Strange Tales #73: "I Was Trapped By The Mole Men!"

Strange Tales #73
"I Was Trapped By The Mole Men!"
February, 1960

Story: Unknown
Art: Don Heck

Mankind live on the surface of the Earth, but what lies beneath?  What
dwells within the depths of darkness?  It had been unknown... until the
day that Sir Norman Ramsay made his fateful discovery.

Ever since his father's death, the Ramsay mines of England now belonged
to Sir Norman Ramsay...  When the workers came to see their employer, the
butler was ordered to have them wait outside, and not inside the home.
The men waited for an hour for Sir Norman to come outside, and ask for an
raise in pay.  Since they were barely able to make a living, the miners
saw this as a reasonable request.  Although he had inherited the mines
from his father, Sir Norman did not share his father's love of the
miners.  In fact, he saw them as being beneath his contempt.  They were
men, not beasts, and each had dignity -- just as their employer had.
Ramsay saw himself as an aristocrat, while they were commoners and
peasants.  He pointed them off his property and demanded that they return
to work at the mines.  Blake had known that it would be a waste of time
trying to appeal to Sir Norman, but they needed their jobs -- no matter
how little it paid them.  As he watched the group of beggars walk away,
Ramsay wished that his father had left him another type of business, not
one associated with filthy miners.

Although he hadn't cared much about the mines, Sir Norman appreciated the
money they brought in, so he kept an eye on them...  Every couple of
months, he would make a surprise inspection...  The workers saw their
employer arriving in his large, shiny limousine, and knew that Ramsay
wanted to make his position clear to everyone of them.  After being
greeted by the miners, Sir Norman insisted that the men clear out of
Number Four Mine... so he could inspect that one personally.  With
everyone out, Blake offers to accompany him, and expresses concern for
his safety.  Not wanting to share space with common workmen, Sir Norman
declines the offer, and heads for the lower gallery first.  SCRATCH  SCRA
As he walked along the empty gallery, he heard a noise up ahead.
SCRATCH  ATCH  SCRAT  At the point where the noise was at its loudest,
Ramsay was certain that it was coming from beneath the tunnel.  Finally,
with a mighty roar, the tunnel caved in...

Sir Norman fell, along with the dirt and rock, down to the earth below.
When he recovered, Ramsay found himself in a subterranean world.  He was
alive, but how would he return to the surface?  When Sir Norman turned --
he found himself facing several giant emerald creatures.  Their
high-pitched voices filled the air.  They had know that there was life up
on the surface.  This poor specimen will become their caged prisoner.
Sir Norman Ramsay found himself grabbed by the green goliaths, who would
spend hours staring at the ugly surface man, and listened as his captors
expressed their disgust for him.

After three days in his cage, Sir Norman now knew what it felt like to be
insulted... to be teased... to be hated by other beings.  As he squirmed
away at the approach of his captors, Ramsay continued his pleas.  He had
spent his life with contempt for others... those who had less than he
had... and this was to be his punishment.  As the scorn continued, he
wished for another chance... to return to the surface world, and mend his
ways.  A sudden noise catches his attention...  It had come from the wall
behind him, until he saw Blake coming to save him.  The two Mole Men try
to capture the surface man, but the miner ran towards them, and fended
them off with his pickaxe.  The would-be captors run off for

Blake turned towards the cage... raised his pickaxe... and used it to
smash the lock.  He leads Sir Norman away, with more of the Mole Men in
pursuit.  After running into the tunnel, the two men began the climb for
the surface world...  When they had reached the gallery, Blake lit a
stick of dynamite, and threw it down the tunnel.  BAROOM  The
subterranean creatures would remain within their own world.  Sir Norman
Ramsay will never forget what Blake had done for him, nor will he forget
what it was like to be alone, and without friends.  He has learned his
lesson.  They are all human beings, and must stick together.  They must
care for one another.  In working side by side, no enemy could threaten
them.  If they surrender to hate and fail to trust one another -- it
would be that much simpler for another creature to conquer them.  From
now on, the workers would be treated fairly and receive a generous
increase in pay.  The threat of the Mole Men has ended, and a new life
begins at Ramsay's Mines.

This story was reprinted in Monsters On The Prowl #14 (December, 1971).

I regard this story as the proto-event for all things which would become
familiar to readers of Silver Age Marvel.

The Mole Men resemble the Incredible Hulk, but with more body hair, and
what looks like Chicken Pox.

Sir Norman Ramsay looks like a cross between Tony Stark and Stephen

Ramsay uses a cigarette-holder, as all good aristocrats do.

Sir Norman takes a fall into a subterranean world, as the Fantastic Four
would do in their very first issue.

The mine owner soon finds himself trapped within a cage, but is freed by
blond-haired Blake, and watches as the humble worker wields his pickaxe
like a mighty hammer.

After an explosive release, Ramsay acknowledges his conscience, and
changes his ways.

This was a realization also made by Doctor Stephen Strange, who learned
to aid his fellow man, too.

Steve Chung
"I Was Reviewed By The Mole Men!"