|THE BRUTE No. 2, April 1975|
Whether created as part of a deliberate attempt by Martin Goodman to vengefully take “…a bite out of Marvel’s profits” or not, there are some incredible similarities between “The Brute” by “Atlas Comics” and the “The Incredible Hulk” stories “Marvel Comics Group” were publishing at the time. The sub-human cave-dweller is brought into the modern-day world as a result of nuclear power, is incredibly strong, and smashes everything due to an insatiable rage; a formidable temper which seemingly is only quelled when he’s in the presence of a specific young lady.
However, this is no bad thing, as despite many of the titles which emerged out of “Seaboard Periodicals” in 1974 being criticised at the time for being uninspiring and poor, “Attack Of The Reptile Men” is good straightforward fun. Indeed many things which made the Bronze Age of comics such an exciting enjoyable time are encapsulated within this issue, starting with its extremely dynamic ‘Creature from the Black Lagoon’ inspired cover illustration by Dick Giordano and Larry Lieber. No such fist-fight with orange-skinned amphibians actually takes place within the story. But it was a captivating enough ‘hook’ to encourage me to buy the comic.
In fact this bi-monthly edition utilises a similar ‘trick’ on it’s opening interior page, with Mike Sekowsky pencilling another dramatic full-page scene of the Brute waging a battle against numerous reptile men as the villain of the piece contemptuously mocks him with the words “Your doom is at hand, Beast-Man!”. As a result it’s not until the issue’s second page that the story actually starts and then, within the space of a dozen panels, I quickly found myself checking the front page to establish whether it carried the Comics Code approval. For I’ve seldom experienced a comic book character from the mid-Seventies who so horribly dispatches his victims as the Brute. Nor read of their hapless bodies splattering “… in a hundred gory fragments…” But these grisly fates are just an appetiser for what writer Michael Fleisher has in store for the members of the United States Academy of Science, as they become the experimental victims of the quite insane Doctor Speer.
Unfortunately Sekowsky’s artwork is competent at best and lacks any great consistency. Having said that though the Inkpot Award winner’s work is adequately disturbing for such gruesome ‘horror’ story; albeit his furry blue-skinned Brute does look unquestionably similar to that of the X-Man Hank McCoy, following his self-administration of a mutagenic serum in March 1972.
|The cover art of "THE BRUTE" published in Australia by Gredown Pty Ltd|