptic world, despotic General Arax’s son Zeron plays with toy soldiers, exactly matching both sides’ moves in the next day’s battle. Arax’s aides, secretly loyal to the opposing force’s democratic leaders, change Zeron’s next battle plans, leading to a huge defeat.

            In a fit of pique, Arax destroys the toy soldiers. When Arax finds Zeron playing with one last toy soldier the boy kept hidden, the general, Arax throws it in the fire.

            Arax melts along with the toy replica.

***

            “The Day After Doomsday”, Steve Skeates ( w ), Paul Kruchner and Tex Blasdell (a)

            The sole survivor of the Great Atomic War hears a cry for help in the rubble. He digs and digs and finds a tape recorder accidentally turned on in the shifting debris replaying a radio soap opera, “Help! Help! Unhand me you brute!” In frustration, he bashes the tape recorder against a wall, causing the fragile masonry to give way and crush him.

This two-page tale is reprinted in the trade paperback “Showcase Presents: the Great Disaster featuring the Atomic Knights”.

 

showcase

 

***

The Warrior”, Jack Oleck ( w ), Ricardo Villamonte (a)

            Hulgar, the elderly Viking, duels Godfred to prove he still is a warrior. Eric, son of their leader Ottar, begs for mercy for Hulgar. Ottar grants it.

           During his first raid, Eric panics and is branded a coward. Holgar gives Eric the Shield of Thor that will make him invincible! With the shield, Eric defeats Godfred to earn his place in the next raid. Eric fights bravely against the British, but is killed.

 

WWT Viking 2 WWT viking

 

             Holgar mourns and begins forging another ordinary “Shield of Thor” in case anther youngster needs to find his courage from within…

 

APO Weird War Tales, letter column for issue #44:

            Linus Sabalys, Lavel PQ, Canada; positive comments on some stories, negative for others.

            Mark Schmieder, Concord, MA; the editor points out that Mark has the opposite view as Linus Sabalys on every story.

            John Elliott, New York, NY, positive, but requests novel-length tales instead of serializing stories over multiple issues.

            The column has a plus for Star Spangled War Stories #200 starring the Unknown Soldier and Enemy Ace.  ), but with no mention of any Bicentennial connection (see my previous blog about the missed opportunity to hype a 200th issue during the Bicentennial)

 ***

            Join me next time for DC’s Bicentennial issue #15: Four Star Spectacular #3.

 

Original Material copyright 2015 Michael Curry

Images used are copyright their respective holders and reproduced here under the “Fair Use” doctrine of 17 USC 106 & 106a for the purposes of criticism and comment.

Justice Inc.: DC Adventure Line with the Avenger!

THE BLOODY PULPS: Justice Inc!

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            “The Avenger!? We can’t have a comic called The Avenger! Marvel will sue the pants off us! That’s why we call Captain Marvel ‘Shazam’ on the cover of all his comics, you know!”

            “Yes, I know that. What an odd thing to tell me.”

            “It’s called an Info Dump. As you know, Bob …”

            Which is why the comic was called Justice Inc. to avoid confusion and subpoenas. It was named after the first Avenger story from Avenger #1.

            The Avenger does not predate the superhero – Superman appeared the year before and Batman four months before. The first issue of his pulp magazine debuted in September 1939. His stories were written by Kenneth Robison, a pseudonym for the writers of Street & Smith publishers. His first story was called “Justice Inc”.

            Adventurer Richard Henry Benson boarded an airplane with his wife and daughter. After returning from “freshening up” – he found his wife and daughter missing! The trauma and horror of their disappearance caused his skin and hair to turn white and his face to “freeze”. He could thereafter mold his facial features into any disguise. He avenged the death of his family and declared war on all criminals. He did this with the help of a troupe of aides and assistants ala Doc Savage and the Shadow.

            Eventually, the writers took away his ability to manipulate his face (and normalized his skin tone and hair color) to help sell him as a closer kin to Doc Savage. It still didn’t work. His magazine lasted only 24 issues, and had five or six other short stories appearing in other magazines, including The Shadow. New stories published as paperbacks have been published through the decades.

            His first appearance in comic books was in Shadow Comics, but it wasn’t until 1975 when DC got the license to give him his own comic, or so I found in my research of various online databases. Any search of “The Avenger” online requires page after page of scrolling through Captain America and his kooky quartet, etc.; but I did the best I could. There were other comic characters called “The Avenger” in the 1950s with no relation to Richard Benson and company – most notably a four-issue comic from Magazine Enterprises in 1955.

            But now, thirty-five years after his debut – The Avenger stars in his own comic:

***

Every issue has the tag: “From the creator of Doc Savage – Kenneth Robeson” on the cover.

 

#1.  June 1975, “This Night an Avenger is Born” by Denny O’Neal (w/e), Al McWilliams (a), Allan Asherman (asst. ed.); cover by Joe Kubert.

The Avenger’s origin story from his first pulp adventure is retold: Richard Benson, his wife and daughter board a plane to Canada. Returning from “freshening up”, Benson finds his family as well as industrialist Arthur Hickock missing. After months spend recuperating from the shock, he investigates their disappearance. Benson meets his first assistant, Smitty, during the investigation. They trace the plane’s occupants to an island on Lake Ontario and wipe out the gang and their surprising leader! They decide to form Justice Incorporated to fight evil in all its forms!

Text column by Allan Asherman describes the Avenger’s operation, equipment and headquarters. The last paragraph hypes the Shadow/Avenger meeting in DC’s Shadow comic, without ever mentioning the issue of The Shadow in which it appears (#11)!  Ew, lost chance at some free PR there – Stan Lee would roll heads if that happened at Marvel…

This issue includes a full-page ad for Joker, Justice Inc, Claw the Unconquered and Ghost Castle, with a tease for Beowulf Dragon Slayer and Richard Dragon Kung Fu Fighter at the bottom.

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#2. August 1975, “The Skywalker”, Denny O’Neal (w/e), Jack Kirby (a), Mike Royer (I & i), Allan Asherman (asst.  ed.); cover by Kirby.

            A story from The Avenger pulp magazine #3 from November 1939: Scientist Robert Gant designs a sound ray that can crumble metal as well as a process to render metal invisible! Criminal Abel Darcy kills Gant and uses these tools to destroy railroads and skyscrapers throughout Chicago to extort millions. Can the Avenger, Smitty and new assistants Josh and Rosabel Newton stop Luke – er – Anakin – er – Darcy the Skywalker in time?

            In a text piece, Allan Asherman describes the potential for a Justice Inc movie: Charles Bronson as The Avenger, Alex Karras or Peter Boyle as Smitty, Bill Cosby and Diana Ross as Josh and Rosabel … dodged a bullet there, didn’t they … ?

#3. October 1975, “The Monster Bug”, (same team).  Colonel Sodom (eww…), a villain from the recently-cancelled The Shadow comic has a serum that turns ordinary citizens into monsters – hideously malformed beasts as only Kirby can draw! He tries to force noted chemists (including Fergus – who joins Justice Incorporated with this issue) into replicating the formula; unless the Avenger can stop him!

#4. December 1975, “Slay Ride in the Sky”, (same team, but with Paul Levitz also as writer). Airliners are exploding mid-flight! Investigating the chemical causing the explosions – tintabulum, leads Justice Incorporated to the airline mogul who is collecting the insurance proceeds – unless the mogul, his goons and a flock of explosive seagulls get to them first!

            The final panel for the final issue says, “…and it is at last ended.” True, but much too soon.

            The letter columns in the last two issues were favorable – although they disliked the original stories being so severely edited for the comic book version. Most recommended multi-part stories. Assistant Asherman repeated that readers deserved their “money’s worth” and “how would most reader’s feel spending their money only to see ‘To Be Continued’ on the last page”.

avenger

 

***

The Avenger has popped up occasionally at DC ever since: sometimes in a Shadow revival, teaming with Batman and Doc Savage, and sometimes in his own limited book – also titled Justice Inc. Dynamite has a Justice Inc miniseries out as we speak – teaming The Avenger with the characters who inspired him: the Shadow and Doc Savage.

            I am a pulp junkie – I will read any genre – from pirates to sports. Mostly I enjoy the so-called Yellow Peril stories such as Dr. Yen Sin and the Mysterious Wu Fang – although I cringe at the ugly stereotyping , the stories are creepy paranoid fun. Secondly, though, I enjoy the crime killers – there are certainly more of them available! I collect the paperbacks when I can and even have a few original pulps. Doc Savage, the Shadow (my favorite), the Spider (a close second) and the Avenger.

            The DC comic from 1975 didn’t last long, which was a shame. Of all the comics from the DC Adventure line, this one could have gone on for years.

            But it was an odd inclusion in the Adventure Line. The other six books were firmly set in the sword and sorcery genre – leaning heavily on the sword side.  Although sword and sorcery had their place in the pulps (Conan, Kull, etc.) –Justice Inc.’s inclusion in DC’s Adventure Line is odd. Why not include the new comic Richard Dragon, Kung Fu Fighter as an eighth Adventure Line comic? It wasn’t (yet) set in the world of DC’s superheroes either and Justice Inc proved “the line” wasn’t all sword and sorcery.

            The answer is obvious: there was no attempt at all in creating a “line”. Six comics had a theme based on the popularity of Marvel’s Conan the Barbarian as well as the revival of that genre in the paperback market. Other than the one-page house ad, I doubt much more thought was put into it.

            At this time DC was also publishing The Shadow – including one issue in which the Avenger guest-starred. The Shadow was cancelled by the time Justice Inc #3 hit the stands. Perhaps they could have advertised them as a “Pulp” line and increased circulation enough for both comics to continue for a few more issues.

            But a “pulp line” may not have worked back then: Marvel’s Doc Savage only last eight issues two years before and the Doc Savage magazine – published concurrently with Justice Inc – also only lasted eight issues.  DC’s The Shadow lasted 12 issues and was cancelled in between Justice Inc #2 & 3.

            It works now, though. Goodness knows Dynamite is going great guns bringing back obscure characters like the Black Bat in comic book form.

            But in 1975 DC included the Avenger in their “Adventure Line” and we the readers are better for it. Like most of the line, it didn’t last long; but Justice Inc was pure pulpy goodness while it lasted.

Original material copyright Michael Curry 2015

Tor: DC Comics’ Adventure Line!

FROM THE WORLD OF A MILLION YEARS AGO: TOR

torad   

             Tor the comic book character has an interesting sixty-year history: Tor is a caveman from one millions years ago…

            Wait, there weren’t any humans (as is currently defined) a million years ago. Certainly not light-skinned, brown-haired cavemen like Tor. There were homo-erectus (snicker) and homo-mauritanicus, but not humans.

            Well, anyway, Tor the caveman from one million years ago fought other cavemen, dinosaurs…

            Wait, there weren’t any dinosaurs a million years ago. The last dinosaur died out sixty-five million years ago.

            Shut up.

tor 

           Tor the character debuted in the comic 1,000,000 Years Ago #1 by St. John Press in 1953. Issue #2 was renamed 3D Comics (renaming comics and continuing the numbering was pretty common until the late 1960s and happened even in the 1970s with Our Army at War turning into Sgt. Rock to name one – something to do with saving postage…) and then for issues three through five the series was remaned Tor. It lasted until October 1954.

           In 1975, as part of its Adventure Line, DC revived Tor with his creator at the helm. Back then a creator-owned character was to DC Comics what President Obama is to a Tea Party voter. And to allow a creator-owned character from ANOTHER publishing company!!? {THUD} “Sol? Sol Harrison’s collapsed! Call a doctor!!”

            But they did. Tor, a non-DC character, whose creator had control over his appearances and content, was given his own DC Comic in 1975. Perhaps it had something to do with that particular owner.

            If Joe Kubert drew newspaper comic strips in the 1920s and 1930s, his name would be mentioned in the same breath as Alex Raymond and Hal Foster.  War comic fans would argue Kubert’s best work was with Sgt. Rock and DC’s other war heroes.  Superhero fans would argue Kubert’s best work was with Hawkman.  Kubert became a legend in both these genres and also what would now be called “sword and sorcery” with Viking Prince in Brave & Bold.  His penciling would probably have even worked with Archie and Casper the Friendly Ghost!

            Kubert’s art is very stylized and yet very accessible.  His characters were realistically lean and muscular.  His women were curvy and beautiful.  When a character looked weary, his shoulders sagged and his arms hung limp at this side.  His action scenes were straight out of “Flash Gordon” and “Tarzan”.   When he had his few off-moments, he had the rushed and sketchy style for which he is the most criticized. 

***

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            For simplicity’s sake – I will refer to the at-that-time two published versions of the comic as Tor (1953) and Tor (1975).

            The covers of Tor (1975) were great examples of Kubert in all their glory – although I noticed something … of the six issues – three had Tor rescuing a pretty blond. One had Tor fighting ape-men ala Tarzan, in another he rescued a baby from an erupting volcano and another he saved a tribesman with a pretty blond in the background. Four out of six with pretty blondes…

            Every issue reminds us of this dark and dangerous world – where death can come at you from every angle – be careful while walking in water or around rocky corners. Kubert does a superb job keeping up this moody paranoia!

            Later issues describes Tor as a man dedicated to justice and fairness and how rare that trait is among the first men – who are usually too busy just trying to survive!

            Every story was a reprint. Kubert contributed some new pages as bookends or story tags – usually drawings of the artist himself describing Tor and his environs above a splash page of Tor doing something cavemanish.

            “The World of a Million Years Ago” appears as a tagline on every issue. The word “From” was added at the front of that tag only in issue #1.

#1. June 1975, “The Beating”, Joe Kubert (w/a/e/cover), Carmine Infantino (i) (the strip reprint), Allan Asherman (asst. ed.); as a youth, Tor lives in a fishing village. He wanders into the mountain people’s  territory and is beaten by Kobar. Tor is later chased by an alligator-like phytosaur. Kobar, who considers Tor his slave, tries to protect his property by slaying the beast but nearly drowns. Tor rescues him. Their score is settled. Tor learns you can conquer an enemy by helping as well as hurting. The story is bookended by the adult Tor remembering this adventure while hunting food for his village (presumably written and drawn for this comic).

Kubert and Carmine Infantino (who inked) pushed a Tor comic strip in 1959 unsuccessfully. It was published in a fan magazine (Alter Ego) in 1968 and here in Tor (1975) #1. When DC’s Tor was released, Infantino was the publisher of the company.  This may explain why DC decided to publish a comic character whose bulk of profit, if any, would go to its creator. “Hey, Boss, can we publish my old Tor stories?” “No.” “I want to reprint that old strip you helped ink, too.” “Yes.”

Text page: Dinosaurs for Reel (a piece on stop-motion dinosaur movies through the years).

Another text page describes the origins of the Tor character and his world.

#2. August 1975. “A Million Years Ago,” Joe Kubert (w/a/e/cover, Allan Asherman (asst. ed.) – for all remaining issues); while fishing, Tor rescues a monkey-like creature he names Chee-Chee. Finding his fellow tribesmen – led by Klar – Tor sees another tribesman, Zul, under attack by a dinosaur. Against Klar’s orders, Tor rescues Zul. Later a humiliated Klar traps Tor, Zul stops Klar from killing Tor, Klar kills Zul in revenge. Tor kills Klar (need a scorecard?) and is thereafter banished from his tribe!

“Danny’s Dreams”, young Danny Wakely (get it?) is with his fellow students at the municipal museum’s dinosaur exhibit. Danny feels himself going back in time to the days of the caveman! He is chased by Cro-Magnons, attacked by a bear and a saber tooth tiger! The two beasts battle each other over this blond-haired, freckled meal. Danny escapes by inventing the wheel (tying together round rocks) and two-wheels his way to safety. He wakes back up to find the mummified remains of the bear and saber tooth – each died of their wounds – and a strange two-wheeled vehicle found nearby. Did Danny dream this or did he REALLY go back in time…?

Both stories are reprints from One Million Years Ago #1 (1953)

This issue featured the one-page Adventure Line ad.

Writer Don Glut (I assume that is THE Don Glut) had a letter published, thanking Joe Kubert for his original run of Tor and instilling in him a love of dinosaurs that encouraged his writing.

#3. October 1975. “Isle of Fire” (one of only two of the series in which the cover related to the story inside); Tor travels to a volcanic isle ruled by giant hairless red-skinned “fire-men”. Tor rescues their human slaves and kills the Fire-Men leader just as the volcano erupts and sinks the island. Reprinted from Tor (1953) #3.

“Danny’s Dreams” – Danny, as a caveman, and his tribesman’s raft (presumably not the raft Tor used in the prior story) sink in a storm. Danny lands on an isle of pygmies who are sensitive to loud noises. He helps them defeat a “giant” (normal-sized) man that is terrorizing their tribe. Reprinted from Tor (1953) #5.

Uber-fan Richard Morrisey has a letter published – his second in the Adventure Line.

#4. December 1975. “Black Valley”; a tribe routinely sacrifices their infant/toddler girls to the “gods” of the Black Valley. Tor discovers the gods are amazon women. Can Tor make peace between the tribes and the amazons? Can he rescue the latest sacrifice from a hungry saber tooth? This story has a GREAT two-page splash! Pretty rare for the early 1950s… Reprinted from Tor (1953) #3.

Feature: “Animals of 1,000,000 Year Ago” – the triceratops (wouldn’t this have fit better in issue #2 whose cover featured a triceratops?). Reprinted from 3D Comics (1953) #2.

“Killer Man” is a crippled tribesman who kills beasts for sport. The beasts are slaughtering the Rock People tribe in retaliation! (Letter writers complain about the lack of realism at featuring dinosaurs and men together – imagine their reaction to vengeful mammals!) The Rock People ask Tor to stop the Killer Man. Reprinted from 3D Comics (1953) #2.

Feature: The Caveman’s Escape by Allan Asherman. A text piece with photo stills from the movie “When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth”.

#5. February 1976, “The Giant One”; Tor helps a tribes tormented and tortured by a Giant!

Feature: “Animals of 1,000,000 Years Ago” – the brontosaurus.

“Danny’s Dreams”; clubs can’t kill a bison, so Danny creates a bow and arrow that helps slay the beast – now the tribe has meat! He draws the bow and arrow on a cave wall to show the tribesmen how to make one. Danny awakes at a museum and sees his own drawings as an exhibit!

All three features were reprinted from 3D Comics (1953) #2.

#6. April 1976, for only the second time out of six – a story from inside the comic makes the cover. The stories in this issue are not titled. I’ve lettered them for convenience’s sake.

A.  Captured by Crater People (subterranean Neanderthals), Tor is sacrificed to the Killer Beast (a T-Rex). Even after beating the Beast, he is forbidden to leave! When he is the only one who helps the chieftain after he is attacked by a giant serpent, he is released because of his bravery. Reprinted from 3D Comics (1953) #2.

Feature: “History of Pre-Historic Animals” – the original bone-head: Pachycephalosaurus! Reprinted from Tor (1953) #4.

B.  Tor watches a triceratops battle a stegosaurus – the winner gets to drink from the water pond. The loser? Tor’s tribes’ meal! Um, what tribe? I thought he was banished… Reprinted from 3D Comics (1953) #2.

C.  Man (Tor) and beast flee from a massive forest fire. The only safe place? An island! But while there a turtle the size of a tank attacks Tor! Reprinted from 3D Comics (1953) #2.

***

            Tor was the last of the “failed” titles in the non-imprint Adventure Line. Beowulf lasted six issues, too, and its last issue was on the stands the month before. Warlord #2 was published the same month as Tor #6 – April 1976. This meant it was published around January 1976.

             Tor was an oddity among the other Adventure Line brethren – it was a reprint series publishing a rare comic that few readers had ever seen.  Joe Kubert linked the book in the letter columns with Tarzan and Korak. Books he published with DC always had an automatic audience. But it didn’t last. Korak would also fold within the year. What would happen in a few issues when the reprints ran out? Would Kubert have done new stories? Did he reprint what was available and voluntarily folded the comic? Perhaps. If he wanted to do new stories, he could have – and used the older reprints as back-ups.

            DC reprinted these stories (and presumably the rest of the 1953 run) in trade paperback and even hardback over the years. In 1993 new stories by Kubert were published by Marvel (of all people) under their Epic imprint.

            The two paragraphs describing Joe Kubert’s art is from my free ebook Brave and Bold: From Silent Knight to Dark Knight, available at Smashwords, Kobo, and through Barnes and Noble here: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-brave-and-the-bold-michael-curry/1120872264?ean=2940046443011

             I hope you enjoy it, and I hope you enjoy this blog series!

Original Material Copyright 2015 Michael Curry