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Strange Adventures 54
"The Electric Man!"


Story: John Broome Art: Sy Barry

Mankind's progress has been followed by research for new power sources -- from water, wind, atom, and sun! Dr. Brandt has a theory that the Earth holds power which can be extracted -- as would be extracted from a huge dynamo! Not even this scientist could have dreamed of the result when he began to tap the Earth's underground power! In the vast Western Desert, two prospectors -- one young and one old -- meet at a spring of water... The older prospector is searching for gold, and asks if the other is searching for Uranium with his metal frog-sticker? The younger man seeks power!

When asked, the younger man suggests that they sit and talk. His name is David Brandt, a scientist who has been searching for a new source of power! At the moment, there are many different types of power known on Earth! Other than atomic power... solar-power, tide-power, and wind-power! He has always had a theory that he could find power in the Earth! It was last Spring when he was prospecting south --for Earth-Power -- just as he was now! His studies had convinced him that the Earth is a giant receptacle of power! He built the metal rod -- and used it, probing the Earth, testings... until one day... Brandt figures that he's tapped into an underground electric line because his power-meter is registering wildly!

He dug down, but found nothing. Since there were no electric power lines, Brandt figures he's found Earth-Power! Now, he must figure how to develop this new power source! Contacting some financiers, he arranged a demonstration for them at the site of his discovery... After a thorough examination, each man is convinced that there is no other power source than the Earth! Plugging in a metal contactor, the wheels begin to move! Impressed by the demonstration, the financeers are eager to fund his discovery! The land is bought up and a large-scale development project is soon underway! Two months pass, and David Brandt knows that when the preliminary tests are complete, he and his associates will announce their discovery to the world! A discovery is made at night, interrupting Brandt's plan... an electrician comes running into his office, and tells him that he'll quit because the job is too dangerous!

The excited electrician tells Brandt how he was up on the tower when he first spotted the creature! It appeared to come from the Earth-Power Generator... a man made of electricity -- an Electric Man! Not knowing whether to trust his senses -- he descended the tower as quickly as he could, with the Electric Man in pursuit! Brandt heads outside and sees that the entire development is being bombarded by lightning bolts! They appear to be almost human, and the scientist wonders where they could have come from! With work at a standstill, no one would dare to leave the buildings, and Brandt's project was in jeopardy! He decides to head outside -- and fight those strange things --! He hopes that his rubber suit -- made for high tension work -- will protect him from their attacks... He makes his way towards the unknown... The Electric Men have spotted him...

The next moment finds Brandt being showered with electrical bolts... The creatures are unable to penetrate his armor, and he decides to see if he can drive them away... Armed with a negative electric rod, Brandt sees that the creatures begin to retreat, and are in fact repelled! Suddenly, the electrical creatures strike in unison with their energy bolts... and Brandt hears their thoughts! The energy bolts is how they communicate... to make him understand! Brandt is the first surface being who has stayed long enough for them to be able to talk with them. They are a life-form from deep within the Earth, where they have lived in peace and contentment! The parents tell their children not to head into the upper regions, for they are feared by the strange creatures who dwell there. Recently, the central power station noted that their power was failing, and they had to find the leak -- and repair it -- or else they would die!

The leak was traced to the power-development of Brandt's... He had obtained his "Earth-Power" by stealing their subterranean power! Unless he stops tapping the power immediately, their civilization would soon be extinct! In his confusion, Brandt asks for some time to think it over... In his office, he holds the check which came in from the syndicate -- for $10,000,000 -- for the rights to his project! He could sell the rights to them and live quite comfortably for the rest of his life... but if he did that, the life-forms below would die! They may not be human... but they have their own way of life! Could he live with the knowledge of being responsible for the end of an intelligent race? Brandt made his decision, but this doesn't mean that he's given up searching for Earth-power! He still believes that it exists -- somewhere... The older prospector bids him to stay, and wonders what Brandt's decision was! With the younger man gone, the prospector wonders if there's any truth to the story -- then he sees the pieces of falling paper -- After fitting the pieces together... he sees a check for ten million dollars, and knows that the story wasn't a tall tale! David Brandt had torn up the check rather than threaten the creatures below!

Brandt's rubber suit is similar in appearance to that of The Human Bomb.

Reddy Kilowatt is a character who has appeared in educational strips over the years.

Known subterranean races in the Marvel Universe include: The Deviants, The Mole Man and his Moloids, Tyrannus and his Tyrranoids, as well as Kala, Queen of the Netherworld and her subjects.

Solar-Power was the occupation of Doctor Bruce Gordon, who would become the split-personality known as Eclipso.

Brandt's metal rod or "power-meter" resembles a parking meter.

Electricity has played a part in the creation of heroes and villains, including: The Marvel Family, and in the 30th Century, Legionnaires Lightning Lad and Lightning Lass, as well as the villainous Lightning Lord.

For a short time, the man of steel was turned into twin electrical beings, which certainly left this reader in a state of shock.

The Marvel Universe has known villains such as Electro (both Max Dillon and the Russian assasin who would face the Captain America of the 1950's in Captain America #78). There are heroes who wield lightning, such as Thor, God of Thunder, and Ororo Munroe, better known as the X-Man called Storm. Both characters have met Arkon The Magnificent, who rules in the other dimensional realm of Polemachus, and who uses special lightning bolts which enable him to travel between dimensions.

David Brandt resembles the actor James Dean, who played a character that built his own tower of sorts and who came to possess power of a kind from the earth... Oil! The movie was "Giant" from 1955.

Steve Chung
"The Electric Review!"