Strange Adventures #203
Art: Jack Sparling
The high-flying explorer known as Cliff Battles has found himself once
more on a dangerous adventure. On this particular day, Cliff finds
himself in a tight spot, but remembers how he was able to save himself on
a previous occasion. He once again became... "The Split-Man!" On the
splash page, two bandidos are lassoed by Cliff Battles-Red, and are
pulled into the waiting fists of Cliff Battles-Blue.
At an archeological dig in Mexico, Cliff Battles has just found a stone
Indian tablet. It might be a way to find the precious relics that
they've been searching for. The engraving on the tablet concerns a
head-band which is supposed to give the person wearing it incredible
abilities. The weird inscriptions cannot be easily deciphered, and the
explorer figures that the language is of some long-dead tribe. The staff
at the local museum might be able to translated it... and Cliff will take
the helicopter to town tomorrow. One of the locals sneaks off to inform
El Grando. The following day, the explorer is flying over the jungle...
when he sees a person waving for help. After landing the copter, the
explorer heads to check out the body lying still on the jungle floor.
Cliff hears a sound coming from the woods... and sees the glint coming
from a rifle barrel in the trees. Fearing a trap, and not being able to
make it back to the helicopter... he makes a run for it. El Grando
commands his hill bandidos to pursue after the fleeing explorer. Since a
bullet might shatter the old tablet stored in the backpack, they are to
catch him alive. Not wanting El Grando to get his hands on the stone
tablet, and with the helicopter under guard... Cliff reaches into the
knapsack for Zantec's golden belt -- the one he received when he saved
the life of the elderly native in the mystery valley. This magic belt
enabled Cliff Battles to split into two identical beings at once.
Both Cliff Battles were able to take both trails leading from the valley.
If he uses the belt, then one of them might be able to reach town with
the stone tablet. The explorer remembers if he should split while
holding onto the tablet, it might shatter in two. With the stone tablet
safely on the ground, Cliff faces west, and covers the eyes of the jaguar
emblem with his hand. Once more does Cliff Battles feel an energy surge
pass through his body -- and the next moment finds two identical men in
Their time limit is sundown, when they must merge, and if not... they
will die. El Grando and his bandidos chase after Cliff Battles-Blue,
while Red is free to head for the museum with the stone tablet. Two
bandidos were chasing after the Blue self, but he grabs onto some brush
with his fists, and makes his play.
TWAANG The two bandidos are hit full in the face and fall backwards.
Unfortunately for Cliff Battles-Blue, El Grando had decided to take a
short-cut... WHAMMO... and kicks him down for the count. When the
bandidos search the backpack for the tablet, they do not find it, and
figure that the explorer must have hidden it somewhere along the way.
Both trails will soon be searched and the captive will be taken to the
El Grando tells his prisoner that he knows how to decipher the tablet,
and once it has been retrieved by his men, the head-band will belong to
him. Cliff Battles-Red makes his way to the city, aware of what has
happened to his other self, and deciding to continue onwards... As he
nears the museum, the Red self is unaware that his every movement is
being watched. Two of El Grando's men have spotted the Americano and
figure that he must have escaped from camp. They consider it wise to
have been stationed at the museum and are now free to act. WHAAP The
stone tablet is taken by the bandidos and the Red self is too weak to
Back on his feet, Cliff Battles-Red finds some transportation and make
his way to the camp... El Grando hears that his men have failed to find
the tablet in the jungle, and is about to interrogate the explorer when
they see a car heading their way. The two men stationed at the museum
have brought the tablet to their leader, but wonder how the Americano
could have beaten them back to camp. When he learns that they took care
of the explorer at the museum... El Grando figures that Cliff Battles
must have used a double to get the tablet safely away from harm.
The stone tablet is deciphered, with Cliff Battles-Blue thrown into the
prison pit, while the others head for the excavation. Cliff Battles-Red
arrives at the camp and manages to lasso the two guards by surprise.
When the two startled bandidos fall into the pit, they are punched out,
and then tied up. With the two reunited, Cliff Battles-Red wonders if
they should become one again, but Cliff Battles-Blue insists that they
take the copter to the excavation site.
Now flying over the site, they see El Grando's men -- fighting with
Winston and the other diggers... but the leader is nowhere to be found.
They see him emerge from the ruins, wearing the head-band, and wonder if
there's any truth to the legends about its powers. As the copter turns
for a landing... KA-WHAM They see lightning flashes coming from the eyes
of El Grando -- shattering two boulders into rubble. The head-band's
powers are legitimate and the two must come up with a plan. Now on the
ground, Cliff Battles-Blue yells out towards El Grando, who is surprised
to see the explore is no longer in the prison pit. FUUSSH A lightning
burst narrowly misses the Blue self, who dives into the excavation
trench... The leader of the bandidos is confident that the strange
powers granted unto him will soon prevail...
The lightning bursts are now being used to drive the explorer from his
protective trench. The rocks are now on fire and the lava is flowing
towards Cliff Battles-Blue... Bracing his legs on both sides of the rock
wall, he waits for the Red self to do his part. Cliff Battles-Red swings
his fist into the side of El Grando's jaw. The Red self was able to
sneak up from behind, but when the bandido leader is downed, the
head-band shatters. Both Cliff Battles feel their strength draining from
them... with the sun about to set... they must merge once again...
The next moment finds their hands meeting... and Cliff Battles is now
himself once more. Winston sees that the explorer has punched out El
Grando, and saved the relics from being plundered. He wonders how Cliff
was able to do it all, while the Split-Man realizes how close he came to
losing it all.
On the cover of Strange Adventures #203 by Carmine Infantino and George
Roussos, the Split-Man is under attack by El Grando and his hideous
Lightning bursts are being spewed from the villain's mouth, with Cliff
Battles-Blue caught in the path of the boiling lava, and Cliff
Battles-Red about to topple El Grando from behind.
The Split-Man looks more like the Split-Kid on the cover, rather than the
adventuresome adult featured in the story.
The character sports a cool-looking logo on the splash page, with the
letters being split down the middle.
The poor guy lying on the jungle floor looks like he's having a siesta,
but fails to keep the nature of the trap under his sombrero.
El Grando looks like an extremely antagonistic version of Sergio
The leader of the bandidos doesn't seem to be so grand at all.
With apologies to Gus Arriola, he doesn't seem to be "El Gordo," either.
Due to his stature, the bandido leader couldn't be known as "El Grande,"
Thanks to his ubiquitous backpack, Cliff was able to carry the stone
tablet, and the golden magic belt.
In Superman #162 (July, 1963): "The Amazing Story of Superman-Red And
Superman-Blue!" was told by Leo Dorfman (Script), Curt Swan & Kurt
Schaffenberger (Pencils), and George Klein (Inks).
This story has an interesting moment when the Split-Man realizes that
something might happen to the stone tablet if he happens to be holding it
during the change.
If Cliff Battles is holding onto someone during the change, would they
become split, too?
While the Man of Steel has the Phantom Zone prisoners to contend with,
the Split-Man makes short work of his captors, and hurls them into the
The legendary head-band looks more like an Aztec headdress, and with its
ability to fire lightning bursts, it's probably powered by solar energy.
Before Cliff Battles-Red punches out El Grando, we see that the bandit
leader is having some indigestion, and is coughing up lightning bursts
like there's no tomorrow.
Due to the events in the second adventure of the Split-Man, I can see why
Cliff might have chosen to discard the golden magic belt given to him by
Zantec, and learned to chose his own battles.
This Review Is Dedicated To Marc Miyake and Ric Croxton