Nukla 2, Dell

Nukla #2, March 1966

“Nukla Meets the Man in the Moon”

Jim Clarke informs Matthew Gibbs of a certain maniac called Baron Von Zee, who plans to take over the world by means of his nuclear arsenal. Matt overflies Von Zee’s base, and the madman has three rockets fired at his plane. Matt takes evasive manoeuvres, but the third missile explodes upon impact. Von Zee gloats.

Unbeknownst to those below Matt has transformed into Nukla, and, invisible, our hero zooms down to investigate. There, he finds more missiles ready for take-off, as well as several manned rockets. As they blast off, Nukla follows the rockets into space.

Orbiting the Earth is a space station large enough to house a crew. Unfortunately, having lost concentration, Nukla rematerialises as Matt. Von Zee picks him up on radar and fires a missile at him: “Just a small nuclear charge…” Hit by the atomic blast, Matt once again becomes Nukla—but he’s shaken and needs rest.

The US government fires a phalanx of missiles at Von Zee’s space station—nicknamed “Moon”—but its defenses prove impenetrable. Scared, the nations of the world negotiate with Von Zee, offering to scrap all their nuclear weapons, pay reparations of $10 billion each, and obey all future orders from Von Zee.

Still a bit sore from having been obliterated by nuclear blasts twice in one day, Matt goes to Von Zee’s base and hides in a mail sack. The sack is duly delivered to the “Moon” space station, where Matt is quickly discovered—not too difficult, they just, like, open the sack. Von Zee shoots Matt in the chest with a laser-ray-gun, gamely reveals his plan to take over the planet, shoots Matt again, and then throws him out an airlock!

Never fear, Nukla is made of sterner stuff and he dematerialises. This apparently means that he’s no longer suffering from his fatal wounds. Lucky that. Nukla uses his atomic power to shake the “Moon” and powers it out of Earth orbit. Von Zee attempts to escape, but is foiled when his fed up henchmen turn on him. Nukla wraps them all up in mail sacks and returns them to Earth—right into the arms of government troops.

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There are good comics, bad comics, and mediocre comics. The first two of those are normally hugely entertaining. Nukla, unfortunately, is one of the latter: mediocre. Despite all the action and incident on display, it still manages to be nothing but dull, dull, dull. Nukla himself is a kind of cut price Captain Atom, but his powers are inconsistent, and his relationships with his boss, Jim Clarke is ludicrous: “I always forget that you can become Nukla, Matt,” explains Jim after Matt has flown a few thousand miles in a couple of minutes. Would be girlfriend Linda is a wet lettuce.

You want stupid? Check out the scene where Matt is transported through the cold vacuum of space in a sack… Yes, a sack. Tied at the top with string. He returns the favour at the end. And then there’s the deus ex machina of the disappearing fatal chest wound: it disappears just because Matt becomes Nukla.

There is one saving grace: the art is nice. Dick Giordano and his brother-in-law Sal Trapani do a solid, if unspectacular, job, though it lacks the spark, the heightened reality that made Marvel’s super-heroes so successful. Even so, this is probably Dell’s best super-hero book—however, that’s faint praise given the competition!!

If you’re a Dick Giordano fan this might be worth a glance if you find a cheap copy. Otherwise avoid.

Nukla #1

Image ©2012 the copyright holder