Strange Tales #112

"The Threat of the Living Bomb!"


Strange Tales #112
September 1963

Written by Stan Lee & Joe Carter
Pencils by Dick Ayers
Inks by Dick Ayers

A bit of an oddball adventure for Johnny this month as we see him go head to head with a villain who proves to be a bother for reasons outside the norm for your typical antagonist. Chasing down The Eel who has accidentally stolen a weapon of atomic force and activated it, Storm finds himself at odds with what to do with a nuclear bomb about to go boom-boom next to a Vet’s home. Taking the blast into himself with some stodgily written pseudo-science pieces (there are plenty here by the way, from a tracker fireball guided by vibrations and a miracle dues ex machina cure from the nuclear blast amongst others), the world stands by in shock as they await to here whether Torch will live or not. As a plot piece, I can see why Lee thought this would be a good idea—the problem though is that it’s neither convincing nor as emotive as it should be. What we’re left with then is an off-beat race-against-the-clock issue (something of a first this early on) that tries to be grander than Joe Carter ever achieves. We also see a little attempt at the Peter Parker curse of the public being turned against him, but this too feels all too contrived and inconsequential to be effective. All in all, a disappointing, but somewhat daring issue that also lacks the appearance of Dr. Strange, who was receiving a regular story here but has seemingly been postponed just two issues in. Strange.

Dick Ayers however, is on top form here.

MY SCORE: 2.5/10


Strange Tales #117

The Return of the Eel!”
"The Terrible Traps of Baron Mordo!"


Strange Tales #117
February 1964

Written by Stan Lee
Pencils by Dick Ayers (Steve Ditko on Part 2)
Inks by Dick Ayers (Steve Ditko on Part 2)

So I only read Strange Tales #112 about 3 weeks ago, but already I can’t seem to remember just who this Eel guy is. Oh right, yeah, I gave that comic 2.5/10, maybe that has something to do with it? Nevertheless, all confusion aside regarding why everyone is making a big deal out of someone I can’t even remember coming back, this latest issue of Strange Tales is innocuous enough to get by, but once again I suspect will be one not readily remembered down the line. In it The Eel plans to steal riches from less than obvious places, that is until Johnny catches on the mastermind and tricks him through means we’ve seen a few times before elsewhere. It all comes to a pretty standard end after a helicopter equipped with auto-pilot, jets of water and laughing gas gives Eel away and off he goes sliding back to his prison cell on a trail of asbestos grease.

At the other end of the issue we have yet another tale involving the mystic Dr. Strange who this time finds himself once again at odds with Baron Mordo; the troublesome student of The Ancient One that transports Strange and his entire house into another crazy dimension as means to get him out the way while he attempts to overthrow his master. Just like the previous instalment, much of the enjoyment here derives purely from Steve Ditko’s wonderfully abstract and psychedelic style that punctuates every piece of Stan’s bizarre narrative perfectly. Unfortunately however, still limited to eight pages, the story never gets the space it requires to be truly inventive. I look forward to the day when Johnny gets to play second-place to far superior tales of Dr. Strange.

MY SCORE: 5.5/10 (Part 1: 4.0 / Part 2: 7.5/10)