Thursday, October 15, 2015


This is SUCH a dumb comic and SUCH beautiful art.

Having written about so many of the Atlas-Seaboard characters at this point, I frankly have a hard time remembering exactly how many of them were cannibals.

Morlock 2001, naturally, became a creature resembling a man-sized cone of dried sweet potatoes and had a hankering for human flesh, and I seem to recall that The Brute ate at least a couple of children - maybe more when we weren't looking. Then there's a whole Planet of Vampires, wherein cannibalism is clearly a shared cultural experience. That's not to mention Son of Dracula, of course and, for all I recall, Vicki.

Chief among these protagonist cannibals, however, is certainly The Tarantula, a character for whom eating dudes was absolutely principal among his powers and motivation. If Atlas had something equivalent to the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, the Tarantula's origin, powers, paraphernalia and height-and-weight sections would all start with the phrase "He eats people."

"You can-a call-a me, the Taratula, eyyy"
Starring as the title character in "Weird Suspense" ("I feel like something's about to happen, something WEIRD" I like to pretend is a phrase uttered in every issue of this book) and debuting in its first issue in February 1975, Tarantula tells the story of Count Eugene Lycosa, dead ringer for Eugene Levy, recipient of a 14th century curse on his family.  The Lycosa family, that is, not the Levy family. I don't know what curse Eugene Levy's under, except it caused him to accept a role in Bringing Down The House.

Having captured and burned alive the frightful Tarantula Priestess (sort of a spider-cult version of Apache Chief, I suppose), Levy is cursed to have all of his male heirs "suffer the curse of the tarantula ... they will prowl the countryside with tarantula powers inquest of victims to appease their spider's lust!" Spiders are, as we know, nature's lustiest creatures. Also, Tarantulas aren't native to Europe, where all of this takes place, and also it's the "Dark Ages" (whenever comic book writers think THAT was, which is apparently anywhere from 400 BC to 1920) so there was no shipping between the New World and Old yet. But the Pat Boyette art is gorgeous so I'm happy to ignore all of that.

In any case, the Tarantula Priestess is as good as her word, which takes us to the modern day. There, the modern-day descendant of the Count lives upstate in a mansion, accompanied only by his manservant Joseph. When a gang of armed crooks stumbles upon Lycosa's abode - and are subsequently murdered and eaten - Spider-Gene discovers a new mission in life: killing and eating bad guys. "We must go from this place," he tells his dogsbody, "to where my tarantula powers may be of some practical value!" If there's anything more practical than eating a bank robber, I can't put my finger on it.

Tarantula spends two issues killing and consuming ne'er-do-wells, and even battling a reborn Tarantula Princess, before succumbing to Atlas-Seaboard's infamous third-issue switch. Where Lycosa had previously been gung-ho about using his spider-powers to serve a really arguable sort of justice, he's now tormented by them. "Why must I bear ... this monstrous burden?" he asks of his new manservant Crispin, brother to Joseph who'd been murdered the issue previous. "Somewhere ... somehow," he continues, "We must have overlooked something ... that could be ... the key which could cure me of this curse!" Well, for one thing, move back to the country, buster.

Lycosa picks up a day job and a horny secretary along with his new butler and depressing outlook on life, but he keeps the cannibalism. Just like a good nehru jacket, eating bad guys isn't something you want to dispose of casually, after all. Since he never finds a cure for his condition, we can assume Eugene Lycosa is still out there, eating purse-snatchers somewhere,

Looks like someone threw together a last minute Halloween costume...

No comments:

Popular Posts