Tales of The Watcher
November 24th, 2008

Tales of The Watcher

After Spider-Man and The Hulk, who I was aware of because of that ropey cartoon with the cool theme tune and the Fugitive aping Bill Bixby fest respectively, the earliest Marvel comics “superhero” I was aware of was The Watcher. Although he first appeared within the pages of The Fantastic Four, most notably in the epic Coming of Galactus/Silver Surfer?storyline, I had read of his exploits in Tales of The Watcher, short, Twilight Zone style stories that were reprinted as back up strips in Marvel UK’s Star Wars Weekly in the late seventies and early eighties.

Many of these seemed to be Atlas era pre superhero “Monster” comics (often drawn by the legendary likes of Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby, and Wally Wood, written by the man himself Stan Lee, and with brilliant names like Journey Into Mystery, and Tales To Astonish!), with the cosmic baldy pasted onto the first page by a different artist. I guess Marvel felt that their vast backlog of superhero stories were inappropriate for the title and were desperately casting around for anything science fictiony. Having said that I’m not sure how well paranoid, reds-under-the-bed vignettes sat alongside the swashbuckling adventures of Luke and his chums.

There were some great tales though, with terrifically evocative names like Why Won’t They Believe Me, Call Me Medusa, I Come From The Shadow World, and The Secret of The Universe. I, Gargoyle was a particular favourite (ugly pianist travels to the earth’s core in a big drill, and find a civilization of spiritual types who are blind but -hey! – see the true beauty within people. Actually some of these stories don’t stand up to examination. If he was a successful (and rich!) musician something tells me he probably would have been able to get a date. Most blokes in bands, even ugly blokes in shitty bands seem to have hot girlfriends).

One tale, which I don’t remember the name of, but I’m pretty sure it was drawn by Al Williamson featured a kid who finds a marble in the street, which turns out to be a device for travelling between dimensions. Leaving aside the plausibility of some scientist creating a trans dimensional teleporter that looks identical to a marble and then dropping it in the street for some kid to find, this story absolutely terrified me. The kid goes to one of those “nearly the same but not quite” dimensions, where he finds his family who don’t recognise him.

However, the story where (SPOILER ALERT!) the statues from Mount Rushmore come to life in order to scare away alien invaders was a bit daft, even when I was a child.

Anyway I like the idea of some galactic nosey parker gawping at people and then pontificating about their faults, but when you mention “The Watcher” most people seem to imagine something completely different.

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