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Real Name: Joe Borden

Identity/Class: Normal human (1950s Era)

Occupation: Spy, traitor 

Group Membership: None

Affiliations: "H"

Enemies: Professor Ernst Gruber, police

Known Relatives: None

Aliases: "J" (as called by "H")

Base of Operations: Mobile across the USA

First Appearance: Menace#4/2 (June, 1953)

Powers/Abilities: Although fairly athletic, Borden was only a normal human; the brutal thug was armed with a .45 caliber handgun.


(Menace #4/2 (fb) - BTS) - Borden's past is unknown, but at some point he was recruited for espionage by a Communist spy known only as "H". "H" assigned him the task of obtaining a sealed box of the "X" element from the U.S. government--the substance was rumored to be more valuable than gold or radium, and it was supposedly used to make hydrogen bombs. Under unknown circumstances, Borden procured the box (but he would later learn that it was only part of a sting operation set up by the FBI to apprehend spies). 

(Menace #4/2) - Borden took the box to his seedy apartment, where he got a phone call from "H". He told the Red spymaster that he had the package with the "X" element, and "H" replied he would be there shortly to pick it up; although he knew he was betraying his country, Borden took comfort at the thought that he would soon live like a king in Europe. As he anxiously waited, he was overwhelmed by curiosity and decided to open the sealed box, but when he found it empty, he realized he had been tricked. Borden looked out the window and saw a car with FBI agents parked across the street, and he guessed that he was only being used as the bait in a larger trap--the agents were waiting for "H" to arrive, then they would take both "H" and Borden into custody. Making his getaway, Borden sneaked out of the apartment building and eventually hopped aboard a westbound freight train. He later got off the train in a small Midwestern town and bought a newspaper. His worst fears were confirmed when he saw the headline that proclaimed the authorities had nabbed the enemy spy ring, and that he (Borden) was now the focus of their manhunt. Borden felt doomed, for there was no place on Earth where he would be safe--even if he could evade the U.S. officials, the Reds would surely kill him for his failure. But then he glimpsed another news article regarding Professor Gruber, who was preparing to launch a rocket to the moon. Borden had a brilliant idea how he could save himself: He could use Gruber's rocket to escape to the moon and hide there for a few months until the search for him was abandoned! With renewed optimism, Borden flagged down a bus and rode to the outskirts of Chicago, then he walked to Gruber's estate. After breaking into the professor's home, Borden held Gruber at gunpoint and asked him about the rocket. The scientist verified that the news-story was true--his rocket was capable of safely flying to the moon and back, and it was ready to be launched. Just then, they heard the sounds of approaching sirens, so Borden forced the professor to take him to the launch control room and he made Gruber set the controls for take-off, then the fugitive spy clubbed the scientist with the butt of his handgun. As Borden walked to the launch pad, he was fully confident that he would elude capture and his destination would be the moon. But when he actually saw the rocket, his blood froze and he lost all hope--the rocket was only a miniature model, and it was far too small to carry passengers! When the police finally arrived, they found Borden collapsed on the floor, sobbing hysterically.

Comments: Created by Stan Lee (writer) and Russ Heath (artist).

Borden's scheme was a little short-sighted--Even if he made it to the moon, what would he eat? How would he breathe? 

Gruber's fate is unknown--perhaps he was killed when Borden struck him (In which case, Borden may have set space-exploration back by decades). At the same time this story was published, Bob Brant and his buddies actually did fly to the moon in a full-size Russian rocket (@ Man Comics#27/3)--perhaps Gruber was somehow involved (i.e., maybe years earlier, he had built that rocket for the Nazis, and the Russians eventually confiscated it). Maybe Reed Richards studied Gruber's work when he built his rocket (@ Fantastic Four I#1). Professor Gruber would seem to be patterned after real-life rocket pioneer Werner von Braun

This story--"Escape to the Moon!"--was reprinted in Uncanny Tales II#11 (wherein the title was shortened to simply "Escape!"), which is where these scans are from; in the original story, Borden's hair was red (with white hair and a crew-cut, Borden kinda resembles "Race" Bannon from the Jonny Quest cartoons). 

And a BIG Thank You to Grendel Prime for the scans!

Profile by John Kaminski.

Joe Borden has no known connections to:

Professor Ernst Gruber has no known connections to:

Ernst Gruber

Ernst Gruber

Professor Ernst Gruber was a genius in the field of rocketry. He had a large estate on the outskirts of Chicago, where he maintained a house, a laboratory, and a launch pad. He built a small model rocket which he planned to send on a round trip to the moon. On the night before the launch, Gruber's home was invaded by fugitive spy Joe Borden; Borden (who was under the mistaken impression that the rocket was large enough to carry human passengers) wanted to fly to the moon to escape prosecution, so he forced Gruber to activate the rocket for take-off, then Borden struck the scientist on his head.



images: (without ads)
Uncanny Tales II#11/4, p1, pan1 (main image)

p4, pan7 (headshot)
p5, pan4 (Gruber)
p5, pan4 (mini rocket)

Other Appearances: None

Last updated: 02/17/11

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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