Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Unusual Heroes: Neutro #1 (Dell, 1967)

The mentioning of Neutro amongst most comic book circles will likely initiate a discussion on what might just be the most pointless story ever involved in a book with the Dell logo. Released by Dell in 1967 and drawn by Jack Sparling, the first issue of Neutro explains the origin of the giant robot with no brain, what powers he has, and what is he doing on Earth in the first place.

One thousand years ago, a tribe of indians witnessed a U.F.O. land. The alien inhabitants proceeded to bury several boxes deep into the ground, warning the tribe that "He who disturbs this resting place shall perish!". Fast forward to present day and enter John Dodge, a man who is intent on finding out the truth of the legendary alien burial ground. He ends up unearthing the boxes and takes them to his laboratory where, with the help of his assistant Doc, they end up building the giant robot that would become Neutro.

I found it pretty hilarious when Doc mentions that Neutro is "as big as two men" when later on in the book (as well as the cover) we see Neutro towering over the entire city wrecking havoc...and much bigger than two men. Anyhow, we learn that Neutro is very powerful but lacks a brain, therefore needing to be controlled by a third party.

The comic displays several panels detailing Neutro's powers, which were also hilarious by description. "He could swallow bullets like a baby swallows candy! He can catch whales with a single hand! And if there were Dinosaurs on Earth he could reduce twenty of them to ashes!" It sounds like Chuck Norris finally has some competition...

Then we get a glimpse of what I think the comic's creators were aiming for when they thought up this mindless drivel. What if the powers of evil got their hands on Neutro? Will he destroy our world? And that is the whole premise of the issue, that two guys have built a powerful robot that anybody can control. Ohh, the drama!

The second half of the comic reiterates the same premise, when an evil duo of villains that go by 777 already have plans to take over Neutro, less than minutes after he was built. How they knew about the robot is anybody's guess. But what nobody seems to know is that Neutro can be controlled by his alien brethen from beyond the stars!

I've seen better artwork by Jack Sparling. Everything in this issue seems sort of rushed, and the Neutro robot looks devoid of any personality whatsoever. Sparling reuses the same poses for the robot over and over, and there is really nothing very cool about Neutro at all. I like the cover art the best, even though Neutro is far, oh so very far....from astounding.


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