September 3, 2010
We’ve been having some serious connectivity problems with our home WiFi network, so I’m only just now able to get to this week’s Wednesday Comics post. (I’d better make it quick too, since the modem could decide to crash at any moment!) Normally, I’d probably just skip it, but I really wanted to mark the birthday of comics legend Jack Kirby, who was born on August 28, 1917. He died in 1994, and his indelible influence still shapes the genre today.
Kirby was instrumental in defining the superhero renaissance of Marvel Comics’ Silver Age, co-creating (with Stan Lee) such notable characters as the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, and the X-Men. He also helped create a number of lesser known Marvel characters, such as Metallo, who was actually a suit of high-tech armor worn by human criminal Mike Fallon. Metallo’s first (and only?) appearance was Tales of Suspense #16 (1961), in the story “The Thing Called Metallo.” In it, Fallon acquires the suit, tests its capabilities, robs a bank, and finally attempts to break all the prisoners out of Alcatraz. The panel below (which actually comes from a 1974 reprint of the story in Where Monsters Dwell #26) shows Metallo’s encounter with a giant octopus.
The marine monster strikes! His huge powerful tentacles encircle your struggling form–he tries to destroy you–to crush you as he has crushed so many other creatures…
If you found it upsetting that Metallo punches the octopus to death, know that Fallon gets his in the end. Learning that he has been stricken with an ailment (cancer?) that is fatal without radiation treatments, Fallon must choose to either leave the radiation-proof Metallo suit and get arrested, or stay in the suit and die. It seems like a no-brainer to me, but the story ends with Metallo heading off to the mountains to ponder his dilemma.