Three Kirby/Ayers reprints in this double-sized issue, which begins and ends with the two “Gorilla-Man” stories from TALES TO ASTONISH #28 and #30.
“I Am the Gorilla-Man” features evil scientist Radzik, first exiled from his home country for forbidden experiments, then perfecting a machine which lets him switch bodies with animals. After a test experiment switching with a cat, he decides the most logical use of this invention would be to switch to a gorilla body to commit crimes. Must have been a comic fan. So he steals a gorilla, placates him with bananas and switches bodies. Unfortunately, he didn’t realize that gorillas were evolved enough to be able to control his body, and the gorilla has Radzik in the gorilla body send to the zoo, where he gradually become more beast-like.
Two issues later (far too soon to actually be by popular demand), the sequel “The Return of the Gorilla-Man”. After a short recap, we see Radzik, apparently not so far descended into bestial state, gets hold of a crayon, and writes a note to a guard promising a reward for his freedom. Yes, the guard actually falls for this. Eventually Radzik finds himself among scientists, but his hands get burned on the way so he can’t write. He does prove his intelligence in other ways, such as doing puzzles, playing poker, playing ping-pong and driving.
Confident that the scientists would find a way to restore his humanity so he can resume his planned life of crime, Radzik is surprised to find himself herded onto a rocket, where he’s sent on a trip to the stars, something the scientists were reluctant to sacrifice a human volunteer on.
Two fun goofball stories, and I love the way way Kirby draws gorillas.
Also in this issue, “What Lurks on Channel X?” from JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #73. In this story, a couple with a cranky landlord is given a free experimental TV. The TV begins to hypnotize them, and tell them of the conquest plot this is part of. Fortunately, the landlord comes to the rescue when he takes down their antenna as a violation of apartment rules. The aliens give up at this point. I love how poorly all these alien would-be conquerors take even the smallest set-back in these stories. Not a great story, but it does have a brilliant splash page, which can be seen on the Monster Blog (as can, by the way, splash pages and covers from most of the Atlas stories I mention here, if you ever want to check out more).
The cover is also Kirby/Ayers from the cover of TtA #28, which is an unusual panel layout cover, with a different take on the Gorilla-Man story.