Thursday, October 1, 2015


"Santa Claus IS a Martian!"

One of prog rock's lesser lights but a real boon to the ghost-fighting profession, it's Dr.Styx, general troubleshooter of the supernatural.

It's a Boglin.
Appearing in five subsequent issues of Treasure Comics from Nos.2 through 6, Dr.Styx kept company with some generally quotidian types of adventure heroes. Paul Bunyan and Marco Polo populated the pages, although their adventures were wildly extrapolated from any available text. His other fellow features included a desert adventuring Arabian Knight, a gorilla, and a cash-happy horror host (stay tuned), so Dr.Styx didn't really have to do much to stand out as a wholly original idea.

With that said, he may be the twentieth supernatural figure I've seen in golden age comics - give or take - whose costume consisted of a suit and hat with a cape. There must've been a great deal in the Sears-Roebuck catalog.

Where Dr.Styx comes from, where he gained his immense arcane knowledge, and why he hangs around the mortal plane at all is left up in the air. Although it's never explicitly explained, Dr.Styx is clearly a ghost or spirit of some kind, although we never receive any indication of how he became a supernatural being himself, and what keeps him coming back to help the flesh and blood types.

"Well leave a light on for ya"
His first adventure gives him a challenge on a significant scale - saving the entire world from destruction at the hands of H.P.Lovecraft's Elder Gods. The Necronomicon, its author Alhazred and Chthulu (sic) are all explicitly mentioned in the text, even if their depiction doesn't really resemble anything like the vinyl window clings and novelty magnetic fish where these figures make most of their appearances now. In fact, with a cover date of August 1945, this might be the first time Lovecraft's characters are ever referenced in a comic book, despite their depiction.

Despite being described as a dabbler in the supernatural, Styx possess no small amount of knowledge and some terrific resources. When he's faced with a modern-day Mr.Hyde, he stops the purely evil juggernaut by siccing a pet genie on him, Xaczakra, who pops up out of nowhere with no real explanation or origin and then vanishes just as quickly, never to be seen again.

For the most part, Styx relies on cutting sarcasm and some judgmental tutting to get him through most of the story. It's only when the bad guy is genuinely about to win the day - whether it's a property-destroying poltergeist, a hate-hobbled haint or the original Devil himself - that Styx breaks out some indistinct, undefined and effectively omnipotent display of his powers. He might also do Mr.Roboto, but only as the second encore.

Emerging with no origin and no reason, Mr.Styx disappeared much the same way after a brief handful of experiences. Since he'd been passing his time in the mortal world as an occult investigator - though how folks knew of him or got hold of him were also left up in the air - it's just as likely that he's still doing that in some obscued four-color dimension beyond out sight. Or that Chthulu and the Devil teamed up and handed him his ass. One of the two.

Death by chocolate.

1 comment:

James W. Fry 3.0 said...

I do so love me a good "titantic" battle.

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