A Week or an Eternity

Wanted is an old anthology series that reprints various old strips from the Golden Age of comics, and I chose it for the origin story of Solomon Grundy, the big white swamp zombie you might know from Super-Friends or the Justice League cartoon (where sadly, he didn't have the same southern accent). Anyway, the Green Lantern story from All-American Comics #61 (October 1944) has some fairly primitive art, but it makes Grundy quite the monster:
What is that, anyway? Teeth? A porn moustache? Gorilla lips? The story has the big lug crawl out of a swamp and kill a mob boss, so of course, all the other thugs make him their leader. Big zombie from the swamp who needs to have concepts like killing explained to him, and they make him their leader. Not the sharpest tools in the shed.

Green Lantern's in more trouble than usual because of Grundy's wooden acting (damn it, that joke only makes sense if you know the Golden Age GL's ring had no effect on wood), but since the most this super-strong villain can do is give GL a mild concussion, our hero judos him in front of a train. YA!
Yes, that cover is totally misleading.

But as it often happens, I pick a comic to talk about one story, but then find another story in the same book that's 100 times more interesting. It's the case here with a story from Kid Eternity #15 (May 1949) starring a villain that doesn't even have an entry in Who's Who. I remind you that Detective Chimp gets an entry in Who's Who. I guess this "Master Man" wasn't as Wanted as all that.

Kid Eternity is the ghost of a young man who died before his time and who has been given the power to call on history's great heroes to fight evil as compensation. Master Man is his total opposite, able to call on history's greatest villains. He quite plainly works for the Devil, and here I thought Satanism wasn't permitted with the Comics Code. Then again, neither is throwing people in front of trains, torturing Kid Eternity on the rack, etc. They didn't have the Code in the Golden Age, that's obvious.
So the Devil sends Master Man out of ...STYGIA! (the only way to say it, it seems) to collect ...LOST SOULS out of a prison, and he gets Rasputin to help him with some hypnotism. Kid Eternity to the rescue with the help of football legend Knute Rockne (I don't know either)! When the bad guys fail, Rasputin burns in the pits of ...STYGIA!
That Master Man is a rather squeamish minion of Hell, isn't he? "Poor Rasputin! It must be horrible to sink into the pool of fire!" Of course, the Devil is kind of wussy too. Later, he'll tell Master Man that "No one fails me... twice!" Three times is right out! Never mind, four. Five? You will burn. Don't disappoint me six times, I warn you.

Ok, here's where I thought the story became genius: Master Man calls up Torquemada to torture the Kid, which means the Kid has to call up cowboy Will Rogers! How do you take care of a Spanish torturer?
Like that. So Master Man takes a smoke break and figures out that Batu Khan is just the guy to trounce the cowboy.
BATU Khan. Genghis, sure. Kublai, yes. Wrath of, of course. Batu Khan? Is this turning educational on me? I don't know who that Mongol is, but he sure knows how to break a lasso. Watch out, Wonder Woman! So the Kid calls French crusader Charles Martel who skewers Khan on his sword, and Master Man is sent to ...STYGIA! Apparently forever. Ah well.


De said...

I guess Satan was bored or something. Couldn't Master Man have conjured up history's dead villains ad infinitum?

As for Detective Chimp, monkeys that talk are awesome on their own, but a talking monkey that solves crimes? That, my friend, is golden.

Siskoid said...

Admittedly, Detective Chimp is far less obscure today than he was in 1986.

SallyP said...

Ok, Will Roger roping Torquemada just MADE it for me!

Jeffrey said...

I had to wikipedia Batu Khan, too. I would have bet they made the name up.

I always liked those Kid Eternity reprints.

H said...

Wanted reprinted some truly great stuff in its short life.


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