Tentacle Tuesday: Justice League of America

JLA’s roster has rotated throughout the years, but for the sake of this post, only the seven original members will get cephalopod tussling privileges! Here they are, with the conspicuous absence of Batman and Superman who are no doubt rushing behind the scenes to rescue everybody (but don’t worry, we’ll get to them as well):

The Brave and Bold no. 28 (February-March 1960, DC). Cover pencilled by Mike Sekowsky and inked by Murphy Anderson.

I’ll start with Superman, otherwise he’ll get offended – you know how susceptible he can be. Rather, a double whammy of Superman and Flash, who stumble upon some rather adorable (aside from their propensity to eating people) tentacled aliens. Of course our superheroes decide to make a race out of it, because concentrating on saving some planet or other is clearly not exciting enough – and Batman just happened to be hanging around to give the starting signal. Some afternoons are just that quiet. Race to Save the Universe!, scripted by Denny O’Neil, pencilled by Dick Dillin and inked by Joe Giella, was published in World’s Finest Comics no. 198 (November 1970, DC).

Nevertheless, this dynamic duo does allow itself to get distracted from its marathon, just long enough to defeat this green cutie:

Don’t underestimate kittens.

Incidentally, Superman already has a Tentacle Tuesday all to himself (Tentacle Tuesday: It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s a Tentacle!) Still, here he is collaborating (more like ‘rescuing’) Jimmy Olsen from an intriguing green (why must they always be green?) monstrosity with worm-like tentacles. Ugh, not the most appealing. These pages are from The Voyage of the Mary Celeste II!, scripted by Jerry Siegel, pencilled by Curt Swan and inked by George Klein and published in Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen no. 75 (March 1964, DC).

DC’s “Big Three” – its most iconic and popular – are of course Superman, Batman and Wonder-Woman. As far as the latter is concerned, as much as I love this character, seeing as we already have two Tentacle Tuesdays posts in her honour – Tentacle Tuesday: H.G. Peter and Wonder Woman lend a hand and Tentacle Tuesday: More Golden Age Wonder Woman Wonders! – I think I’ve said everything I had to say on the subject. Thus, we move on to Batman, albeit briefly because there is also Tentacle Tuesday: All Aboard the Batmarine! to peruse. He’ll have to share the stage with Superman, but I’m sure he’ll be a good sport about it.

World’s Finest Comics no. 110 (June 1960, DC). Pencilled by Curt Swan and inked by Sheldon Moldoff.

The cover story is The Alien Who Doomed Robin, scripted by Jerry Coleman and inked by Sheldon Moldoff.

Our next JLA member is the Martian Manhunter, whom I have a strange soft spot for. It’s well known that girls just can’t resist green skin! In honour of this bias, here are not one, but two excerpts from stories featuring tentacles front and centre.

First, two pages from The Beings in the Color Rings, scripted by Dave Wood and illustrated by Joe Certa, published in House of Mystery no. 148 (January 1965, DC).

And for dessert, a page from The Supernatural Masterpieces!, scripted by Dave Wood and illustrated by Joe Certa, published in House of Mystery no. 150 (April 1965, DC).

Naturally, Aquaman has encountered more than a handful of octopuses in his long undersea career – I went on about that in some length in Tentacle Tuesday: Aquaman and his Octopus Sidekicks. I have plenty more where that came from, so there surely be a part II to that particular tale… in the meantime, here is a rather striking cover that didn’t make it into that post.

The Brave and the Bold no. 73 (August-September 1967, DC). Cover pencilled by Carmine Infantino and inked by Charles Cuidera.

The cover story is Glag the Destroyer, scripted by Bob Haney, pencilled by Howard Purcell and inked by Sal Trapani.

Last… and maybe least, because I could never warm up to him… is Green Lantern. The following pages are from a story pencilled by Gil Kane, who doesn’t generally get glowing reviews from WOT. Nevertheless co-admin RG wrote an ingenious post combining our common dubiousness about Kane and percolated it through specifically Green Lantern covers – the result is Hot Streak: Gil Kane’s Green Lantern, which impressed, if not quite convinced, me.

Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Earth!, scripted by John Broome, pencilled by Gil Kane and inked by Vince Colletta, was published in Green Lantern no. 70 (July 1969, DC).

I hope you enjoyed this overview of the Justice League of America as filtered through the rather eccentric lens of tentacles.

~ ds

Tentacle Tuesday: Don’t Miss the Boat!

« Don’t change your tack when the timbers crack
On the dark and the rolling sea…
» *

I am relatively indifferent to tales of adventure, but the siren song of the ocean sometimes prompts me to venture into reading tales about ruthless pirates or valorous seafarers and the perilous voyages they undertake on ships big and small, magnificent or modest. Who hasn’t felt a thrill at spotting a handsome vessel on the water, even if that water is but a canal running through the city? The other point of interest of this discussion is that where there’s an ocean and a ship upon it, there is a (preferably) giant octopus somewhere nearby, only waiting to shred the ship’s hull to smithereens and voraciously gobble up its shipmates.

I’ve talked about consumed shipmates before (see Tentacle Tuesday: Seafaring octopuses and the men they have shamelessly devoured), so today let’s focus on some nautical vessels!

Here is a modestly-sized yet utilitarian boat with a handsome octopus in tow. Maybe he just wanted to climb on deck to rest a while, like this otter?

More Fun Comics no. 44 (June 1939). Cover by Creig Flessel.

A similar boat (I don’t know whether it’s my profound lack of knowledge of boats that makes it seem that way) was attacked by a bigger, scarier – downright malevolent! – octopus some twenty years later. See Kyle “Ace” Morgan, Matthew “Red” Ryan, Leslie “Rocky” Davis and Walter Mark “Prof” Haley scramble for safety while an enraged octopus seeks to devour them! Oh, sorry, I’m being melodramatic.

Challengers of the Unknown no. 77 (Dec. 1970 – Jan. 1971, DC). Pencilled by Jack Kirby, inked by Jack and Rosalind (Roz) Kirby.

This cover has actually been recycled from Showcase no. 12 (Jan.-Feb. 1958, DC), where the background was yellow and the water a more normal shade of blue-white. I do like how the octopus stands out against a black background, however (and the multi-coloured water really sets off his beady, evilly-glowing green eyes!)

Of course these encounters also take place within the stories, as opposed to on the cover.

Page from The Outcasts of the Seven Seas, scripted by Bob Haney, pencilled by Howard Purcell, and inked by Sheldon Moldoff, was published in Sea Devils no. 23 (May-June 1965).

Time to move underwater, a very natural setting for an octopus attack. Here we have a submarine tenderly wrapped in tentacles:

Page from The Human Torch in the Clutches of the Puppet Master!, (over)scripted by Stan Lee, pencilled by Dick Ayers and inked by George Roussos. This story was published in Strange Tales no. 116 (Jan. 1964, Marvel).

Last but not least, I’ve kept this neat little submarine until the end:

Voyage to the Deep (IDW Publishing, 2019), a collection of Dell Comics’ short-lived, four-issue series published from 1962 to 1964 and illustrated by Sam Glanzman. Note the introduction by WOT favourite Stephen Bissette!

Glanzman is also a favourite of ours, though we haven’t talked about him much (yet). In case you’re wondering what the insides of one of those issues looked like – good, they looked really good! Note the octopus proudly perched in the middle of the page.

Page from Voyage to the Deep no. 1 (September-November 1962, Dell). Art by Sam Glanzman.

~ ds

Tentacle Tuesday: Hand Me My Helmet, Harry

The first helmets were used by Assyrian soldiers in 900 B.C., and they were made of thick leather and bronze to protect the head from blunt objects, swords and arrows during combat. Research shows that helmets can significantly reduce the severity of injuries sustained from head trauma. That’s why it’s so important to always wear a helmet when taking part in a potentially dangerous activity.

You may argue that helmets are just a way to be able to breath underwater, a compromise between the bulky scaphandre (less elegantly ‘diving suit’ in English) and the scuba diving mask. Breathing, ha, that’s just a distraction to the real purpose of a helmet during an octopus encounter: it makes the diver’s head look a little like an octopus’ head, thus confusing him and giving a much necessary advantage.

Install yourself comfortably following the example of this happy family of cephalopods, and let’s have a look…

I first encountered David Wiesner when I bought his Mr. Wuffles! book on a whim (it had cats!), but Flotsam, a collection of underwater life illustrations published in 2006, is also clearly of some interest.

Out first helmet of the day is a reasonable imitation of a diving suit! The following page is from Prisoner of the Undersea World!, scripted by Gardner Fox, illustrated by Sid Greene, and published in Strange Adventures no. 155 (August 1963, DC).

I am not sure how he could drink and eat without taking his helmet off, and taking it off would surely mean drowning – luckily, the frogs were smarter than him!

I am pleased to report that not only did the octopus come out of that encounter in one piece, no frog denizens were seriously harmed, either (which makes this tale pretty special, since human heroes tend to go and annihilate anything they don’t understand).

Actual attempts at establishing communication? Colour me impressed!

Our second is a helmeted beauty (albeit twisting in a way that isn’t anatomically feasible) and some of her teammates from U.N.D.E.R.S.E.A. (or United Nations Department of Experiment and Research Systems Established at Atlantis).

Undersea Agent no. 2 (April 1966, Tower Comics), pencilled by Mike Sekowsky and inked by Frank Giacoia.

The cover story is rife with tentacles, but unfortunately doesn’t feature the scene depicted above at all.

Panel from The Return of Dr Fang, scripted by D. J. Arneson, pencilled by Ray Bailey and inked by Sheldon Moldoff.

On the other hand, Buried Under the Sea, a fun read nicely illustrated by Mike Sekowsky on pencils and Joe Giella and Frank Giacoia on inks, has plenty of sea-helmets… but no cephalopods. One can’t have everything, alas!

One easily understands why she made it onto the cover of the comic!

From helmets that are actually connecting to some diving equipment and oxygen canisters, we move on to ones which are just like an upside-down fish bowl somehow magically sitting on the wearer’s shoulders. Style always takes priority over silly things like actually being able to breathe. For more Adam Strange, scoot over to Tentacle Tuesday: Tangles with Adam Strange!

DC Super Stars no. 8 (October 1976, DC), cover by Ernie Chan (signing as Ernie Chua). This issue features a bunch of reprints, mainly reprinted stories from Mystery in Space.

Speaking of Mystery in Space, no. 21 (August-September 1954) has a very appropriate story… proving that the ol’ anti-cephalopod helmet can be used out of water. This is a page from Interplanetary Merry-Go-Round, scripted by Otto Binder and illustrated by Sy Barry… who’s still with us and about to celebrate his 93rd birthday!

Maybe the Martian monster is going ‘beserk’ (sic) because it’s a sentient creature who’s been chained and used for the amusement of stupid crowds?

~ ds

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:

Amazing_Adventures_31-TheDaytheMonumentsShattered-CraigRussell
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: All Aboard the Batmarine!

« Even without the benefit of philosophical reflection, anyone who has spent some time in an enclosed space with an excited bat knows what it is to encounter a fundamentally alien form of life. » (Thomas Nagel, What is it like to be a bat?)

Bats and octopuses, now there’s a combination that doesn’t often occur in nature – while both are admirable, fascinating animals, they’re not linked by lifestyle or environment, and neither is the other’s prey. Batman, on the other hand, has definitely tangled with many tentacled monsters in his time (which proves that he’s not a bat). I’m sure today’s post didn’t unearth *all* the octopuses that Batman has had the pleasure of defeating, especially those of a more modern vintage (with mostly horrible art, which is why I’m not too worried)… but today’s selection, you will have to admit, is quite fair.

The Voyage of the First Batmarine!, scripted by Edmond Hamiton, pencilled by Dick Sprang and inked by Charles Paris, was published in Batman no. 86 (September 1954).

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Bat-Mite Meets Mr. Mxyzptlk (he must be from Poland, with a name like that), scripted by Jerry Coleman, pencilled by Dick Sprang, and inked by Sheldon Moldoff, was published in World’s Finest Comics no. 113 (November 1960):

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I totally squee-ed when I saw this panel.

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Justice League of America no. 27 (May 1964), with the cover pencilled by Mike Sekowsky and inked by Murphy Anderson:

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The inside story, The “I” Who Defeated the Justice League! is scripted by Gardner Fox, pencilled by Mike Sekowsky, and inked by Bernard Sachs:

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Batman no. 357 (March 1983). Cover pencilled by Ed Hannnigan and inked by Dick Giordano:

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The cover story, Squid, is scripted by Gerry Conway, pencilled by Don Newton, and inked by Alfredo Alcala:

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Since they threatened us with the continuation of the story, I followed up, and dug up more tentacles. Deathgrip, scripted by Gerry Conway, pencilled by Don Newton and inked by Dick Giordano, was published (as promised) in Detective Comics no. 524 (March 1983):

DetectiveComics524

Enigma of the Death-Ship!, scripted by Bob Haney and illustrated by Jim Aparo, was published in The Brave and the Bold no. 142 (July-August 1978):

BraveandtheBold142

I mentioned modern comics, earlier – I’ve chosen two examples published relatively recently, with passable art.

The pompously titled Leaves of Grass, Part 3: Comedown!, scripted by Alan Grant, pencilled by Dave Taylor and inked Stan Woch, was published in Batman: Shadow of the Bat no. 58 (January 1997):

Batman-shadowofthebat58

Knightmares, Part 4, scripted by Tom King and illustrated by Jorge Fornes, was published in Batman no. 66 (May 2019):

Batman66-Jorge Fornes

To conclude on a more pleasant note…

Tentacled Terror, number 8 in Topps‘ 1966 Batman ‘Red Bat’ trading card set, boasting painted artwork by Norman Saunders.

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∼ ds

Tentacle Tuesday: Toothsome and Monstrous

« Teeth are always in style. »  — Dr. Seuss

By now, we have surely established that in the compendium of made-up monsters, tentacles are an artistic short-cut for evoking an especially terrifying creature. As it turns out, if there’s one way to make an already spine-chilling abomination even scarier, it’s to equip its gaping maw with teeth. Be it fangs borrowed from some unfortunate vampire, the implausibly symmetrical dentures of a TV show host, or clearly carnivorous, sharkish chompers, artists have been inserting teeth where no teeth should be long before you or I were born.

« But Grandmother! What big teeth you have! », once quipped Little Red Riding Hood in the 19th century, and this fear of teeth has clearly followed us into the Modern Age.Take a look —

Sheldon Moldoff was probably thinking of a snake’s fangs when he came up with this cutie:

TerroratheLighthouse-SheldonMoldoff-Beware! Terror Tales #6,
A page from Horror at the Lighthouse!, published in Beware! Terror Tales no. 6 (Fawcett Comics, March 1953). Scripted by Bill Woolfolk, drawn by Sheldon Moldoff. Read the full story at The Horrors of It All.

TerroratheLighthouse-2-SheldonMoldoff-Beware! Terror Tales #6,

This cross between a dinosaur and a mole (or is that more of an ant?) boasts an enviable set of sparklingly white dentition:

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Challengers of the Unknown no. 22 (Oct-Nov 1961), cover by Bob Brown.

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Aw. You’d go “wacky”, too, if some jerk piled on grenades on you.

One thing you can say about tentacled monsters, it’s that they sure keep their denticulations (yes, it’s a word) impeccably clean. Maybe they choose their victims based on that, like cats gleefully enjoying the crunch of a good teeth-cleaning croquette?

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Holy crap, look at those white chompers (that are about to get a little marred with blood, gristle and whatnot)! Weird Mystery Tales no. 9 (Dec 1973 – Jan 1974), cover by Luis Dominguez.

On the other hand, some monsters could have used a set of braces (this one is an orphan, which is why it had to make do with a British set of teeth).

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Eerie no. 131 (June 1982), cover by Rudy Nebres. Can you imagine trying to chew anything with such a set?!

A somewhat similar (but a lot less overcrowded) set of ivories for gnawing and gnashing can be spotted in water:

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A collectible card (from sometime in the 2000s) by illustrator Chet Phillips. Here you can admire his series about Japanese monsters, or visit his website, chetart.com.

This toothy post is now at its end – happy brushing (and flossing — it’s important!) to all, and ’til next Tentacle Tuesday!

~ ds

p.s. Not particularly related to comics, but I found this photograph distinctly on the side of scary:

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Captioned « Women in London sit down for express teeth whitening ». I think they’re about to be transformed into aliens, or contaminated with some deadly germ, or perhaps just burnt to a crisp by some mysterious rays. Have I been reading too many comics?

Tentacle Tuesday: Monsters with Really Long Arms

A favourite trope of tentacular obsession in comics is populating stories with monsters boasting exceptionally long arms (sometimes more than one pair) that they can wind around stuff with ease. In other words, monsters with tentacle forelimbs. You’d have to abstain from comics altogether to never encounter that of which I speak (or stick to slice-of-life comics, I guess). A little demonstration is in order.

Here’s a trick question: what kind of being lives on planet Octo? Duh: Octo-men! The following Flip Falcon story, illustrated by Don Rico (and not “Orville Wells”, despite claims to the contrary), was printed in Fantastic Comics no. 17 (April 1941).

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Interesting that “dog” is used as a slur even on planet Octo, despite there clearly being no canines around.

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Nasty little brutes, aren’t they?

The Super-Tests of the Super-Pets! (scripted by Edmond Hamilton, penciled by John Forte and inked by Sheldon Moldoff) is every bit as goofy as it sounds. I actually enjoyed reading it, much to my own amazement. Anyway, while Proty II (Chameleon Boy’s pet) transforms into quite a few creatures to pass the super-test, he clearly favours tentacular forms (and who could blame him?) This was published in Adventure Comics no. 322 (July 1964).

Super Tests of the Super Pets! (Adventure Comics no. 322)-1-SheldonMoldoff

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How is it worse to be a jellyfish instead of some sort of blobby ectoplasm thing?

Speaking of Proty II and ectoplasm, a dozen issues later, the Legion decides to visit his home planet, which is just full of these jello-marshmallow doughboys, Protean citizens all. Part I: The Unknown Legionnaire and Part II: The Secret of Unknown Boy! (both parts scripted by Edmond Hamilton, penciled by John Forte and inked by Sheldon Moldoff) were published in Adventure Comics no. 334 (July 1965).

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To terrify Proteans, whose appendages are borderline tentacles, Saturn Girl decides to conjure up a… monster with tentacles.

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In case you didn’t believe me that Proteans have “tentacles”.

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The shape-shifting Proteans turn into more streamlined versions of themselves, with more pronounced tentacles. I swear, everyone is obsessed.

Next, I’d like to regale you with a fight scene illustrated by Murphy Anderson (yum!): Scourge of the Human Race!, scripted by Gardner Fox and published in Hawkman no. 15 (August-September 1966).

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Isn’t it a lovely last panel?

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If I Can’t Be Clark Kent… Nobody Can!, published in Action Comics no. 524 (October 1981), scripted by Martin Pasko, penciled by Curt Swan and inked by Frank Chiaramonte, offers us a nice helping of tentacles.

Action Comics #524 (1981)

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If I should see an octopus
Lift its arms out of the sea
Or see its shadow rising up
Cross the rooftops above the streets
I’d follow those dancing limbs
To the spinning edge of the sky
Where all the boats fall off the world
Into the octopus’s eye

~ ds

Tentacle Tuesday: Ahoy, Sea Devils!

« The tentacles are like steel vises, Dane! Can’t break their hold!

*Heh, heh* Try harder — HARDER! »

Greetings! I have just come back from a vacation, and I’m too tired to ramble on the way I usually do. Fortunately, if an image is worth a thousand words, this post is equivalent to a decent novella. Here’s what you need to know about the Sea Devils, here’s our take on the wonderful artist Russ Heath, as well as my complaint about Robert Kanigher’s scripts. Okay, we’re all set now!

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Sea Devils no. 1 (September-October 1961). Cover by Russ Heath.

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The Sea Devils vs. the Octopus Man! is scripted by Robert Kanigher and illustrated by Russ Heath.

The same team returns to tentacles with Sea Devils no. 6:

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The Flame-Headed Watchman!, scripted by Robert Kanigher and drawn by Russ Heath, was published in Sea Devils no. 6 (July-August 1962).

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Now we unfortunately have to leave Heath behind and walk over to the territory of Howard Purcell, whose art is not nearly as striking, but still quite serviceable.

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Sea Devils no. 17 (May-June 1964), cover by Howard Purcell.

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The Impossible Maritime Menaces is scripted by Arnold Drake, penciled by Howard Purcell and inked by Sheldon Moldoff.

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Sea Devils no. 19 (September-October 1964), cover by Howard Purcell. Is it just me or does the guy on the left look like a Ditko villain?

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The Sea-Devil Robots is penciled by Howard Purcell and inked by Sheldon Moldoff.

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Sea Devils no. 21 (January-February 1965), cover by Howard Purcell.

The Forty-Fathom Doom!, scripted by Jack Miller, penciled by Howard Purcell and inked by Sheldon Moldoff, boasts quite an assortment of tentacles:

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Everybody is almost in identical position as on the cover – but the octopus has lost his baby blues and gained a pair of poached eggs.

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And, in case you’re wondering where that quote at the top of this post comes from… The ‘heh, heh’-ing octopus is Dr. Quad.

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~ ds

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.

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

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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.

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Slam-Bang Comics no. 4 (June 1940), cover by Gus Ricca.

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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.

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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.“)

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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.

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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).

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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

Tentacle Tuesday: Those Blackhawks and Their Marvellous Tentacled Machines

« Blackhawk is helpless! He’s being drawn up by that suction tentacle! »

When my co-admin learned that today’s Tentacle Tuesday is all about Blackhawk, he wanted the answer to an important question. Did I know who created the character? I did not. As some of our readers may be in the same boat, I’ll share what I gleaned.

Blackhawk, the leader of the Blackhawk Squadron, was supposed to have been created by Charles Nicholas ‘Chuck’ Cuidera with assistance from Bob Powell and Will Eisner. Why “supposed”? As with a lot of series that came into existence some 80 years ago (the first appearance of the Blackhawks Squadron was in a Quality Comics issue published from 1941! Holy crap!), and human memory and human’s desire for recognition being what they are, there’s a lot of squabbling about who actually did what.

« Will Eisner has at times been considered the characters’ primary creator, with Eisner himself acknowledging the contributions of Chuck Cuidera and writer Bob Powell. Over the years, Cuidera became increasingly vocal that he did much more work on Blackhawk than Eisner and that he had in fact already started creating the characters prior to joining Eisner’s studio. According to Cuidera, he and Powell fleshed out the concept, deciding on everything from names and nationalities, to the characters’ distinguishing traits, uniforms, and the aircraft they would fly. » |source|

In 1999, Eisner addressed his view of the matter during a Comic-Con panel:

« It’s not important who created it… it’s the guy who kept it going, and made something out if it that’s more important. Whether or not Chuck Cuidera created or thought of Blackhawk to begin with is unimportant. The fact that Chuck Cuidera made Blackhawk what it was is the important thing, and therefore, he should get the credit. »

To me, that sounds like yet another confirmation that Eisner was a really classy guy. At any rate, all we can say with certainty is that Eisner worked on early Blackhawk covers with Cuidera.

Oh, right, we’re here for the tentacles. The Blackhawks have fought a variety of bizarre war machines in their time (and by “bizarre”, I mostly mean preposterous). You can read quite a lot of the DC-published issues (up until no. 273) here, though I’d only recommend it for those of you who don’t mind *really* suspending disbelief while reading a story. If you’re one of those fuddy-duddies who actually insist on plots that make sense, move along!

On a more positive note, the art is usually quite nice. (However, there’s also usually *a lot* of dialogue – peppered with French and German exclamations, as The Blackhawks are an international crew – obscuring the nice art.) The full team consists of the following braves: Blackhawk (American), Olaf Friedriksen (Danish), André (French), Chuck Wilson (American), Hans Hendrickson (Dutch), Stanislaus (Polish), and Chop-Chop (Chinese… seriously, guys? You couldn’t come up with a better name for him?) Oh, and I should probably also explain that events unfold during WWII, and that the Blackhawks are fighting on the Allies’ side (well, obviously).

blackhawk109
Blackhawk No.109 (February 1957), pencilled by Dick Dillin and inked by Charles Cuidera.

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Blackhawk no. 130 (Nov. 1958), pencilled by Dick Dillin and inked by Sheldon Moldoff.

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Blackhawk no. 166 (Nov. 1961), pencilled by Dick Dillin and inked by Sheldon Moldoff.

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Blackhawk no. 190 (Nov. 1963), pencilled by Dick Dillin and inked by Charles Cuidera.

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Blackhawk no. 211 (Aug. 1965), 
pencilled by Dick Dillin and inked by Charles Cuidera.

One of the rare cases where tentacles are promised *and* delivered inside:

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Page from « Nobody Replaces a Blackhawk », pencilled by Dick Dillin and inked by Charles Cuidera. The evil guys here are the Octopus Gang!

blackhawk224
Blackhawk no. 224 (Sept. 1966), pencilled by Dick Dillin and inked by Charles Cuidera.

blackhawks224-page2
Page from « The Blackhawk Wreckers », scripted by Ed Herron, pencilled by Dick Dillin and inked by Charles Cuidera.

I have to admit that while looking up stuff for this post, I grew rather fond of the Blackhawks. It’s fun to follow their adventures in completely improbable situations, to eagerly anticipate the introduction of yet another asinine machine hellbent on destruction. I also enjoyed the international flavour of the team – and Chop Chop, despite his ridiculous name, isn’t treated differently from his teammates.

Y’know what the Blackhawks look like these days?

https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/marvel_dc/images/9/91/Blackhawks_Vol_1_1.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20110923235035

It’s important to update the image of old heroes so that new audiences can relate. Now let’s go rinse our eyes out with acid.

Signing off before I melt into a big puddle – this post comes to you courtesy of RG’s help cleaning up the images, and of my heavy cold which made me unusually verbose 😉

~ ds