Friday, January 15, 2010

BAB Two-In-One: The Weird and The Wonderful, and Pretty Girls Trump Dopey Stories

Karen: I decided to take a little break from my Deathlok reviews and go down a very strange, unexpected path. Looking through a box from deep in the closet I found a book purchased as part of a sort of grab bag at an antique fair a few years ago. Today's review looks at a Marvelous reprint - Weird Wonder Tales #19, from 1976. This book caught my eye because it proclaimed "special origin issue!" Lo and behold, we have the origin of the infamous Dr. Druid, although his initial title was 'Dr. Droom'! I kid you not. This story was reprinted from Amazing Adventures #1, from June 1961- so this preceded the Fantastic Four and the beginning of the Marvel Age, but not by much. This reprint, however, was re-lettered so that the character's name appears as 'Dr. Druid', just to be consistent with his later appearances. What, you don't remember Dr. Druid? The 2nd rate occultist who actually took over the Avengers as leader for a brief period? Well, you're probably better off for it.

Karen: This origin story, which was uncredited, but apparently by Lee and Kirb
y, is essentially like that of the later Dr. Strange. Dr. Anthony Druid is a medical man who travels to Tibet to treat an ailing lama. He undergoes a series of trials -including facing the unbelievably ludicrous Gorlion (guess what two animals mated to make that!) -and finally reaches the Lama. The Lama is not ill, just nearing the end of his long life. He needed a successor to battle evil mystical forces, and apparently a Western physician was the best option.

Karen: The later Dr. Strange version would add elements that would definitely improve the tale, particularly Strange's downfall after the accident that ruins his hands. Of course, the best change to this formula was the addition of Steve Ditko as the artist. Kirby's not bad but Ditko was on a whole other level when it came to mysterious, mystical realms. But it's fun to see this 'trial run' as it were.

Karen: There are two more stories in this issue. Only the middle one is worth mentioning, though. The title of the story is, "I Challenged Groot! The Monster from Planet X!" It originally appeared in Tales To Astonish #13 (November 1960). Groot is a gigantic tree-like alien, the Monarch of Planet X, actually, who has come to Earth to experiment on humans. Somehow he plans to wrap an entire village in a net of tree roots and propel it into space, back to Planet X! No, this doesn't make a lick of sense, but who cares? When all appears lost, the wooden despot is finally defeated - by termites! I really could not make this up.

Karen: What is so great about this story -besides the utter absurdity of it - is that Groot is still kicking around today! Just pick up an issue of Guardians of the Galaxy and you'll see ol' Groot running around, in a silly uniform, shouting, "I am Groot!" Man, sometimes I just love the Marvel universe.

Doug: From the cusp of the Bronze Age comes today's critique: My Love #2 (November 1969) with art by the dream team of penciller John Buscema and inker Johnny Romita. I couldn't find a credited scripter, although some sources questioned whether or not Stan Lee did the wordsmithing. I used the hardcover Marvel Visionaries: John Buscema as my resource for this reading/review.

Rarely if ever do I stray from the realm of super-heroes in my comics reading. Occasionally I like to read a Tarzan or Conan; never really cared for war stories and certainly not soap opera comics. So I enter relatively uncharted territory today. But after seeing who the credited artists are on this story, can you blame me? Both of these artists have long been known for their mastery of the female figure, and particulary in Romita's case of the pretty face. This throwaway mag (to me, at least) is a tour de force of these two fine creators' powers.

Selfish Faye Randall is her club's best go-go dancer -- for whatever that's worth. Faye's always had a problem with being self-centered -- as a child she received a new doll, but immediately coveted the doll of a friend. As a teenager, she wanted the cutest boy in school to be hers; that is, until another handsome young buck caught her eye. So it was for Faye until the day she became engaged to Marty Lane, a young Rock Hudson with killer sideburns. As Faye fell for him, she found herself reverting to past behaviors when her club was sold to the dashing (and older) Nick Duran. Sensing that she could flirt her way into Mr. Duran's life, Faye ditched Marty like yesterday's whatever. At least she did it to his face instead of in some Dear John letter... Anyway, you can probably predict where this is headed: Duran's married, has no interest in Faye, sells the nightclub which breaks Faye's heart and unemploys her in one fell swoop, and makes her feel like a dope. And what of our hero, Marty Lane? You betcha -- dude skipped town. You go, boy! Probably avoided getting VD from Faye by catching the last train to Clarksville!

I had some scanner issues -- hardcovers aren't the most flexible books, no? But since this was a short story, I thought you'd enjoy reading the whole thing. See for yourself:

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