Kid Eternity, Green Lantern, Solomon Grundy and … Knute Rockne.

Secret Origins (1st series) #4 (Sept/Oct, 1973) includes a reprint of Kid Eternity’s origin (first published in Hit Comics #25, December, 1942), with Sheldon Moldoff artwork. In the story the U.S. is not yet at war, but U.S. submarines are being attacked and sunk by German ‘U-boats’. On one merchant vessel, a young boy, whose name we are not told, is sailing with his grandfather (the ship’s captain). The boy spots a U-boat through a telescope and warns his grandfather, who gives the order for a missile to be fired at the German sub. The missile misses its target and the submarine retaliates. The boy’s grandfather dies in the attack. (‘Gran’pa didn’t hurt them,’ the sobbing boy protests, which is technically true.) The ship sinks and the survivors (including the boy) are shot dead by the German sailors.

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When the boy arrives at the gates of heaven, he tells a white-bearded personage (presumably St. Peter) that he does not know his own name. While alive, he was always addressed as ‘Kid’. Since the Kid perished sooner than destiny had decreed, St. Peter sends for a being named Mr. Keeper, informing the latter that a mistake has been made. Mr. Keeper takes the boy to the Land of Eternity, where are recorded all ‘the greatest deeds of history and mythology’, such as Hercules killing the Nemean Lion and Samson destroying the Philistines. Mr. Keeper then returns the boy’s spirit to his body. Thereafter, the boy has only to say the word ‘eternity’ in order to appear or disappear, or to summon to his aid any great figure from history or legend. He is being sent back to Earth to combat future evils, using his special abilities. Mr. Keeper, moreover, quits his job as ‘keeper’ in order to accompany the kid in his new career.

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Peculiar but appealing mix of fantasy and cartooning in Moldoff’s artwork.

A later Kid Eternity adventure is presented in (confusingly) a slightly earlier ‘reprint’ comic, Wanted, The World’s Most Dangerous Villains #4 (December, 1972). In that issue’s story, originally published in Kid Eternity #15 (May, 1949), the devil grants a being called Master Man the ability to summon any despicable infamous character from Hell by uttering the word ‘Stygia’. Master Man summons the deranged Russian monk Rasputin and sends him to create havoc by organizing a prison break. Arriving at the prison with Mr. Keeper, Kid Eternity summons Knute Rockne (a Norwegian-American football player and coach) to foil the break. Master Man abducts the Kid, binds and gags him, and arranges for the Spanish inquisitor Torquemada to torture the Kid so cruelly that he begs for eternal death. Unable to intervene directly, Mr. Keeper communicates in astral form with the Kid and tells him to pretend to be unconscious. Deceived by this ploy, Torquemada loosens the Kid’s bonds. Once at liberty, the Kid punches the Spanish priest, removes the gag and summons Will Rogers. Master Man replaces Torquemada with Batu Khan the Mongol, so the Kid calls on Charles Martel, who defeats the Asian warlord. The devil punishes Master Man for his failure by sending him to burn in Hell.image-105This issue of Wanted also includes a Green Lantern story featuring the origin of GL’s recurrent nemesis Solomon Grundy. (This Green Lantern is the original one, incidentally, whose secret identity is Alan Scott.) The creature who will become known as Grundy emerges from Slaughter Swamp 50 years after Cyrus Gold had been murdered and deposited there. In addition to lacking a name, the creature has no code of behaviour. It thus acquires moral orientation from the first people it encounters – a group of vagrants, one of whom names the monster after ‘dat noisery rhyme guy’. The vagabonds tutor Grundy, persuading him to assist them in a crime spree. Grundy clobbers Green Lantern at their first encounter, unaffected by the green rays of Lantern’s power ring.image-106

After being taught by the hobo gang how to kill, Grundy defeats Green Lantern a second time and throws him off a balcony to his presumed death. However, the hero is protected by his power ring and his fall is cushioned when he lands on a taxi carrying his hairless and rotund friend Doiby Dickles. Doiby takes the stunned Lantern back to Alan Scott’s apartment where the hero lapses into a coma. Doiby then bravely goes after Grundy and the hobo gang by himself. Conscious once more, but still dazed, Green Lantern sets off after Doiby and knocks Grundy beneath an oncoming express train with a punch. Lantern’s power ring did not work on Grundy, we are told, because the monster was ‘not real life’ and, therefore, was immune to everything.

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