Tentacle Tuesday: a visit to the House of Mystery

Welcome to the entertaining world of science-fiction/fantasy of the 60s! If you’re an admirer of extravagant creatures with improbable anatomy, or a fan of twisted stories that take questionable leaps of logic to arrive to an implausible conclusion, willkommen.

However, if, like me, you tend to root for strange creatures (most of which didn’t want to be discovered in the first place), tread gently.  If there’s one pattern in House of Mystery stories, it’s that the “monsters” (that fly in from space/emerge from the sea/crawl out of the depths of the earth/are born in fire/whatever else we can think of) get slain, more often than not, by well-meaning people… or not-so-well-meaning people who are afraid of anything that looks different. If they somehow manage to escape getting shot or bombed out of existence, they’re buried under a convenient avalanche or volcanic eruption.

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House of Mystery no. 99, June 1960. Art by Bernard Baily. Yep, the Beast gets killed by the military.  It’s sad to think that our reaction to a friendly shape-shifting alien would be “kill first, ask questions later”… but it sadly rings true.

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I know that it’s Tentacle Tuesday and everything’s possible, but… this? An octopus with spines on his tentacles (very conveniently placed, I might add) and the puffy eyes of a career alcoholic? A parrot-dragon with opposable thumbs?

HouseofMystery113
House of Mystery no. 113 (1961), pencils by Dick Dillin, inks by Sheldon Moldoff and letters by Ira Schnapp. Err, guys… I don’t think either of these two monsters is all that interested in you, seeing as they both seem to be screaming in horror/pain. If the octopus is Water-Beast, the parrot must be Land-Beast – such wit! I would have gone with “pink thing” and “green bird thing”.

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As Tentacle Tuesday continues, we are once again confronted with a situation where misunderstanding between species leads to needless conflict. Shoot first, sort it out later, is the mantra of any red-blooded man! I’m sorry, am I being a tad unsubtle?

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House of Mystery no. 130, January 1963. Cover by George Roussos.

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Some guys land on an island patrolled by creatures controlled by a beautiful woman. Well, there’s no need to quarrel, they can talk it out, right?

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House of Mystery no. 133, April 1963. Pencils by Dick Dillin, inks by Sheldon Moldoff, letters by Ira Schnapp.

Okay, the woman seems to be friendly. So far, so good.

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Art by Howard Sherman.

So perhaps everyone can go on their merry way and leave the island and its creatures alone? No, it’s not enough to just kill them. Oops! The whole fucking island explodes to smithereens when the guys detonate some explosives in a cavern and thus trigger an underwater eruption.  I mean, the real threat to these “nice” people was the evil guy trying to gain control of the beasts, but do they try to attack *him*? Nah, they focus on killing the octopus, instead! And the giant armadillo! And the furry rhinoceros!

« And soon, Beast Island sinks beneath boiling, steaming waters… », the omniscient narrator tells us. « The island is gone now – and so are the terrible things that walked on it, flew over it — and swam around it! » The power-grabbing asshole is okay, though – he escaped just fine!

There’s plenty more tentacles in House of Mystery – to which we will no doubt return.

~ ds

2 thoughts on “Tentacle Tuesday: a visit to the House of Mystery

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