Book of the Day - 5/01/04

Monsters on the Prowl #9 Feb 1971

- Overstreet 2006 (9.2) NM- Price: $40 -



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Book of the Day returns after a brief hiatus featuring a comic that should appeal to most collectors  regardless of whether you specialize in the Gold, Silver or Bronze Ages....

Monsters on the Prowl #9 is essentially the first issue in a new direction for Marvel.  As outlined in  2/18/04 COTD, Marvel decided to switch their horror line from an anthology format to more superhero type stories.  This issue, previously known as Chamber of Darkness, marked the end of one of those anthology titles.  The other anthology title, Tower of Shadows, would also change and become Creatures on the Loose the following month (Mar 1971).   Though these issues wouldn't break any ground in the horror arena, or in comics history for that manner, they would prove a vital asset for collectors with limited funds for back issues.  A place where you could read monsters reprints that the company, before it became known as Marvel in 1961, specialized in for a number of years and featuring great artwork from the likes of Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko.

This issue featured two of those monster stories, and a brand new story, sans monsters, that may have been a leftover from one of the horror titles.  

The first story, and cover feature, was "Gorgilla, The Monster of Midnight Mountain".  No credits are identified but it's safe to assume that Stan Lee wrote the story as he wrote most everything for the company during this time.  The art appears to be Kirby though Overstreet doesn't mention Kirby as having contributed to the issue.   The story follows scientists climbing Midnight Mountain in search of the Missing Link and, after encountering some headhunters, are thrilled to find Gorgilla.  Gorgilla, on the other hand, isn't quite as happy to see them, grabs a tree trunk, and tries to use the scientists as batting practice.  During all this, a Tyrannosaus Rex appears to break up the party.  Gorgilla and Rex decide a rumble between them is in order which ends up with Gorgilla as the victor.  The scientists decide they won't capture the creature, as if they ever could, and leave the mountain.

The last story in the issue, drawn by Ditko, featured the story of "Kraggoom the Conqueror", a gray glob monster that looks more like Play-do than a menace.  Seems that Krag found Earth in the 16th Century with the belief that it was ripe for conquering.  Before he could set his plan in motion (apparently he could take over human bodies), his fellow aliens land and capture Krag.  Appears Krag is the only one of his kind with a conquering bone in his body.  After a quick trial aboard the alien spacecraft, Krag is kicked out of the spaceship to spend the rest of his days floating in open space.  Fast forward to the present day.  Krag is still floating around and apparently hasn't seen the error of his ways as now he's expanded his plan to not only conquer Earth but now the galaxy!  This all in spite of the fact he's not really in a position to do either!   Meanwhile on Earth, a mentally unstable man has bribed his way to become the first astronaut to land on the moon.  After lift-off, Krag sees his opportunity to conquer something, infiltrates the spaceship, and takes control of the man.  Only one problem though.  The stress of their encounter (I guess the guy has an aversion to Play-Do) causes the man to do a mental brain dump, killing Krag, and causing complete amnesia.  The spacecraft returns to Earth with no one the wiser about Krag and his carefully planned conquering of Earth.

Finally, sandwiched between these two stories is "Desert Scream", the oddball story of the issue.  Written by Allyn Brodsky (related to Sol maybe?), drawn by Jay Hawk, and inked by Barry Smith, this new story seems more suited to an issue of Chamber of Darkness than the monster fest this issue heralded.  A bad tempered professor, after ten months of searching, finds the Tomb of Neron-Alak.  Despite being politely warned about entering the Tomb by numerous tribesmen and Sheiks, the professor decides to reward their kindness by destroying their camp and killing a few of them in the process.  So much for the heralded Arab fighting spirit in this story!  He finds the entrance to the Tomb and quickly gets lost within.  Along the way, he breaks his leg and starts to think he should have listened to the warnings.  Finally, he meets Neron-Atak who's happy as punch for being awakened.  Seems N-A is really an alien who wants a few relics of Earth for himself.  He thanks the professor, in a pretty rude way I might add, leaves the Tomb and traps the professor in for safe keeping.

Overall, this is a pretty enjoyable issue.  The monster stories are quite fun and it's no surprise that the rather pricey original issues are sought out by collectors.  Though for those collectors that want a relatively cheap alternative for their monster fix without shelling out the bucks for the original issues could do much worse than buying these reprints....