Showing posts with label Mars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mars. Show all posts

Astronaut Theology: "Half-Billion Miles from Earth..."

In 1960, the powerful Washington think tank The Brookings Institute released a white paper which included a section on UFOs and ETs, outlining a number of various scenarios for poltical and military leaders should contact ever occur. Brookings was pessimistic about such an event, noting that societies don't tend to react favorably when confronted with a superior technological advancement.

Given what we now know about the vast distances between stars and the limitations of space travel, chances are good- in my opinion, at least- that any contact we might have might be with something much more exotic than interstellar neighbors, perhaps even some kind of interdimensional contact (given the energy requirements involved, traversing between dimensions from a fixed point might well be more feasible than drifting through several light years of space).

But Brookings felt that the more likely possibility was discovery of an earlier civilization within our own solar system, either native or transient:
It is conceivable that there is semi- intelligent life in some part of our solar system or highly intelligent life which is not technologically oriented, and many cosmologists and astronomers think it very likely that there is intelligent life in many other solar systems. While face-to-face meetings with it will. not occur within the next twenty years (unless its technology is more advanced than ours, qualifying it to visit earth), artifacts left at some point in time by these life forms might possibly be discovered through our space activities on the Moon, Mars, or Venus.
This was the basis of 2001: A Space Odyssey, in which the discovery of an alien artifact leads to a coverup. That in turn was inspired by Arthur C. Clarke's short story 'The Sentinel', one of several stories working that theme.

Some researchers have speculated that these artifacts have indeed already been found (on Cydonia, for instance) and what we've been seeing over the past 30+ years is a two-pronged approach to preparing the public for disclosure of an otherworldly civilization; relentless ridicule by scientists and the media accompanied by a steady diet of ancient astronaut/alien themes in films, TV shows, video games and so on.

For my part, I'd say it was unlikely that the authorities would ever want to disclose anything that disturbs our present understanding of history or threatens their worldwide crowd control project, religious fundamentalism. But I'm not married to that. And there was Ridley Scott's relentlessly hyped Prometheus, wasn't there?

Now there was a stray line in Prometheus, utter by Charlize Theron's character- one that got the nipples of twiddleheads like Phil Plait and Neil De Grasse Tyson in a right old twist- that led me to wonder this afternoon if it weren't a gross computational error (these films pay scientific consultants big dollars to catch these kinds of things) but a clue as to what the film is really all about. A clue that we can draw a line from it, to the NASA-sponsored Mission to Mars, back to 2001.

It's when she mentions being a "half-billion miles away from Earth." As Tyson mentioned, that would put the mission somewhere in the vicinity of Jupiter. I don't expect Tyson or the rest to understand secret code or hidden messages, but certainly all of you out there do. And pray tell- what famous alien contact narrative took place outside the orbit of Jupiter?

Oh, that one. Right.

What's even more interesting to me is how similar so much of what we see in Prometheus is to Mission to Mars, certainly a film that most Hollywood producers wouldn't seek to emulate. Of course, it's all told in the context of a horror story, but the elements of the holographic history lessons and the 3D space map are all there, quite incongruously.

Then of course there's also the giant alien sending its DNA to Earth, which we see in the beginning of Prometheus. Now, most scientists believe that Mars' magnetic field was destroyed half a billion years ago, due to an asteroid impact. Is that another clue? A double entendre to what critics dismiss as a gross error? We'll get to that in a minute...

Given that the action in the film takes place in a giant space ship underneath the surface of a moon, I can't help but think of the search for life on Jovian moons such as Europa, which played such a crucial role in 2010: Odyssey Two.

And that story climaxed with the ignition of Jupiter† as a new sun, Lucifer, which is not a name (and appears in no Bible translation at all until the King James Version) but a title meaning the "Light-Bringer," which is what role Prometheus the Titan played in Greek mythology, having stolen fire from the gods to bring to humanity.

I was thinking about those Martian giants today in context of the final scene in Prometheus when Mary Magdalene and John the Bapti...er, Elizabeth and David take off for the Engineer's homeworld. Of course, all this interstellar travel would take decades, if not centuries, in the real world so you can't help but wonder what planet they're steaming towards in the decoded version.

A lot of people have dismissed Zechariah Sitchin's Nibiru theories- and the man was no astrophysicist- claiming the impossibility of life on such a far-flung planet. Plus, it doesn't even exist anyway, so there. But we keep hearing stories of something out there- and it's a good light year or so to the edge of the solar system, and there are theories of brown dwarfs and moons and the rest. One thing you can be sure of with science is that we know now is almost certainly going to be rewritten later.

But I couldn't help but think again that a truly advanced race- say, a race of former Martians who saw their beautiful paradise of a world blown to shit by some passing spacejunk- might take very seriously the danger of our cosmic neighborhood and realize that longterm survival meant getting the hell out of the way of the Sun's gravity, which is always dragging all that dangerous crap towards it.


We can't imagine a truly advanced race, past a sci-fi level. But a truly advanced race might see the past couple of thousand years since historians were recording them bounding around the Earth's surface a friggin' blip in their concept of time. And given that the so-called Face (with all its symmetry and right angles) is about a mile long, they probably wouldn't have our concept of space, either.

And funny how NASA spends all its time excoriating Face theorists and the like but has no problem underwriting a film about it.

And, of course, the promo art for Prometheus also features a face, one remarkably similar to Jack Kirby's 1958 'Face on Mars'*. That story too featured a holographic history lesson about giants and planetary destruction, and it's a very good bet that Kubrick and Clarke read the comic while working on their film.

In light of all of these connections, I think there's a very good chance indeed that that "half a billion miles" wasn't some gross error, but was in fact a wink and a nod pertaining to Jupiter. I can't help but think of Robert Temple's offhand remark some time ago that the merpeople (or Nommo) of the Dogon religion were out there in hibernation around one of the gas giants.

Are there specific people to whom that "error" was a wink and a nod? There seem to be an awful lot of people in Hollywood who are interested in AAT, including many of the biggest names behind the camera. What do they know and how do they know it?


*For some reason I just put together the fact that the inker on the story (the artist who created the finished art from Kirby's pencil drawings) was Al Williamson, who was my Narrative Art teacher at The Joe Kubert School, which was my first class on Monday mornings. I remembered this after thinking back on Joe, who died this summer (as did the brother of the director of Prometheus).

† Cheers to Liz for the correction. I obviously had the Brotherhood of Saturn weighing heavily on my mind while writing this...

The Curious Case of John Carter: Secrets and Synchronicities

It's generally a tradition here on The Secret Sun to look at movies long after they've been in the theaters, usually because I like to take the time to analyze them on my computer screen. I also like to be able to post screenshots with captions, since what's being said is often as important as what's being shown.

The takeaway with John Carter was what a bust it was for Disney, who took a 200 million dollar writeoff on the film. But the film grossed almost $300 million worldwide, hardly a flop, especially for a March release. The problem was the budget, but the real problem was the promotion.

The film's writer/director Andrew Stanton is responsible for some of the biggest box office hits of our time, including the Toy Story films, Wall-E, Finding Nemo, and A Bug's Life. But as Richard C. Hoagland pointed out, his name was nowhere to be seen in the promotion or advertising of the film. Very strange.

The title said nothing about the film, with wags citing a so-called "Mars curse" for dropping the "...Of Mars" from the marquee. The "Mars Curse" didn't do the original Total Recall any harm, and the problem with movies like Mission to Mars and Red Planet was their scripts. For starters.

Having seen John Carter, I can say the film was a bit overlong, but was otherwise a very entertaining piece of work. Like a lot of people I was mystified by the campaign against the film being waged by the critics. I saw the same thing happen back in 2008 with the second X-Files movie, but that was a combination of hypnotized Dark Knight fanatics and very possibly some interested parties in Hollywood that didn't appreciate seeing pedophilia being portrayed in a negative light.

Hoagland theorized that John Carter might have been sabotaged by outside forces (such as NASA and the White House) for having revealed certain secrets about Mars, but I wasn't quite sure what he is referring to, not being as in the loop on Mars as he is. But we cover different bases and I got quite a bit out of this film, largely because of his prodding.

Of course, as I write there's a new Mars probe in the news, revealing a planet all too familiar to our own.

There's also new mysteries to puzzle over, as there after every mission. This one here is the latest. I'm sure it will all be explained away once everyone's moved on, but for those still paying attention the enigmas continue to pile up.

Hoagland is best known for his work on Cydonia and the so-called Face and pyramids of Mars, and the links between the Red Planet and Ancient Egypt continue to gnaw at the back of our collective unconscious. There's plenty of that in John Carter, and plenty of high weirdness that wasn't in the original books. It's worth noting that Andrew Stanton is from Lovecraft Country....

Stanton centers John Carter around the worship of the goddess Issus (who references both Isis and Ieusus/Jesus), without the ambivalence and complexity of the books. The battle of Zodanga and Helium in giant galleys reminds the viewer quite a bit of Rome's conquest of Egypt, with Dejah Thoris (read: "Dje is Hathor", dje meaning "holy" or "ascending one") seeming to resonate Cleopatra more strongly than her literary counterpart. As we'll see shortly, that era is referenced in the casting, albeit in reverse.

It should also be noted that Carter's relationship as "right arm" to the green skinned Tars Tarkas is highly reminiscent of Horus' role as same to the green-skinned Osiris. Note Carter is "crowned with the Sun" in the theatrical poster.

But there's also the weirdness, with the Therns bearing little resemblance to their own literary counterparts and playing the part of interplanetary Archons, pulling all the strings from the shadows while the world thinks they no longer exist. They intervene in the world war and throw the balance to Zodanga, giving their leader a devastating weapon that Helium can't resist. The aim of the Therns is to create a new world order on Mars, ending the war and ruling by proxy.

The fact that we first see a Thern materialize out of thin air in the dark and next see them in a formation of three- as well as their appearance-- reminded me of nothing less than the Men in Black, who most people today also think are a myth. We later see that the Therns have shapeshifting technology, and are also well-established on our planet as well. They have the same paralyzing technology they use to abduct Carter that we saw the Elven folk use.


The film is also highly reminiscent of all of the AAT epics we've been seeing lately, such as Crystal Skull, Transformers 2 and Prometheus. We learn about Mars' mythic past and the role of the Therns, who serve the goddess.

You can't help but wonder whose planet we're actually learning about here.

A question I was asking myself when Carter and Dejah reach the Thern temple and discover all of the secret Thern writing, spelling out the teleportation technology and all of the rest of it...

...which is written in Sumerian cuneiform.

Richard said there was a clue that this film was actually about Earth's part- was this it? But I'd be remiss if we didn't talk about where exactly Edgar Rice Burroughs came up with all of this stuff. It certainly wasn't out of the thin air. Indeed, the true source of the Barsoom mythology might be another reason someone was out to "get" John Carter.

Sci-fi legend Fritz Leiber did some digging and found where Burroughs got his inspiration for the classic Warlord of Mars books. It might surprise some people...
Some twelve years ago... I ran across a piece on California cults which contained a summary of Theosophy's speculations about past and future races of earth. What this summary described sounded to me very much like good old Barsoom with its green men, white priests, levitating battleships, egg-laying princesses, and all the rest. In short, I got the impression that Edgar Rice Burroughs had found in Theosophy a rich source of background materials for his Mars books; his chief job seemed to have been adding canals and atmosphere plants...

"There were four-armed human creatures in those early days of the male-females." "Here one thinks of the green Martians with their two pairs of arms." The match is not a perfect one, but Blavatsky's giant, four-armed, Third Race "Lemurians" are more than a little like giant, six-limbed Tharks and Warhoons.

It wasn't just Blavatsky. Later Theosophist writers expanded on her idiosyncratic ideas, including one William Scott Eliott. Leiber:
Scott-Elliot's picture of an Atlantean sub-race, the Toltec... sounds remarkably like Burroughs' red Martians: 'They were ... copper-colored, tall, and with Grecian features. Their science was very advanced. There were Toltec airships which operated by a cosmic force unknown today.'

Scott-Elliot goes on to describe life in Atlantis. "Under the Toltec emperors the Atlanteans were subject to a collectivistic despotism...Their sciences were highly developed. ... In war they fought with swords, spears, bows, and gas-bombs thrown from catapults. Their aircraft were boat-shaped structures made of plywood and light alloys, and propelled by jets of the vril-force ... The emperor had a fleet of aerial warships carrying 50 to 100 men each.."

Lieber read a lot of Theosophist literature-- which I cite in Our Gods Wear Spandex as a crucial influence on 20th Century pop culture-- and found many of the building blocks of the Barsoom Universe:
Instantaneous interplanetary travel by thought power; each planet having its characteristic ray... and airships held aloft by tanks of these rays; Methuselah-size lifetimes of one thousand years;... creation of phantom and living matter by thought power... and finally the oppression and persecution of wise free-thinkers by an evil priesthood.
The parallels are so rich and deep that Leiber was inspired to state the following with utmost certainty:
Burroughs' Martians were essentially Theosophical Atlanteans and Lemurians, removed to a Mars based upon the then popular theories of the astronomer Percival Lowell...

We have not been able to learn just how and when Burroughs acquired his knowledge of Theosophical Atlantism... we are told that his library contained no Theosophical books. But some contact there must have been, for the resemblances are too many for mere chance.

For example, Burroughs' noble Red Martians are derived from the Theosophical Toltecs, one of the Atlantean races. They use flying machines much like those of Theosophical Atlantis. His gigantic, four-armed, popeyed, egg-laying Green Martians are nothing but H.P.B.'s Lemurians transplanted."

Fritz Leiber: "John Carter: Sword of Theosophy,"
Amra, Sept 1959
The whole idea of the Ninth Ray- the terrible technology with which Helium is conquered- also comes straight from Theosophical literature, which theorized about the Seven Rays of the Sun:
There are seven Forces in Man and in all Nature. The real substance of the Concealed (Sun) is a nucleus of Mother-Substance...The Seven Beings in the Sun are the Seven Holy Ones, self-born from the inherent power in the Matrix of Mother-Substance. It is they who send the seven principal Forces, called Rays, which, at the beginning of Pralaya, will center into seven new Suns for the next Manvantara. The energy from which they spring into conscious existence in every Sun is what some people call Vishnu, which is the Breath of the Absoluteness.
To which Burroughs added an Eighth and Ninth. Writer L. Sprague De Camp wrote in Starlog in 1987:
After Blavatsky died, her successors expanded on her account of lost continents and prehistoric races.... the Toltecs, a sub-race of the Atlanteans, were red-skinned and... flew aircraft propelled by vril.... When vril came to Burroughs' attention, he transformed it into the Eighth Barsoomian Ray. Life on Barsoom, with its four-armed giants, its red-skinned heroes and heroines, and its boatlike aircraft resembles nothing so much as life in the Theosophists' Atlantis and Lemuria. But I don't know how or when Burroughs came under their whimsical spell.
The parallels to Theosophist Atlantean and Lemurian mythology aren't the only curious connections that Burroughs has to spiritual ferment of the 19th Century.

Aside from the Barsoom series, Burroughs was also known for his Pellucidar hollow earth adventures, which followed in the footsteps not only of the Rosicrucian Bulwer-Lytton and the Theosophists, but also a religious movement well known today for his enthusiasm for science fiction and fantasy:
(The ten lost tribes of ancient Israel had) "their place of residence... contiguous to the north pole; separated from the rest of the world by impassable mountains of ice and snow."- Joseph Smith, founder of Mormonism

The demonstration of this theory will certainly be of interest to all Latter Day Saints, because if found to be true it greatly extends the possibilities of the fulfillment of scripture. For instance, the prophecies in reference to the lost tribes of Israel.

... what do the prophecies say? ... the Book of Mormon... says: "...the Nephites and the Jews shall have the words of the lost tribes of Israel: and the lost tribes of Israel shall have the words of the Nephites and the Jews." ...The words of the lost tribes have not come to our knowledge yet.

Where are they, and the people who have written them? Not in any known land. They have been led away, we are told. Is it not possible that they inhabit the interior of the earth? If birds and animals may migrate to the interior, as Mr. Reed holds... is it not possible that a human race could also exist there? --William Reed, The Saints' Herald
The whole mythology of lost civilizations was an obsession in the 19th and early 20th Centuries and informs the whole of Burroughs' storytelling. Given the weird parallels not only with the Mormons' hollow earth obsession but the whole mythology of a lost American civilization, it's especially noteworthy that most of the exteriors for the film were shot in Utah.

But as if all that weren't enough, there's still another semiotic strain at work in John Carter...

...and that's the none-too-subtle Jesus symbolism attached to this character. You can start with the initials, shots like the one above and the interplay of the character and crucifixes when he is sacrificing himself to save Dejah and Sola.

There's also the symbolism of the empty tomb, well familiar to readers of the Gospels. This is followed shortly after by Carter entering the tomb to "die" to this Earth and be reborn as the savior of Mars.

Which brings us back to that bit of casting I mentioned before. Although we clearly see Dejah Thoris as the Cleopatra archetype of this fable, the leader of Helium and his right hand man are played by the great Ciaran Hinds and James Purefoy respectively. The former played the definitive Julius Caesar on the HBO Rome miniseries and Purefoy played Mark Antony. They essentially repeat their roles here, given that both were allied with Cleopatra, though as conquerors.

I can't help but think of the theories that argue that Jesus Christ was in fact Julius Caesar, theories put forth by renegade scholars like Francesco Carotta and others. I doubt that was Stanton's intention, but casting Hinds and Purefoy certainly helps add to the classical vibe that puts over the Christian symbolism we see at work.

So with all of this high weirdness and strange symbolism, there was bound to be some major eruption of Synchronicity emanating from the movie screen into consensus reality, and Issus knows there surely was...

Take a good, long look at the Thern Temple. Look at the shape, look at the pedestal form it sits on, almost like a mushroom. The shape is remarkably similar to the Millennium Falcon, don't you think? Here take a look...

Now long after John Carter wrapped up principal photography, a so-called "UFO" was discovered in the Baltic Sea that was also compared to the Millennium Falcon via sonar imaging.

Here's the image that the world first saw.

A subsequent expedition to the site just a few weeks ago revealed a huge object which was compared to a giant mushroom, almost exactly like the Thern Temple. What are the odds? What's more the object has anomalous electrical and radar properties and remains unexplained. Whatever the object turns out to be the synchronicity here is pretty mind-blowing.

IT MATTERS...

The socioeconomic conditions I wrote about in Our Gods Wear Spandex have only worsened and the kind of escapism that was once the exclusive province of weirdos and outcasts like yours truly has gone mainstream. Jack Kirby has gone viral with The Avengers, Alan Moore with Anonymous and its use of the Guy Fawkes mask and Frank Miller has with his own projects as well as the Dark Knight films that ransack his Batman ouevre.

Comic books matter because they are now writing our culture, often in terrible ways like we saw in Aurora.

John Carter is a superhero film, make no mistake about it. But maybe Avatar stole its thunder, telling the same basic story with flashier bells and whistles. But for my money there's a lot more to puzzle over in John Carter. The Therns/Archon link cannot be anything but highly intentional, and it feels to me like one more beat in the AAT revelation waltz.

And the insane sync with the Baltic anomaly is the customary signal that more lies under the surface than meets the eye.

From Sidon to Cydonia: David Flynn on Mars



Once upon a time, "occult" didn't mean sorcery or black magic, it referred to a corpus of ancient hidden knowledge whose meaning had been lost to the sands of time. It embodied alchemy, astrology, gematria, numerology and other symbolic sciences.

Rome's one world religion suppressed this knowledge after a bloody series of purges, massacres and book burnings in late antiquity and passed edicts forbidding its study, which lent it the forbidden mystique it still enjoys today.

Today, "occult" is a misnomer. There's no such thing. There is no body of hidden knowledge mouldering away in some basement. What there is is a race of amnesiacs, of bloated narcissists mindlessly thumbing away at their touchscreens. What's hidden is the ability to understand anything but the basest impulses, which is why the work of a David Flynn is needed more than ever today.

I began following David Flynn's work so many years ago I can't remember exactly when anymore. I didn't always agree with his interpretations, but I was always dazzled by his intellect.

In fact, it was Flynn who first got me started doing this kind of work in public (I spent years doing it privately and through email) when I got so frustrated by waiting for him to update his Having Mulder's Baby website that I decided to do it for him. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Flynn was taken from us at the beginning of the year that informed so much of his work. That's life in this Archonic Hell, but in the meantime I hope you'll enjoy this vintage vid, Flynn's first public appearance. It's a tour de force, and I'm sure you'll be struck by his modesty, scholarship and honesty. This stuff troubled him- it challenged his Evangelical worldview and he wasn't afraid to admit that.

The man is gone too soon but the work remains. Dig into this one of a kind body of work-- it will give your own study and research a boost, believe me.

Wizards, Workings and Walk-Ins



I don't get asked much who my favorite superhero is, but the answer's a no-brainer: it's Doctor Strange.
Where I sit, I have a vintage day-glo poster of Doctor Strange to my left, a statue of the Doctor behind me and a small figurine in front of me. The effect's been badly diluted, but the Steve Ditko/Stan Lee Doctor Strange stories of the early 60s are my single favorite comic stories of all time, even more so than the Jack Kirby material you're all so sick of hearing about.

The dilution is the problem, though; Ditko left the strip after a 17-issue epic that pitted the Doctor against the dread Dormammu, a storyline that seemed to show not only how amazingly creative but just how incredibly paranoid the artist was (as with Kirby, Ditko plotted or co-plotted most of the Marvel stories he drew).

It shouldn't surprise anyone that after leaving Marvel (Ditko also was the co-creator of Spider-Man), Ditko lapsed into an ultra-right wing moralism based in the teachings of Ayn Rand. The character Rorschach in Alan Moore's Watchmen is based not only on Ditko's post-Marvel creation, The Question (based in turn on his even more radical self-published character, Mr. A), but in many ways on Ditko himself.

Doctor Strange was handled by a succession of different creators after Ditko, most notably writer Steve Englehart and artists Gene Colan and Tom Sutton, but no one brought quite the conviction to the character that Ditko did. No one seemed to live the character like Ditko. And modern fanboys have always looked kind of sideways at the Doctor, with his prodigious mustache, flamboyant sense of style and Greenwich Village townhouse.

But in the Sixties, the Doctor lit up all the right minds like a Christmas tree. As you see above, psychedelic rock legends Jefferson Airplane, The Charlatans and The Great Society headlined a tribute to Doctor Strange in the heady days of the SF scene, before it all went bad with runaways and bathtub speed. Pink Floyd were big fans-- namechecking the Doctor in "Cymballine" and lifting some art from a Doctor story for the cover of A Saucerful of Secrets--as were T.Rex and other luminaries.

The psychedelic landscapes that the Doctor found himself in were a huge part of his appeal with the hippie generation, who automatically assumed that Ditko too was experienced. Comics historians have always scoffed at these claims, but I'm not so sure.

Ditko did become Mr. Objectivist in the late 60s, but before that he was no stranger to the demimonde, having shared a studio with legendary fetish artist Eric Stanton, who was himself addicted to painkillers and deeply connected to all sorts of underworld and Bohemian characters through his work for various pornographers. Exactly the kinds of people who would have been toying with psychedelics in the late 50s and early 60s.

Ditko didn't just share a studio with Stanton-- he collaborated with him on his fetish art as well, some of which retains its power to shock today.

Of course, there are all kinds of experience and Blake Bell's outstanding biography of Ditko shows an artist who was deeply invested in the unconscious and irrational realms his entire career, and often seemed to skirt the boundaries of schizophrenia in his work. But as we'll soon see, I think an old friend of ours might have had an outsized influence on Ditko's interdimensional escapades as well.

So let's get to it...

The sixth story in Doctor Strange's run in Strange Tales was a distinct break from the rich and shadowy occultism that the series had traded in (Strange was originally called the "Master of Black Magic"). In "The Possessed" Strange travels to Bavaria to investigate a series of possessions of burghers by interdimensional walk-ins. The entire story is an anomaly in the Ditko canon; playing out like a lost episode of The Outer Limits that the Doctor unwittingly wanders into.

What's fascinating about the story is that the burghers are oblivious to what's going on around them-- they see the effects of the walk-in invasion but not the cause. In fact the most frightening thing to them is the appearance of Doctor Strange, who's come to fight the walk-ins.

This all plays out like something out of John Keel: a walk-in sees the Doctor and recognizes him as a threat. He wanders off in the woods where a camouflaged portal acts as a doorway into the other dimension- there he transports and takes physical form as an insectoid alien, not at all unlike a Grey.

The Doctor sets a trap, leaving his body in his astral form and waiting for one of the walk-ins to take possession. Here we see the Doctor fighting these creatures psychically, drawing on the Theosophical and Rosicrucian roots that gave rise to the superhero genre in the first place.

And again, straight out of Keel, straight of Vallee; aliens as djinn, daimons, and any number of discarnate entities who interact with humanity on psychic planes. This would be a thruline with Doctor Strange; epic battles with forces that are often invisible to mere mortals but have profound influence over their lives nonetheless.

Given the Bavarian setting, it's fascinating to see the entities take control of the political class, using them to rabble-rouse against the mysterious occultist who's come to rid their village of the invisible forces taking control of their lives. The Ausländer becomes the obvious target for the witch-hunt, being directed by the real villains. Another thruline in classic Marvel Age comics, and in Kirby's Fourth World stories as well.

And the benediction here is particularly fascinating: the Doctor decides not to explain to the villagers that he had battled invisible entities from another dimension, letting it all be passed down as rumor and folklore. Anticipating Keel and echoing Fort, the Doctor says, "for the history of Man is rich in legend, in which folklore is closer to the truth than any suspect."

All of this has other antecedents as well. In other words, the plot here just reeks of Jack Kirby. Let's do some digging...

Doctor Strange was a refinement of a Lee/Kirby character called Doctor Droom, whose origin story was a dry-run for Strange's; the trip to the Himalayas, the magical ordeal, the ancient lama and so on.


In fact in many ways "The Possessed" is a rewrite of "The World Below" (Amazing Adventures #2), in which Droom travels to Atlantis to battle the merpeople who are planning their own invasion of Earth. As with Doctor Strange, Droom defeats the invasion with the powers of his mind, though in a considerably less interesting fashion.

Droom also hypnotizes the surface people who've seen the merpeople, preferring that the uninitiated stay ignorant of the horrors that await them out there in the hidden world. Good idea, I should say.

Droom would only appear in a handful of stories, but they too were essentially a dry-run for Doctor Strange. As with Spider-Man, Stan Lee was looking for something a bit weirder -- or should I say a different kind of weirdness-- than what Kirby was serving up. The basic architecture of the character speaks to a lot of the themes that Kirby was writing about well before he went to work for Stan, but at the same time there seems to be some sense of interference as well; a classic three-legged race.

Alien walk-in, from the same issue that introduced Dr. Droom

Kirby brought his weird sci-fi/occult sensibility to Marvel, a synthesis that bore fruit on Thor and later, The Eternals. We recently saw how early Kirby was nursing this obsession (Kirby was doing books like Black Magic and Strange World of Your Dreams with partner Joe Simon in the early 50s) and as soon as he left Marvel one of the first stories he did was about a psychic cult trying to contact aliens (which we looked at here and here).

So it shouldn't surprise us that in the same comic (Amazing Adventures #1) that introduced Doctor Droom we also see a Kirby/Lee story about an alien (named "Torr", of all things) who takes possession of human beings.

Bonus factoid: the human Torr is taking possession of is one John Carter, also the pen name of the author of Sex and Rockets, the first major biography of Jack Parsons, named in honor of the Rocket Man's favorite superhero, the Warlord of Mars.

Even more stunning is that not only does Torr master the art of soul transference he also intends to unleash a hallucinogenic drug on the Earth as part of his schemes for conquest. This is 1960, mind you.

This is the mind of Jack Kirby; these are the kinds of insane ideas that got him blacklisted in the comics industry until only Stan Lee would give him any work. He did several stories like this for DC in the years prior, and gave the editors there endless headaches.

Droom would later be reincarnated as 'Doctor Druid', but the basic details would remain the same. Doctor Druid would be given some hair and a goatee in his reincarnation, perhaps because a bald occultist with an intense stare associated with the Himalayas reminded people a little too much of this guy.

Lee and Kirby were probably unfamiliar (at least consciously) with the Great Beast in 1961, but by the early 70s their inheritors certainly knew all about him, hence the makeover.

But I'd venture to guess Crowley would have gotten a kick out of "The Posssessed" since it was a illustration of exactly the kind of contact he constantly sought after in his various workings. I bet you Jack Parsons certainly would as well.

Parsons would have especially appreciated this Jack Kirby story; "The Fourth Dimension is a Many Splattered Thing." In it a store owner discovers an interdimensional gateway appear in a backroom, allowing a shadowy figure to steal random objects.

The poor guy follows the figure through the gateway and finds himself lost in a netherworld where Euclidean geometry, gravity and all of the rest of it is a fantasy. Many comics historians have cited this story as an influence on Ditko for his own other-dimensional realms in Doctor Strange.

And what does the initiate end up with following his ordeal? A Scarlet Woman- from Mars, no less.

Looking at the two interplanetary lovebirds I can't help but be struck by the resemblance to Jack Parsons (birthname: Marvel Whiteside Parsons) and Marjorie Cameron. We've looked exhaustively at Jack Kirby's uncanny knack for knowing things he shouldn't have known and for his endless bizarre allegories- is this yet another one here?

Either way, both Doctor Droom and Doctor Strange have a clear ancestor; Doctor Fate, created in 1940 by Gardner Fox (no stranger to the occult himself and later writer for Doctor Strange) and Howard Sherman.

"The lost Book of Thoth"

I was particularly fascinated by the Golden Age Doctor Fate when I was a kid because he lived in Massachusetts (Salem, to be precise) in a windowless and doorless tower. Sherman had a knack for dark, shadowy artwork but occult heroes don't do well with the fanboys so he eventually was dumbed-down into just another superhero.

But Doctor Fate's origin bears attention- Gardner Fox was one of the very first popularizers of Ancient Astronaut Theory, over a quarter-century before Chariots of the Gods? Not only that, but Fate's origin brings full circle to "The Possessed"; this strange nexus of aliens and the occult, to be exact. Not something you see a lot of in comics, or in pop culture in general. Certainly not "mainstream" UFOlogy, such as it these days.

In the origin (which you can read here), young Kent Nelson accompanies his scientist father to the pyramids, which the archaeologist believes were built by an alien race. When his father is killed by the release of an ancient poison gas during the opening of a tomb, an alien wizard awakes from suspended animation and teaches Kent the ways of the occult. How about that?

I bet Jack Parsons loved that story too. I'm damn sure Jack Kirby did.