In the 1970’s Marvel Comics unleashed a batch of Horror themed characters on readers as the comic code was loosening their grip on previously strict rules allowing horror and monsters to enter the inked pages of comics once more. They had such ghouls and creatures as Dracula, Man-Thing, Ghost Rider, Daimon Hellstrom, Frankenstein’s Monster, Living Mummy, Godzilla, Jack Russell the Werewolf by Night, Zombie and Golem to name a few, and while many of them had long lives in the pages of Marvel Comics, some of them only lasted a small handful and have faded away from the comic spotlight. Today for this update we are going to take a look at one of their Horror themed short lived characters, and I have chosen Golem as I think this hero monster needs his time in the sun and for a new generation of Marvel Horror Comic readers to discover or even think about once more. In fact I am thinking that this will be the start of a new themed update series I will call “Marvel Horror Showcase” and will allow me to breakdown a classic Marvel Horror character and share my connection to them as well as share some history about the character. So if you’re ready to be spooked by Marvel Comics, let’s take a macabre journey with the thing that walks like a man called The Golem.
The Golem’s origin in the Marvel Universe is as follows: in the city of Prague, the people were being oppressed by evil tyrants and wise man Judan Loew Ben Bezalel created a massive man shaped statue out of rock, clay and blood. The Golem was used to avenge the people and did just that. After his work was done for the people of Prague, The Golem wandered around helping the innocent against evil people. Once the massive creature did what he could for mankind, it walked its way into the desert and allowed the sand to cover him up hiding away from mankind. And once he is uncovered in modern times The Golem once more becomes a protector for innocent mankind and binds itself to the family who uncovered it and has awoken it from its long slumber. The Golem is mostly a protector, but in the wrong hands he can also be used for pure evil as it is a creature of emotions of those it’s bound to. While The Golem might not be a true icon of Marvel Horror, he has made his small mark in the Marvel Universe.
When I was a youngster some of the first Horror Comics, I ever read were the Marvel Horror books as well as a few of the Gold Key titles, and I would say Marvel was my introduction to Horror Comics over all and that is where I discovered the comic series Strange Tales and in those pages I discovered Golem. The Golem was one of those characters I can remember reading his adventures and wondering why he was not a fully fledged monster on a rampage, but learned to really enjoy his superhero adventures. One thing I always liked about Golem was that he always seemed one step away from going fully fledged rampaging monster as he can be controlled, and if the demons got ahold of him he would have become full evil and really scare mankind. I also have heard that The Golem has become a member of the monster team S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Howling Commandos alongside The Living Mummy, Frankenstein’s Monster and Zombie to name a few. Plus over his comic book run he even took on The Thing from the Fantastic Four!
I really owe a lot of my love for Horror Comics to the Marvel Horror as they were the first ones I read and can even say that I collected as I was obsessed with getting my hands on issues of Werewolf By Night, Godzilla and Tomb Of Dracula. But enough gushing about Marvel Horror, let’s get into looking at the Strange Tales issues that The Golem appeared in as well as the issue of Marvel Two-In-One he appeared in. I want to also remind you all that I grade these comics on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comics stay to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So let’s take a look at the first Marvel Horror character I have chosen, the one and only The Golem!
Strange Tales # 174 ***
Released in 1974 Cover Price .25 Marvel Comics #174 of 188
Professor Abraham Adamson along with his nephew Jason, niece Rebecca and his helper Wayne Logan are searching in the desert for a mythical creature called The Golem that is said to have been buried in the sand many decades back. And as Wayne and Rebecca are digging, they find the massive body of The Golem and with some chains and digging equipment they are able to bring it to the surface once again! But while they are happy to have found their discovery, a few miles away a war wages on and man is killing man all in the name of land. The next day Colonel Omar and his men ask to refresh at the camp of Professor Adamson who grants them shelter and a place to rest. But The Colonel and his men show their true colors as they are at the camp to loot it as they are deserters of the war and during the looting Professor Adamson is shot and killed. The rest are taken as prisoners, but the war criminals made a mistake as the soul of Professor Adamson finds its way into The Golem who once more comes alive. The Golem finds the soldiers and makes quick work of them ending their lives with ease and once done he finds Colonel Omar who has a gun to Rebecca’s head, and with speed The Golem crushes the gun and kills Colonel Omar as Rebecca, Jason and Wayne all notice a look in the creature’s eye that reminds them of Professor Adamson.
Strange Tales # 174 does a fantastic job of bring comic readers into the myth and horror world of the character The Golem! Our creepy tale has a Professor being murdered and his loved ones kidnapped and with his dying breath is able to call on the living statue The Golem who was created to fight evil to avenge him and save his family, and that’s what happens. Professor Abraham Adamson is a good man who loves the history of The Golem and has spent many years of his life to learn of the legend as well as find its location. But while he is super smart, he is a little too trusting as he allows soldiers to stay at his camp and they end up being the ones to end his life. Rebecca, Jason and Wayne are good people who are a part of Professor Adamson’s team to find The Golem and get a shock of a lifetime when they watch as the Professor is gun downed and The Golem walks and kills. Colonel Omar and his men are cutthroats who steal what they need and have no issues with killing as long as they are not caught. The Golem is a silent avenger who reacts and takes action when danger to the innocent is around, and it’s clear he only walks the Earth again due to the tear of the dying Professor. This comic has the Marvel Horror feel as it has deaths and a monster but does downplay the violence as the kills of The Golem are hidden in all panels. The story was written by Len Wein and edited by Roy Thomas, and to me that’s a great pairing for 70’s Horror Comics. The cover is great and eye catching for those who love the creature runs amok flare as it showcases The Golem smashing a jeep and reaching for a woman. The interior art is done by John Buscema, and all his work is fantastic. While the Horror for this character is downplayed, the macabre aspect is not, and this issue is a fantastic read for those of us who love classic monsters of myth and legend.
Strange Tales # 176 **1/2
Released in 1974 Cover Price .25 Marvel Comics #176 of 188
Rebecca, Jason and Wayne look at The Golem in shock as the dead bodies of the soldiers are all around them, and decide that they need to get The Golem back to the University in Florida as that was their uncle’s wish. As they are loading The Golem onto a ship, they are visited by more soldiers who want to keep the statue in their country but they are attacked by The Golem who is about to kill them as well until Rebecca orders it to stop…and it does! As the soldiers run off, the Adamson family and The Golem hit the high seas set to return to America. Evil wizard Kaballa The Unclean and his winged demons has set their sights on The Golem as Kaballa thinks he can control the creature who can help him on his conquest to conquer the world and sends his wing demons to attack the ship and bring him The Golem. The wing demons attack, and The Golem once more comes to life and along with Wayne saves Jason who has heavy barrels fall on him, and Kaballa learns that The Golem needs to be on land to get his power, but when things get super bad The Golem powers up and tackles all the demons into the water and as they die one of them fires a bolt and blows up the ship and The Golem is forced to swim or sink and as he paddles by Rebecca, Jason and Wayne jumps on his back as they all end up on an island.
This second macabre tale has The Golem on his way to America on a ship, and we find out that a demonic wizard has his eye on controlling him and sends some demons to attack him and see what he is made off. In this issue we also learn a little more about The Golem as he understands English and can take orders from those it cares about. Plus we learn that it needs to be on land in order to have its full power and strength. We also learn that The Golem does not care and will kill if he feels that innocent people are in danger and in a rage almost kills more soldiers who really didn’t do much besides get upset that Americans are taking more of their culture away. Wayne Logan in this issue also shows he is a hero as he does what he can to try and bring down the flying demons and risks his own life trying his best to help The Golem. Jason is useless and causes The Golem to use up some of his strength in order to save him as when the demons attack he is in the way. Rebecca in this issue is kind of in the background but it is shown she can control The Golem as it listens to her. Our issue’s bad guy is Kaballa The Unclean who controls an army of demons and for some reason thinks that The Golem will make him more unstoppable, and all he really does is watch as his demon minions get their butts kicked. This issue brings in supernatural elements to the Horror and Superhero atmosphere this story has already delivered. I like the idea of The Golem being a killing machine that now must fight demons in order to protect its human friends, plus I feel that he is now facing baddies that are a challenge…but also I feel that adding the demons in also takes away the classic feel of The Golem myth and just turns it into a cheesy Doctor Strange style story. The cover for this issue has a classic 70’s Marvel look and is eye catching for readers like me. The interior art is done by Tony DeZuniga and has a more Horror Comic look. Over all this is a good issue that just took the story in a more cheesy supernatural mystic Marvel way. Let’s see what the third part of our story has in store for us and let’s see what island our heroes are on.
Strange Tales # 177 **1/2
Released in 1974 Cover Price .25 Marvel Comics #177 of 188
Kaballa The Unclean is upset that his winged demons have failed him and decides that he will next send Fire Demons after The Golem as he really does think that with his power he will be able to conquer the world! Meanwhile at the University of Florida, a Dr. Yeates does not believe that The Golem is real even after his assistant Saudia Yamal shows her tests that prove The Golem is alive! Rebecca, Jason and Wayne all try to prove that The Golem is alive, and yet Yeates does not want to hear it and when he gets the chance he decides that he is going to use a blow torch and melt the monster just in case he is proven wrong and The Golem is alive and he is not able to fill the seat at the University left behind by Professor Adamson. But when he turns on the torch, he is greeted by the fire demons whose appearance makes The Golem come alive to protect Yeates as well as Rebecca and Wayne who mistakenly shown up at the lab. The fire demons are powerful and hurt The Golem with their extreme heat, but before The Golem goes down, he gets his second wind when he thinks about how much he loves his new human friends and with his bare hands he takes down the fire demons. And defeated again, Kaballa sits back on his throne and thinks of his next attack plan.
In his final appearance in the pages of Strange Tales our monster hero The Golem once more battles demons in order to protect humans from being killed and wronged and finds more about his own powers as it’s not only the land that fuels his power but also love. The Golem in this issue also shows that he is starting to share a mind link with Rebecca and Wayne as they can hear little of its thoughts. The Golem is also starting to learn who and what is a threat and when he should attack and when he should just remain solid like a statue. Dr. Yeates on the other hand is kind of a scumbag as he would rather destroy the creature instead of being wrong on his prediction that it’s all a hoax, as he does not care about The Golem nor the history of it; all he wants is to move up at the University. Jason, Rebecca and Wayne all kind of take a back seat in this issue as they are more just around at the university and are the ones who delivered The Golem there and are the ones it wants to protect. The Fire Demons are powerful and are good fighters as they almost bring down our living clay creature, and Kaballa once more just watches the battle and is evil and ate up with craving power. Once more this issue plays up on the mystic supernatural aspects and mixes in Horror slightly as it’s clear that comics like Doctor Strange was popular at the time for Marvel and they wanted to add it into this simple plotted Horror Comic. The cover for this issue is okay but does lose the Horror and is clearly more mystic looking. The interior art is done by Tony DeZuniga and is good and fitting for the direction of this series. In the letters section of this comic they talk about the fate of The Golem and the people of Marvel say that they could not figure out what to do with The Golem so they pulled the plug on him and his story in the pages of Strange Tales and decided to turn the comic over to featuring Adam Warlock instead. And we would have to wait a little time to get an end to The Golem’s tale and it would come in the pages of Marvel Two In One and that’s what we will take a look at next.
Marvel Two-In-One # 11 **1/2
Released in 1975 Cover Price .25 Marvel Comics # 11 of 100
The Thing and his girlfriend Alicia Masters are rushing to the train station so they can get to Disney World in Florida for their vacation, and everything seems to be working against them as the cab driver who took them to the station argued with The Thing for a short time and even the train almost left without them! And once on the train the other passengers treat The Thing like he is a monster and even all sit away from him and Alicia. Meanwhile at Sam Pedro University in Florida’s Ancient Cultures Department, a small group is meeting next to the Golem with Professor Yeates who is arguing with Jason Adamson about if the stone statue can indeed come to life and fight, and this spins the wheels of both who view the Golem differently as Jason knows it is a protector against evil and believes his uncle’s spirit is inside the stone statue. Meanwhile Kaballa The Unclean has figured out that he can take control of The Golem by separating him from Rebecca and Jason and allowing his own evil will to be what guides him. Kaballa also uses the weather to his advantage and uses water to separate the kids from The Golem and unlucky for The Thing, he must tangle with The Golem who is more powerful and more brutal than the Fantastic Four member and is able to knock the hero around. As The Thing tangles with Golem, it gets flashes in his mind that his foe is sending him and risks it all to build a bridge to the college so that Rebecca and Jason can be near Golem and try and get him back under their control. As The Thing builds the bridge our of cars, poles and what ever he can get his mighty hands on he must also fight off demons who are attacking trying to keep him from his goal as Kaballa only needs a few more minutes before he takes over totally! The Thing is able to build the bridge and Rebecca and Jason rush to their monster friend and as they try and get Golem under control Kaballa attacks them and this forces the Golem to use his powers and vanquish Kaballa! In the end The Golem is now frozen in place as Jason and Rebecca plan on watching over it and The Thing and Alicia can now start their vacation.
The Golem in his final appearance in a classic Marvel Comic has our monster going on a rampage as well as once more being brought in by the power of love form his human friends. In this issue Kaballa The Unclean almost gets full control of The Golem and uses weather and demons as his defense to try and keep his control for the time that’s needed to become it’s full master, but what he didn’t count on was that The Thing of super team the Fantastic Four being in town and helping the Adamson family regain control. In this issue Jason and Rebecca are helpless to help The Golem and spend most of the issue arguing with Professor Yeates and being stuck at the college and watching as their friend and protector is being possessed and going on a massive rampage! The Thing is a hero that is lucky or unlucky depending on how you look at it to be in the area as this is going on as his power is what saves the day for the world as if Kaballa would have gained total control everyone would be in some serious trouble. Kaballa The Unclean is as sinister as ever and in this issue before he is defeated is so close to getting what he wants and starting his take over of the world, but as always his ego and self titled nature lead to his defeat. The Golem in this issue starts out being the stone protector the world needs to being a rampaging monster that Horror Comic readers want, to ending up a frozen statue that is stuck in the middle of Florida. This final story in the classic arch of Golem seems a little rushed and to be honest The Thing and him really don’t fight as much as they should, showing Marvel really just wanted to end Golem and his comic run. In fact Golem really brings down Kaballa pretty easy and it would have been great if they decided to have Golem be a ramping monster by the end of the story and not just a good guy statue frozen until a later date. I mean as a bad guy it would have been great to see him tangle with Man-Thing who is also set in Florida or even do battle with The Hulk, Thor, Werewolf By Night and Luke Cage to name a few. While after this appearance Golem would go on to make cameos in a few other issues this really does mark the end of his comic star. The cover for this issue is fantastic and captured my attention when I seen it as a kid, and the interior art is top notch and done by Bob Brown and has that Marvel flare. Over all I would have loved to seen more of the Golem in comics and really wish they would have left him bad for awhile to allow the above mentioned battles before having Rebecca and Jason once more get him under control. If you like Marvel Supernatural Horror, then I would say give this a read, as it’s a fun one. Check out the art below to see some of the styles used for this series.
So as you can see, Golem was and is a pretty cool Marvel Horror monster that had a short run that delivered some scares but mostly supernatural action. While Marvel seemed to really give up on the character and never allowed him to fully live up to his potential of becoming a good Horror Comic character, he still was able to leave his bloodstain mark on it no matter how small it was. And while writing this I also thinking about the next character I would like to cover for next Marvel Horror Showcase and I am happy to say that I have chosen IT The Living Colossus to be the next Horror subject! But enough of talking about a future update, let’s talk about the next one as I will be taking a look at Horror Hosts Iris & Retina from Mondo Smash A’GO-GO! So until next time, read a Marvel Horror Comic or three, watch a classic Horror Movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host. Join me next update as it will be a blast talking about these Dayton, Ohio Hosts!