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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Highlight Reel: Easter Island and What Jack Kirby Knew!

Me and my Moai.

I'm not saying Jack Kirby was hiding something... but...maybe more just giving us hints, you know, bread crumbs...

...like we wouldn't really get it if he just came out and said, "You wouldn't believe what I just saw on Easter Island." You know... kinda like Jimmy Stewart in "Harvey" talking about that big rabbit? Bring out the straight jacket and all of that bother. Smart to avoid that, Jack was.

But I've never been able to break this feeling that Jack was trying to tell us something!

I mean after all, for some reason in 1959, he penciled two classic comics, focusing on the same theme, from TWO different companies. So it couldn't have been Stan Lee, the writer of one, trying to give us clues to some great cosmic mystery? It must have been Jack!

I am of course referring to: "House of Mystery," #85, April 1959 DC Comics; And "Tales to Astonish" #5, September 1959, Marvel Comics. In both of these books, the giant heads (which do have bodies attached, by the way), come to life with various agendas. Not any that mean good for mankind.

They are called Moai.

Moai on the move in various comics!

Two stories in one year! The pattern was forming! Jack had Rapa Nui (Easter Island) on the brain for SOME reason.

Granted, giant stone monsters coming to life is not something one sees every day. One doesn't generally look out ones window and see a stone behemoth lopping about out by the bird feeder along with the squirrels and the blue jays.

But you can't rule out possibilities.

So, when the opportunity presented itself--all nice and gift wrapped with a bow on top--to go to Chile last year, it seemed that a stop over on Easter Island was most definitely in order.

Taking my job as an investigative journalist seriously--because that is what I studied in college-- I felt it my sworn duty to follow all leads, right?

Jack drew with too much conviction, too much detail.  Stan wrote with too much being unsaid, too much innuendo... for there not to be something behind the book!

As soon as I landed on this pinhead point of treeless land in the Pacific Ocean known as Rapa Nui-- I'm serious, when you are landing, you see ocean from end to end on the runway-- I knew I was on a grand adventure. I was whisked up by a local guide who immediately took me off to see my first Moai. No time to lose!

He was rather non-committal. (My first Moai,  not the guide.) The strong silent type. Back towards the ocean,  gazing straight through me as if I wasn't even there. Rather rude I thought. Not to mention there was no offer of cookies or even tea, or polite conversation, as one is accustomed to when visiting. (Of course I didn't bring anything either, so poor showing on my part as well. One should never show up empty handed.) And if I'd been portrayed as harboring evil in every comic written about me, I might be a little gun shy too, so I forgave him.

But the lack of modesty was another matter. Well! He didn't even dress for dinner--that's not how the Moai roll (No pun intended...well maybe a little)-- but more on that later.

Beginning my investigation straight away, the niceties being non-existent, there was no evidence  of my Moai having gone on a walkabout anytime recently. i.e. no scuff marks on the bottom, as I assume he would have if he'd been thrusting himself along the stone paths of the rocky island, no evidence of the moss growing at his base having been displaced, no unpacked suitcases etc. etc.

The first thing you'll notice, although you'll try not to, averting your eyes here and there, is that unlike the Scots, there is  no need to wonder what's under the kilt. The Moai, you see, are quite nude. Why bother with clothes! The weather is wonderful! Their typical stance is to stand, hands on hips, pointing down to their private parts, which of course, are always depicted as up for bat. While the Moai, are non-chalant, starring straight ahead through orb-less sockets.

Here's looking at you kid.

Not sure why the emphasis on manliness?  Surely some fertility thing, or macho comparison. But the eyes....

 Indeed, the theory is that the eyes of the Moai were made of shells, which the priest of the village only put in during religious ceremonies. (You'll see a few with painted on eyes, but these are not the original orbs. For tourists only.)  The eyes represented the departed leader, residing in the likeness of the statue, coming back to life to look over the village when needed. When not in use, the shell eyes were stored away for future, evangelical work. Villagers from local tribes during times of conflict, would of course always try to steal the eyes of Moai that belonged to rival tribes. Because we all know the eyes have "it."

And in this case, the "it" was that embodiment of the soul of the departed leader. Pretty important when you are into power and such.

While they were at it, they'd also take the time to  topple the rival Moai as well, always taking it a step to far. Oh, and then sometimes they also practiced cannibalism, which was not because of famine as some like to speculate, but more because it represented devouring the soul of your enemy.  You know... the usual stuff.

Or else!

During my investigation though, I did indeed discover some other odd tidbits to mull:

1.) There is in fact ONE female Moai. Instead of hands on hips pointing down at a flag pole, she does in fact have female attributes. That leads one to speculate that in fact there was at least one revered female leader on Easter Island at one point in time. I'd love to know HER story.

2.)  There is one Moai that actually had TWO sets of hands on his hips.  This one is particularly interesting to me, as, unlike other Moai, it's not placed along the coast, but is placed inland, looking out to sea, and lining up perfectly with the Winter Solstice. I'm concocting my own theory for a scholarly paper that it has something to do with the phases of the moon or planting or some such. Either that, or it could represent twins. Or hey... maybe the person actually DID have 4 arms.... anyway, my paper will set the scientific world on it's ears.   (I'll make it more interesting than that of course.) Either that, or it's some alien messing with us again. Which of course they love to do. (I often think the aliens of yesteryear had nothing better to do, but come down here, and laugh about what cryptic clues they were going to leave for future incarnations of us, the lower life form.  Laughing in their alien way-- whatever that is-- saying, if they speak-- "Yeah, let's make big carvings in the floor of this valley, that can really only be seen from above. That'll perplex 'em." Or, "Let's give this statue two sets of hands. They'll spend years thinking about that one! Har." Aliens it seems had alot of time on their hands. )

3.) Easter Island, has nothing to do with Easter. Imagine my surprise. Why name it something that is so deceiving, eh, island  namers? Although, I did find a rather large round rock that looked like an Easter egg, and seized upon it as proof that there is a cover up of some kind. Again. I'm not saying it's aliens, but...

Dang right it's Easter Island!

4.) There are wild horses everywhere on Easter Island. Just roaming about. I bet you didn't know that. The locals seem to love to have horses, but at some point they just let them all go, and now there is an overpopulation tromping about. To add to the trouble, there is one yellow flower, which the horses sometimes eat, which is terribly poisonous to them. Once eaten, like the apple in Eden, there is no going back. They stumble around like drunkards for a few days and sadly die. As a result, you see horse carcases quiet often in various stages of bloating or decay. One wonders why they just don't cut all the yellow flowers, or corral the horses, but that hasn't dawned on anyone yet.

5.) As mentioned the Moai are all facing in. Not facing out to sea. The theory is that since they represented dead leaders that they were overlooking whatever village they belonged to. There is only one set of Moai seemingly facing out to sea. Nobody of course knows why. That's the rub about this place: Nobody left a manual.

Rush Hour

6.) Not all Moai have top hats. And these are carved from a different quarry on the island than Moai themselves. I think it was a fashion statement. You know, Roger died, and his tribe thought he'd look fetching with a red top hat on his noggin. So then everyone else was jealous, and their dead friends had to have top hats too.  Maybe they even poisoned a few leaders early, just so they could get in on the top hat craze sooner. Fashion is like that you know. It's why we end up with padded sleeves and parachute pants.  (Another theory is that the top hat's aren't hats at all, but top Knots! There may have been a time when the leaders used red clay to cake their hair and tie it on top of their head. Could be. Heaven knows they didn't spend that time making clothes.)

7.) The Moai, top knot down, were carved in a quarry on another part of the island. Whatever the reason for the Moai, the practice appears to have ended abruptly. You'll find many Moai in various stages of construction, and hundreds of completed ones, half buried in the ground up to their shoulders and leaning in various directions along the quarry trail up the mountain, like a marching band toppled by one tuba player that lost his step. This to me was one of the most interesting mysteries on Easter Island. Why was the practice ended so abruptly? Did they stop honoring their leaders? Did the tribes disband? Did all the master craftsmen die? Did someone decree "We don't need no mo Moai. Let's make origami instead."

Abandoned Moai quarry.

8.) All those theories about the Easter Islanders cutting down all their trees to move the Moai, appears to  not be true. Evidence suggests that the statues "Walked from the guarry where they were formed to their resting place by the sea." (See I'm telling ya, Jack knew something.) The new theory is that a system of ropes and pulleys were fastened to the statues, and they were made to simulate walking, even over vast distances. There is no theory as of yet, on where these so called ropes came from. 

9.) I'm sad to say that while I was there, I did not observe any Moai moving. I tried. And although they are dang spooky at night, I didn't see one budge an inch. Although I'm not entirely sure one didn't blink.

10.) There is a large round stone, the make-up of which does not match any other stone on the island. They call it the "Belly Button of the World." Supposedly if you sit there in a circle with your hands splayed, you can feel the vibrations of the mystical earth. I tried it. I'm not sure what I felt, but my stomach did growl.

With friends I met on the trip. Nothing says "bonding" like putting your hands on a belly button.

It all just deepens the mystery, no?

I spent  several magical nights on Easter Island mulling over all that I'd learned, while sitting in a thatched roof restaurant, paying way too much for tuna steak and ceviche, watching the sunset linger on a vast horizon, and feeling --because, well, you are-- cut off from the rest of the world.

It gives one time to think. To speculate on this unique culture that is Rapa Nui, and wonder just what it is that we'll never know. Because unless it's found on a stone tablet, we just won't.  It's all guessing in the end.

A template for a myriad of dreams.

Or will we not? Jack knew! Yeah. He knew something. He just wasn't telling. Wanted us to figure it out for ourselves. Thought we wouldn't believe him...

Perhaps there is a clue in the plot of "Tales to Astonish" #5:  "A pilot crash lands on Easter Island where he observes the statues rise out of the ground and discuss invasion plans of their home planet and enslavement of Earthman (This always seems like a faulty plan, do they not know how much we eat?). He flees the pursuit of the statues and attempts to warn the proper authorities, but no one believes him. Eventually he begins to doubt his story as well, and unobserved, the statues who had been following him return to Easter Island safe in the knowledge that no one would believe such an outlandish tale."

Unless you put it in comic book form perhaps! Hum... 

I'm listening Jack, I'm listening.

Tongue in Cheek, NYC


Easter Island/Rapa Nui has been portrayed in many comic books, including titles as diverse as: "Tomb of Darkness," Marvel, 1975; "The Incredible Hulk," #261, Marvel 1981; "Mr. Peabody and Sherman" #3, IDW, 2013, "Uncle Scrooge Adventures," #3, Gladstone, 1988; and most recently in "Deadpool" #20, Mavel 2014 (Although they have the statues facing the wrong direction.) In fact, it was Chad Grothkopf who has the distinction of being the first artist to draw the Moai in "The Easter Island Gods," in Action Comics #28, with appear two years after The Man of Steel.

I found this great list of all that is Easter Island in comics, compiled by Philip Sites below and on the link provided, where he relates his own Rapa Nui experiences.  


Comprehensive list of EI in Comics:
By Philip Sites

Cover and story:

(These stories feature the famous Easter Island moai or a similar “stone man” likeness or reference on the cover as well as a relevant story in the issue. Some stories are reprints from prior issues)

Batman Adventures V.2 #4 (DC – September 2003)

Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew #5 (DC – July 1982)

Chamber of Chills #11 (Marvel – July 1974) (same story as Tales of Suspense V.1 #28 (Marvel – April 1962)

DC Comics Presents V.1#46 (DC – June 1982)

House of Mystery V.1 #85 (DC – April 1959)

Joker: Last Laugh #3 (DC – December 2001)

Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures #12 (Dark Horse – September 1997)

Justice League of America V.1#15 (DC – November 1962)

Kona #13 (Dell – Jan/March 1965)

Spike #5A (Dark Horse – December 2012)

Strange Adventures #16 (DC – January 1952)

Super Powers V. 2 #3 (DC – November 1985)

Tales of Suspense V.1 #28 (Marvel – April 1962)

Tales to Astonish V.1#5 (Marvel – September 1959)

Tales to Astonish V.1#16 (Marvel – February 1961)

The Incredible Hulk #261 (Marvel – July 1981)

The New Teen Titans Annual V.2#2 (DC – August 1986)

The Mighty Thor #318 (Marvel – April 1982)

Tomb of Darkness #16 (Marvel – September 1975) (same story as Tales of Suspense V.1 #28 (Marvel – April 1962)

Uncle Scrooge Adventures #3 (Gladstone – January 1988)

Weird War Tales #34 (DC – February 1975)

Where Creatures Roam V.1#3 (Marvel – November 1970) (same story/similar cover as Tales to Astonish V.1#16)

Where Monsters Dwell V.1#24 (Marvel – October 1973) (same story/cover as Tales to Astonish V.1#5)

Story only:

(Many of these issues contain full stories directly inspired by Easter Island, the moai/stone men and related imagery. All of these issues contain at least some visual reference to the island or moais)

Action Comics V.1#28 (DC – September 1940)

Action Comics V.1#180 (DC – May 1953)

Beware the Monsters are Here DC Special #11 (DC – April 1971) – same story as House of Mystery V.1 #85 (DC – April 1959)

Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew #6 (DC – August 1982)

Dazzler V.1 #18 (Marvel – August 1982)

Deadpool V.3#20 (Marvel – February 2014)

Donald Duck Adventures V. 2#15 (Disney Comics – August 1991)

Donald Duck and Friends #317 (Gemstone – July 2004)

Donald Duck and Friends #326 (Gemstone – April 2005)

Doom Patrol Vol.2#25 (DC – August 1989)

Doomwar #1 (Marvel – April 2010)

Doomwar #4 (Marvel – July 2010)

Fathom #4 (Top Cow/Image – March 1999)

Fathom #5 (Top Cow/Image – April 1999)

Fathom #6 (Top Cow/Image– May 1999)

Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #14 (DC – January 2013)

Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #15 (DC – February 2013)

Gold Digger V.3 #8 (Antarctic Press – February 2000)

JLA #36 (DC – December 1999)

JLA #37 (DC – January 2000)

JLA #38 (DC – February 2000)

JLA #39 (DC – March 2000)

JLA #40 (DC – April 2000)

JLA #41 (DC – May 2000)

Joker: Last Laugh #4 (DC – December 2001)

Jon Woo 7 Brothers: Son of Heaven, Son of Hell #1 (Liquid Comics – October 2012)

Laugh #141 (Archie – December 1962)

Maximage #1 (Image – December 1995)

Mickey Rat Comix #2 (Kitchen Sink – January 1972)

Mr. Peabody and Sherman #2 (IDW – December 2013)

Mystery in Space #40 (DC – October 1957)

Mystery Tales #24 (Marvel – December 1954)

Seaguy #2 (Vertigo – August 2004)

Spike #5B (Dark Horse – December 2012) – Note: same story as Spike #5

Steve Ditko Omnibus V.1 #1 (DC – September 2011) – Note: contains reprints of older stories
Super Powers V.2 #1 (DC- September 1985)

Super Powers V. 2#2 (DC – October 1985)

Supergirl #9 (DC – December 1973)

Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane #53 (DC – November 1964)
Teen Titans: Year One V.1#2 (DC – April 2008)

Whiz Comics #13 (Fawcett – February 1941)

Wonder Woman #65 (DC – April 1954)

X-Force #124 (Marvel – March 2002)

X-Men #33 (Marvel – October 2012)

X-Men: Blank Generation #1 (Marvel – January 2013)

Cover only:

(These comics contain visual references to Easter Island or the moai on the cover only, containing no stories or references inside the issue).

Archie #242 (Archie Comics – March 1975)

Mickey Mouse and Friends #275 (Gemstone – March 2005)

The Ineffables:

(The main characters are the moai (or is a moai). A comic that has been independently produced over the last decade or so by Craig Bogart.)

The Ineffables #1

The Ineffables #2

The Ineffables #3

The Ineffables – Parallel Universe

The Ineffables – Patriot Act

The Ineffables – Political Science

The Ineffables – Prime Mover

The Secret History of the Ineffables

The Second Part of the Secret History of the Ineffables

The Ineffables – All of Creation


American Splendor #16 (Dark Horse – 1993) – The great Harvey Pekar penned a story called “Easter Island” for his American Splendor comic. Haven't seen the issue so can’t confirm if there is any Easter Island related-imagery or associations in the story itself.


Wanna add to Philip's list above. E-mail me here on blog!

Maybe it all started as intrigue over the theories of Thor Heyerdahl, but whatever it was, Easter Island is "a head" of the game in comics history: 


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