Tentacle Tuesday: Mangled, Pulverized and Slashed Tentacles

« Men!! They are a worse menace than any octupus [sic] or shark that ever swam… »

Oh, poor octopuses. Authors use them as a (not very original) symbol of a terrifying, all-powerful force, and then get them (not very creatively) destroyed. An octopus is lucky to “just” get stabbed; everything seems to be fair play in this violent spree – dynamite, torpedoes, even freakin’ nuclear weapons. In most cases, the problem is definitely Man: man who enslaves sea creatures and makes them do his bidding with varied gadgets, man who intrudes on the octopus’ territory, man who sticks his nose where only tentacles should be.

« I only have to give him the claws of the killer lobster… the teeth of the tiger shark… and the heart of the barracuda! That is all! » Because any normal doctor has this stuff just lying around his operating theatre, obviously.

BlueRibbonComics#3-detail-edd-ashe

Spectacular, deadly monster created? Next thing to do is to rip an octopus to shreds, in a particularly gory eyeball-wrenching, tentacle-mincing scene.

BlueRibbon Comics#3-EddAshe
Seriously, just look at that eyeball getting pulled out by toes… Page from “Devils of the Deep”, scripted by George Nagle and drawn by Edd Ashe, published in Blue Ribbon Comics no. 3 (January 1940).

Next up, your standard slashing-at-tentacles-with-a-kitchen-cleaver. The guy must have been stashing it in his swimming trunks; there’s really no need for wearing an actual diving suit. That sap getting squeezed by a tentacle wore one… and look at all the good it did him.

Slam-Bang-Comics-#4
Slam-Bang Comics no. 4 (June 1940), cover by Gus Ricca.
Don-Winslow-of-the-Navy-#36
Don Winslow of the Navy no. 36 (July 1946). Created by Lieutenant Commander Frank V. Martinek as a newspaper strip, Don Winslow was meant to underline Naval courage and inspire American youth to orient their career paths in that direction. I dunno, maybe this particular issue was responsible for a new generation of oceanographers.

I love the idea of an eight tentacled obstacle, and shall aspire to insert that phrase into completely irrelevant conversations.

Don Winslow of the Navy #36-withthemarines
The story is called “With the Marines”, artist unknown.

I have to admit that Don Winslow (not the author) is the kindest octopus handler we’ve seen today. It must be part of those Naval traditions and courage Martinek insisted on. (He was quoted as saying “Since Don Winslow of the Navy is approved by the Navy Department, I cannot allow him to do anything that is contrary to the ideals, traditions or motives of the Navy.“)

Don Winslow of the Navy #36-withthemarines2
Blinding the beastie instead of stabbing – you go, Sir.

It takes cold, raw courage to step up to… This is the grandfather of all octopus… or is it octopi…?” Only a true hero starts fretting about the properness of his English while in proximity to a giant octopus. Are you wondering why that octopus looks distinctly fake? He’s actually made out of rubber, as Don Wallace, a.k.a. Torpedo Man discovers when he punctures the counterfeit cephalopod.

Blue-Bolt-Weird-Tales-of-Terror-#112-
Blue Bolt Weird Tales of Terror no. 112 (Feb 1952). This is a page from “Strange Tale of the Sea Monster”.

In the 1950s, “atomic” was distinctly a cool word, which clearly inspired the creation of this Atomic Submarine (nuclear powered, that is) and its Atomic Commandos… a crew of, like, four people. To quote Toonopedia, “The real atomic sub was apparently a bit more complex and challenging to deal with than the comic book one. Commander Battle’s got along with only four men aboard — Bill Battle (the boss), Champ Ruggles (“the most powerful man on the American continent”, and maybe even the other American continent as well), Doc Blake (the scientific genius) and Tony Gardello (only mildly ethnic).

Commander-Battle-and-the-Atomic-Sub-#2
Commander Battle and the Atomic Sub no. 2 (Sept-Oct 1954), Cover by Ogden Whitney and Sheldon Moldoff.

The atomic commandos didn’t know that the way to the island was barred by an awful defender… by a gigantic nightmare creature that staggered the imagination! They didn’t see it as it rose from the depths behind them, flaring tentacles ready to pounce, clutch…” The octopus went from red to green – is that for better camouflage?

Commander Battle and the Atomic Sub #2-SheldonMoldoff2
Panels from the rather lengthy, 2-part story titled “Fight for Survival!”, drawn by Sheldon Moldoff.

The weird threat from the center of the earth is actually a nation of sea-dwellers who demand humans cease using atomic weapons, threatening to burn Earth’s surface if this is not done (and unleashing their almost-indestructible octopus, as well). When Commander Battle triumphs at the end of the story, all the “giant attackers” die from a radioactive cloud.  “And so it came to an end, this civilization of titans at the center of the earth… for now, not a single on was left alive! Let it be said that they were not evil! Destiny had willed it that they cross man’s path...” In today’s Tentacle Tuesday, this story takes the cake for its number of gratuitous deaths.

As for the octopus, he gets blown to smithereens…

Commander Battle and the Atomic Sub #2-SheldonMoldoff3

~ ds

2 thoughts on “Tentacle Tuesday: Mangled, Pulverized and Slashed Tentacles

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