Thursday, August 04, 2011

A Lackey's Loyalty

Through four decades of reading comic books, I don't think I've ever seen a villain's lackey display such empathy and clear-headed understanding of the criminal he serves.

"Such a burning desire for conquest!" Most henchmen would keep such thoughts to themselves for fear of upsetting their often maniacal masters, but not this guy - this mustachioed hood from T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #9 (October 1966) spits it right out with refreshing frankness. I think he gets away with it because his expression makes it clear that he says it with an oddly appealing mixture of critical analysis and open admiration. His other thoughts are more circumspect, and with good reason; while any boss would enjoy hearing that they pay well, they'd probably be less likely to enjoy being referred to as demented.

Most comic book lackeys are disposable supernumeraries, but with just one line of dialogue and one thought balloon, plus carefully crafted facial expressions, the creators imbue this secondary character with just enough life and verisimilitude to make the ludicrous proceedings (a four-armed man bent on ruling an island?) a little easier to swallow.

Unfortunately comics of this era rarely included credits, but I believe the art is by Wally Wood; I have no idea who scripted this issue. 

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