As I roam the dense forests of Tinsley, people often say to me, "Steve. The trees. Look at all those trees. Who's your favourite super-hero who can turn into a man-eating tree?"
Well, there's a lot of competition for that title but, after much thought on the matter, I can only go for Atlas Comics' very own plant man Morlock.
I am tempted to call him Adam Morlock but I'm sure the fact that both he and the similarly named Marvel character were born from pods is pure coincidence.
Sadly, like all Atlas characters, Morlock's run was to prove short-lived but it was certainly hard to forget.
In a future dictatorship, a scientist's gunned down for owning books and doing forbidden plant experiments.
The authorities who killed him soon discover he'd been working on creating a man who's part human, part vegetable. Upon his emergence from his giant pea pod, they name this man Morlock and, upon discovering he can turn people to plants just by touching them, use him as their enforcer.
Well, Morlock might be a plant but he's no stooge and he soon rebels against his corrupt paymasters - but not before discovering that, when he gets a mad, he turns into a man-eating tree.
I wouldn't want to cast aspersions on writer Michael ("The Spectre") Fleisher but, what with The Brute and The Tarantula, this is at least the third cannibal super-hero I can think of that he contributed to the Atlas cause. Some might start to find this worrying.
It also has to be said you can spot from a mile away where all his ideas are stolen from. There's a touch of Warlock to it, a touch of The Time Machine, a touch of the Hulk, a touch of 1984, a touch of Fahrenheit 451, a touch of Frankenstein - and probably a whole bunch of other things I've missed out.
That's not to say Fleisher's story-telling here's any more than rudimentary but it's a great concept in that it allows artist Al Milgrom to let loose with the imagery. It's hard to comment on the quality of his draftsmanship, because he's inked by Jack Abel who, to my eyes at least, makes every artist look like Jack Abel. If I was a big fan of Abel's inking style, that wouldn't be a problem but he was always one of my least favourite inkers.
Regardless of that, Milgrom serves up some wonderfully nightmarish images and composition in the tale, the chief ones being the transformation of a government lackey into topiary, and Morlock's murder of the female agent who'd been manipulating him.
It might seem unlikely, given how obvious its roots are but, on the strength of issue #1 at least, Morlock was one of the few Atlas strips that actually had potential to work.
Keep Those Things Away From Me - Novel
1 year ago