Tentacle Tuesday: The Menace of the Mechanical Octopus

« The tentacles of  my followers shall seek you out and destroy your swiftly! »

If you like joyous nonsense, this post is for you! As if humanity wasn’t besieged enough by actual cephalopods, evil-but-brilliant minds insist on creating machines with tentacles to horrify and maim. Pain to some, amusement for us!

First, some definite eye candy. The following story is not only convincingly illustrated, but also makes some sense on a scientific basis. The Menace of the Mechanical Octopus was scripted by Ed Herron, and pencilled and inked by Jack Kirby. It was published in Word’s Finest Comics no. 97 (October 1958).

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Now we move on to that goofy-yet-fun series, DC’s House of Mystery.  I will readily admit that I’m not always a fan. At worst, some of the stories published within its pages have plots so random that amusement becomes irritated incredulity. But keep an open mind, and there are also very creative (sometimes “were these people on drugs?” creative) plots to be enjoyed and great art to be relished.

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House of Mystery no. 96 (March 1960), cover is pencilled by Dick Dillin and inked by Sheldon Moldoff.

The cover story, The Pirate Brain, was illustrated by Lee Elias:

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The ‘weird, giant seeds’ look remarkably like ice cream cones.

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Our next stop concerns Robby Reed, the original owner of the Dial H for Hero gizmo, and his epic (of course) battle with… well, a whole bunch of villains. House of Mystery no. 156 (January 1966) is where he made his début, transforming into the Cometeer, Giantboy and the Mole. So many adventures, all in one (half) issue! This story was scripted by Dan Wood and illustrated by Jim Mooney:

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From Giantboy we move on to Colossal Boy, more precisely to Colossal Boy’s One-Man War, scripted by Jerry Siegel, pencilled by Curt Swan, and inked by Sheldon Moldoff. It was published in Adventure Comics no. 341 (February 1966).

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A story in which everybody talks way too much, and only in clichés.

Skipping ten years ahead, we end up in Marvel territory –

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Amazing Adventures no. 31 (July 1975). The cover is by Philip Craig Russell with modifications by John Romita; the letters are by Gaspar Saladino.

The cover story, The Day the Monuments Shattered, is scripted by Don McGregor and illustrated by P. Craig Russell:

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Not Russell’s best work, I think we can safely say.

As a final note, here are some indubitably mechanical, yet not-quite-tentacles – a worthy addition to this post, as far as I’m concerned.

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Challengers of the Unknown no. 11 (Dec 1959 – Jan 1960). Cover by Bob Brown, with colours and grey tones by Jack Adler. I love the perturbed flying dinosaur, whose hooves suggest that he has some cow ancestors.
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Startling Stories: Fantastic Four – Unstable Molecules no. 2 (April 2003). The cover is by Craig Thompson.
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Disappearing Acts is scripted by James Sturm and illustrated by Guy Davis with assistance from James Sturm. The Vapor Girl insertions (imaginary alien escapades) are by Robert Sikoryak.

If you liked this post, don’t forget to visit Tentacle Tuesday: Mechanical Tentacles, too!

≈ ds

Tentacle Tuesday: Space Adventures

Let’s commence Tentacle Tuesday on a ticklish note (tentacles are itchy, you know, especially when they’re crawling up one’s leg) with Rip Off Comics no. 23, “the rip-snorting science fiction issue!”

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Typical: the good-looking gal has to defend herself and her goofy-looking idiot of a partner from tentacles, claws, fangs, and other typical dangers of deep space. Rip Off Comics no. 23 (summer 1989), cover by Hal S. Robins, with colours by Guy Colwell. Look closely at the tiny drawings hiding inside “Rip Off”, and you’ll see Fat Freddy’s cat bouncing around merrily! Actually, you’ll see pretty much the whole cast of Furry Freak Brothers, and then some.

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If a tentacle creeps out from the pages of a book you’re reading to gently prod you, you know you’ve made the right choice of reading material.

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This Wacky Packages card (from the 14th series, released in April/June 1975) is painted by Norman Saunders from a concept by Jay Lynch (which looks like this). Given that the moon is grinning at them, I think these two are high on something (I’m willing to accept tentacles in space, but I draw the line at anthropomorphized satellites).

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Sometimes tentacles masquerade as waves, but we know better! Dunno why some sea god would want a cyborg chunk of metal, though.

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Rom no. 1, July 2016 (IDW), a variant cover from something called « Retailer Incentive ». Art by the ever-decorative and undeniably stylish Craig Russell, who unfortunately seems to mostly have squandered his talents on operatic and fairy tale adaptations (not counting a few marvelous short stories). Some people’s thing, no doubt, but not mine!

Rom the Spaceknight was a toy created by three men (Scott Dankman, Richard C. Levy and Bryan L. McCoy) in 1979. His creators called him COBOL (a programming language), but he was renamed into ROM (« read only memory ») by the executives of Parker Brothers, the company that bought rights to the this « beeping, thinking toy » (which Time predicted would « end up among the dust balls under the playroom sofa »). As part of a promotional effort, Parker Brothers promptly licensed him to Marvel. Rom the toy was a commercial failure, but Rom the comic book went on to last 75 issues, beeping its last bleep in 1986 (not counting the comic’s revival by IDW in 2016).

The comic may have passed from Marvel’s hands into IDW’s, but the description still seems to have been written by a hyper-ventilating lummox flinging spit everywhere as he croaks: “WE’VE BEEN INVADED AND ONLY A SPACE KNIGHT CAN SAVE US! Now the ongoing tale of ROM begins in earnest! Christos Gage, Chris Ryall, and David Messina kick off the wildest new series of the year as Rom’s war with the DIRE WRAITHS hits close to home in ‘Earthfall, part 1!’ ‘The long-beloved and even longer absent space hero returns at long last! First, we brought back MICRONAUTS! And Now… ROM! As if Rom’s return wasn’t enough, wait’ll you see how this one ends!” Brr.

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So far, the tentacles featured have been rather on the tame side. Let’s have something properly terrifying…

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Lance Lewis (Space Detective) and his girlfriend Marna may be in a tight spot… but I’m sorry, I’m having trouble imagining the terror of being overcome by these teeny-tiny octopuses. They’re just too dang cute, clinging to Marna’s legs like puppies begging for food. Startling Comics no. 53, 1948, the last issue of this series. Cover by Alex Schomburg (1905-1998), a prolific Puerto Rican artist (this is signed as Xela).

Oh well, terror petered out today. I guess this Tentacle Tuesday is not going to scare anybody witless. There’s always next time!

Adorably yours,

~ ds

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“Squee!”