Sunday, June 12, 2016

Fascinated by the Face That Wasn't There

Sometimes the comic books you saw in ads but didn’t get to read could be as fascinating as the comics that you actually paid your dime or 12 cents to buy.
At times, they could even be more compelling, because not knowing the story behind the covers forced you into the delightful practice of using your imagination and speculating — of writing, in effect, just the way Gardner Fox and John Broome did.
Such was the case with Strange Adventures 124 (Jan. 1961), which introduced the Faceless Creature.
By 1961, mere aliens from other planets had gotten rather old hat in DC Comics’ Strange Adventures. So the Faceless Hunter wasn’t merely from the planet Saturn, but from Klaramar, a sub-atomic world revolving within an atom on Saturn that operates within a different temporal field than the Earth. Now THAT’S what I call an alien! One Klaramarian day equals a million Earth years (a fact that renders the two sequels to the first story impossible, but we’ll forget about that).
The first Faceless Creature was Klee-Pan, a benevolent alien who inexplicably seems to be stealing the faces from terrestrial monuments. In fact, he is seeking a bomb that will destroy the solar system, one has been locked by the evil Chen Yull into a vault which can only be opened by some giant head.
Visiting Mount Rushmore, Klee-Pan teamed up with two South Dakota Highway Patrolmen, Jim Boone and Bob Colby, to save our worlds. As a reward, Klee-Pan enabled the two police officers to telepathically communicate with each other. The two would return in Strange Adventures 142 (July 1962) to battle Chen Yull himself, and then Chen Yull would return to threaten humanity again in Strange Adventures 153 (June 1963).
Mike Sekowsky, Carmine Infantino and Gil Kane did the artistic honors for the Fox stories.
Elegantly designed, weirdly powered, smooth-faced, pleasantly orange giant aliens, recurring human protagonists who gain superhuman abilities, and DC’s customarily reassuring “cozy catastrophe” science fiction scenarios — I was right the first time. If I’d had the chance to read these tales when they were published, I would have loved them.

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