Okay, this Saturday’s light-hearted, escapist superhero blog post will take a look at Marvel Comics’ neglected figure It, the Living Colossus.
TALES OF SUSPENSE Vol 1 #14 (February 1961)
Title: I Created the Colossus
Villains: The Kigor, an alien
NOTE: It the Living Colossus was created by Stan Lee, his brother Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby
Synopsis: We are introduced to Boris Petrovsky in the Soviet Union. He is a dissident artist whose brother Ivan, a Party official, had Boris canceled for his pro-freedom views. Ivan also had his brother detained for “reeducation” and was forcing him to create a huge statue glorifying the Soviet Union to show that he had abandoned his insurrectionist beliefs.
Defiant to the last, Boris instead used the months-long period to craft a menacing, horrifying face on the mammoth statue to show how he REALLY perceived the communist government. Shortly before Ivan was due to arrive to inspect the finished statue a spaceship crash-landed near Moscow.
The sole occupant of the alien vessel was a member of the Kigor race, large crab-like creatures of great intelligence who walked erect. Outnumbered on a hostile planet, the Kigor used its alien technology/ powers to transfer its mind into the enormous statue to try surviving.
Whether via technology or radiation treatments or some other method, the Kigor made the statue capable of movement as though it was a living being who had skin and muscles made of other-worldly stone. It’s a comic book, just go with it.
Ivan Petrovsky arrived to see the statue moving around on its own and called in the military. The statue, soon labeled It, the Living Colossus in languages around the world, fought back against the army, tanks and aircraft. It rampaged through Moscow like a kaiju monster stomping Tokyo.
Nothing the military did could stop It. Ultimately a rescue craft crewed by other Kigors arrived to save their stranded fellow. The Kigor animating the Living Colossus transferred its mind back into its own body and left with its rescuers in their space craft.
NOTE: There’s no avoiding having to go “meta” for a brief bit here. The February of 1961 date means that It, the Living Colossus came before the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Hulk and many others. Marvel Comics (previously known as Timely and Atlas) had not yet returned to doing superhero comic books and were mostly doing sci-fi, horror and monster comics.
Believe it or not, GROOT had debuted in the 13th issue of Tales of Suspense before being brought back to fight the Hulk in 1976. Fin Fang Foom, the Simon Garth zombie and many other monster characters from Marvel’s pre-Fantastic Four era have likewise been incorporated into modern Marvel continuity. And so it went with It as well.
TALES OF SUSPENSE Vol 1 #20 (August 1961)
Title: Colossus Lives Again
Villain: Cancrius III, King of the Kigor race
NOTE: This story introduces American Bob O’Bryan, whose mind will animate It the Living Colossus in all subsequent appearances.
Synopsis: The Soviets are loaning the enormous statue which once rampaged in and around Moscow to the United States as part of an international exhibition of statuary. As the massive tanker transporting the statue pulled into port in Los Angeles, another Kigor spaceship visited the Earth.
This Kigor was sent by their ruler, King Cancrius III, who decided to try exploiting the way the previous Kigor on Earth had “possessed” It the Living Colossus, this time using it to conquer our planet as an experiment for further interplanetary conquest.
Once again an alien Kigor used its mind to animate the enormous statue. It broke free from the ship as it was pulling into port and then rampaged through Los Angeles and vicinity. This time it’s the American armed forces who throw everything but nukes against the Living Colossus to no avail. Improbably, the statue can even fly via anti-gravity tech that the Kigor implanted within it.
Hollywood special effects genius Bob O’Bryan and his romantic interest, actress Diane Cummings, are taken as seriously by the military as little kids in short pants are in Japanese kaiju flicks. O’Bryan is given the okay to create a much larger statue. O’Bryan is hoping that the Kigor animating It will be tempted to switch to the larger and more threatening figure to use as a weapon against us.
Unknown to the Kigor, Bob and his special effects team construct the larger statue with tons of explosives built into it. The alien falls for the trap and transfers its mind into the larger figure, but the moment it starts to make the bigger statue move, Bob O’Bryan detonates the explosives.
The statue AND the Kigor whose mind was inside it are both destroyed, saving the Earth and discouraging any further attempts at conquest by King Cancrius III. As for It, the Soviets refused to take back the statue.
ASTONISHING TALES Vol 1 #21 (December 1973)
Villains: Stonians and Dr. Vault
Synopsis: Bob O’Bryan is still working as a special effects whiz in Hollywood, plus Diane Cummings is still an actress but now his fiancee. Marvel has retconned events so that It’s rampage through Los Angeles actually took place mere months ago, not years ago.
Bob has been studying the Living Colossus, still where it was left immobile when the Kigor abandoned it, and proposes a tv film about It’s rampage. The film will be made using O’Bryan’s latest special effects tech. Studio head Dorian Delazny is so impressed with the test footage that he okays the film.
Even more, he offers Bob himself work on the next season of a science fiction television series AND show billing equivalent to the star, since his special effects will MAKE the program. Grant Marshall, that star, is furious over sharing billing with a special effects technician and secretly causes an accident which cripples Bob O’Bryan, confining him to a wheelchair.
Diane wants to stand by Bob but he insists that she not “tie herself down” to a man in a wheelchair. In soap opera fashion, he speaks so harshly to Diane that she thinks he really means it and their engagement is called off.
One night while working late, O’Bryan sees some men with construction and trucking equipment trying to steal the immobile It from the studio lot. Because of his intense study of the giant statue these past months, Bob manages to transfer his own mind through the Kigor tech into It the Living Colossus, which still bears the irreversible changes the Kigor made to it.
Bob brings the statue to life and attacks the men attempting to steal it. The mastermind behind the theft, Dr. Aloysius Vault, comes forward leading a commando team with nerve gas weapons against the Living Colossus. The mad scientist’s nerve gas is able to force O’Bryan’s mind back into his wheelchair-bound body.
Dr. Vault and the high-tech trucks used by his troops take the immobile Living Colossus to the mad doctor’s enormous subterranean laboratory near the Pacific Ocean. We learn that Vault is dying from a rare disease and wants to learn how to transfer his mind into the statue like the alien Kigor did, so that his intellect will live on.
Bob O’Bryan has been concentrating, trying to transfer his own mind back into It and at long last succeeds. As the Living Colossus he breaks free of his restraints and battles Dr. Vault and his troops. Vault has his mercenaries, who exhausted all the nerve gas earlier this night, retreat and seal the cavern with explosives.
Bob/ It does not give up and finds a tunnel leading to the ocean and uses it to emerge from the waters outside the cave to attack Vault’s troops again. The living statue also frightens people in various sea vessels nearby.
Dr. Vault’s troops are again driven to retreat and It flies after them the same way the Kigor willed it to fly. When Vault’s men accidentally cause a fire at a nearby resort, the Living Colossus saves everyone’s lives and then, mentally exhausted, Bob’s mind transfers back to his own body, leaving It immobile near the resort as police and firemen arrive.
O’Bryan goes to sleep, planning to see if he can continue animating the Living Colossus when he needs to. Meanwhile, near the resort, a winged, seemingly sphinx/ gargoyle type of being has observed the battle between It and Dr. Vault’s men and flies off to contact its “master.”
ASTONISHING TALES Vol 1 #22 (February 1974)
Title: We, the Gargoyles
Synopsis: Much to Bob O’Bryan’s relief, the authorities return It the Living Colossus to the lot of the Delazny Studios, where he knows he can keep an eye on it. The authorities say the statue could not be destroyed in any way and insist that Delazny is responsible for the enormous construct. Delazny is not pleased.
Cut to the planet Stonus V. A civil war is raging between rebels and the militaristic leaders of this planet, led by their ruler Granitor. The ruling class of the Stonians/ Stonusans are gigantic compared to the rest of their 6-foot-tall species and so Granitor is dozens of yards tall, dwarfing the rebels.
Granitor is about to teleport himself and an army of human-sized non-royal Stonians to Earth in a war of conquest. The rebels may be driving him and his loyalists off of Stonus V but Granitor plans to take over the Earth and rename it Stonus VI.
The winged gargoyle from the previous issue has informed Granitor that a potential snag in their plans has been spotted – an enormous statue apparently animated by the science of the renowned Kigor race. With defeat on Stonus V staring him in the face, Granitor disregards this warning and triggers the teleporter for himself and his first group of troops.
Magnor, an agent for the anti-Granitor forces, had intercepted the communication about It the Living Colossus and has followed the giant statue as it was taken back to the Delazny Studios. Seriously wounded in battle by Granitor’s underlings, the rebel gargoyle Magnor flies into O’Bryan’s office overlooking the Living Colossus.
Magnor interrupts another argument between Bob and Diane Cummings, who still doesn’t want Bob to shut her out of his life. Grant Marshall is also there and snarkily tells Diane that she should give up on O’Bryan.
The sight of the wounded winged gargoyle shocks all three of them and they listen to Magnor’s warning about the invasion by Granitor and his army. Suddenly, several winged Stonians obedient to Granitor burst in through the windows to capture Magnor and to take the humans away to hear Granitor’s demands so that they can tell the entire Earth.
O’Bryan transfers his mind into It once again and uses it to fight back against the army of winged Stonians. He defeats many of them but several fly away with Diane. The Living Colossus flies after them and catches up to them near the Capitol Records building.
Once there, It is attacked by Granitor, the lone Stonian as large as the Living Colossus is. The two fight it out like Godzilla fighting another monster in his movies. After a destructive battle, Granitor and his troops fly off with Diane still their prisoner.
It cannot fly after them, worn out and realizing there is apparently a time limit to how long he can maintain his mental presence inside the Living Colossus. He vows revenge against Granitor, then his weary mind transfers back into his wheelchair-bound body back at Delazny Studios.
NOTE: The way Marvel’s movies have been dominating pop culture for years now, I can’t help but wonder if they could have even taken over the kaiju genre if they had done a few It the Living Colossus movies with Bob O’Bryan, It, Diane Cummings and for the villains a long line of Marvel’s early 60s monsters.
ASTONISHING TALES Vol 1 #23 (April 1974)
Title: Conquerors Three
Villains: Granitor, Dr. Vault, Fin Fang Foom
Synopsis: Eventually, O’Bryan feels strong enough to leave the still-unconscious Grant Marshall in his office and wheel down the hall to recruit young and nerdy Felix Simon, an actor at Delazny Studios, to drive him down near the Capitol Records Building, where the immobile It the Living Colossus is currently located.
Cut to the hills near the Pacific Ocean. Diane Cummings tries to soak in everything that has happened today. She converses with her fellow prisoner Magnor as they watch Granitor and his men set up a larger teleportation device so that the entire rest of Granitor’s thousands of winged Stonians can be transported to Earth.
In a seemingly numberless swarm, Granitor’s loyal troops begin to arrive on our planet through the teleportation portal in the sky, armed with their ray-guns and other weapons.
We now join Dr. Vault in his hidden back-up lab. He informs his lab assistant Dr. Braun that, since there is apparently another mind already animating It the Living Colossus he will move on to the next step in his plan.
Vault does a Villain Rant explaining that he not only planned to transfer his mind into the Living Colossus since his own body is dying from an incurable disease, but he also planned to revive and control the Chinese monster Fin Fang Foom, the dragon-like, kaiju-sized monster who rampaged through China a few years back.
The doctor’s device awakens the ancient creature from the slumber induced by rare herbs. His machine next summons Fin Fang Foom TO him, making it fly off toward America. Vault plans to use the monster against It the Living Colossus.
Meanwhile, Bob O’Bryan is riding along in Felix Simon’s car when they see the far-off teleportation portal in the sky and spot the thousands of Stonians flying through it. Though he and Felix are still blocks away from the immobile It, Bob realizes he can’t wait anymore and must immediately try to put his mind back in the body of the Living Colossus no matter how far away it is.
Naturally, he succeeds, but since his human body slumps forward, Felix assumes O’Bryan may have had a heart attack or something and heads for a hospital. Bob has animated the giant statue and flies off toward Granitor’s portal near the ocean and, coincidentally, Dr. Vault’s original but now abandoned HQ from a few issues back.
Upon landing at the spot, It is attacked by a swarm of Stonians, blasting him with their weapons’ energy rays. Granitor and the captive Diane Cummings & Magnor look on.
It shouts its defiance to Granitor and challenges him to join in the battle. Granitor does, and we get more kaiju on kaiju action with the flying Stonians renewing their attacks whenever the Living Colossus gets the upper hand on their leader.
When all seems hopeless for It, Fin Fang Foom at last arrives on the scene. Dr. Vault, watching on his viewscreen, is furious when the Chinese monster starts fighting the thousands of Stonians instead of the Living Colossus.
With his unexpected ally keeping the Stonian army off his back, It focuses all his attention on Granitor. Things eventually seem hopeless after a while, when, suddenly, Magnor’s fellow Stonian rebels arrive on the scene to help Fin Fang Foom defeat Granitor’s army.
Soon, It has Granitor nearly beaten, when the alien panics and flies back into his teleportation portal, summoning his army to follow him so they can teleport back to Stonus V. When all of the Granitor loyalists have entered the portal, the Living Colossus destroys the machine that created the portal.
It thought that by doing so it would simply prevent them from returning, but Magnor and his fellow rebels inform our hero that destroying the device in mid-teleportation will have killed Granitor and all his troops, dispersing their atoms and disintegrating them.
The Living Colossus feels guilty over having just slain thousands of beings but the rebels assure him there was no way he could have known.
Meanwhile, Felix has gotten Bob O’Bryan’s body to a hospital. The medical personnel cannot find any vital signs and pronounce Bob dead for this issue’s cliffhanger.
ASTONISHING TALES Vol 1 #24 (June 1974)
Title: Five Claws of Death
Villains: Fin Fang Foom and Dr. Vault
Synopsis: As It the Living Colossus and Diane Cummings look on, Magnor and his fellow rebels against the late Granitor’s rule fly off on the long, long journey back to their home planet.
Naturally, Diane has no idea that the giant statue towering over her is animated by the mind of her ex-fiancee Bob O’Bryan, but she does know It was protecting the Earth from the Stonian invasion.
From his distant laboratory, Dr. Vault manages to electronically take control of Fin Fang Foom and forces the monster to attack It, much to the Living Colossus’ surprise. Diane runs off to call the police while Dr. Vault, watching the kaiju battle on his viewscreen, tells his sidekick Dr. Braun that he is rooting for the Chinese monster to win.
Vault’s reasoning is that if Fin Fang Foom kills whatever intelligence is currently animating the giant statue he will then be able to go back to his original plan of transferring his mind from his own dying body into It.
After the two giants battle for a while, the authorities summoned by Diane begin arriving on the scene. In the confusion, Dr. Vault has Fin Fang Foom fly off, while It dives into the Pacific Ocean to avoid having to fight more police or the United States army.
Once the Living Colossus is in deep enough water, he enters the undersea tunnel leading back to the huge storage chamber back at Dr. Vault’s abandoned HQ. The landward entrance is still buried under tons of rocks and dirt from Vault’s explosives so Bob figures nobody will come across the giant statue in this hiding place.
O’Bryan lets his mind return to his own body, and he wakes up, startling Felix Simon and the doctors at the hospital. After thoroughly examining Bob, the medical staff explain to him and Felix that he must have been in some sort of death-like coma which could happen again at any time.
Needless to say, O’Bryan can’t tell them that it all happened because his mind was inhabiting It the Living Colossus. At any rate, Diane Cummings comes rushing in, relieved to see that Bob is still alive. The studio staff had told her he was pronounced dead.
This leads to Diane emphasizing how much she still wants to marry our hero and O’Bryan tries using callousness to make her change her mind. Diane sees through it this time and chews out Bob for trying to make her decision for her.
Cummings soon convinces O’Bryan that she will not abandon her commitment to him. Bob relents, apologizes and the two decide their engagement is back on.
Eventually, the medical staff usher Diane and Felix out of Bob’s room so that he can rest. O’Bryan turns on the bedside radio, listening for any mention of Fin Fang Foom’s whereabouts. Before long, Dr. Vault wants to lure out It, so he has the Chinese monster attack Chinatown in L.A.
In the middle of the creature’s rampage, It the Living Colossus arrives on the scene, having been remotely activated by Bob O’Bryan’s mind in reaction to the news reports. The two giants again trash a large part of the city while fighting each other.
At length, It knocks Fin Fang Foom into powerlines and the resulting shock severs Dr. Vault’s electronic control over it. The Chinese monster stops fighting the Living Colossus and, though it cannot speak, it conveys to It that he was being controlled.
Fin Fang Foom draws a picture of Dr. Vault’s face in the ground, letting It know that he was the man controlling him. Next, the creature flies off back to China. The Living Colossus returns to its undersea cavern hideout and Bob lets his mind go back into his own body before he winds up getting declared dead again.
Back at Dr. Vault’s new lair, he and Dr. Braun saw on their viewscreen how Fin Fang Foom drew a picture of him to incriminate him to It. Braun says he quits and tries to leave but Dr. Vault pushes a button that incinerates him.
Vault sits, trying to figure out a new plan to transfer his mind into the body of the Living Colossus before he dies from his disease.
NOTE: And this ended the brief attempt to give It the Living Colossus his own series. Sales were not high enough, so Deathlok took over Astonishing Tales with the next issue.
INCREDIBLE HULK Vol 1 #244 (February 1980)
Title: It Lives!
NOTE: By 1980, Marvel had apparently given up on any potential of making It the Living Colossus a hit with readers, so its saga was brought to a close in this guest appearance.
Synopsis: We pick up years later as Bob O’Bryan and Diane Cummings are just returning from their honeymoon. They finally married after years of physical therapy enabled Bob to walk once again.
O’Bryan has had no reason to transfer his mind into the It statue in all this time. Dr. Vault, his body rapidly failing from the disease he has had all this time, is still plotting ways of putting his consciousness in the Living Colossus and use it to start his attempt at world conquest.
Bruce Banner has drifted into Los Angeles and after nearly getting hit by a car, his excitement causes him to turn into the Hulk and go on a rampage. Bob O’Bryan is right there in the crowd as it happens so he transfers his mind into the It statue and leaves its undersea hiding place.
The Living Colossus arrives at the scene of the Hulk’s destructive fit and the two fight it out. Despite the size difference the Hulk turns out to be stronger than the It statue. Dr. Vault sees the fight on a news report and straps himself into the device he has been working on for the past few years.
Now that he has an exact location for the long-hidden Living Colossus, Vault’s device lets him transfer his mind into the It statue, permanently driving out the mind currently controlling it. Bob O’Bryan’s mind is forced back into his own body and he watches as the Living Colossus, now animated by Dr. Vault’s mind, continues fighting the Hulk.
Ultimately the ever angrier Hulk breaks the It statue into little pieces and then crushes those pieces into powder before blowing them all away. Dr. Vault’s mind returns to his own body just in time to finally pass away from his long illness.
And so ended this “Let’s wrap up all loose ends in a one-issue story” piece of work.
FOR MY LOOK AT STAR-LORD’S 1976-1981 STORIES CLICK HERE.