Boris Karloff Tales of Mystery #29 (March, 1970): ‘Creature of the Sargasso Sea’

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Boris Karloff Tales of Mystery ran from 1963 to 1980. Gold Key published a number of comics centering on supernatural horror, including the underrated The Occult Files of Doctor Spektor (1973-1977), which appeared long before Hellblazer or Hellboy.

Karloff, always a favorite among horror buffs, was fresh in the public eye after narrating the TV anthology Thriller (1960-1962).

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Web of Evil #19 (October, 1954): ‘The Half-Creatures of the Sargasso Sea’

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Fun read found at The Horrors of It All. The artist and writer are unknown. Here the Sargasso Sea legend is combined with Poe’s “A Descent into the Maelstrom” (1841) and various works by Hodgson and Lovecraft, with the usual horror pulp flourishes popularized by EC Comics starting in 1950. The Bermuda Triangle would not enter the cultural lexicon for another 10 years, but the supernatural elements are already in effect, with the Sargasso described as a “hideous expanse” into which “countless vessels have fallen victim,” a “mystic sea swamp” harboring “forbidden secrets.” The “monster whirlpool” seems to be a kind of wormhole into another dimension—shades of Charles Fort’s Super-Sargasso Sea.

Atlantis in Marvel Comics #1 and Action Comics #18 (Timely/DC, 1939)

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Marvel Comics #1 was published by Martin Goodman’s Timely Publications, which became Atlas Comics in the 1950s and Marvel Comics starting in 1961. According to Nostomania, it is the 6th most valuable comic book in existence.

One of the first comic book anti-heroes, the Sub-Mariner also bears a passing resemblance to Nietzsche’s Übermensch, literally “overman,” but often translated as “superman.” (Interestingly, the character of Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster was based on a confused interpretation of the Übermensch, and first appeared as a villain bent on world conquest in a story called The Reign of Superman [1933]). Here Sub-Mariner’s creator Bill Everett refers to him as an “Ultra-man of the deep,” an “avenging son” who will soon wreak catastrophe upon the “white Earth men.”

The only image I could find from “The Atlantis Mystery” of Action Comics #18 is below. The story’s hero is Zatara, a magician (invisibility, mind control, telekinesis, matter manipulation, etc.) who casts spells using backwards speech. The creative team is Gardner Fox (writer) and Fred Guardineer (pencils and inks).

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And here are some pages from Action Comics #17, featuring an Atlantis reference along with a panel showing “the temple of ancient Atlantis.”

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These are the first two appearances of Atlantis and the Atlanteans in the Marvel and DC universes: it’s immediate at Marvel, and sixteen issues short of immediate at DC.

(Images via The Great Comic Book Heroes, Comic Book Bin, and Aquaman Shrine)

UFO Flying Saucers #4 (Gold Key, 1974): `From Out of the Past’

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Once again Ezekiel’s “wheel within a wheel” vision interpreted retroactively as an alien encounter, this time in comic book form. It’s really interesting to me that the “non-UFO” explanations of what the alleged prophet might have seen do not reference prophetic or mystic vision, as if that reality is harder to grasp than fiery, ancient astronauts dropping in to take the old man for a ride. It’s as if highly advanced technology is the only miracle a materialistic society can accept.

UFO Flying Saucers ran for 13 issues between 1968 and 1977 and was published by Gold Key. In 1978 the series name changed to UFO and Outer Space, running for an additional 12 issues. Some of the issues from the latter run reprinted stories from the original run.

(Images via AlienEncounters/Flickr)