Tuesday, October 14, 2008

(Really) Weird Heroes Week Continues with: Morlock 2001

It's a superhero comic! It's a sci-fi comic! It's a horror comic! It's relevant! It's freaky! It's Atlas Seaboard's Morlock 2001, and it's the focus of today's adventures into the...Michael Fleisher was the master of weirdness during the Groovy Age. Not only did he give us the coolest and most vengeful Spectre ever, not only did he co-create Atlas' answer to the Spectre/Ghost Rider phenomenon with the Grim Ghost, but he also turned heads (and stomachs) with Morlock 2001. Atlas/Seaboard, always one to try to jump on a trend, must've wanted a Swamp/Man-Thing like character. Fleisher delivered one, blended with equal parts 1984, Fahrenheit 451, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Captain America, and a dollop of Omega Man (I Am Legend/Last Man on Earth). To say the strip was freaky is an understatement of awesome proportions.

Allen Milgrom, the artist who created Morlock's look couldn't figure out how the strip was going to work. According to an interview with Milgrom in Comic Book Artist #16, the artist actually found the strip "unsavory". Why? Well, our hero, Morlock, is actually a laboratory-created creature. He looks human, but is actually a plant. Created as a "super-soldier", Morlock is quickly put to use as a government assassin. The government, however, is of the "Big Brother" variety, so it isn't long before the plant-man rebels against his masters. Got all that? Now, dig this: in his human form, his touch turns people into vegetation; in his plant form, he liquefies and absorbs people. Morlock has little control over his changes from human to plant (only a small sample of a serum can keep the metamorphosis in check), which makes him a danger no matter what his intentions. In issue #2, for example, the creature Morlock murders a blind girl. Small wonder this very cool but very disturbing mag didn't last. In Milgrom's words, "...I wasn't ready for an anti-hero who was so anti that he was eating blind girls." Neither, I suppose, was anyone else. 'Nuff said?

Nope! Morlock 2001 is a comic that has to be seen to be believed. So, my Groovy Ghoulies, here is issue #1 (November, 1974), along with Milgrom's original cover concept (before being revised and inked by Dick Giordano). Dig in!


  1. Groove, that was wicked. I loved this comic when it first came out. Such a shame Atlas tried to do too much too soon. They should've just stuck with a handful of their best titles and gone for gold, but I guess the spite got the better of them. Terrific post, man.

  2. I'm not sure if it was spite or just old habits that made Goodman dump 40 Atlas/Seaboard titles on the market at one time. His whole career was based on flooding the comics market with as many knock-offs as he possibly could. Even the Fantastic Four was to have been a rip-off of the Justice League...

    Man, just think though. If he'd waited about five years for the direct sales boom, some of those crazy mags might still be around!

  3. Did you ever read the Ditko/Wrightson issue that featured the Midnight Man?

    Pretty cool stuff ... even if it wasn't written by Mr. Fleischer

  4. I really enjoye the Atlas books when they were released. Reading your posts always makes me want to dig through the closet to find certain books. I know I have Police Action, Planet of the Vampires, IronJaw and the Brute somewhere in the depths of my long boxes.

  5. Yeah, that final issue, Morlock 2001 and the Midnight Men was one of the weirdest things I've ever read. That Ditko/Wrightson art was magnificent. I may have to post that one before the Halloween Countdown is over...thanks for reminding me, FK!

  6. Groovy, how long did this incarnation of Atlas Comics last? A month? A quarter? A full year?

  7. I'm not sure how long the prep time was before the mags hit the stands, but from from the release of the first mag to the last, Atlas/Seaboard ran about 10 months.



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