Sunday, January 8, 2012
The Son Of Vulcan Reports #2
Mysteries of Unexplored Worlds Volume 1, Number 47 starring Son of Vulcan is dated July, 1965. The editor in chief is Pat Masulli, who is credited with creating Son of Vulcan. The cover is by Bill Fraccio and Tony Tallarico who are also the artists of record for most of the interiors of the comic. The writer for this issue is Joe Gill, the iron man of Charlton scribes. Here is what was on the newsstands when this issue hit.
"The Golden Curse" begins with a discourse on marriage, wealth, and greed, and introduces our main players. We first meet Leonard Lambie, a professor of mythology at a small university. He lives a life of relative poverty and is put upon by his unhappy wife. He reads of the exploits of Son of Vulcan and wishes that he too could access the powers of the gods. He especially dreams of having the power of King Midas as he does the evening dishes with his disapproving wife glaring at him.
The scene shifts to the apartment of Johnny Mann, reporter and mortal identity of the Son of Vulcan. He is awakened by a heavenly announcement that Mars, the God of War will soon arrive to bring him to Olympus to face judgement. Mars, who is not happy that Son of Vulcan has been successful with his godly gifts, brings him to Olympus where he is reunited with his adopted father Vulcan and the beautiful Venus. Jupiter sits upon his throne and pronounces that in the case of Cyprete (from the debut issue) Son of Vulcan has performed well. This does not go over well with Mars who plots to undermine SoV's success.
To that end he visits the disgruntled Leonard Lambie and gifts him with the gauntlets of King Midas, which can turn objects to gold. But Mars fails intentionally to tell Lambie that the effect wears off after forty-eight hours.
"Planet Urth" is a one-page text piece which is actually a letter from the Martian leader Mishi Ucha, and puts forth his strong opinions about how the Maritians should best pursue their military goals. He urges war with the Venusians, to show the upstarts their proper place in the galaxy and he then suggests war with the Saturnians should be next. He is dismissive of the idea of "Project Urth" put forth by Professor Slumpshi because Ucha finds the idea that intelligent life could be on the humble planet too remote a possibility to consider.
The story of Leonard Lambie continues as he demonstrates his new godly gifts to his wife by changing the trash can to gold. She remains unimpressed so he changes her to gold too in a fit of anger. He enjoys the new quiet it brings.
Meanwhile Johnny Mann is given a new assignment to investigate Zoloto, the world's biggest gold dealer and a man who has been suspiciously hoarding gold and hiding it. Johnny goes to Zoloto's offices, replete with golden themes, and is violently ejected at gunpoint. He passes Leonard Lambie who meets with Zoloto to turn his new gold into hard cash. Zoloto, after seeing the gauntlets work, strikes a bargain with Lambie and sends him on his way, but then sends his henchmen to follow him.
At his home Lambie adopts a costume befitting his Midas role as Mars looks down upon him satisfied that Son of Vulcan will falter in the face of this new threat. Johnny Mann though has followed Zoloto's thugs to Lambie's house and seeing their violent intentions transforms into the mighty Son of Vulcan and faces off against them. But Lambie turns SoV into a gold statue too and the whole lot then are taken to Zoloto's grotto where the statues of SoV and Lambie's wife are about to be melted down to make ingots.
Lambie though wants them to be saved and Zoloto relents momentarily only to show Lambie how little authority he has. Son of Vulcan is still able to think, if not move, and he uses telepathy to tell Lambie that Zoloto only wants to remove him and his gauntlets as they will only make his gold cheaper by increasing the relative supply. Then SoV and Lambie's wife are put back on the conveyor belt to be melted down.
Son of Vulcan though does not melt, his godly powers making him invulnerable and he turns back to his true nature. He calls upon Vulcan to send him a mace which he does and SoV then demolishes the furnace. Zoloto attempts to escape and use poison gas to kill everyone in the grotto but Lambie turns him to gold before can act. Mars is unhappy that SoV has succeeded.
The police arrive and Son of Vulcan explains things and Lambie submits himself to the authorities for his two "murders". But then the forty-eight hours pass and Lambie's wife reverts to normal. Since the effect is not permanent, the police are sure Lambie's punishment will be less severe.
Son of Vulcan returns the gauntlets of Midas back to Olympus were Mars is forced to confess he was behind the scheme the whole time. As Jupiter lavishes praise on Son of Vulcan Mars plots revenge as does Zoloto in a prison cell far away. With these looming threats and the mention of Dr.Kong also, Son of Vulcan's future looks far from bright.
"Strange Galaxy" is a three-page comic story about a space ship and its lone occupant Major Rauss that heads to the Moon too fast, misses it entirely and instead heads into deep space and a galaxy far away only to land on a distant planet where the pilot is met with relatively hospitality. The art is by Charles Nicholas on pencils and Rocke Mastroserio on inks.
This is a solid issue of Charlton entertainment. The characters so well explained last issue are vivid and the story falls into place quickly. Joe Gill's script is lean and there's a real momentum to the storytelling in this one. The artwork by Fraccio and Tallarico is a wonderful example of what they can do.
The cover is a busy and hectic one indeed, and sadly not very dynamic. The bearded King Midas with his long white beard is not the Leonard Lambie we have inside. The costume and crown are similar but he's a smaller fellow with no whiskers at all.
This issue was something of a grail book for me for many years. Before the convenience of the internet, rounding up back issues was a slow process indeed. I looked for this particular issue for at least five years before finding a moth-eaten copy. It was a great to have it and be able to at long last read the entire Son of Vulcan Charlton saga. It's that kind of satisfaction that makes this hobby so much fun.
This story was reprinted by Alan Class in Uncanny Tales #180.
More to come.