One thing I can do more of due to scaling back the myth-comics is that I should be able to discuss the more numerous "near myths."
I've mentioned that some genres have proven resistant to producing a significant number of mythcomics. For instance, I've only found one example of a hyperconscrecent teen humor story, and as yet I've not yet found an example of an original mythcomic in the genre of jungle stories. (Re-tellings of stories from other media, such as Tarzan's origin, do not count.) That said, a lot of the more pulpish jungle comics have at least the raw materials for mythic discourse, though they're usually poorly mixed.
The story titled (only on the cover) "Shrine of the Sacred Souls" has a basic idea with strong mythic potential. It begins with Sheena's mate Bob being blinded by the poison of a spitting serpent. The jungle queen takes Bob to a local temple, where the healer N'Tizah is known to have a healing wash for just this sort of emergency. However, just as the duo approach the temple, N'Tizah unleashes a "devil cat" on the pair.
While Sheena and Bob endure in their little cliffhanger, the story introduces its villain: Panther, a man with "leopard eyes," who's looking to make trouble for a young female mine-owner, Mrs. Adams. Panther takes Adams prisoner, which is the story's cue to switch back to Sheena killing the leopard-- only to find out that the leopard has no eyes.
This turn of events, bizarre even for a forties pulp-tale, leads to the revelation that the villain lost his eyes earlier in a mine-accident, and N'Tizah, no animal-rights activists, surgically transferred her pet leopard's eyes into the skull of Panther. Panther shows his gratitude by kidnapping N'Tizah's son, just in case the old healer didn't do her job right.
Now, an ordinary pulp-story would just have N'Tizah explain that she tried to ward off Sheena and Bob with her blinded leopard in order to protect her kidnapped son. Instead, the unknown writer of this wild story ups the craziness by stating that N'Tizah consulted one of her gods-- apparently one of the "seven souls" of the title-- who gave the old woman a real-for-true prophecy, forbidding her to heal anyone else until "the evil one's blood is brought to you." So she won't heal Bob, who apparently sits out the rest of the story in excrutiating pain, thus forcing Sheena to go get Panther. Panther and his men intercept Sheena, though, and she's forced to flee by jumping into a river full of crocodiles.
Never having read a jungle comic, Panther presumes that such a paltry threat can stop a jungle heroine. He then gets down to business, trying to force Adams to sign over her mine to him. She caves quickly when he threatens to toss her into a pit full of chained apes. The apes, by the way, are apparently there in the same spirit that Bond villains would keep shark tanks around: just because villains of all stripes just like to keep cages of mean animals around.
Sheena shows up at the mine. Perhaps feeling left out at having had no problems with her sight, she challenges Panther to fight her above the ape-filled pit, with both of them blindfolded. Panther agrees, though he just can't resist letting those fabulous "leopard eyes" go to waste, so he rigs his blindfold so that he can still see. Yet even literally blind, Sheena is a better fighter than the evildoer, and she consigns him to his own "horror pit" Sheena brings back N'Tizah's son and the healer heals Bob. Sheena even speaks of rendering payment to the old lady, everyone having forgotten that N'Tizah sicced her pet leopard on both Sheena and her mate.
While there's no doubt that the writer of the story is primarily just piling one weird incident on top of another, "Shrine" seems like it almost COULD'VE made some sort of symbolic statement, like, "Even a fiend who has the eyes of leopard cannot contend with a jungle-queen with no eyes at all," or something like that. It almost seems a shame that Frederic Wertham never encountered this story, since it combines two of his nemeses: "mannish" females and "the injury to the eye" motif.
Here's the complete story.
DARK SHADOWS, EPISODE 462 (1968)
1 day ago