Mighty Morgo versus the Chicken Fiend – Color

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Morgo the Mighty was clearly inspired by both Tarzan and At the Earth’s Core. It features a feral white man who is the master of his jungle environment and that jungle environment is located in caverns beneath the earth. There are monstrous creatures that he must battle to survive.

Contrary to online descriptions of the novel (and illustrations that accompanied it when it was serialized in The Popular Magazine) there are no dinosaurs or other prehistoric creatures in Surrilana. The beasts in the caverns are evolved (and often gigantic) rodents, bats, insects and birds. It’s a more realistic scenario than a land somehow populated by dinosaurs. I’m not saying it’s a better scenario. I love dinosaurs.

Birds are the descendants of the dinosaurs. So, perhaps, the chicken fiends of Surrilana can be considered dinosaur stand-ins.

 

Mighty Morgo versus the Chicken Fiend – Black and White

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In Chapter 15 of the pulp serial Morgo the Mighty, Morgo and Nurri Kala must face .. the Chicken Fiends! “The Chicken Fiends” is, in fact, the title of the chapter. Apparently chickens were considered to be more fearful beasts back in 1930. The creatures rule over one of the cavern environments in Surrilana, an underground realm beneath the Himalayas. I know a giant flesh eating chicken would actually be pretty terrifying but, as a city boy here in the 21st century, it’s hard for me to summon up any nervous emotions about chickens.

Morgo kills them dead.

Zorimi’s Winged Terrors – Black and White

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Surrilana, the vast system of caverns beneath the Himalayas (as described in the pulp serial Morgo the Mighty), is home to a variety of weird creatures. The first such species that McRory and company run into (literally, with their airplane) is the giant manfaced bat. This creature is huge – about the size of a human being, and somewhat intelligent – enough to follow the orders of the masked tyrant Zorimi,

Black as the Pit, From Pole to Pole – Black and White

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One of my favorite Frankenstein sequels is the short story “Black as the Pit, From Pole to Pole” by Howard Waldrop and Steve Utley. It picks up where the novel left off with Frankenstein’s Monster wandering across the polar ice cap. He has discovered that Frankenstein made him too well – the ice and cold won’t kill him. He doesn’t want to try drowning himself – it might not work. So he keeps walking – right into the northern opening to the hollow earth.

He makes his way through the Earth encountering all manner of monsters, beasts and weirder things, conquers kingdoms, finds love, and sows fear and destruction in his path. Eventually he comes out at the South Pole. I liked the story so much that I bought the book Custer’s Last Jump just so that I wouldn’t have to check it out of the library the next time I wanted to read it. One of these days I’ll have to get around to reading the other stories that keep it company.

A Man of the Caverns – Color

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Morgo was a boy, traveling with his family in the Himalayas, when they were killed. He became trapped in the caverns of Surrilana. Because he was a white man (in a pulp novel written by a white American male in 1930) he grew up strong and powerful and a ruler of the other beings in the caverns.

A Man of the Caverns – Black and White

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Sometimes an author picks the wrong character to be his protagonist. For his novel Morgo the Mighty, Sean O’Larkin chose the pilot Jerry McRory. Jerry isn’t necessarily a bad character. I imagine O’Larkin figured that he needed an ordinary guy to lead his ordinary guy readers through the underworld of Surrilana. He is not, however, as dynamic as Morgo. Morgo fights the giant chickens, negotiates with the giant ants and does all the primitive man heroic stuff. Poor Jerry is a lost guy with a gun who knows that when he runs out of bullets he’s screwed.

Surrilana Vistas – Black and White

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Morgo the Mighty takes place in a series of massive caverns located beneath the Himalayas. Each cavern is lit by a different degree and spectrum of light. The deeper one goes into the caves the brighter the light becomes. The explanation of where the light comes from is a bit ridiculous but probably no more so than the idea of a series of massive caves, teeming with life, located beneath the Himalayas.

If I ever do manage to do a rewritten and illustrated version of the story I plan to have the light originate from a different source than in the original novel. That source will probably be no less ridiculous than the source in the original.