Friday, August 7, 2015


Are you fond of the luxurious, highly saturated colors and slo-mo, close-up disemboweling portrayed every week on the NBC television program Hannibal? Then have I got the comic for you! It involves loads of explicitly murdered children, a hero who dresses like a hot dog, and the interplanetary menace of a bald-headed bug-wrangler named Dr.Strange! From planet Plexis!

Never mind the giant bugs, kid, you've
got some major self-esteem issues.
Dr.Strange makes his debut and exit in the pages of Dynamic Comics No.10 (July 1944), facing off against space-faring supercop Dan Hastings. What Hastings lacks in pseudonymous flair, he makes up for in decisive, two-fisted action and some keen detective skills. When the children of the assorted directors of the Academy of Science start getting murdered in terrible, bizarre, and unfortunately exhibited fashion, Dan's the first guy to make the connection between the dead kids and their dads' profession. That's the kind of inspired deduction which separates your legendary detectives from your regular old flatfoots. Flatfeet. Flatsfoots.

Of less interest to Dan's deductive abilities is that the children are being horribly murdered by enormous insects, each at least as large as an English Sheepdog. The readers aren't spared this revelation, and unfortunately we're subjected to the sight of the junior misters and misses eating the business end of a piercing mouth part. Over the course of the short story, we see one bona fide infant stabbed through the stomach by something which resembles a cross between a giraffe and a coffee bean, a pair of precocious grade schoolers stabbed through the abdomen while they rest in their comfy beds and, lastly, a beauty pageant preschooler assassinated in silhouette.

Just in case these weren't unsettling enough images, we're also not spared the sight of the horrified parents stumbling across the picked-clean corpses of their own children, reduced by the rampaging bugs to mere skeletons.

So this is a charming story.

Hastings manages to track on of the offending insects back to the Planet Plexis, home - as it turns out - of the disgruntled Dr.Strange. Offended at having been banned, blackballed and ejected from the Academy "for his insane practices," the mad Dr.Strange is engaging on his war of terror against the children of his former peers in order to better his job prospects. "They'll beg me to stop killing them off" he coos to himself, adding "And I'll say I want to head the Academy. Ha Ha. And they'll make me."

Is it a paintbrush? A spatula? What is Hot Stuff throwing here?
Apparently in the future your two fast tracks to successful employment are either putting a real shine on your LinkedIn profile or murdering children with giant mutant bugs. You can't argue with results, although I admit that's going to be a difficult interview.

Hastings tracks Strange to his lair (rescuing his kidnapped girlfriend along the way, since her pop happens to be in the Academy too) and, dressed like a bottle of sriracha, tackles every enormous beetle Dr.Strange has on hand. And that's a lot of enormous beetles!

Also in Dr.Strange's ammunition belt is his "Dissolving Cream," the fluid which turned so many toddlers into bones, and which he makes the mistake of triumphantly holding over his head as he crows to Hastings about his inevitable victory. I'm still not sure, from the illustration, exactly what it was Hastings threw at Dr.Strange's lofted bottle of super-acid, but suffice it to say it's gone now, man. It and Dr.Strange, stripped down to a skeleton, like a little baby.

1 comment:

Tom said...

Strange sort of looks like a really old Captain Boomerang, if Harkness hadn't been shot... and resurrected... and ate his son's heart... man, comics are dumb.

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