Tales from the box of interesting is the result of finding an old, old box of comics in my move from Kentucky to Tennessee. Most of these are some of my first comics. The comics in this feature all came from the old shrink wrapped 3 for $1 sets that were often sold after the comics had a run on the news stands. As a result they are a mix-match of oddities.
Back in the old days when comics were sold on news stands they were often removed and resold in shrink wrapped sets. The sets were a catch as catch can mix of whatever was left on the news stand. At the time the nearest news stand to me was over an hour away so most of my comics as a kid came to me in this way. Wendell's General Store was a 1/2 a mile from my house and often I went there after school with a few dollars and grabbed a glass bottle of some kind of soft drink and a pack of comics. You never really knew what you would find in the middle (as they were blocked off in the bag by the other two on the sides) and often that became a huge part of the fun. For whatever reason I hadn't placed these comics into my main collection and when I searched through them recently I was bombarded by memories, thus this column was born.
I hope to update this weekly as I read through some of the comics. The comics in question are simply a bizarre mix of superheroes, army, horror, cartoon and everything under the sun from that by-gone age of comic books. They average in date from 1974-1978 (although one or two extend to further into the 80's). I hope this article will informs and helps people realize my love for the earlier age of comics, when heroes and villains acted in character and the latest "shake up" wasn't the norm but yet comics were still loaded with killer stories (and some stories that were just plain weird).
So I would bet your first question is why is the Bionic Woman tossing the invisible woman into a bubbling cauldron. Well I say congrats on recognizing the Bionic Woman because if you ask me the likeness is miles off from the reality.
So from here let's open the cover to find:
AHHH, this guy again. I'm telling you this guy is scaring the crap out of kids everywhere even in non-horror comics.
The kind of funny part about ads, often they appear in all the companies titles that month.
Moving on to the always exciting splash page:
Yeah so getting off a plane isn't that exciting.
An odd thing I noticed later was no kind of creative credits ont he splash page, nor anywhere in the comic. Was the comic that bad that no one wanted to claim credit? Well maybe in parts at least.
Still it's set up to make Rudy (remember him from the series?) and Jamie (Of course our heroic Bionic Woman) seem to be in a normal and quiet moment before something goes horribly wrong. Why, because that is the way the hero seems more heroic, right? Except problem with that is the caption above the title does kind of spoil the whole story so any semblance of suspense is pretty much dead.
Long story short, this guy in the trench coat is one of Rudy's old colleges who was caught in a lab accident (seeing some parallels to Dr. Doom?) and has been driven mad, but Rudy is unaware of this. The guy captures Rudy, so why doesn't Jamie just kick is sorry rear end you ask? well it appears this mad man has created his own transparent android complete with thong:
No I'm not kidding about the thong:
And before anyone tries to scream coloring mistake (yes such things have happened) let me jump ahead of the story a bit to show you a different angle.
Yep, that's real invisible butt right there. Now your guess as to why a transparent robot would wear a thong is probably as good as mine, especially since she apparently doesn't need a bra at all. Who knows, but maybe there is an answer somewhere later.
Jumping back in the tale, our crazy doctor dude puts our hero into the maze against the invisible stripper robot. For effect we get a huge splash page of the obstacle in front of Jamie.
That picture just gives me the thought that the artist regretted this idea about half way through.
The maze is full of traps and such for Jamie to try to overcome like bars:
From the looks of things someone forgot Jamie only had one bionic arm, oh well.
Soon Jamie finds herself over a pit of bubbling liquid.
Do you see something familiar about all of this? Could we be leading up to the cover?
Guess what, after she gets past the pit the transparent stripper android is there to test Jamie's balance as well:
Yep, can you kind of smell something cooking here?
Anyway this leads to a two page fight until finally:
Now at this point you might be wondering why I didn't mention that Rudy was in real danger since Jamie mentions it in the last panel. Well, the story kind of leaves this out too. Our crazy bad guy mentions if Jamie doesn't complete the course both she and Rudy will die, but nothing about Rudy being in immediate danger. But on the next page Rudy is being held under a gigantic ball:
And Jamie saves Rudy in the nick of time.
I will pause here for a second to point out that, if you think about it, the roles have been reversed here. Jamie is the tough hero overcoming the obstacles and Rudy is the one caught and in danger while being totally helpless. This is interesting when you consider, at the time, women were not allowed to be in such a role. The series itself generally had Jamie being a more submissive type character only acting when told (not always, but enough, this is what killed Wonder Woman's second season too as WW was put into a more submissive role). I suppose it can be argued that this comic is kind of significant in that manner if nothing more. Really I couldn't let that get by without some sort of mention.
Anyway, crazy doctor shows up again and then we get our plot twist.
Yep, our villain is also an android (thankfully no thong) and now wants to fight Jamie. Apparently after his accident he constructed a new android body (not real clear how as he says he old body was "broken beyond repair").
They fight for a bit but suddenly crazy guy pull a panel on his arm which rigs a self destruct device. Somehow the wiring in his arm is visible even though it's pretty clear (pardon the pun) in all of his pictures he is translucent except his black underwear. How that works I have no clue.
Anyway he kicks the self destruct and:
Jamie and Rudy narrowly escape. The next page is loaded with dialogue that makes no sense (especially the last bit when Rudy says he just wants to forget all this and Jamie says she wants to help him remember in the next panel, I have no idea what she was trying to say there).
Can't really say this was one of the good comics in this set, but it was interesting to see so many years later. The thong thing surprised me a bit obviously as I had never seen a thong before the late '80's. Never so much of a hint of one in the '70's.
Still it's kind of fun too just for the campy value.
Still not a comic I would say I am proud to have in my collection.
So with that I will wrap up with a classic ad for a ton of army men (as I have learned later were much, much smaller than one would expect, thankfully I never ordered them myself).