§ May 31st, 2004 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off on

Tales of Suspense #28 (April 1962)

In the distant future, as shown in “The Secret of the Black Planet” by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, criminals still bust rocks with sledgehammers, only in space:

And bust out Bruno does, by hiding in an empty crate which is placed on a supply ship. In space, mind you. Anyway, once in space, Bruno pops out of his crate, grabs a jet pack, and jumps out through the very clearly labeled “Emergency Escape Hatch” (which looks more like a pneumatic tube). Luckily, the ship was apparently passing so close to a random planet that Bruno was able to fly down to the surface without ever being exposed to open space, since he clearly isn’t wearing a spacesuit:

Note that second panel: “I’ll never pay for my crimes now!” Ironic comeuppance, dead ahead! He finds signs of civilization on this planet:

Thus his plan, stated in an earlier panel, to “steal a private ship and head for another galaxy” (which seems a little drastic…a distant solar system would be enough, you think) appears to be approaching fruition. And sure enough, Bruno spots what appears to be a rocket ship in the distance. He rushes toward the rocket, only to notice something odd:

Only it’s not getting bigger…it’s coming closer! And once it gets close enough, Bruno reaches a horrifying conclusion:

Okay, where do I start:

1. I really hope to God that’s supposed to be a mouth.

2. As pal Dorian mentioned to me, it doesn’t appear that the rocket-ship creature really has speed on its side, so Bruno could probably outrun it fairly easily.

3. It also appears pretty top heavy, and there are hills on this planet, judging from background shots in previous panels…if Bruno takes to high ground, he should be safe. Unless those “arms” on the rocket creature are more effective than they look, in which case he’s screwed.

4. What are Bruno’s crimes, anyway? I guess we’re supposed to assume that they’re pretty awful, given that the twist ending means he’s “doomed forever.” It’s gotta be at least murder. I mean, if it’s just tax evasion or embezzlement, does he really deserve to be “doomed forever?”

5. What kind of turn of phrase is “doomed forever,” anyway? Is he going to be chased by a slow, lumbering rocket-monster for all time? Either he’s going to escape, or he’s going to be eaten right quick. It looks like the situation will be resolved one way or the other sooner rather than later.

6. If the surprise twist ending of your story is that the giant rocket that your main character sees is actually a horrible monster, the very first image the reader sees from this story probably shouldn’t be this:

7. Why is it called “The Black Planet?” It doesn’t appear to be any darker in hue than normal. It’s never called “The Black Planet” in the story. Maybe the giant rocket aliens are Public Enemy fans.

8. Back to the rocket-monster…those legs appear to be placed toward the front of the body, and I don’t see a tail. If that creature tries to move at all, unless it’s hunched forward, or unless the gravity on this world is much less than that of Earth, it’s gonna fall.

9. I’m guessing that the tube Bruno found was all that was left of a previous victim of the rocket-monster…Bruno states, upon finding another piece of equipment, that the items could have fallen from a passing spaceship (and not, say, burn up in the atmosphere or anything), but it’s never decided one way or another.

10. Did I mention that I hope that’s a mouth?

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