Weird Suspense #3, July 1975

“Mind/Matter = Murder!”

Script: Gary Friedrich

Art: Pat Boyette

Count Lycosa frets that a killing reported in the newspaper might have been committed by his alter ego, the Tarantula. Loyal manservant Crispin (brother to the previously employed Joseph, who was killed last issue) assures him that this wasn’t the case as he — Crispin — spent all last night watching the Count sleep. Cozy.

At the office where he works as an investment counselor Lycosa is visited by Abdul Rashid, a turbaned individual who is looking to steal his father’s money. Lycosa refuses to help, but finds himself attacked by a suit of armour that just happens to be standing in his office. It transpires that Rashid has perfected the power of mind over matter! Lycosa agrees to the man’s demands.

Later, Lycosa goes home and is tucked into bed — after being tied up with steel cable(!) — by Crispin. However, this proves no match for the Tarantula’s prodigious strength when the transformation overcomes the Count. Crispin threatens to shoot the beast, but the Tarantula reminds him that he and the Count are one and the same, and so the manservant backs down.

Meanwhile, Rashid uses his power to break into a bank vault. Then, for no readily apparent reason, he shows up a the apartment of Lycosa’s secretary, Natalie Walters. When she tells him that she can’t reach the Count, he strangles her. Just then the Tarantula arrives: he’d been on his way to drain Natalie’s blood, having learned of her existence from Lycosa’s files.

Rashid and the Tarantula clash. The Tarntula find himself crushed under the weight of a heavy bookcase, and then attacked by a gold statuette. As he struggles, Rashid flees onto the fire escape. While trying to climb to safety Rashid loses control of matter, and the Tarantula runs after him. Finally, Rashid is captured and the Tarantula sucks him dry.

The sun rises triggering Lycosa’s transformation. Luckily Crispin has followed his master, and so spirits the Count away before he has to make any awkward explanations to the recovering Natalie.

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The most consistent thing about Atlas Comics was its inconsistency. Here, after two issues, the creative team is shaken up with the departure of Mike Fleisher and the arrival of Gary Friedrich.

This comic is a mess. It makes no sense whatsoever. If Rashid can open bank vaults, why does he want Lycosa to transfer his father’s funds? For that matter, how could Lycosa, who is after all just an advisor, transfer the funds anyway?? When did the Tarantula read Lycosa’s files, and why doesn’t he just know about Natalie anyway, given that he and Lycosa share the same brain? Biggest of all is the denouement: Rashid just suddenly loses his powers. Why? Even Friedrich knew he was on thin ice here. He even has the Tarantula ask the very same question: “Why can you not summon nearby particles of matter to your rescue?” Rashid promises to supply the answer if the Tarantula saves him–but instead the monster kills him, saying that he has no need of the secret!! Cop out, Mr Friedrich.

Boyette acquits himself well on the art front, but the Tarantula himself still makes for a ludicrous design. And two pages are wasted on yet another recounting of the Tarantula’s origin — the third in three issues.

Cover art by Rich Buckler. The splash page, too, is by Buckler, but has pretty much nothing to do with what follows.

© Atlas/Seaboard/the respective copyright holder