Grant Morrison takes some occasional heat for his tendency to return to the well of recursive, meta storytelling, but is he really to blame? After all, his source material is classic DC Comics, which itself was fond of the occasionally recursive story, such as in Strange Adventures No,170 (November 1964), “The Creature from Strange Adventures!”
Beachcomber Eric Craig stumbles across the lair of a violent, green-skinned, orange-furred goliath of a beast, possessed of telescopic eyes capable of emitting beams of destructive energy. Well, fuck!
|"We compensate for our small size with these|
huge dick-shaped hats"
Craig gets his hands on one of the helmets and manages to turn the errant subterraneans over to molemen justice, returning to a world unharmed by Polxos, as we’ve always dreamed. IN BETWEEN ALL OF THIS, however, Eric Craig discovers something at an unassuming newsstand – his entire adventure, scene for scene and thought balloon for actual thought, is reprinted in the latest issue of Strange Adventures! Right down to the solution!
Rather than tying this twist into the story – in fact, it feels like an add-on to an otherwise straight-forward Silver Age monster story – the editors of Strange Adventures leave it up to the readers. Readers were offered the original art for each of the two chapters of the story, providing they could come up with a satisfying enough answer to explain why Eric Craig’s struggle against the Polxo was captured within the pages of a newsstand comic book, particularly when we know that’s a story best expressed in black box theater.
|"Here I am dressing like Mario and pleasuring myself in front of a mirror. Goddamnit, what's this book's game?"|
Answers abound in Strange Adventures No.175, about six months later. The winners - Steven Hirsch of Albany NY, James Gaudet of Cambridge MA and Jeff Carmack of San Francisco CA - proposed that a previously-mentioned subterranean mystic, on his death-bed, experienced a vision of the events of this story and telepathically broadcast it to the Strange Adventures team as a story, so as to give Eric Craig vital assistance in defeating the Polxo. Fair enough, that’s how David Milch works, too.
A ton of also-rans got honorable mention for arriving at the same conclusion, while a Lou Mitchell of Toledo Ohio straight-out wrote a short story about alien abduction and video monitors showing the future which, frankly, seemed a stronger answer than the one about the mystical mole man.
Most entertaining though, a genuine Earth-1 answer courtesy of “Marvin Wolfman, Flushing NY” :