Thursday, April 23, 2015


This thing got REAL Prog-Rock outta nowhere.
It doesn’t take a great deal of imagination to figure out which Marvel character was being directly aped by Atlas-Seaboard’s cerulean bad boy The Brute. With ol’ Jade Jaws being groomed for an upcoming debut on the smallscreen, Atlas was more than happy to try to pre-empt the success of the green goliath with their own blue behemoth.

The Brute stars in a trio of self-titled issues beginning in February of 1975, and even among Atlas’ coterie of two-fisted, morally ambiguous anti-heroes, he’s genuinely unique. Produced by the team of Fleisher and Sekowsky, the Brute makes one of comics’ most inglorious debuts. A titanic Neanderthal awakened from a frozen sleep in the modern day by ambient nuclear radiation emanating from the neighborhood nuclear power plant, the periwinkle prehistoric wakes up to the great taste of adolescent hikers. Discovered by the pint-sized spelunkers, the Brute subsequently smashes one against a cave wall and smooshes the other under a rock, leaving one alive to prove the axiom about how you don’t have to be faster than the bear …

Ah, that graceful sylph of the air, the Songbird SHIT. 

An outraged community bands together to drive the tyke-consuming titan out of his protective cave and into the custody of cold fish anthropologist Dr.Ann Turner. Serving as the creature’s sole advocate, Turner also seems to reserve her affection solely for the murdering beast, reacting coolly to every other male advance in her life. Please to keep in mind that Mike Fleisher is writing this, so you’re lucky this is as far as it goes.

Naturally, the Brute escapes, despite Doctor Turner’s kind ministrations and teaching him to play with a beachball, in case he ever winds up at an outdoor concert. Where he does end up, however, is deep in the Minnesota woods, where a mad scientist abducts him, plants some sort of controlling device in his ear and uses him to murder rival scientists. I mention this only because one of the Brute’s victims is “Dr.Frederic Berthram.”

What is this, a Wally Wood comic?
By the third and final issue, The Brute mostly escapes the trend of Atlas-Seaboard’s characters wherein he is wholly changed, cosmetically and thematically – he walks away from the usual third-issue switch with nothing more than a slightly altered origin (rather than being a skin-damaged Neanderthal, it’s revealed that The Brute comes from a blue-skinned, more bestial subset of prehistoric humanity. Big diff). As a consolation prize, he also picks up a bonafide supervillain, DOOMSTALKER, the cybernetic conqueror who wears his lucky Misfits t-shirt into battle.

Doomstalker actually knocks the Brute out for a loop, but how the battle winds up – and where exactly Doomstalker’s seemingly limitless aspirations end – are up in the air. No fourth issue puts an end to one of Atlas’ more surprisingly violent comics (keeping in mind that The Brute was in good company when it came to cannibalism in the Atlas title  -the Tarantule and Morlock 2001 ate their foes, and the Son of Dracula was at least willing to hollow them out slick).

More intriguing than the violence, however, were the antics which some combination of the book’s assorted creative talents got up to when no one was apparently looking. Owing to an oft-repeated sight of a small plane’s call letters, Sekowsky managed to get the word “shit” (“5HI7,” for your information) repeated on a half-dozen pages of the series, while the latter team of Friedrich and Alan Lee Weiss had the Brue running around shouting “BALL! BALL!” like some kind of cross between a Carry On film and Conan the Barbarian. And that’s not even to mention the scene wherein Dr.Turner is clearly whackin’ the monster off while he’s strapped to a hospital bed. You can’t spell “Atlas-Seabord” without “subtext.”

"This is my platform as a candidate for the GOP nomination in 2016!"

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