"Men in the Mole" (1950s Journey into Unknown Worlds subterranean explorers)

Membership: Jan Court, Fred Mace, Art Townes

Purpose: Using the Mole, the trio was to explore the subterranean depths of Earth.

Aliases: "Wanderers" (as called by "subterranean sorcerers")

Affiliations: "Subterranean sorcerers"

Enemies: None

Base of Operations: Unidentified city at Earth's core

First Appearance: Journey into Unknown Worlds I#55/3 (March, 1957)

History:
(Journey into Unknown Worlds I#55/3 (fb) - BTS) - The subterranean Mole vehicle was built by unrevealed parties for the purpose of learning what lay at the center of the world. Although scientists warned that the Mole would never return from its maiden voyage, three men jumped at the chance to pilot the craft on its seeming "suicide mission," for each had his own reason why he didn't care if he returned:

   Art Townes was a short and homely man who was shunned by society because of his appearance, but he dreamed of being tall and handsome.

   Jan Court was a brilliant but elderly scientist who was cast aside by the world because he was considered to be too old to hire for any jobs.

   Fred Mace had lost his beloved wife Evelyn when she died a year earlier, and the heartbroken man felt his life was pointless without her.

The trio climbed aboard the Mole and began their one-way journey to the center of the Earth.

(Journey into Unknown Worlds I#55/3) - The Mole bored deeper and deeper into the Earth, descending toward the planet's core. Court, Mace, and Townes were surprised when they found their craft had broken through to water and they were caught in an underground river. They drove the Mole out of the water and onto a riverbank, where they were shocked to see daylight, and a city at the Earth's core!

   As the trio disembarked from the vehicle, they were approached by an oddly-garbed group of robed men from the city; the subterranean dwellers welcomed the three Mole-men and invited them to their city to eat, drink, and talk. Speaking privately with his fellow explorers, Mace was suspicious and advised that their entire group shouldn't leave, so he suggested that Townes go along with the robed men while he and Court kept watch over the Mole. Townes told his comrades that he'd report back soon, then followed the robed men to their city.

   As the day waned into night, Townes hadn't yet returned, and Mace became concerned about Townes' welfare. Looking up at the night "sky," Court was more intrigued by how there could be a visible moon and stars at the center of the Earth... and day and night, for that matter! The elderly scientist concluded that there was something very strange going on (see comments).

   The morning came and Townes still hadn't returned, so Court ventured into the city by himself, promising Mace that he'd be back before the next nightfall. But when night came and neither Townes nor Court had returned, Mace became very worried.

   The next morning, Townes and Court finally came back, and they were accompanied by some of the robed men. Mace was startled by the strange expressions of contentment on his companions' faces. Although they looked the same, the short and homely Townes was convinced that he was now tall, strong, and handsome, while the elderly Court believed that he was young and virile!

Then Mace at last understood the significance of the strange attire the robed men wore--they were sorcerers! Mace angrily accused the sorcerers of making fools of Court and Townes, because despite their claims, Mace could see with his own eyes that the two men were physically unchanged. Mace tried to urge his spellbound companions to return to the Mole so they could escape, but both refused to accompany him, for they were happy with their new lives below the Earth.

   One of the sorcerers informed Mace that they had taught Court and Townes how to alter their perceptions and become what they had been denied on the surface of the world. Then the sorcerer pointed behind Mace...Mace turned and saw what had been denied to him--his deceased wife Evelyn was approaching, and she was very much alive! The sorcerer explained to Mace that a man could use his mind to shape his perceptions, and thus change his world.

   Mace embraced his beloved wife in his arms and felt that she was real! Then he turned to his companions--he saw that Townes was a tall and handsome man, and Court was young and virile!

   The Mole was abandoned and forgotten as the three happy men followed the sorcerers to their new home in the subterranean city.

Comments: Created by an unidentified writer and John Forte (artist).

Since he was a homely man who was shunned by society, and he was trying to go to the center of the Earth, maybe Art Townes could be considered a prototype for the Mole Man (Harvey Elder @ Fantastic Four I#1).

To create the surface-world conditions at the center of the Earth (e.g. day and night), maybe the "subterranean sorcerers" channeled the illusion powers of Ikonn.

Maybe those sorcerers weren't as benevolent as they claimed to be--Merlin was known for banishing one of his enemies (Tyrannus aka. Romulus Augustulus @ Incredible Hulk I#5) below the Earth, so maybe he had something to do with these "subterranean sorcerers" as well.

And Thank You to MarvellousLuke for his help with the images!

Profile by Ron Fredricks.

CLARIFICATIONS:
Jan Court has no known connections to:

Fred Mace has no known connections to:

Art Townes has no known connections to:

The Mole has no known connections to:

The "subterranean sorcerers" have no known connections to:


Mole

A subterranean exploratory vehicle propelled by treads, it had multiple rotating blades mounted up front which enabled it to bore through the earth; it was also amphibious.

The Mole was used by Jan Court, Fred Mace, and Art Townes to travel to the center of the Earth, where the trio discovered a city of sorcerers.

The Mole was abandoned and forgotten when the three men found happy lives in the subterranean city.

--Journey into Unknown Worlds I#55/3


Art Townes

Townes was short and homely, and all his life he was shunned by society because of his appearance. He dreamed of being tall and handsome.

When the Mole was built to make a one-way journey to the planet's core, Townes volunteered to act as the navigator of the subterranean vehicle; he was accompanied by Jan Court and Fred Mace. The three Mole-men discovered a subterranean city populated by sorcerers.

The "subterranean sorcerers" taught Townes to alter his life by changing his perceptions, and thus he became the tall and handsome man he had always dreamed of being.

Townes happily became a permanent resident of the subterranean city.

--Journey into Unknown Worlds I#55/3


Jan Court

Court was an elderly scientist with a brilliant mind whom the world had cast aside because he was considered too old, and there were no jobs open for him anywhere. He dreamed of being young and virile again.

When the Mole was built to make a one-way journey to the planet's core, Court volunteered to travel in the subterranean vehicle; he was accompanied by Fred Mace and Art Townes. The three Mole-men discovered a subterranean city populated by sorcerers.

The "subterranean sorcerers" taught Court to alter his life by changing his perceptions, and thus he became young and virile again.

Court happily became a permanent resident of the subterranean city.

--Journey into Unknown Worlds I#55/3


Fred Mace

A year earlier, Mace had lost his beloved wife Evelyn when she died under unrevealed circumstances, and the grieving man found his life pointless without her.

When the Mole was built to make a one-way journey to the planet's core, Mace volunteered to be the engineer of the subterranean vehicle; he was accompanied by Jan Court and Art Townes. The three Mole-men discovered a subterranean city populated by sorcerers.

The "subterranean sorcerers" taught Mace to alter his life by changing his perceptions, and thus his deceased wife was returned to him, very much alive.

Mace happily became a permanent resident of the subterranean city.

--Journey into Unknown Worlds I#55/3


unidentified subterranean city

When Art Townes, Jan Court, and Fred Mace piloted the Mole to the center of the Earth, they were surprised to find a subterranean city populated by sorcerers.

Despite the fact that it was apparently in an immense chamber far below the surface of the planet, the city still somehow had daylight, followed by night (complete with a moon and stars!)--scientist Jan Court was unable to explain these phenomena.

--Journey into Unknown Worlds I#55/3


"Subterranean sorcerers"

Wearing gray robes adorned with stars and crescent moons, they had knowledge of an occult science understood only by a few men. They were apparently immortal (...or at least extremely long-lived).

In olden times, the sorcerers claimed they wanted to help mankind, but their kind was not tolerated, so they were forced to leave the surface-world and create their subterranean city at the Earth's core.

The sorcerers lived by a philosophical doctrine: All that a man is exists in his mind, and therefore his eyes could see what his mind dictates; by utilizing this belief, the sorcerers seemed to be able to alter reality as they wished.

When Jan Court, Fred Mace, and Art Townes used the Mole to tunnel into their subterranean world, the sorcerers warmly greeted the three men. The sorcerers eventually taught the trio how to alter their lives as they wished to be; as a result, the short and homely Townes became tall and handsome, the elderly Court became young and virile, and the widowed Mace was reunited with his beloved wife.

The sorcerers accepted the group of explorers as permanent residents of their city.

(Although only a total of perhaps five sorcerers was ever depicted, the number of buildings in their city implies there were probably more.)

--Journey into Unknown Worlds I#55/3


images: (without ads)
Journey into Unknown Worlds I#55/3, p2, pan1 (inside Mole, Jan Court (left), Art Townes (right, at controls), Fred Mace (looking out window))
Journey into Unknown Worlds I#55/3, p3, pan3 (Fred Mace (left), Jan Court (center), Art Townes (right))
Journey into Unknown Worlds I#55/3, p3, pan6 (Art Townes and Jan Court claim to be transformed, Fred Mace (right))
Journey into Unknown Worlds I#55/3, p4, pan6 (Fred Mace reunited with Evelyn, young Jan Court, handsome Art Townes)
Journey into Unknown Worlds I#55/3, p1, pan1 (Mole boring through earth)
Journey into Unknown Worlds I#55/3, p2, pan6 (Mole emerging from subterranean river)
Journey into Unknown Worlds I#55/3, p2, pan3 (Art Townes at controls of Mole)
Journey into Unknown Worlds I#55/3, p1, pan3 (Jan Court)
Journey into Unknown Worlds I#55/3, p1, pan4 (Fred Mace)
Journey into Unknown Worlds I#55/3, p4, pan5 (sorcerers (left); Fred Mace with Evelyn)
Journey into Unknown Worlds I#55/3, p2, pan7 (Townes, Court, and Mace first see subterranean city)
Journey into Unknown Worlds I#55/3, p3, pan4 (outside subterranean city, Mace (right); Court wonders how day and night can occur in Earth's core)
Journey into Unknown Worlds I#55/3, p3, pan1 (Townes, Court and Mace (left) first see robed men approach from subterranean city)
Journey into Unknown Worlds I#55/3, p3, pan2 (three sorcerers speak to Fred Mace)
Journey into Unknown Worlds I#55/3, p4, pan1 (Fred Mace (left) angrily speaks to robed man)
Journey into Unknown Worlds I#55/3, p4, pan2 (Fred Mace (left) accuses robed men of being sorcerers)


Appearances:
Journey into Unknown Worlds I#55/3 (March, 1957) - unidentified writer, John Forte (pencils & inks), Stan Goldberg (colors), Stan Lee (editor)


First Posted: 07/31/2018
Last updated: 07/31/2018

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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