This mid-1970s reprint book has two Kirby/Ayers classics from the early 1960s. From TALES OF SUSPENSE #31 is “The Monster in the Iron Mask”, a 7-page story. In this one, an invading alien race sends an advance scout to soften up Earth before their full force attacks. The alien is first seen by the son of a struggling stage magician, and (seemingly foolishly) announces to the boy that his one weakness is gas, which he’s protected from by his mask.
The military keeps trying and failing to defeat him, hoping to get him to remove his mask, including an attack with an A-Bomb (they were pretty cavalier about A-Bombs in these stories). They fail until the magician from the beginning realizes that the alien’s announcement was a bit of mis-direction, and he was fully vulnerable to gas and the “mask” was his real face. Those aliens are tricksy.
Cool monster, although coloured a bit silly in this reprint. I also liked the boy’s dog who appears throughout this story, even if he didn’t have a story purpose.
From TALES TO ASTONISH #30 is “The Thing From the Hidden Swamp”, a 6 page story. A plain-looking woman unhappy with the lack of romance in her life goes on a cruise and then goes rowing alone in a swamp, where she finds a space-ship and an alien monster. Nice scene where we have both her and the alien’s thoughts for a few panels, as the alien is as afraid of her. She ends up helping the alien, and later finds that he’s made her attractive. Not a very satisfying story, but the art has several nice scenes, including the moody opening page.
New non-Kirby cover for this issue, allegedly illustrating “Hidden Swamp”, but amusingly completely missing the point of the story on several levels.