Usually one cruel would be enough.

§ June 26th, 2011 § Filed under adam west, paperbacks, swamp thing § 13 Comments

Here’s another paperback acquired in the same collection as the Batman TV show tie-in book I recently featured here: a T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents reprint paperback from 1966:

I hadn’t known this even existed. It reprints the story in black and white, about two panels per page. I couldn’t scan this bit (and the book is already sold, so I can’t double-check it) but one of the text pages inside described this as “camp adventure,” or words to that effect. To be frank, I’m no T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents connoisseur, but I always got the impression it was played more or less straight. Was it knowing high-camp comedy/satire all this time? …Or maybe it was camp because it was unintentionally goofy while still being played straight (case in point: the covers above). Or are superheroes just intrinsically camp, because, you know, c’mon. Or am I reading too much into a blatant coattail-riding of the Batman TV show’s success with its camp formula? At any rate, I know a few T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents fans who wouldn’t care for that characterization.

Let the hair-splitting begin!

• • •

Speaking of that Batman book, reader Pietro sent me a photo he took at a flea market in his home country of Italy, featuring an Italian version of what he believes to be the same book:

Pietro notes that the title translates as “The Three Cruel,” which is grammatically odd if still pretty awesome. Thanks for the picture, Pietro!

• • •

So I was in a Twitter conversation about Superman: The Movie and Superman II with Daniel and Max, and as these things usually go with me, the topic of Swamp Thing found its way into the mix. As a result, Daniel generated this fine piece of Swamp art:

The world is just a little bit more beautiful today.

13 Responses to “Usually one cruel would be enough.”

  • Dav-El says:

    Perhaps Methnor, the THUNDER Agent with the Super Helmet, wouldn’t be without his Super Helmet if it wasn’t common knowledge that he is Methnor, the THUNDER Agent with the Super Helmet because that just tells anyone that the source of his powers is his Super Helmet which leads every bad guy plotting to remove the Super Helmet. (“First, I’ll give Methnor, the THUNDER Agent with the Super Helmet, a bad case of dandruff…..”)

    What a pygmy……with a Super Helmet!

  • Dav-El says:

    *Sorry: that’s MENTHOR! Confused him with the forgotten super hero who get his super powers from Crystal Meth X, not a Super Helmet.

  • John Platt says:

    Aw man, now I need that Menthor book. “A pygmy.” Genius.

  • Wayne Allen Sallee says:

    Mike, high-camp was a genre in the mid-60s (possibly even early 70s), much like y/a (young-adult) is today. Just marketing copy. ALL IN COLOR FOR A DIME was even in the high-camp category.

    I did not know such a book existed, either. TA wasn’t played for laughs, though I do laugh when I think that Dynamo would get bitched at if he got to his job late.

  • Wayne Allen Sallee says:

    Oh, and maybe one of your artist friends could do up a nice Swamp Thing as Menthor illustration.

  • A.L. Baroza says:

    Superheroes are camp if they’re done right.

  • Sarah says:

    Man, superhero costumes were high-waisted in the 60s!

  • Pietro says:

    Thanks a lot, Mike!
    Waiting for “The Three Cruel” miniseries written by – I dunno, Doug Moench? – anyday now! ^__^

  • Fabrizio says:

    “I tre crudeli” translated literally is “the three cruels”, howevera more accurate translation that takes into account the sense of the phrase would be something like “The Three Cruel Ones”

  • White Lantern Alec Holland says:

    Ahem! About those DC letters pages… I’d like to get this back issue pull list put together before September, if you don’t mind?

  • Uncle Dave says:

    I have all 3 of the Tower paperback reprints, there was No-Man, Dynamo and the Menthor book. I bought them from the Captain Company ad in the back of one of the Warren SPIRIT mags. I think I bought one of the Batman books, I think there was 3 of those as well.

  • buzz says:

    The entire concept of super-heroes is inherently absurd. That’s okay, lotsa things are inherently absurd (such as talking animals — which also enjoy great success in comics & cartoons; go figure).

    Absurd does not necessarily mean “campy”, “goofy”, “funny” or any of the other 7 Back-Up Dwarves. One can play super-heroes w/a perfectly straight face, even do thrilling/scary/thought-provoking/erotic stories using the genre. What one can not do is tell a realistic story (there may be a patina of realism in the art direction & perhaps some vague nod in the general direction of scientific plausibility, but realism in & of itself? Naaaaaaaaah).

    I say embrace the absurdity. Treat the super-hero genre as a sef-contained universe w/it’s own whacky rules & tropes & just Go For It!

  • Shinwell Johnson says:

    Uncle Dave: There were actually four paperback collections of Tower Comics. The fourth was entitled THE TERRIFIC TRIO, and it contained further adventures of Dynamo, NoMan, and Menthor. Lightning apparently was considered not terrific enough.

    Signet published at least three paperback collections of Batman comics in this period: BATMAN, BATMAN VS. THE JOKER, and BATMAN VS. THE PENGUIN. Confusingly, the cover of the Joker book labels it as #3 in the series, and the Penguin book is labeled #4. I presume that Signet was counting as part of the series a Superman collection that it published at the same time.

    Singet also published two Batman novels by Winston Lyon: BATMAN VS. THREE VILLAINS OF DOOM, recently referenced here, and BATMAN VS. THE FEARSOME FOURSOME, an adaptation of the movie. I presume that the book changed the movie’s title to avoid confusion with the comics collection cited above.