Classification: Extraterrestrial semi-humanoids (Pre-Modern era) (see comments)
Location/Base of Operations: "An ancient world" in an unidentified galaxy;
formerly Black Tree Swamp, somewhere in America
Known Members: Six, none identified
Affiliations: Lem Whipple
First Appearance: Tales to Astonish I#7/2 (January, 1960)
Powers/Abilities: These extraterrestrials demonstrated no paranormal abilities of their own. They possessed advanced technology, including some form of destructive handguns, and a spaceship capable of intergalactic travel.
Traits: They were a militaristic race that scouted a world to take its measure before sending a full-scale invasion force.
Fingers: Four, with opposing thumb
Skin color: Pale yellow
Average height: 4' (by approximation)
(Tales to Astonish I#7/2 (fb) - BTS) - At some point in the past (see comments), an alien scouting party traveled to Earth in their spacecraft to see if the planet was ready to be invaded -- they determined that it was.
(Tales to Astonish I#7/2 (fb)) - But just as they took flight to return to their home-planet, their ship developed a minor engine problem, and they were forced to return to Earth, where they inadvertently landed in Black Tree Swamp. The six aliens stepped out of their spacecraft to make repairs, but found that their ship was stuck in the muck and mire, and they didn't think they'd ever be able to get it out again. Then they saw a human (Lem Whipple) approaching -- one of the aliens wanted to destroy him before he could warn other Earthlings, but a comrade advised him not to do so, because the Earthman was their only hope of freeing their ship.
Whipple naively greeted the extraterrestrial "visitors," and they told him about their plight. They promised Whipple their greatest treasure--the thing they valued more than anything else in the universe--if he would go to the nearest town and bring back tools to help them free their ship. With dreams of attaining great wealth, Whipple rushed back to his town's general store to purchase some items.
Shortly afterward, Whipple returned to the swamp with a rope and pulleys, shovels, and a rented mule; with great effort by all, Whipple and the aliens pulled the spacecraft free. After the aliens made the repairs to their ship's engines, they were true to their word and gave Whipple a treasure chest containing the most precious thing they had.
As the aliens climbed aboard their spaceship and said their goodbyes, they promised Whipple that before his lifetime was over, he would see them again...when they returned with their invasion force.
The spacecraft took flight, and Whipple was horrified when he realized that by helping the aliens, he had unintentionally betrayed the human race. He vowed that he would never open the treasure chest, nor would he ever use what was inside it. Hoping to make amends for the great harm he had done, Whipple decided to live in the swamp, watching and waiting for the aliens to return, so he could sound a warning to the world.
(Tales to Astonish I#7/2) - Decades later, the aliens had not yet returned (see comments); the elderly Whipple was still living in the swamp, and he related his fantastic tale of meeting the aliens to a visiting reporter.
Comments: Created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby, and Steve Ditko.
As with many 1950s and 1960s Marvel monster
stories, this story is not confirmed as part of Earth-616 continuity,
but there's nothing to exclude it either.
--Leave it in unless something rules it out!--Snood.
I took the name "Them" from the following conversation:
Lem: "I'm waiting for--Them!!"
reporter: "Them? You're waiting for Them??"
So what happened to their invasion force? Is it still on its way to Earth, or did the aliens meet with an untimely end?
The physical appearance of these aliens kind of reminds me of the Tribbites/Toad Men-- possibly they're an offshoot of them?
I'd estimate that young Whipple's close encounter with Them occurred 3-4 decades prior...but in my opinion, maybe ol' Lem had a moonshine still in his shack, and he just imagined the whole thing. -- Ron Fredricks
This story was reprinted in Where Monsters Dwell#5 (September, 1970), wherein the aliens were colored a pale green.
Profile by FUTURE. Expansion by Ron Fredricks.
Them have no known connection to:
Lem Whipple has no known connections to:
A vessel capable of intergalactic flight, it was used decades ago by an alien scouting party to travel to Earth. After they determined that the planet was ready to be invaded, the aliens attempted to return to their home-planet, but their ship's "engine-co-ordinators" developed a problem, and the spaceship made a hard landing in Black Tree Swamp, where it became stuck in the bog.
They promised to give a young man named Lem Whipple their greatest treasure if he helped them pull their ship from the swamp. After the ship was free and the aliens repaired its "engine-co-ordinators," they gave Whipple a chest they claimed contained the most precious thing they had.
But just as they climbed back aboard their spacecraft to take flight, they revealed to Whipple that they intended to invade Earth at some point in the future.
--Tales to Astonish I#7/2 (fb)
Decades earlier, when he was a younger man, Whipple left town to go into Black Tree Swamp to catch some bullfrogs. But he witnessed an alien spaceship landing in the swamp, where the spacecraft got stuck in the bog. The aliens promised to give the impoverished Whipple their greatest treasure if he helped them free their ship, so he eagerly got some tools and worked to pull the spacecraft out.
True to their word, the aliens gave Whipple a treasure chest which contained the thing they valued most. But just before they departed, the aliens announced that they intended to invade Earth in the future. Feeling that he had unwittingly betrayed mankind, Whipple vowed that he would never open the chest, nor would he ever use what was inside of it. From that day on, Whipple relocated to a shack in Black Tree Swamp, where he watched and waited for the aliens to return, so that he could warn the world and make amends for his unintentional betrayal.
Decades later, the elderly Whipple was still living in the swamp when he was visited by a reporter. He told the reporter about his encounter with the aliens. The reporter didn't believe him, so Whipple offered to let him look in the treasure chest, since the reporter wasn't bound by Whipple's vow. But when the reporter opened the chest, he found that it was empty, and contained nothing but air!
Disgusted that he had wasted his time listening to the old hermit's fantastic story, the angry reporter left; but just then, Whipple finally understood that the aliens hadn't lied -- they had given him what anyone who travels from one galaxy to another in a spaceship would value the most: AIR!
And so Whipple remained in Black Tree Swamp, keeping a constant vigil, so he could warn the world.
--Tales to Astonish I#7/2 (7/2 (fb))
He worked for an unidentified newspaper; his editor had heard about Lem Whipple, a hermit who lived in Black Tree Swamp and constantly spent his time looking up at the sky, so the editor sent the reporter to get the story behind it (...musta been a slow news day).
The reporter paddled in a canoe through the swamp and arrived at Whipple's shack. He listened to the old hermit's tale of how he helped some stranded extraterrestrials free their spaceship from the bog, and the grateful aliens rewarded Whipple with a treasure chest which contained the thing they valued most. The reporter didn't believe Whipple's story, so Whipple showed him the treasure chest; but when he opened it, the reporter found that it was empty, and contained nothing but air.
Disgusted that he had wasted his time listening to the "batty old hermit," the reporter climbed back in his canoe -- without evidence of a treasure, he figured he'd be laughed off the newspaper if he wrote the story up.
But as the reporter paddled away, Whipple suddenly realized that the aliens had given him their greatest treasure -- in the vacuum of outer space, travelers in a spacecraft would consider air to be the most precious thing they had.
--Tales to Astonish I#7/2
images: (without ads)
Tales to Astonish I#7/2, p4, pan5 (in flashback, "Them" climbing aboard their spaceship)
Tales to Astonish I#7/2, p3, pan2 (in flashback, "Them" see Lem Whipple approaching)
Tales to Astonish I#7/2, p3, pan3 (in flashback, "Them" with younger Lem Whipple)
Tales to Astonish I#7/2, p4, pan4 (in flashback, "Them" give treasure chest to younger Lem Whipple)
Tales to Astonish I#7/2, p2, pan4 (in flashback, spaceship lands in swamp, younger Lem Whipple (background))
Tales to Astonish I#7/2, p2, pan5 (in flashback, spaceship stuck in swamp, younger Lem Whipple (foreground))
Tales to Astonish I#7/2, p4, pan3 (in flashback, younger Lem Whipple helps "Them" free their spaceship from swamp)
Tales to Astonish I#7/2, p1, pan3 (Lem Whipple)
Tales to Astonish I#7/2, p1, pan4 (Lem Whipple)
Tales to Astonish I#7/2, p2, pan2 (Lem Whipple reminisces about his younger days)
Tales to Astonish I#7/2, p1, pan1 (unidentified reporter paddles canoe through swamp)
Tales to Astonish I#7/2, p5, pan4 (unidentified reporter opens treasure chest)
Tales to Astonish I#7/2 (January, 1960) - Stan Lee (plot/editor), Larry Lieber (script), Jack Kirby (pencils), Steve Ditko (inks), Stan Goldberg (colors), Ray Holloway (letters)
First Posted: 12/11/2004
Last updated: 05/03/2023
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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