January 1, 2010

Morlock 2001 #3 [1975]

Like most books in the short-lived Atlas/Seaboard line, MORLOCK 2001 saw a quick shift in creators and focus, as this third issues sees a title change on the cover to "Morlock 2001 and the Midnight Men" (with "Midnight Men" in larger type) and Gary Friedrich comes in as writer, and art by Steve Ditko and Bernie Wrightson. Even if it wasn't the final issue of the series, the art team at least was only going to be a one-shot deal, as the letter column says the next issue would have art by Jose Gaul.

Anyway, I haven't read those first two issues, but they seem to set up a future world borrowing from literary works like 1984 and FAHRENHEIT 451, with Thought Police and book-burnings, and toss in the title character, a man who turns into a mindless walking tree. In this issue, he's going to try to get help from a scientist named Whitlock, just as Whitlock's library is discovered by the police. For no reason we're given Whitlock manages to survive third degree burns all over his body, and takes Morlock to the subway based refuge of a band of rebels plotting against the mysterious Tribunal (you know they're mysterious since they always sit with their chairs facing away from us). Whitlock comes up with an ugly costume for himself, renames himself the Midnight Man and makes plans to use Morlock's powers, but then the Thought Police discover them, so he shoots Morlock and gets ready to blow up the refuge.

Weird hodge-podge of ideas, though there's a hint of something interesting in there, although never to be developed, of course. More interesting is the artwork, the only time Ditko was paired with Wrightson on inks. It's a combination that works very well, very similar to the better Ditko/Wood combinations, with some nice brushwork and shading never getting in the way of the solid Ditko compositions, though clearly not being done justice by the printing. Shame we didn't see more of that.


  1. I enjoyed this combination and would have liked to see Wrightson ink Ditko some more. They would have made a great combination on Man-Bat if Ditko had continued there, or on some of the DC mystery stories.

    Nick C.

  2. While overall be derivative, there are a few gems (or potential gems) in the Atlas stuff.

    Wish someone would do a comprehensive reprint of the material.

    Some of the more interesting material:

    Destructor (before the '3rd issue switch', which happened after the 3rd issue)
    Scorpion (before the '3rd issue switch', which happend with the 3rd issue)
    Phoenix (befor the '3rd issue switch', which happened after the 3rd issue)

  3. I bought nearly all the Atlas comics at the time, mostly because they usually had great covers and, as a result, I had so much nostalgia for them.

    Then, a couple of years ago, I bought a whole bunch of them off e-bay, for next to nothing - and it was so disappointing. They were all terrible. Every single one of them.

    It's still hard to see how, with the talent they had at their disposal, Atlas managed to get it all so wrong.

  4. I loved Morlock 2001 and also liked Targitt nicely enough