Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Son Of Vulcan Reports #4

Son of Vulcan Volume Two, Number 49 is dated November 1965. This comic continues the numbering of Mysteries of Unexplored Worlds. The editor in chief and creator of Son of Vulcan is Pat Masulli. The script is by Joe Gill. The interior artwork is by the reliable team of Bill Fraccio and Tony Tallarico. The cover art is by Bill Fraccio and the inks are by Rocke Mastroserio. (The Grand Comic Book Database attributes these inks to Tallarico, but I disagree.) Here's a link to see what else was on the newsstands when this Son of Vulcan comic first appeared.

"The Diamond Dancers" begins in the big city where Dr.Kong, arch-enemy of Son of Vulcan is inspecting some diamonds at the Diamond Exchange. He then heads over to the theater where under the name of "Changchin" he is appearing in a play titled "A Chinese Folly". There he removes his large ring which is actually a camera and orders a young lady to develop the film.

Meanwhile Johnny Mann is interviewing the head of the Exchange and asks him if he thinks the two billion dollars worth of jewels are in threat of robbery and is assured such a thing is impossible.

Dr.Kong gets into his costume and heads to the stage while Johnny decides to take in a show. He recognizes his old enemy despite the costume and make-up and changes into Son of Vulcan, this time sporting a somewhat more elaborate costume. (More on that later.)

The Story then shifts back in time to the end of last issue when Mars was under attack by sea creatures. He escapes that threat and then finds large stores of diamonds in the Arctic. He decides to use this wealth to assume the identity of Warren Masters, and heads to the city and the diamond exchange. He finds himself outside the performance of "A Chinese Folly" at the same time that Son of Vulcan is demanding to see Dr.Kong.

Son of Vulcan confronts Dr.Kong and the two battle, Kong using his enormous electric sword and SoV using an axe. Son of Vulcan is struck down by Kong as Mars/Masters appears. The two villains talks and decide to work together to defeat their common foe. To that end they find a great pile driver at a local building site and using a steel beam drive the invulnerable Son of Vulcan deep into the Earth, creating a prison for him.

"The Magic Wand" is a one-page text piece telling the story of a television show and its special effects guru Burt Carsons. Carsons was contracted to create effects for a new show called "The Magic Wand", particularly a way to seemingly explode boulders and he does so by creating a "magic wand" powered by electricity which is immensely powerful and which is then used by its creator to take over the world.

Part II "The Living Tomb" begins as Son of Vulcan calls out to his adopted father Vulcan for help but it turns out that Vulcan and Venus have been forbidden by Jupiter to help SoV since his activities had forced Jupiter to banish Mars. Nonetheless Vulcan sends a fireball to help and it ignites a seam of coal in the ground around SoV and this allows him to explosively escape the trap.

Son of Vulcan then seeks out Dr.Kong and changes to Johnny Mann to do so. Meanwhile the two villains are working together to break into the Diamond Exchange, which shares a wall with the theater and while Kong uses fireworks to create a distraction on stage, Mars/Masters uses a bazooka to break through. Johnny Mann confronts Kong but must change to Son of Vulcan to escape his sword which then breaks on SoV's mighty shield.

Mars/Masters then appears and uses gas to subdue Son of Vulcan. Then he and Dr.Kong gather the diamonds and repair the wall, being careful to put Son of Vulcan within so he will get the blame. But the villains fall out as Mars wants Kong to pay for his crimes, but Kong is too clever and captures the god in a booby-trapped chair.

In Olympus Vulcan sends the real King Midas to assist Son of Vulcan by changing the Diamond Exchange wall to softer gold which SoV can break through easily.

He confronts Mars/Masters and learns that Dr.Kong is seeking to escape by boat. Flying to the docks, he finds the ship and learns that Kong is not yet aboard. He then goes underwater, finds Kong's one-man submarine and disables it. As Kong sinks to the bottom, Son of Vulcan returns the stolen diamonds and when he returns to the theater finds Mars gone but threatening to return.

"Enemies of the Deep" is a three-page comic story featuring dangerous sea creatures such as the hammerhead shark, the sea leopard, the killer whale, and the moray eel. The story features art by Frank McLaughlin.

This is hugely fun, if hugely goofy issue. The way the two villains with their immense abilities work so mightily to steal some paltry diamonds is mildly hilarious. Son of Vulcan seems to completely stumble across the plot, and this story to a greater degree than earlier one seems utterly dependent upon coincidence to work.

The new look of Son of Vulcan is the handiwork of a young Dave Cockrum, who would be very famous later for revising the look of DC's Legion of Superheroes and later Marvel's X-Men. This new armor is more detailed, but I'm not sure myself if it's a stronger design. The added details seem I think to detract from the basic shape, and make the whole thing a bit muddy. But if because of the perceived dreary costume or whatever, clearly the series was lagging in sales, and this was an attempt to salvage it. Cockrum gets no mention inside the issue, but they did give him billing of his work on the cover itself, possibly since covers typically go to press last.

This penultimate issue of Son of Vulcan is a hoot, but with only a single Charlton episode remaining things look grim for our hero.

This story was reprinted by Alan Class in Uncanny Tales #87.

A little more to come.

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