Friday, September 23, 2016

The Brute

The second wander through my collection of bloody awful Atlas Seaboard comic books.

(The previous wander is here: Planet of the Vampires)

The Brute, like Planet of the Vampires, only lasted three issues.   In the first episode of The Brute we open with three young brothers exploring an incredibly well-lit, previously unexplored, cave. "I -- I bet we're the first people to explore this cave ever!".  The three of them come face to face with a giant, blue, prehistoric man-beast who we all know from the cover is THE BRUTE!

"Good >CHOKE< Lord!". Gasps one of the kids, showing the writer's  unerring ear for the teenage vernacular.  The prehistoric man beast  kills, and presumably eats, two of the lads leaving the last one to escape and propel the plot.


Actually the fact that the man beast eats two of the boys is only implied (this is a 1970s Comic Code approved comic after all) but the fact that it is even implied was, I would imagine, pushing the boundaries of the code but, more importantly, does allow me to pose the question, "Ate two, Brute?"


"But what manner of beast is this murderous blood thirsty monster? Is he man or animal? Beast or something worse than a beast?" (...erm?) After a flurry of rhetorical questions we have a three page flashback through the aeons to the days of the bestial sub-humans, to the days before man, when "nature created scores of races midway between man and ape". (All of them, by the way, pinky-skinned and with an innate urge to wear Comic Code approval securing loincloths.)  Anyway, one of these pink-skinned, men-worse-than-beastial, subhuman brutes gets himself frozen (were not shown how) into a solid block of ice which somehow (were not shown how) ends up deep in the bowel of a cave.  Apparently the glaciers were prone to "carving labyrinthine caverns in the faces of great stone cliffs" (and there is precious little detail given how that happens either).  So he sits there for a while... the next three panels read "The eons passed...", "The centuries passed...", "Eons came and went...".

Until! Aeons (and centuries), and aeons later...

"Think this new atomic power plant will have any adverse effect on the environment?"

"Oh, it may raise the valley temperature five or six degrees, but not enough to make any real difference!"

Now that's what I call an Environmental Impact Assessment.

drip... drip... drip...

"Meanwhile," (or 'later' as that was all told in flashback) "in a local hospital some miles away from the cavern..." bullish local  police chief, Chief Frazier (male), and the local caring anthropologist Dr Turner (female - and no prizes for guessing where that dynamic is going to lead) visit Larry the surviving brother who has been driven insane by his experience.

The cave is cordoned off and, after dropping some tear gas down a fissure that "leads right down into the cave", a cave, remember, that no one has ever explored,  the Brute is forced into the open where he kills an over-eager TV camera man by throwing him "to gory smithereens against the wall of the rocky cliff..." before being tranquillised.

After a court hearing the Brute is released into the care of caring anthropologist Dr Turner for study, despite the somewhat understandable objections of the slaughtered kids' father who concocts a cunning revenge! Months later he creeps into the lab, slugs Dr Turner and frees the Brute. "You're free! Maybe after you've killed a few more people they'll see I was right about your being a menace and give you the fate you so justly deserve!"

Only 'maybe'?  I really like the idea that he's thought this one through, been planning it for months, but still has doubts.  Needless to say the Brute has become quite fond of the Doc and is not best pleased that the old git has slugged her. Grrrr!  The Brute seems reluctant to go and kill some people just to make the old man happy so the the old bastard shoots him.  The Brute barely notices the bullets that "smash into his massive shoulders" and hurls him into a concrete wall with "the unnerving sound of shattered bone" before shambling off.

Next day.  The doc gets a ticking off from the judge and Chief Frazier gets to go Brute-hunting  with shoot to kill orders... 

...while the judge goes off to get whatever the hell happened to his finger sorted out.  I think that's supposed to be his finger though I can't work out how it is attached to the rest of his hand. The drawing in this comic is particularly awful.  For one thing the Brute varies in size alarmingly from panel to panel.  On the cover he's a couple of storeys high. The first time we see him in the book the teenage boys are about the length of his forearm. By the time he's being studied by Dr Turner he's shrunk to the size of a small chimpanzee.

And the fact that she is impressed by his using a tool to drag a bit of meat (that's supposed to be meat - honest) into his cage when he has been wearing clothes and sporting a fine necklace made from animal teeth for the whole time she has known him makes you wonder if she is really cut out to be an anthropologist.  I'm pretty sure she's not cut out to be a comic book character.  Just look at the way she's treading on the police chief's word balloon.  Okay, it was pretty careless of him to leave it there but there's no need for her to put her foot in it. 

Anyway that was pages ago.  The last time we saw the Brute he was about ten foot tall, throwing a bereaved parent at a wall and shambling off.

"Meanwhile, at a small private airport not far away..." the writer and artist let the readers know what they think about the comic they are making by writing 5HI7 all over the last page.

(Talking about crappy drawing just take a look at the red propeller on that plane top left. Those lop sided blades would shake that plane to bits as soon as the motor turned over.)

And as the plane takes off from "runway number 12" (this is obviously one of those very big, small airports) someone who looks suspiciously like Chief Frazier breaks the fourth wall and wonders if he is supposed to be Chief Frazier and should he say something?  Possibly "If this is 'meanwhile'  how can I be in the courthouse and here at the same time?"  So maybe it isn't Chief Frazier - but why is he looking at us like that?  It's creepy!  Stop it!

As the Chief Frazier-a-like stares at us, the Brute clings to the underside of Songbird 5HI7 and flies off unnoticed to the next issue where he will, we are promised, face

"The Horror of the Reptile Men"

I can almost not wait.

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