What Neutro would have looked like if it had gone on a rampage. Artist: Jack Sparling.


Medium: Comic books
Published by: Dell Comics
First Appeared: 1967
Creators: unknown writer and Jack Sparling (artist)
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In 1962, Western Printing took the properties it licensed from Hanna-Barbera, MGM etc., away from Dell Comics, which had been performing its publishing services, and started a comic book publisher of its own, Gold Key, to do that. Dell, left high and dry, spent the next few years trying to develop properties of its own, from Brain Boy to Naza the Stone Age Warrior, in an attempt to remain a viable …

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… publisher. Neutro, which it launched with a cover date of January, 1967, was part of its ongoing drive to create such properties.

It's hard to say what might have been on the minds of Neutro's creators. While a cover blurb proclaimed him not just a superhero, but the most astounding one of all — another cover blurb claimed he didn't know the difference between right and wrong, and it's hard to imagine any hero, much less a super one, without moral direction. To judge from what's printed right on the comic, Neutro can pass for a superhero only among those whose standards of heroism are very, very low.

It opened with a pair of scientists named Dodge and Banyan, who were exploring the Southwest desert of North America, investigating native legends of aliens who visited the area about a thousand years ago. What they found was a bunch of boxes containing easy-to-assemble components of a giant robot. Without explaining how they found out, they let on to the reader that the aliens were from Pluto, the robot had immense power but no brain, and its name was Neutro.

A lengthy caption outlined what Neutro could do — outrace leopards, incinerate dinosaurs, rip tanks in two, stuff like that … and if anybody were to shoot at it, it could swallow the bullets like a baby swallows candy. But readers never got to see it doing any of that.

Neither did Dodge and Banyan, who were nonetheless convinced anybody who controlled Neutro could easily rule the world — a point not lost on Group 777, a bunch of renegade scientists, Russians, or whatever — would-be world conquerors, in any case, who somehow found out about Neutro and somehow overrode the Americans' control over it. There was more about what Neutro was capable of, but nothing about it actually doing anything. Meanwhile, the Plutonians were said (but not shown) to be biding their time, ready to take control of Neutro and Earth away from whoever wound up with it.

While this issue lacked sensible (or other) action, it was full of information (tho little of it came from sources the reader could see) about what could happen next, assuming something was going to happen, which it hadn't so far. But so many pages were spent telling the reader about what, for all the action it was shown taking, could be nothing but a hunk of inert metal; and introducing villains who either came from nowhere or were lurking unseen in outer space, that the entire comic book got used up. The "story" was to be continued in the following issue — but there wasn't one. Neutro had only that single issue, so readers were left dangling, never to see whatever issues it may or may not have brought up resolved..

Commentator Scott Shaw! (Captain Carrot) called this comic where nothing happened and nothing was resolved "The single most pointless comic book story I have ever read" and speculated that inasmuch as Neutro had no brain, he might have been the uncredited writer. The artist, too, was uncredited, but could easily be identified as Jack Sparling, who was also responsible for Harvey's Pirana, DC's Secret Six, and the newspaper comic Claire Voyant.

Why the comic was written, drawn, published and read was, like so much else about it, unexplained.


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Text ©2008-09 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Dell Comics.