A trio of Kirby/Ayers 7-pagers reprinted in this issue, giving a nice sample of the range of monsters that rampaged through the pre-hero Marvel line.
Opening up is “I Created Sporr, The Thing That Could Not Die” from TALES OF SUSPENSE #11 , which also provides the Kirby/Ayers cover for this issue. A scientist buys the castle supposedly owned by Doctor Frankenstein in Transylvania (I think someone was mixing their movie monsters there), planning some experiments on growth rays to cure world hunger. Unfortunately, just as he tries his first experiment on an amoeba, the superstitious villagers burst in and take him away, leading the amoeba to grow uncontrollably. Oddly, this was foretold in a local legend about Sporr. Our hero manages to break out of prison, rescue a young boy on crutches and then use his scientific know-how to lure Sporr into some quicksand. Everybody learns their lesson.
These 7-pagers are sometimes a bit unsatisfying in story terms, too quick to really get more than a sketch of events. Still gorgeous, though, and the cover and title page of this story are particular favourites among the Kirby/Ayers stuff, and Sporr’s a great little creature causing havoc on the eastern European landscape.
Next up is “I Am Dragoom! The Flaming Invader” from STRANGE TALES #76 , and from an organic monster we now move to flames. Despite the title, this story is told by sci-fi/horror movie maker Victor Cartwright, who gets no respect, but a great deal of money, for his craft. That all changes when Dragoom, a flaming invader escaped from prison on the planet Vulcan comes to Earth to conquer. Mankind quickly falls to the threat of a ring of flames around the planet, until suddenly Dragoom gets word of some of his fellow creatures, police from Vulcan, arriving on Earth, and flees in fear. All special effects wizardry from Victor, of course.
This one works pretty well. Dragoom’s not that noteworthy, although the panel of him using a city block as a throne is really cool.
And finally, from STRANGE TALES #75  comes “Taboo! The Thing From the Murky Swamp”. An adventure writer heads down to the Amazon for some new ideas, and ignores local legends about a monster in a forbidden swamp. Never a good idea:
I love that last panel. Silent panels like that aren’t too common in these monster stories, making them all the more striking when they are used.
The creature reveals that it crashed in the swamp while journeying from a distant galaxy, and needed access to all human scientific knowledge to build a new spaceship. The United Nations agrees to this, foolishly as it turns out, since this was all a ruse by Taboo to gather intelligence for an invasion. Joke’s on him, as they planted an H-bomb on the device with the information. Just in case.
I do like that ending. Taboo’s okay, but the real highlight here is the amazon scenery.