Tag Archives: monsters

The Saturday Comics: The Dell Comics “Monsters”

27 Jun

June 27, 2015

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In 1966, Dell Comics jumped into the horror genre and launched a trio of comics based on the classic monsters Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, and The Wolf Man.

Um, sort of not really.

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Thankfully, this only lasted 3 issues. I’ll let Wikipedia handle this (their motto: “One day we too will have standards”) because writing about this Dracula abomination this close to the passing of Christopher Lee is just too hard.

Dracula is a modern day direct descendant of the original Count Dracula now working as a medical researcher in the old family castle in Transylvania where, due to his experiments to develop a cure for brain damage using a serum developed from bat blood, he accidentally gains strange “vampire”-like powers including the ability to turn into a bat and superhuman sight and hearing. He decides to embark on a superhero career in order to redeem his family name, developing his body through diet and exercise to the peak of physical perfection and designing himself his own distinctive crimson-cowled purple costume with a bat-shaped gold belt buckle, after which he vows to fight evil and superstition in all its forms.

Leaving for America after the local peasants burn down his castle, he adopts the secret identity of “Al U. Card” (a hastily chosen pseudonym short for “Aloyisius Ulysses Card”). In issue #4, his girlfriend and confidante, blond socialite B.B. Beebe, gains the same powers and became his blue-clad sidekick Fleeta (from “fledermaus”, the German word for bat), bringing to the team not only a black belt in judo but also an abandoned hidden underground government radar installation/bomb shelter on her family’s mountain estate that Dracula uses as his secret laboratory lair.

While I always felt that Dracula lacked judo skills, they may have gone a bit too far in the superhero direction. For the record, I paid 99 cents for all three issues in pdf form and I feel overcharged by about 68 cents.

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Of all the bold fashion choices Frankenstein made, I am most impressed by the green skin of the head contrasted with the healthy beige skin of the arms. I chose this cover because it also has a kid sitting on the back of a gorilla. This comic has it all! (DISCLAIMER: This comic has less, much much less, than “all.”) This was another 3 issue wonder. And I have to believe that 3 issues was 3 too many.

Take it away, Wikipedia!

Created in 1866 by a reclusive scientist referred to only as “the Doctor” who endowed him with a superior intellect and the strength of fifty men, Frankenstein lay dormant for over a hundred years under the ruins of an abandoned castle near the large modern American metropolis of Metropole City. Upon awakening thanks to a convenient lightning bolt, he dons a lifelike rubber mask to hide the fact that his white-haired and black-browed head has pale green skin (the rest of his tall, muscular body has a normal Caucasian flesh tone) and takes the name “Frank Stone”, a pseudonym inspired by a fallen chunk of masonry with the word “FRANK” engraved in it.

Befriending elderly millionaire philanthropist Henry Knickerbocker after rescuing him from a traffic accident (and who, by an amazing coincidence, is the son of a man who had been his long-dead creator’s friend and business partner), when the old man dies from a heart attack he leaves his “nephew” Frank his vast fortune, allowing him the financial freedom to devotes his life to being a scarlet-suited superhero.

Only his devoted butler William knows his secret, although neighboring blond busybody Miss Ann Thrope suspects that handsome brown-haired playboy Frank Stone is really the secret identity of the crew cut and craggy-faced crimefighter Frankenstein and is constantly trying to prove it. His archenemy is the amazingly “Mini-Me”-like midget mad scientist Mr. Freek who likes to ride around on the shoulders of his huge and extremely powerful pet gorilla Bruto.

I could have gotten this in pdf also, but I was still shell-shocked from Dracula and couldn’t bring myself to spend another cent.

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Kudos to Dell for making the Werewolf look like an actual wolf. But the kudos end there.

After crashing his experimental aircraft in the Arctic Circle, USAF pilot Major Wiley Wolf develops amnesia and goes feral, living with a group of wolves after saving one he names Thor, who from then on becomes his constant companion. Spending six months lost in the Canadian wilderness, he eventually gets his memory back, and after being rescued he resigns his Air Force commission, saying he has been changed by his experiences amongst his lupine friends and that he now realizes too many people are like the insane wolves who occasionally take over the pack and cause untold damage to the world around them and that he wants to help mankind somehow against these mad wolves in human form.

With most everyone who ever knew him believing him to be dead, he’s recruited by the CIA along with the loyal Thor into the intelligence agency’s Top Priority Unit One as its sole operative. Trained to the peak of physical perfection and instructed in the latest self defense and espionage techniques, he is given special hypnotic treatments that allow him to mentally alter his facial features to any number of preprogrammed “physiognomical disguises” with a minimum of make-up.

Then a miniaturized radio transmitter is surgically implanted in his throat that allows him to secretly communicate with the now highly trained Thor across great distances thanks to a similar receiver device implanted in the wolf’s skull.

Finally, in addition to the usual James Bond-style gadgets, the CIA also provides Wolf with a one-of-a-kind high-tech stealth suit which is completely black and covers him from head to toe, making him resemble some eerie faceless shadow-like living silhouette. While the special polymer material it is made of is only a single molecule thick, the suit renders him virtually bulletproof and protects him from chemicals and gases with the mask containing a special oxygen extraction system that allows him to breathe underwater at any pressure depth. The suit’s strangest feature, however, is its ability to make the soles of its feet friction-free, allowing him to “skate” across any surface at speeds so fast that, aided by the light absorptive qualities of his garb, he is virtually invisible (said soles can also take on adhesive qualities to aid in climbing).

Now code-named “Werewolf”, the super-agent uses his special abilities to fight the enemies of freedom and democracy around the world, his top secret missions ranging from sabotaging missile bases in Cuba to battling the Red Chinese agent Sing Lo who has trained porpoises to spy on American submarines off the coast of Scotland.

When not on duty, Wiley relaxes with Thor in the secret solitude of his isolated mountaintop retreat which he leaves when summoned into action via a hidden underwater tunnel. His beautiful blond CIA contact is Judy Bowman.

Wait, what, that wolf on the cover isn’t him? That coal golem is the Werewolf? And his name is “Wiley Wolf”? Really? Three issues was too much for this.

Wasei Kingu Kongu tai Gojira

8 Jul

July 8, 2011

I have always loved monster movies, especially old ones. Big apes, giant dinosaurs, ants, I love them all. It is in my blood and if you check this site on Monday you’ll see what I mean.

King Kong and Godzilla are the top of my monster movie list. You’ll find Frankenstein and Dracula there as well, but it is the men in rubber suits, the Japanese Kaiju (“monster” or “strange beast”), as well as their cousins the giant apes, that I hold dear.

I’ve seen every one of those films a few times, most more than a few. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen King Kong to the point that I won’t even estimate. Even the worst Godzilla film (Godzilla’s Revenge) I know backwards and forwards. There isn’t a Reptilicus or Konga that I don’t know.

So it came as a bit of a shock to me when I discovered that there were two King Kong films that I never even heard of, let alone saw. I can be forgiven for not seeing them because they are lost films, likely destroyed in the bombing of Japan during World War II, but how could I have never even heard of a pair of Japanese King Kong films that predate Godzilla by over a decade and a half?

Not much is known about King Kong Appears in Edo, from 1938. This was an unauthorized Kong film in which the giant ape attacks medieval Tokyo (Edo.) Little is known about the film other than what can be gleaned from the movie poster above. It apparently featured the monster fighting samurai. (WHY is this film lost?!) We do know that the man who created the original Godzilla suit (Fuminori Ohashi) worked on the King Kong suit and he claims that many special effects that later became standard in Kaiju films were created for this film. By “special effects” I am sure he means “rubber suits and cardboard cities.”

As amazing as I found all of that, I was more amazed to find that there was an even earlier Japanese King Kong film, Wasei Kingu Kongu. (That translates as Japanese King Kong. Seriously.) This one was a 1933 silent film. It must have been rushed because it was put out the same year as the original. All that seems to remain is a single still. It was released by the same company that distributed the original King Kong in Japan, but it was made without RKO’s permission.

This was only the beginning. Late night research about these movies led to the solution of another King Kong mystery, one that had always bothered me.

King Kong Escapes (1967) is a strange movie. Although like the lost Kong films it is Japanese, this one was authorized. It plays nothing like the American King Kong and Son of Kong, but very much like the Japanese Godzilla movies. However, it has nothing to do with the Japanese King Kong vs. Godzilla of 1962. Confused? This next bit won’t help.

The plot revolves around bad guy Doctor Who, who has nothing to do with the BBC time traveler. However, when you consider the close physical resemblance between this film’s Doctor Who and William Hartnell as Doctor Who, there has to be more to it than mere coincidence.

Plot-wise, Doctor Who is using a robot King Kong (Mechani-Kong) to mine “Element X” but the robot proves unable to function due to the element’s extreme radioactivity. At the same time, a submarine crew finds the real King Kong on an island fighting various rubbery monsters. Doctor Who hypnotizes Kong to work for him mining Element X, Kong gets free, battles Mechani-Kong, and (of course) climbs a tall tower and falls for a girl. If you guessed that Kong wins and goes back to his island, join the crowd.


I have always wondered why this film was so unlike every other Kong film I ever saw, even King Kong vs. Godzilla. After all, they were both made by Toho. I was extremely curious about the blatant William Hartnell rip-off. Well, as I looked into the lost films, I found out that this film was based on the American Rankin/Bass King Kong cartoon, The King Kong Show. As the clip below shows, this was a very strange version of King Kong (but not too far off from the 1978 Hanna-Barbera Godzilla cartoon, strangely enough.) Doctor Who was the bad guy on the show. This cartoon only produced 25 episodes, too short for syndication, so that explains why I never saw it. It finished airing a year before I was born. As you’ll see at the end of this post, the cartoon Doctor Who looked nothing at all like the movie version, strongly implying that the resemblance to the BBC character was intentional. There were two big screen versions of Doctor Who featuring Peter Cushing in 1965 and 1966, so if in 1967 it looked like there was another big screen Doctor Who adventure, would the producers of King Kong Escapes be upset if a few extra people bought tickets thinking they were going to see the TARDIS and Daleks? I doubt it.


So my research solved a King Kong mystery, but brought up even more King Kong/Godzilla connections that I never knew.

Before King Kong Escapes, there was supposed to have been yet another King Kong Toho movie. However, because Godzilla was hugely popular, the world never saw King Kong vs. Ebirah but instead watched Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster. Basically, that title tells you all you need to know about the film. (Eibrah is a giant lobster.) If you saw the film you may have noticed that Godzilla acts out of character. He shows interest in a woman, throws boulders instead of using his fiery breath, and draws strength from electricity. Out of character for Godzilla, those traits were all established for King Kong in King Kong vs. Godzilla. They did almost nothing to alter the script but change the names. (King Kong gaining strength from lightening was added to make him more of a match for Godzilla, who spent much of the film roasting Kong with his breath until Kong amped up.)


Godzilla has a history of pinch-hitting. I also found out that the monster was never meant to be in Godzilla vs. Megalon. That film devotes a lot of screen time to Jet Jaguar, a fairly typical Japanese robot. It was the winning creation of a fan contest and was going to be the star of Jet Jaguar vs. Megalon. However, it was felt, and probably correctly, that the film needed a little more star power so Godzilla was added, and with a second hero (Godzilla was a good guy around this time) came a second villain, Gigan. By the way, if you have never seen the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version of that film, I urge you to finish this blog and then look it up on YouTube. It is that good. In fact, do yourself and the economy a favor and buy the DVD. You’ll thank me.

If you are wondering where the King Kong connection is, check out the movie poster for the American release:

Could they be any more blatantly misleading?

So there you have it. A chance peek at a list of lost films at 4am led to a sleepless morning of looking up monster movie trivia. Par for the course, really. One last thing I discovered is that what went on behind the scenes of a Godzilla movie was often more interesting than what went on the screen, especially if you are watching Son of Godzilla or the mind-numbing Godzilla’s Revenge.

Before you go, here is a fantastic 1967 Japanese magazine illustration dealing with the King Kong cartoon and relating to King Kong Escapes. The bald guy is Doctor Who.

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