Back when I was methodically reviewing Marvel Comics from the 1960s in order, I would occasionally have to talk about a story I didn't like. The idea was that I would cover every Marvel Superhero book starting with FF #1 and, as fun as that particular universe is, they did do a clunker from time to time.
I eventually got to a point where I didn't own (either the original or a reprint) a lot of the comics from a particular month, so I phased out that project and began reviewing pretty much randomly chosen comics. That means that I would almost always be talking about comics I enjoy reading--there would rarely be a critical review. And that's just fine. I write this blog in part to celebrate the stuff I like and to pass on my impeccable taste the rest of the world, thus saving civilization.
But every once in awhile, I run across a story that should have been good, but just blows the opportunity. Then I have to vent. I did that a few years ago, when a Charlton comic messed up a chance to make a Phantom/John Paul Jones team-up the epic event it should have been. I usually like Charlton comics, but now I've found a story that messes up a Western gunfighter vs. dinosaurs story set on a jungle island. Seriously, how do you mess that up?
Kid Montana #36 (September 1962) includes the 10-page story "The Dawn World," tentatively written by Joe Gill and drawn by Pete Morisi. The length is probably one of the problems with the tale. A lot of these pages are needed just for exposition, leaving too little room to flesh out the action stuff.
Kid Montana gets a letter from a lady named Lori who runs a trading post in the swamps of Florida. She's also an archeologist and has a theory that there are floating islands left over from the Ice Age on which ancient flora and fauna might exist. Learning of one of these islands from a local Indian, she hires a steamboat to take her to it, bringing Montana along in case they run into something dangerous.
Well, there is danger afoot. The three-man crew of the boat are actually escaped convicts looking for a hideout AND the island turns out to be thick with dinosaurs. When Montana and Lori are attacked by a carnosaur, it proves to be immune to bullets, but a stick of dynamite works quite nicely.
Anyway, the bad guys give themselves away, shoot and wound Montana, and then run into the jungle when they find out Lori has found pearls.
In another poorly choreographed sequence, the outlaws run into dinosaurs, panic and run back to the boat, where Montana captures them. As they all leave, Montana uses the rest of their dynamite to blow up the island. He does this with Lori's permission--because she's a scientist, by golly, and all good scientists blow up their most important discoveries for no rational reason.
Charlton produced a number of good Westerns, but they dropped the ball this time. They had a gunslinger, a steamboat, a crew of thugs, a pretty girl and an island full of dinosaurs. If you can't mix all that together and come up with a fun story, then you just aren't trying hard enough.
You can read the story yourself online HERE, but I ain't promisin' you won't be wasting your time.
Next week, the Justice League makes a return trip to the 73rd Century.