Like many other comic book fans I’ve been for a few years semi-actively seeking out a copy of Heroic Comics #35 (1946) for the lead story Facing Death in a Panda’s Mouth. Seen by few and existing only as rumor in comic geek circles the unlikely cover of Heroic Comics depicts a hunter being menaced by an improbably huge panda with vampire tendencies. But can the story possibly meet the promise of the cover?
Yes and no.
Thanks to the recent Comic-Con and a friend I finally got hold of a copy. The story, while simple, is as goofy, stupid and awesome as I anticipated. The art is serviceable and at times hilarious as the Dire Panda appears to have been modeled variously after a wolverine or a family pet. Looking at this story I speculate the artist propped up his daughter’s gerbil and posed it for some model reference.
Of course, the giant predatory monster in the comic book doesn’t exist in reality. Yet as anyone who can watch a YouTube clip knows, pandas are not the cuddly, sensitive Gandhi-like critters at one with the Universe that has been the mainstay of children’s entertainment and education for uncounted years. They are big and strong animals with teeth that will tear your arm off. Pandas, though, are one of the few animals in the world that can still elicit a reaction of “Aw, cute!” from witnesses even as it is ripping deep into your face with its claws.
Note: Story contains some ethnically derogatory terms.