A Tribute to the of

Happy New Year, Silver Age fans and welcome to 2019! Our charter here at the Silver Lantern remains the same after all these years (20!) and that is to bring you the greatest and sometimes not so greatest insights to what we consider the greatest era of comics produced by DC/National.

Well, I took in the new Aquaman movie and I must say I was pretty impressed with it. While Jason Momoa doesn’t precisely look the part (oddly enough, the actor who portrayed his half-brother Orm, aka the Ocean Master (Patrick Wilson) looked more like the classic Arthur Curry to me), I still think he did a bang-up job, both in Justice League and now this feature film. It’s not quite on a par with the Batman trilogy and I was equally impressed with Wonder Woman, but as far as DC movies, this one takes its place among the successes in this fan’s estimation. Go check it out.

I’ve selected a short story to review this time after too much deliberation. Once again, I found a nice little edition of DC Special at the local comic shop, filled with a wonderful selection of reprints and the theme in issue #19 (December 1975/January 1976) is “War Against the Giants!” The only credits I could locate for the compilation is editing by DC’s resident walking encyclopedia, E. Nelson Bridwell and cover art by Ernie Chan with coloring provided by Tatjana Wood. For no particular reason I settled on “The Indestructible Giant!” which was originally published in Strange Adventures #28 from January of 1953, making this particular story 66 years old. The issue’s cover, which actually features this story, was by Ruben Moreira with lettering by Ira Schnapp. The story itself is an unusual combination with Jack Miller scripting and the art team of Gil Kane pencils and Sy Barry inks all edited by Whitney Ellsworth, although the indispensable Grand Comics Database informs us that while Whit got the credit, it was actually Julius Schwartz doing the heavy lifting.

Let’s take a peek at this little 6-pager from the waning days of the Golden Age.

The splash page (original & reprint) sets the mood with this spine-tingling introduction: “From out of the unknown he came, a stupendous creature as tall as a mountain! Thousands perished beneath his giant trampling feet, and iron-and-steel structures were crushed in his enormous fists! How could puny earthmen combat this mighty monster, off whose chest shells bounced like rubber balls? For nothing could destroy this mammoth being… NOTHING!

The humanoid creature itself is depicted as sort of crazed looking with ears that go to a point and that trademark Gil Kane realistic hair in motion. Let’s continue with this little science-fiction offering as a “crack flyer,” (apparently that’s a passenger train) is seen rolling along the tracks somewhere in the Midwest when people in the dining car spot an enormous hand reaching down toward them.

Moments later the owner of that hand, our giant in residence, is lifting the train and then, with a guttural roar, throws it back down into the river running along the tracks. The only additional detail is that he’s sporting a belt with a futuristic looking pair of holstered pistols.

Switching scenes to the Pentagon, a rousing discussion is taking place as they speculate where this creature originated. Ideas thrown about include the fourth dimension, the center of the earth or perhaps outer space.

Things remain quiet for a couple of days when a B-36 on a test flight begins to get some strange radar readings. Sure enough, the flight crew are about to encounter the enormous visitor. The “world’s largest land-based bomber” opens fire with their .50 caliber guns, but they simply bounce off the gargantuan man, who grabs them out of mid-air, proceeds to tear a wing off and then discards the craft like so much refuse, but at least sets it down rather than smashing it.

His attention is now drawn to the vessels in the nearby harbor. Soon he is tossing a luxury liner over a suspension bridge in a bit of pique. Next, a warship just happens to be steaming along and opens fire on the skyscraper-sized being, but their weapons have no more effect than the aircraft guns. The big brains of the military-industrial complex are working overtime, but are still without a solution to the problem as the colossus goes about on his undiminished path of destruction and mayhem.

Days later, he is again menacing a large city when a storm comes up and he is struck by lightning, which seems to affect him, at least more than any man-made weaponry. It is decided to deploy the Bruning gun, a weapon developed by a Professor Bruning that fires an electrical charge, ten thousand times more powerful than natural electricity. There is a brief debate as one of the men protest that the giant has not yet used his weapons and an attack like this may provoke him to retaliate, but the initiative to take some action prevails.

Soon three is a series of spotters keeping watch for the menace and when he is seen at last, the alert goes forth, courtesy of one of those old massive field radios. If only they could have seen the cell phones of our day.

The giant strides directly toward the top of the city building where the Bruning gun is set up and the men open fire with devastating results. The giant is dead!

Examining the massive creature more closely, it is discovered that the pair of weapons on his hips are merely carved pieces of wood and not real weapons at all. It soon occurs to them that this man was actually a child who had gotten lost and somehow wandered onto Earth and saw the trains, airplanes and ships as mere toys for his amusement. Toys like the toy guns he carried. “If it weren’t for the awful destruction he caused, I’d be tempted to say…poor kid!

With a twist ending that would make Rod Serling proud, this story comes to its close. What do you suppose they did with the body?

Gil Kane’s artwork is always a treat and Sy Barry’s inks were a good match to my eye. I was going through some of my recorded interviews recently and stumbled across the one with Sy, [Sage #274] grateful yet again for the opportunities I’ve had, especially to reach out to the handful of Golden Age creators that I’ve managed, Sy being among them. As a matter of fact, I just pulled off another one, but I’m still in the midst of transcribing it and I cannot believe my good fortune in speaking to another Golden Ager. Watch this space. I’ll be sharing it in the next few weeks if all goes well.

Meanwhile, keep those e-mails coming with your thoughts, comments and suggestions. I can always be reached at: professor_the@hotmail.com.

Thanks for spending time with us and…

Long live the Silver Age!

© 2000-2019 by B.D.S.

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