Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I Love Atlas Comics#17: "the Brain Trap!"

This story, this... man alive, this story. I can't do it justice my mere words, you must experience it for yourself; courtesy of George Roussos and World of Suspense#5 (1956):

At times I've been so disparaging to contemporary comics that I feel I have to point this out: Sturgeon's Law applies to every point of history in popular culture. Atlas Comics really suffered under the Comics Code Authority; even though they had some terrific talents who could make the most of the situation - Jack Davis, Joe Maneely, John Severin, Russ Heath - I frequently find post-code Atlas to be some of the dullest comic books ever written. World of Suspense#5 is tremendously dull, not even the Bill Everett story is worth consideration.

Here then we have a story about a man trying to invent a new "skin cure," instead cures baldness, then - nearing the end of the story - discovers he's also become telepathic! The page 4 action sequence has some of the most awkward fight choreography I've ever seen, as the attacker goes from throwing a stool over his head to banging his head against a cabinet which springs out of nowhere. I realize the Code occasionally restricted fight scenes, but that's no excuse for such a poor set-up and follow-through. Even with the caption explaining the scientist has stepped aside (to dodge the stool, not the following lunge), there's no sense of how the attacker is suddenly trying to tackle him, nor where the cabinet came from.

I feel this was being made up as they went along; I feel Roussos needed the money; I feel a regular diet of stories like these helped urge Stan Lee to give up on the comics industry.

In a better world, this would be a delightfully funny piece of unintentional comedy. The closing line "To grow hair would be a good thing... but the other things the formula can produce could be EVIL!" offers a glimpse at what might have been.

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