Wednesday, 8 September 2010

The Tarantula, Weird Suspense #1.

Atlas Comics, Weird Suspense #1, the TarantulaAtlas Comics really did like to make life hard for themselves. Not only did they give us The Brute, a non-thinking, non-speaking serial killer as a hero, they also gave us the Tarantula, a thinking, speaking serial killer as a hero. Marvel Comics of course gave us a Tarantula too. He was a mercenary and a bad guy. This one’s meant to be a good guy.

It seems that, centuries ago, his ancestor Count Lycosa helped kill a scantily clad witch who was terrorising the locals with her giant arachnids. She thus cursed him that all his male heirs would become human spiders and drink human blood. When we join the modern Count Lycosa, he too’s a victim of the curse.

Obviously he’s tormented by it and can’t sleep at nights.

Well, not really. In fact he doesn’t seem at all bothered and, from what we can see, appears to be quite the contented count.

Writer Michael Fleisher seems to be enjoying himself too. After his mass slaughter with The Brute and The Spectre, he continues in his usual vein by killing six people in the first five pages of this story before going on to slaughter dozens more in the rest of the comic. I wouldn’t want to be rude by suggesting that at this stage in his life Mr Fleisher should've considered visiting a therapist but I am starting to spot a trend with his writing.

Atlas Comics the Tarantula #1

I actually quite like the flashback sequence to “middle Europe” and the tarantula-worshipping witch. It might not make that much sense - and how the original Count managed to fool anyone into thinking he was a giant tarantula by dressing up as one is anybody’s guess - but still.

The only problem with it is that so much of the issue’s dedicated to that flashback that we don’t get any chance to know the modern-day Count. Who is he? What’s he about? He is after all meant to be the star of the comic but we barely see anything of him. It means our entire knowledge of him is he lives with a servant and is happy to eat escaped convicts.

Having had his snack he then declares he’s going to use his powers to fight crime. No reason’s given for this sudden mild inclination to be a super-hero. Peter Parker decided to use his powers for good because he felt guilty about his part in the death of his Uncle Ben. Count Lycosa simply does it on a whim. As a motivation it’s hardly what you’d call compelling.

But ultimately the main flaw’s obvious to everyone except the good folk at Atlas. The Tarantula’s a hideous and grotesque killer human spider whose only power seems to be eating people.

Still, Atlas publisher Martin Goodman once famously told Stan Lee that no one would read the adventures of Spider-Man because everyone hates spiders. So, no doubt, despite my nay-saying, the Tarantula was destined for the same kind of success as Spider-Man who he so closely completely failed to resemble.

Wasn’t he?

2 comments:

Andrew Wahl said...

This one I liked. Typically I'm not a big fan of Pat Boyette's artwork, but I thought his wooden style and odd page designs worked well on this series. As for the Tarantula eating people, at least he's only eating bad guys this issue. By #3, even his secretary is on the menu!

Cheers,
Andrew
ComicsBronzeAge.com

Steve said...

It's not exactly Tony Stark and Pepper Potts is it?

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