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The Dangerous Doll (Monsterbus p.405)

What a beautiful story! It's cover dated December, and is like a Charles Dickens Christmas story. Kirby has such wide ranging story telling skills!

The misdirection was clever: in a different context, this story could be a cliche. But previous issues have set us up to expect aliens to be evil, and this had all the elements of a horror story. The key was the evil face. But it was only evil looking by human standards: who knows what it meant to aliens?

In hindsight, nothing the doll did was bad. And yet the title, "the dangerous doll" is correct: the earth people had no way of knowing if it was good or bad. It could quite easily have caused death and destruction. Danger only means it could kill you, not that it will.

Kirby as author

The opening hyperbole, with "in all the world..." is typical Stan Lee, as is the "what will happen? Is it X?" This exaggeration and wild eyed dumbing down is in contrast to the very serious tone of the story itself. By this point I think we can infer the normal story creation process:
  1. Kirby creates a serious story
  2.  Lee, the editor, checks for anything that might be difficult or offensive to the youngest or most sensitive reader (nothing like that here)
  3. Lee adds hyperbole and a simple "what will happen" to the start...
  4. ...and often a simplified summing up at the end. The the very last sentence here is not needed, it looks squashed in, and the story is better without it. But Lee does not want to risk any child leaving with the slightest concern or possibility of confusion.
Note that the "alien child left behind" idea will be used again in the Fantastic Four (The Infant Terrible), a story that also draws heavily on a story from Kirby's Challengers of the Unknown.

Kirby the prophet

I just wrote how Lee avoids anything that might disturb a young child. Yet Kirby still manages to slip in some serious, heavy reality:

  1. Real poverty that was not the man's fault (a factory closed and it's a rural area so there aren't many other choices)
  2. The emotional effects of poverty: he hated not being able to buy his daughter a gift
  3. Economic inefficiency: the man had the skills to start a wealth creating business, but lacked the capital.
  4. Lifelong sickness
  5. The implication that something bad had happened to the child's mother, and the very real possibility that things could still get a lot worse. 
  6. And the big picture: everything needs to eat! Even aliens!
It's a political treatise hidden in a delightful Christmas tale. Kirby's stories, even the charming ones, are about the real world, and they make you think.