« A kryptonian octosaur — the most fearsome creature of my long-dead home planet — here — on earth! »
Since Batman was already awarded a Tentacle Tuesday back in April (see Tentacle Tuesday: All Aboard the Batmarine!), it is time to allocate one to the other superhero that crops up all the freaking time, namely good old “Supes” (for those who are on familiar terms with him). I won’t hide from you that I have very little interest in the adventures of the aforementioned character, but I made a pledge to follow tentacles wherever they may lead me. The octopus of comics demands sacrifices!
The Man of Steel. The Last Son of Krypton. The Son of Jor-El. Metropolis’ favorite son. The Man of Tomorrow. Champion of the Oppressed. The Big Blue Boy Scout. The iconic Cape. The definitive Flying Brick. The Big Good of The DCU. The Superhero.
First, we have a number of inside pages of varying interest, depicting tentacles both organic and mechanical —
As a tastier, second part of our programme, I offer you an intriguing cover by Dave Gibbons:
And a page (or three) from what co-editor RG calls “the ultimate Superman story” (and I will absolutely take his word for it) — For the Man Who Has Everything… scripted by Alan Moore and illustrated by Dave Gibbons.
The tentacle mantle is taken up by other characters — pesky, clingy little buggers, aren’t they? « It’s called a Black Mercy. It’s something between a plant and an intelligent fungus. It attaches itself to its victims in a form of symbiosis, feeding from their bio-aura. Why, it gives them their heart’s desire…. », explains Mongul, the ‘benefactor’ who got Superman into this spot of trouble.
« 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).
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.
The cover story, The Pirate Brain, was illustrated by Lee Elias:
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 byJim Mooney:
From Giantboy we move on to Colossal Boy, more precisely to Colossal Boy’s One-Man War, scripted by Jerry Siegel, pencilled byCurt Swan, and inked by Sheldon Moldoff. It was published in Adventure Comics no. 341 (February 1966).
Skipping ten years ahead, we end up in Marvel territory –
The cover story, The Day the Monuments Shattered, is scripted by Don McGregor and illustrated by P.Craig Russell:
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.
« 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).
One of the rare cases where tentacles are promised *and* delivered inside:
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?
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 😉
« Galloping ladybugs! What *are* those things, professor? »
It’s hard to imagine an explanation for this premise that wouldn’t raise more questions than it answered. By the 1960s, DC just didn’t know *what* to do with the Blackhawks. The title had been among DC’s top-sellers since the early 1940s, but it was becoming harder and harder to keep up with the times.
This is issue 199, from August 1964. Cover by Dick Dillin and Sheldon Moldoff. No one rushes forward to claim credit for writing The Attack of the Mummy Insects, but it’s probably Dave Wood.
The title would run until issue 243, in 1968. Ironically, its very finest issues would be its final two (until it was briefly revived in the 70s), an amazing two-parter drawn by Pat Boyette and returning these venerable characters to their roots and original uniforms.