Monsters on the Prowl #24
Issue(s): Monsters on the Prowl #24 (Strange Tales #84, Journey Into Unknown Worlds #55)
Strange Tales #84
Journey Into Unknown Worlds #55
I've taken the unusual approach of listing this entry by the title of the reprint, and am placing it at the publication date of the reprint. The reasons for this are discussed below.
There are two stories from Strange Tales #84 reprinted in this issue. It's actually the second story that we're mostly interested in. The lead character of the first story will at least make you blink, though.
For the reprint, he's renamed Magnetor.
This Magneto/Magnetor, real name Hunk Larken, may very well be a mutant, though. He's a guy that is just sort of found on the side of the road.
The guy who discovers him offers to be his manager. But he doesn't really seem to know what to do with him.
Eventually, the agent fires Hunk. Hunk next joins a circus as a freak/strongman, but is fired from that position when he gets violent with a jerky customer. He then volunteers to be sent into outer space.
And while he's out in space, he's exposed to "cosmic mist".
Prior to that, Hunk, just seemed super-strong. But now he is a true Magneto(r).
His powers seem simpler than the Magneto we know. He can repel things with one arm, and attract them with the other. On the other hand, he doesn't seem restricted to metal objects.
Once he's got these powers, he gets mean.
But the agent that originally found him reaches out to the government, explaining that he's mean because he was mistreated. So instead of trying to kill him, the government lures Hunk onto a rocket and launches him into space.
This works out so well that years later the Illuminati will try to do the same thing to the Hulk, although in that case it kind of backfires.
But like i said, the real reason we are here is the second story from Strange Tales #84. It's a Ditko story, and awesomely so.
So awesome that i should just scan the whole story.
The twist, as you can see above, is that the two giant monsters fighting on Mars are in fact just regular humans. One is an "international Communist", and the other is from the US. But in the Monsters On The Prowl reprint, this has been updated so that the Communist is a Hydra agent and the other is from SHIELD.
With their 1970s Marvel reprints, someone at Marvel was making an effort to fit things into the Marvel universe. This manifested in a number of ways, with monster characters like Xemnu and It the Living Colossus (and several others) making their way into regular Marvel books. And characters' names were updated, like Magneto(r) and Xemnu (Hulk) to avoid overlap with existing characters. The most notable example of that is Dr. Druid (formerly Dr. Droom), where not only was his name changed but his stories were updated and in some cases book-ended with new art. This Mars story might be seen as another example of this tendency to bring these stories into continuity. But there was probably another factor as well, and in this case it was perhaps the more pressing reason. The world was in a different state politically than it was in the early 1960s, and Communist bad guys were at best seen as being out of date, if not an example of Red Scare style fearmongering. So replacing the "international Communist" in this story with a Hydra agent may have just made it more palatable. I don't know if anyone really would have noticed or cared. I normally like my reprints untouched. But whatever the motivation behind this, i think the fact that it brings the story into continuity is pretty cool. Not that it was ever referenced again.
The final story is a more typical sort of Weird Tale (or, a Journey Into An Unknown World, i guess). A pair of pilots crash their plane and wake up in a place that the residents claim is Shangri-La. One of the pilots doesn't believe it, and demands that he be allowed to leave. And when he gets violent about it, the residents decide that he doesn't belong there anyway, and take him out. And then the guy learns that it really was Shangri-La after all.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Since SHIELD and Hydra are active at this time, i've placed this at publication date instead of in the Monster Age where these stories would otherwise have gone.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
The cover depicts Magnetor as a giant ape for some reason. The Shangri-La story is an obvious knockoff of Lost Horizon. The Ditko story is just awesome.
Posted by: Robert | March 16, 2016 12:29 PM
I like how the Hydra agent's dialogue was changed completely in the reprint, whereas the Shield agent just got one more line haphazardly added to his original dialogue.
Posted by: MegaSpiderMan | October 7, 2017 8:34 PM
"A cosmic mist of radioactive anti-matter." I guess Kirby hadn't thought of gamma rays yet, but there you get cosmic, radioactive, and anti-matter all in one bite. It's awesome to consider that this Magneto story was published earlier the same year as Fantastic Four #1, insofar as, in several ways, it doesn't really even meet the low art quality standards I tend to associate with early Marvel Age stories. Both Kirby and Ayers seem even more rushed (or just lazy & bored?) than usual on this story, with a lot of missing backgrounds, sloppy inking, and even one of those floating heads panels, which always seems lazy or rushed.
The Ditko story and art on the other hand are visually at top form for that time period. The surface textures on the two "monsters" is what really makes them work. I had for whatever reason assumed that they were giant monsters, and was duly surprised to learn that they weren't really as tall as they seemed.
Posted by: Holt | January 27, 2018 1:12 PM
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