Classic Comic Cover Corner – Menace #5

Classic Comic Cover Corner, Columns, Comics, Featured, Television

Every Sunday morning we showcase a classic comic cover, complete with compelling pop culture commentary, for your cordial contemplation. It’s the Classic Comic Cover Corner!

Menace #5 – July, 1953

Cover Art by Bill Everett

Menace #5 – July, 1953
Menace #5 – July, 1953

If there’s one thing we know about zombies, it’s that they’ve been the most popular monsters around for many years now. And if there’s a second thing we know about zombies, it’s that, like their former human selves, they come in all shapes, sizes and demeanors, from the sprinting maniacs of 28 Days Later to the memory absorbing undead crime-buster, “Liv” Moore, of the Chris Roberson/Michael Allred comic book and upcoming CW television show, iZombie.

Tales of the Zombie #1
Tales of the Zombie #1
(August, 1973)
Art by Boris Vallejo

But “Liv” is not the first do-gooder ghoul to come down the pike. Stan Lee actually penned a tale about a cadaver with a conscious way back in 1953 (a full 50-years before Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead first hit the comic stands), in Atlas Comics’ Menace #5. (Comic book history buffs know that Atlas Comics was originally called Timely Comics and would eventually become what we know today as Marvel Comics.)

In the pre-code (Comics Code Authority) story, simply titled, “Zombie,” illustrated by Sub-Mariner creator, Bill Everett, the character known as Simon Garth was introduced and would become one of the few enduring characters to carry over from the fifties into the modern Marvel Universe, eventually appearing in books as varied as Daredevil, Spider-Man and Deadpool – proving you can’t keep a good zombie down.

Garth was a well-to-do New Orleans businessman who mistreated his employees, until one day his gardener, Gyp, puts him down with a pair of garden shears. Gyp then uses black magic to reanimate his former boss and uses a mystic amulet to control him, making the undead jerk do his bidding. But when Gyp tries to make Garth kidnap his own daughter, the good part of his remaining spirit refuses to cause her harm and he instead kills his menacing manipulator.

Menace #5 ( July, 1953) versus Tales of the Zombie #1 (August, 1973).
Menace #5 ( July, 1953) versus Tales of the Zombie #1 (August, 1973).

Simon Garth was revived (again) in 1973, by Roy Thomas, Steve Gerber and John Buscema, in the black & white Marvel magazine, Tales of the Zombie #1, which also reprinted Menace #5, but with tweaked art that had Garth sporting a seventies hair-style (versus his nerdy fifties do), because, you know, zombies have to remain fashionable.

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