Strange Adventures #166
"I Lived In Two Bodies!"
Art: Jack Sparling
Ever since the dawn of time, mankind has faced matters of life and death
-- and once the choice was made, there were no second chances. There has
never been a way to have it both ways -- not until Cliff Battles fought
for his life in a strange valley, and became the first man to realize...
"I Lived In Two Bodies!" On the splash page, the Red self of Cliff
Battles urges a giant bird to take a lifesaving strand of rope towards a
ravine, where his Blue self can reach it.
Cliff Battles was falling... down... down between the desolate peaks...
His plane was now a Roman candle, thanks to some faulty wiring, and he
was without wings. At three thousand feet, Cliff cracks open his
parachute, and heads for a valley which was not on any map. As he
descended towards the valley, Cliff sees a native about to be attacked by
a jaguar. He has enough time to draw his pistol and fire a single shot
at the large cat.
Back on the ground, Zantec thanks the stranger from the sky for his aid.
The native dialect was familiar to the explorer... but more natives
appear, and they do not like what they see. Cliff is shown the area
where his iron bird has destroyed their sacred place. For this
transgression, he is to be put to death. As the explorer tries to
explain that he had lost control of his plane, Zantec tells the others
about how he was saved from the jaguar. Since the gods would frown upon
the slaying of their elder's rescuer, Cliff Battles is to be sent from
the valley --forever. Both paths leading to the peaks are fraught with
danger. If he should die on the chosen path, it will be deemed as the
will of the gods. If he survives, this will also be so.
The explorer doesn't like what he's hearing, and asks Zantec which of the
two trails is the safest. Although both trails are equally dangerous,
the elder has something which may be of aid for his rescuer. Cliff
Battles is presented with a gleaming golden belt... and is told to wear
it at the place where the trail becomes two. He is to face towards the
west and cover the eyes on the jaguar emblem. Once this is done, Cliff
will be able to undertake both trails at the same time. Not wanting to
hurt the elder's feelings, he accepts the gift, and learns that he has
until sundown before the golden belt becomes useless for him. Cliff made
his way to the trail and stopped at the fork... One wrong guess and it
would mean his finish. Remembering the gift from Zantec, Cliff Battles
faces west, and covers the jaguar's eyes... He is immediately struck by
a strange sensation. Every fibre of his being tingled as his
consciousness felt the strange battle being waged from within.
Cliff Battles has arrived at a new frontier... for he has become split
into two identical beings. One is glowing blue... while the other is
red... and the jaguar symbol on the belt has also become split. Zantec
was correct, and Cliff Battles would now be able to take both paths at
once. His chances of survival have increased... if one trail proves to
be safer than the other. He may be imagining all of this, but the time
has come for him to get out of the valley before sundown. After waving
goodbye to himself, each Cliff heads down their chosen paths... Only
later would they realize that they were exposing themselves to the
dangers of both trails at once. It is now too late for them to reunite
until sundown... and if they should return to the valley, they will
receive the death sentence. Was it all a trick of Zantec? Cliff has no
choice but to continue. The "Blue" self suddenly falls down a ravine...
but the fall is cushioned by water. Cliff Battles-Blue is now fifty feet
below his path.
Cliff Battles-Red knew what had happened to his other self... but with
the miles between them, he could get lost if he strays from the path. He
watches as the giant bird reaches for a shiny rock, and knows that it
favors shiny objects for its nest. Cliff Battles-Blue had seen what his
other self had seen... With another giant bird flying overhead, he takes
a rope from his backpack... and a pocket mirror, as well. After tying
the rope to the signal mirror, Cliff Battles-Blue begins to whirl it
around... until the mirror catches the sun... and the bird's attention.
The large bird comes flying down and snags the shiny item in midair.
With the rope attached to the mirror, Cliff Battles-Blue hangs on, and is
soon free of the ravine. The Blue self returns to the trail... VROOSH!
He soon encounters the badlands... filled with erupting volcanic spout
holes. Since he was out of range... Cliff Battles-Blue would soon be out
of the valley in a matter of minutes.
Cliff Battles-Red was traveling on the other side of the badlands...
With sundown imminent, he had to meet with his other self before then.
SPLUSH! Another volcanic spout erupts, with the Red self caught near the
dangerous hail. Cliff Battles-Blue was frozen with fear... He is at the
end of the trail, but could not leave without his other self. Unless
they join together before sundown... they will both die. The Blue self
sees an animal heading for a bush, and what has been seen by Cliff
Battles-Blue is also seen by his Red self, too.
It turns out that the bush is repelling the hail of rock, a fact which
was known by the animal. Not wanting to stay in one place for long,
Cliff Battles-Red uses his hunting knife to slash at the bush, and carry
a piece of it with him to safety. Both were now in a weakened state, and
just as the sun was about to set... the two become one once more. Now
whole again, Cliff Battles knows that one man could not have made it
alone. He wonders about the golden belt... its unique powers, and if he
would ever have need of it again?
Cliff Battles favors a white T-shirt, purple pants, and brown shoes. He
looks like Lex Luthor wearing a blond hairpiece.
In a sense, we all have lived in two bodies, but then we are born after
nine months have passed.
The explorer figures that some faulty wiring was responsible for his
plane going down, but might there not have been some sabotage, as well?
Cliff saves the life of a native from a jaguar. Luckily for him, the
others do not worship the animal, and this would have given the explorer
quite a few headaches. Perhaps he should take some Zantec...
The iron bird has landed... right on the sacred place of the natives.
Now, there will be no Bingo nite for them at all.
After facing west and covering the eyes of the jaguar emblem, Cliff
Battles becomes the Split-Man, two beings with red and blue auras.
The Caped Crusader has his utility belt, but the Split-Man has his
"Cliff Battles." I don't know about the name of the character, but he
sure lost his footing over the ravine.
The power to split into two is fine, but the life-or-death deadline at
sundown is a bit of a downer.
Although this was the first appearance of the Split-Man, he is not
referred to as such, and it does not appear in the story.
On a house ad for House of Secrets #67 (July - August, 1964), Eclipso
battles his other self in "Challenge Of The Split Man!" The story was by
Bob Haney and the art was by Alex Toth.
This Review Is Dedicated To Bob Buethe
"I Lived In Two Reviews!"