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Tor [comic]

Entry updated 23 January 2023. Tagged: Comics, Publication.

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US Comic (1954). Three issues (numbered #3-#5). St. John Publishing Corp. Scripts and most of the artwork by Joe Kubert. Each issue has 2-3 Tor and 1 Danny Dreams strip, a 2 page Tor text story and 2 one-page non-fiction pieces on Dinosaurs. Halfway through #3 two of the comic's creators, Joe Kubert and editor Norman Maurer, appear in a brief strip to assuage concern that either blasphemy or scientific inaccuracy is intended, asserting that "in theory, some semblance of man could have existed at the time of the slow extinction of the giant reptiles" (see Scientific Errors). They appear in #4 and #5 too, in the latter mentioning a "senate committee ... formed to determine the effect certain comic books have on the people who read them" (see Fredric Wertham): Norman assure us that "both Joe and I pride ourselves in providing good clean comics" – which, Joe adds, have "been carefully scrutinized as to moral content".

A million years ago (see Prehistoric SF) a "lone gladiator for justice dares the legendary and awful cruelty of beast and nature to prevent the enslavement of his fellow man": this is Tor, whose most important weapon is his Intelligence, though he is a tough fighter too. He first appeared in One Million Years Ago (1953, one issue): Frederic and Norman introduce him, assuring us they have done a great deal of research: indeed, aside from the humorous strip The Wizard of Ugghh – a caveman con-artist in a top hat and dickey – the comic is intended to be educational. Danny Dreams also appears. Tor is next seen in 3-D Comics (1953, one issue), which is essentially #2 of One Million Years Ago (and is numbered as such, with Danny Dreams and The Wizard of Ugghh strips) but was intended to be read using 3D glasses; in Tor our hero no longer carries a stone axe. In character Tor is a cross between Conan (see Robert E Howard) and Tarzan, but more contemplative.

The first Tor adventure has him – and his pet monkey Chee-Chee – arriving on an island: most of whose inhabitants had fled an erupting volcano: those left behind were transformed, later enslaving and sacrificing the returning population. Elsewhere Tor finds a tribe where the men had expelled the women, declaring them useless: the women became Amazons (see Women in SF) and now demand the cowed men "sacrifice" their daughters – though this simply means the women take the daughters to maintain their numbers. How the men have daughters is not explained. Tor helps a tribe fight Lizard Men: though they look – save for some scaly skin – human, talk and have a moral code of sorts, we are assured – as they are being slaughtered – that they "only look like men". Tor also fights dinosaurs and ape-men (see Apes as Human).

The other serial is Danny Dreams, about a modern-day boy who faints and finds himself a caveman's son a million years ago (see Time Travel): he teaches his tribe how to fish with nets and shows them the wheel. In #4 a caveman, scared of these innovations, accuses Danny of damaging the skull of a sacred, ancestral skeleton. Danny repairs it using other bones that are to hand ... in the 20th Century the Piltdown Man skull is discovered. Tor was a solid comic, with good artwork from Kubert. [SP]

further reading

  • Tor (Hornsea, East Yorkshire: PS Publishing, 2021) [graph: all but the 3-D issue of the five Tor comics discussed: illus/various: hb/Joe Kubert]


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