Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Atlas-Seaboard Comics - April 1975

Atlas-Seaboard's big month for sure! The company's last big stand really before the fragmentation sets in. Actually, that fragmentation is already evident in the books from this month.

WULF THE BARBARIAN #2 is a grand tale of adventure and in it, Wulf meets some compatriots. After a tussle with an evil and mad king, a monstrous elemental creature from beyond, and his own conscience, Wulf finds himself with a buddy, Rymstrdle, a theif and swordsman who puts me in mind of the Grey Mouser from Fritz Leiber's excellent stories. This is decent fantasy story, but the clear vision of the first issue is has disappeared somewhat. The book is no longer written by Larry Hama, and the artwork is one of those hodgepodge Continuity Associates group-jobs that were not uncommon during the Bronze Age. It's good but uneven material.

THE BRUTE #2 continues right where it left off with more Sekowsky-Marcos artwork. The Brute runs across a mad scientist and what are referred to as Reptile Men, though they all seem clearly amphibian to me. The scientist apparently transforms people into these monsters, and he has plans for the Brute as something of a lackey to kidnap other scientists who have offended him. The lady doctor from the previous issue makes another appearance, and there's a hint that the Brute might be able to speak. The story ends with the Brute presumed dead...and with Atlas-Seaboard's publishing history who knows.

THE DESTRUCTOR #2 continues under the multiple hands of Goodwin, Ditko, and Wood, but there seems to have been more haste in the artwork. The story gets Jay Hunter, The Destructor out West where he is manipulated into a battle with Deathgrip, a hitman for the Combine, a criminal organization that wants control of the rackets. Jay runs across a possible love interest and gets himself insinuated in a mod organization so he can destroy it from within. Good intrigue.

THE PLANET OF VAMPIRES #2 offers up our astronaut heroes as leaders who gather together the various street gangs for a dramatic battle against the "Domies", the high-tech vampires. The battle rages and our two heroes Chis and Craig survive only to find that their wives have been kidnapped and taken to the Dome. The Vampires, deprived of their high-tech solutions begin to revert to the more traditional fanged variety most of us are familiar with. The cover by Adams is okay, but its image has almost nothing to do with the story. The interiors are drawn by Broderick and McLaughlin again.

MORLOCK 2001 #2 continues the tale of the plant-man, and we get a Fleisher-Milgrom-Abel tale that demonstrates the true horror of his condition. The government wants to harness him, but he eludes them and eventually ends up killing a young girl. One detail is that Morlock battles some thugs who are very similar to those famous thugs from A Clockwork Orange. The sci-fi sources are various and sundry as this tale unfolds.

WEIRD SUSPENSE #2 gives us another TARANTULA story, and the witch that first put the curse on Count Lycosa returns and a battle of the spider-people erupts. More, great Boyette artwork, and a pretty good Fleisher script make this one of the most reliable reads in the Atlas-Seaboard canon so far.

POLICE ACTION #2 offers more LOMAX and LUKE MALONE stories. The former shows the police detective taking on kidnappers at the airport, while the latter gives us the "origin" story which concerns...surprise...kidnappers in a bank. There is a strange similarity to these stories, but again the better one is Malone by Ploog, though once again Sekowsky's and McWilliam's Lomax is sturdy work.

TALES OF EVIL #2 offers a gem of a three-pager by Grandenetti about a train of death; it's a real highlight. Another story about a Werewolf by some guy named Marvin Channing and the much-missed Tom Sutton rounds out the issue. The headliner though in this issue is the BOG BEAST, with Jack Sparling artwork. This series actually began in the B&W magazine Weird Tales of the Macabre #2, and like another comic this month finds its way into the color books. This is a clear indication that things are changing at Atlas. The Bog Beast is another attempt to tap that Man-Thing idea, but this is a really inferior effort.

SAVAGE COMBAT TALES #2 gives us another SGT.STRIKER'S DEATH SQUAD story where the squad is formally given its name by a notorious general the Squad saves then transports to his date with destiny. There is clearly some Patton influence in this story of the war in North Africa. The story by Goodwin and McWilliams is sturdy and worthwhile, but not great. The second story in this issue features WARHAWK, a mysterious pilot in the Burma air war who saves a young pilot from whose perspective this excellent Alex Toth story is told. (Note: Warhawk was apparently one of two stories Toth did in this era, and both are discussed in the current Alter Ego issue.)


Two new books debut this month. They are very different from each other, but sadly show the fragmentation of the Atlas line at this point.

THE COUGAR #1 is an oddball mix of elements. This comic featuring the adventures of a movie stuntman with story by Steve Mitchell and artwork by Dan Adkins and Frank Springer doesn't deny its source, The Night Stalker TV movie. In fact the creator of that movie is credited as an inspiration for the comic book. The story offers us a movie about a vampire that discovers a real vampire and similar to the famous TV flick, there's a blend of disbelief and mayhem. The Cougar is a weird comic, trapped between genres and oddly uncomfortable in neither. It wants to be a superhero book in places and a horror book in others. Clearly this book was supposed to have been drawn by Dan Adkins, but he must have been unable to finish it and the reliable Frank Springer stepped in to finish it up. The Frank Thorne cover is energetic but seems to have been produced quickly.

TIGER-MAN is another character that debuted in the B&W books before finding colorful glory. The story of Dr. Hill begins in THRILLING ADVENTURE STORIES #1 and he's a researcher in Africa inspired by the instinct for survival that seems to thrive in animals and people of the region.

A few scientific experiments and an injection later he is imbued with those instincts and lots of other powers. He's attacked by a a tiger and later gets its hide to use as a totem. He does so months later in the big city when he takes on muggers and rapists. His sister is attacked and killed and Tiger-Man takes to the streets to seek vengeance. He finds it, and then promises to keep at it. The artwork is decent Ernie Colon, but doesn't have the energy of his Grim Ghost work. The cover for this issue by Colon is one of the strangest in the whole Atlas line, and seems to me to be a very quickly produced item. 

There are of course some B&W magazines this month (more on those later this year) as well as more Vicki's but by and large, the company has reached its zenith. After this month, Atlas-Seaboard will continue to lose its focus as books are abruptly cancelled and directions are changed. But not all of them, not yet. 

More Atlas-Seaboard to come in May.

Rip Off


  1. Great overview Rip, I devoured Atlas comics and I had every issue here. These were a mixed bag of comics, the Cougar was a pretty bland comic but I really enjoyed the Tarantula , Boyettes art was as usual spot on ( and as always underrated). Thrilling Adventure Stories issue one wasn't bad but issue 2 was a classic .

    1. That's the tragedy of Atlas-Seaboard, the stuff was pretty darn good. The swiftness of its rise and fall makes it legendary for me. It's fun to revisit these comics yet again.

  2. A great line-up and a fun change of pace from the Big Guys. I lament the fact that Atlas didn't last longer. No telling what they would have come up with.