Strange Tales (Vol. 1) #129

Credits:

Cover Date: February 1965

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Chic Stone

“The Terrible Trio”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Dick Ayers

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Dick Ayers

Inker: Frank Giacoia (credited as Frankie Ray)

“Beware…Tiboro! The Tyrant of the Sixth Dimension”

Plotters: Don Rico, Steve Ditko

Scripter: Don Rico

Penciller: Steve Ditko

Inker: Steve Ditko

What’s Going On?

The Human Torch and Thing team up against the Terrible Trio. Elsewhere, Doctor Strange travels to another dimension to save some snotty scientists.

Details:

In the Human Torch / Thing story:

  • The Terrible Trio have escaped from prison, and they’re going after the Human Torch again. They catch him easily enough, but they bicker amongst themselves long enough for Johnny to escape (although still tied up in asbestos rope).

  • Johnny manages to eventually burn out of his ropes, but the effort exhausts him. When his flame burns out, he hasn’t gotten very far from the Terrible Trio at all. Worse, he wedged his foot in a railroad switch and can’t escape!

  • Johnny shoots his Fantastic Four flare gun into the sky, attracting the Thing. The Terrible Trio, though, were expecting this. They knocked Johnny out, and then laid in wait for Ben to arrive.

  • The Trio ambush the Thing, but he is more concerned with freeing the Torch from the railroad tracks than he is with their attack. And that’s pretty fair, since Ben clearly outclasses the Trio in power.

  • But being distracted by Johnny means that Ben is open to sneakier attacks. He winds up getting wrapped up tightly with metal, unable to free himself before an oncoming train will hit Johnny. So what does Ben do? He lays down on the train tracks in front of Johnny, as the train approaches!

  • Ben was able to stop the train with his feet alone, saving Johnny. After that, he was free to concentrate on capturing the Terrible Trio, which he did easily.

In the Doctor Strange story:

  • Doctor Strange has refused to appear on TV to discuss black magic. Well, “discuss” might not be the right term; three TV scientists really want to debunk magic at Strange’s expense.

  • These scientists played around with a supposedly cursed idol, and they mysteriously vanished from the TV studio. The TV studio folk eventually call in Doctor Strange to investigate.

  • Baffled by the idol, Strange confers with the Ancient One. His mentor recognizes it as an effigy of the evil, ancient Tiboro!

  • Doctor Strange allows the idol to transport him to another realm, where he comes face-to-face with Tiboro. The two plan to battle, but Tiboro is hit with an overwhelming urge to not use his magic wand —- the source of his power. Strange opts to fight without his cloak, out of fairness.

  • Tiboro is surprised to find Strange his equal in battle. It doesn’t take long for the villain to pick up his wand again and attack; Strange beckons his cape to challenge him.

  • The two battle at length…

  • …until Strange exhausts Tiboro. Tiboro agreed to let Strange leave with the four guys from the TV station that the idol had trapped, and Strange agrees not to destroy Tiboro because…well, I’m not sure.

  • Back in our reality, the TV scientists are thrilled with their experience —- it proves the existence of magic! They want to broadcast this truth to the world! But Doctor Strange doesn’t like that idea, so he makes them all forget everything that has happened. The end.

Is It Good?

As a whole comic, not so much. But the Doctor Strange story is a fun read! Steve Ditko spends most of the issue drawing a sorcerer battle, so it looks pretty cool. The story is kind of forgettable, but it’s not bad. It’s even better when you consider that Don Rico filled in to write this issue instead of Stan Lee; most fill-ins for Stan are much worse.

The Human Torch & Thing story, though, is pretty wretched. The plot is dumb, the villains are lame, and the heroes act like they’re sharing two brain cells between them. As for the artwork, well…Dick Ayers has done better. Aside from some awkward character poses, it feels like Ayers and Lee were not on the same page (figuratively) about what was happening on the page (literally). Take this example; it reads like we should be seeing the Thing fighting off the Terrible Trio, but we don’t actually see the Thing on this page at all!

Cool! I would definitely rather see Handsome Harry and Yogi Dakor doing…things, I guess…than see the Thing fighting Bull Brogan and a giant snake.

Continuity:

  • The Terrible Trio last appeared in Strange Tales #122.
  • Asbestos strikes again!

  • This is the first appearance of Tiboro. He has a magic wand that is the source of his formidable powers.
  • I guess the disembodied voice that convinced Tiboro to not start the fight with his wand is supposed to be Doctor Strange.  This is the first time we’ve seen him plant suggestions in someone’s mind.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • Johnny and Dorrie are both awful people. Johnny’s a brat, and Dorrie purposefully goads him.

  • Bull Brogan’s expression here makes it look like he received a present from a secret admirer more than he’s planning to punch someone.

  • The least realistic thing in this comic book that features magic and flaming teenagers is this: a low-level employee kept working in pitch black darkness, instead of taking a break.

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