Comic Fandom Monthly, No. 2 (October 1971), page 10-11


Dublin Core


Comic Fandom Monthly, No. 2 (October 1971), page 10-11


A continuation of the previous article and the start of an article about the Heap.


Joe Brancatelli


Comic Fandom Monthly, No. 2 (October 1971)




Steve Jenkins
Norman Masters



"Seeing Byrrah in Frigia wouldn't surprize me at all."
osly, though, Ming somehow transports this
"Purple death" and inflicts it on the unsus-
pecting earth populous. Flash and his little
group, including Dale and Zarkov are unaf-
fected, of course. So Zarkov and Flash de-
part for Mongo, reaching there with a mini-
mal amount of trouble. Later they meet and
greet Prince Barin who, to me, looked like a
Robin Hood rip-off. After Prince Barin, they
meet up with the queen of Frigia. Frigia is
a land of intense cold, which naturally, no
human can survive. Apparently, Queenie's mi-
nions can, because they're cheap Sub-Mariner
copies. Seeing Byrrah there wouldn't sur-
prize me. The Queen is out for Flash, but
Dale, in her own feminine ways, tells her to
buzz off.
Petty squables aside, the merry band all
get together to fight with ol' Ming and my
friend, the captain, Torch. Simultaneously,
Zarkov saves Flash from the aformentioned
bottomless pit of Mongo. And the good Barin,
who ran away from the fight (he was yaller),
discovers the only way to offset the purple
death is with a compound found high in the
Frigian mountains (some irony, eh?). Prince
Barin escapes with the rest of the group but
not before they save a Frigian general and a
man from Prince Barin's army. Naturally they
all make it back to Barin's castle where the
Queen is told of the group's trials, trib-
ulations, and good luck in discovering the
cure. The Queen quickly dispatches them. Let
us remember, however, that the Frigian at-
mosphere in northern Mongo is quite incom-
patible to humans. True, but don't forget,
that this is a movie, and a movie with a man
with a medical degree. That's right, good ol
Doc Zarkov, who naturally has a suit of pro-
tection against the extreme. Meanwhile, back
at that castle of Ming the Merciless, news
has reached them that Flash knows the cure,
and Ming dispatches Torch with the admoni-
tion "that if you fail..."
Flash, Dale and Mr. Barin go off into the
mountains as Zarkov and an old general hang
out at the ship. Sometime later, after Dale
has slipped and been saved by Flash, Torch
and his two baddies find the dauntless trio
trudging through the snow. Qf course, Torch,
lacking the genius of Zarkov, can't go out-
side his ship. Guessing marvelously, he now
realizes Zarkov has immunized Flash, Dale,
and the Prince from the cold, and resorts to
germ warfare (obviously the Geneva conven-
tion didn't hold sway there). Torch causes
an avalanche of rocks to boot. Zarkov, of
course, is viewing this scene with much dis-
may. In any case, Torch ends the chapter
by thinking, how finally he hasn't let“ poor
ol' Ming down!
In point of fact, however, he has. Flash
awakes despite the numbing effect of the
cold snow, not to mention the fall. Since
all of the group fell together, they landed
together. He finds his woman nearby, and he
asks the question asked countless times in
the serial. It goes something like this:
Flash: Are you all right, Dale?
Dale: (hugging Flash and answering shar-
ply) Yes!
Together they find the Prince who's broken a
few of his legs in the interim. Despite the
good fortune they've had, it seems they are
done for, stranded. But, Flash again saves
the day with his handy-dandy Doc Zarkov com-
municator. Flash makes contact with Zarkov
with minimal trouble (my radio should be so
static free), and within a half-hour thou-
sands of Frigians are combing the mountain-
sides for the group. The two questions that
-entered my mind was why the Frigians weren't
the ones searching for the antidote in the
first place, and second is why didn't the
hero just go back the way he came. Hell, I
guess that's the way it goes in the films.
Another irony (?) is that out of the thou-
sands searching for the party, who do you
think finds them? Right. Doc Zarkov!
They make it back to the Prince's castle,
only to find one of his girls has been be-
trayed by a maid and captured by, you gues-
sed it again, Ming! Suddenly the Prince has
been completely rehabilitated. The reason
for this miraculous recovery? Perhaps he did
not really have broken legs, perhaps Zarkov
fixed him up (Sawbones Zarkov?), perhaps the
seemingly valiant old boy is a chicken in
Prince's clothes; or it's even possible a
scripterg just forgot (a faulty memory being
quicker than miracles). In any case, the
heroes depart in Zarkov's ship, and move on-
ward towards Ming's place (sounds like a bad
chinese restaurant, doesn't it). They enter
the castle through a back entrance known on-
ly by the Prince, but Zarkov blunders into a
trap. He quickly becomes friendlv with anot-
her mad scientist type. This fellow comes
from still another world and was forced to
work for the emperor. Their common enemy is
the fusion to their relationship. The draw-
back of course is that Flash now has two mad
scientists instead of one. Flash and Prince
Barin mug a few of Torch's boys and one ex-
citing adventure leads to another.

I iike the Heap
I like the Heap, whereas I have
never cared for the Hulk or even the
Thing, and I'm not exactly sure why.
Maybe it's the brutishness of Hulk
and Thing--a quality I've never been
able to identify with--that turns me
off. The Heap, for some reason, does
not affect me as being brutish; he is
sensitive in a way Hulk and Thing can
never be; his inner soul is different
from his frightening exterior. I re-
alize Stan has tried to make Thing
into something more than an unfeeling
monster, but I guess it's just failed
to convince me. The Thing still re-
vels in "It's clobberin' time!" mak-
ing his inner spirit like his outer
appearance to my final evaluation.
The soul trapped inside the putres-
cent body of the Heap doesn't revel
in violence, however, and unlike the
Thing and Hulk, he'd prefer dying to
living on like this. This is an in-
teresting way of handling the invul-
nerable super-hero--he can't be kill-
ed, but he wants to die.
And maybe part of it's just that
the word Heap is a much more evoca-
tive name than Thing or Hulk--to my
sensibilities, at least. Of course,
that's an offshoot of nostalgia. I
met the Heap in about l957 when I got
a copy of the Nov. l950 issue of Air-
boy Comics from a kid for writing
some punishment pages for him in high
school. That puts that Airboy comic
in the charmed circle of the first
hundred or so comics I ever owned or
read--and there's a certain special
magic attached to those first comics
that no others, later, can ever equal
again. Later ones may well be better
plotted, better written, and better
drawn, but they don't have that aura
of those first ones, no matter how
godawful those first ones were, and
it's difficult to even view them ob-
jectively, afterwards (not that one
usually wants to most times.)
I muchly prefer the appearance of
the original Heap to that of the cur-
rent incarnation (tho this may be the
Firstist Syndrome at play. There's
some that feel SpiderMan only looked
right when Steve Ditko was drawing
him, and Flash Gordon, to me, is epi-
tomized by Mac Raboy--since that's
where I met him, and the Hal Foster
and Al Williamson renditions just do-
n't have that magic...) The original
Heap was long and shaggy haired, also
built like an ape, and strongly re-
sembled an abominable snowman, albeit
tinged with chlorophyll. It seemed
singularly appropriate for this green
thing to have come out of the swamps
of Poland (where we're somewhere near
werewolf country), product of vines
and creepers covering and merging
with the body of shot-down WWI ace,
Eric Von Emmelman. I guess the cur-
rent Heap looks appropriate, for his
time, too (much of his appearence
turns me off), being a product of
nerve gas and pesticides transmuting
the body of Jim Roberts into what
looks like either a pile of garbage
or a shambling glop of shit. Symbol-
of the excretions of our age, in a
small way. The first Heap had a bit
more of an endearing appearance--a
hooked root nose, much like a carrot
--not the current one's savage ape-
ish one. You never saw the eyes of
that other Heap--shaggy-dog-like hair
hung over them; and there was never a
mouth drawn on him, either. The new
Heap has glaring eyes, with two small
dots for pupils, and an always-open
mouth, spiked with sharp fangs. (The
flapping tongue, ready to be bitten
off at any moment, that's perpetually
hanging outside his mouth in the An-
dru-Esposito treatments in Psycho, is
vaguely reminiscent of the original
Heap's nose for some reason. Actual-
ly, Gray Morrow's rendition of Man-
Thing in Savage Tales #1 comes clos-
er to the spirit of the original Heap
in one sense, and it's the most ar-
tistic-pleasing of the whole lot, but

Top: Andru
and Esposi-
to's Heap,
for Skywald
Copyright C
Bottom: Air-
Boy comics
featured a
Heap in the
1950's. Co-
pyright C,
1950, Hill-
man Per.