Classification: Humanoid extraterrestrial race (see comments)

Location/Base of Operations: Temporarily along highways throughout America

Known Members: At least 10 (none identified) (see comments)

Aliases: "Uous" (as misinterpreted by Mark Briton)

Affiliations: None

Enemies: Mark Briton

First Appearance: Tales to Astonish I#1/4 (January, 1959)

Powers/Abilities: The bodies of the Tenuous (along with their clothing and weaponry) had been altered to a flat two-dimensional state; they later resumed three-dimensional form--it is unrevealed whether this was accomplished by a natural ability, or achieved by artificial means.

Wearing helmets adorned with a pair of antennae, each of the Tenuous was armed with some form of a rifle and a holstered handgun.

In two-dimensional form, the Tenuous hid in plain sight within billboards that proclaimed their intended invasion plan--the Tenuous had studied human psychology (as per Mark Briton) and knew that people would think the billboards were merely advertisements for some movie or TV show.

Traits: Apparently militaristic

Type: Humanoid

Eyes: Two
Fingers: Four (plus opposable thumb)
Toes: Unrevealed
Skin color: Pink
Average height: 6'

(Tales to Astonish I#1/4 (fb) - BTS) - The background of the Tenuous is unrevealed, but at some point in April of 2008 (see comments), they began their invasion plan. Seemingly overnight along the highways of America, they erected billboards bearing the slogan THE TEN UOUS ARE COMING!--transformed into a two-dimensional state, the Tenuous hid within the billboards.

(Tales to Astonish I#1/4) - Reporter Mark Briton was on vacation and driving along a highway when he noticed an unusual billboard with a scowling figure upon it--he supposed the "Uous" was an ad for a new science-fiction movie or TV show. Twenty minutes later, Briton passed by a second billboard with the same ad, but this time he noticed the "Uous" had a different face than the previous one, although it was just as mean-looking. By the time he reached the next town, Briton had passed eight more similar "Uous" signs, each with a different face!

   Briton went to the town's newspaper office and learned that people had first noticed the billboards along the highway a day earlier, and reports indicated that this strange phenomenon was not limited to just the state, for these signs were seen all over the whole country!

   His curiosity piqued by the "Uous" billboards, Briton cancelled his vacation and began to check with various representatives of the TV and motion-picture industry, but they all denied responsibility for the advertisements. Then Briton drove to the nearest billboard to examine it more closely--he could find no name for its manufacturer or advertiser, but as he looked at the face of the "Uous" on the billboard, he had the feeling that its menacing eyes seemed to be watching him. Then Briton finally realized what the slogan on the sign really meant: It wasn't two words--"TEN UOUS"--but actually one word--"TENUOUS"!

   Having guessed the true nature of the figures on the billboards, Briton telephoned his editor and made arrangements to contact the armed forces. Truckloads of military personnel traversed every highway in the country; the soldiers found and took down every billboard and brought them to a heavily-guarded army installation.

   Realizing their invasion plan had been foiled, the Tenuous resumed their three-dimensional forms, stepped out of the billboards, and surrendered to the soldiers.

   The final fate of the captured Tenuous is unrevealed (see comments).

Comments: Created by an unidentified writer and Jack Davis (artist).

Tenuous: An adjective meaning "slender" or "thin".

This 5-page tale--I Foiled an Enemy Invasion!--was told from the narrative perspective of Mark Briton, thus the reader only knew as much about the mysterious Tenuous as Briton himself. The final story-panel ended with Briton's narration: "What happened to the Tenuous after we rounded them up? Where had they come from? Well, that's another story..." (THE END) -- there was never a follow-up and/or sequel to this story.

It was never specifically stated that the Tenuous were of extraterrestrial and/or extradimensional origin, so I'm only assuming they were from somewhere other than Earth. But since they looked human enough, and the title indicated it was an Enemy Invasion rather than an Alien Invasion, I guess it's just as possible the Tenuous were actually soldiers from some hostile nation trying to attack America (There wasn't any indication that the billboards were in any other country).

The exact number of the Tenuous was never mentioned--Briton had originally seen a total of 10, but there obviously had to be more if the billboards were all around the country.

Maybe the Tenuous got their invasion plans from Burma Shave.

This story was published in 1959, but it took place in the "future" year 2008. There were some instances of futuristic technology that didn't exist during that year in the "real" world (e.g. Briton's automobile, an advanced jet plane), but Briton telephoned his editor from a pay-phone (...which was almost impossible to find by 2008, what with the development of cell-phones). I guess we could always explain these anachronisms by saying this story took place on some alternate world other than Earth-616 (the mainstream Marvel Universe).

Profile by Ron Fredricks.

The Tenuous have no known connections to:

Mark Briton has no known connections to:

Mark Briton

Briton was a reporter for an unspecified newspaper in Center City.

In April of 2008 (see comments), he was on vacation and driving down a highway when he came upon multiple billboards proclaiming THE TEN UOUS ARE COMING! The "Uous" on the billboards all had different faces, and Briton assumed them to be advertisements for a science-fiction movie or TV show.

When he learned the billboards had appeared all across the country, Briton investigated further, but he found that no one in the TV or movie industry knew anything about the "Uous".

Briton later examined a billboard more closely, and he felt as though the eyes of the figure on the sign were watching him. Briton then realized that the figures on the billboards were actually living two-dimensional beings--he had initially assumed "TEN UOUS" was two words, but it was actually one word: "TENUOUS"!

Briton alerted the military--although his claim was doubted, the nation's security was at risk, so the armed forces couldn't afford to take chances. Shortly afterwards, all the billboards were gathered up by soldiers and taken to a heavily-guarded army installation. Seeing that their invasion plan had been foiled, the two-dimensional invaders stepped out of the billboards and surrendered to the soldiers--Briton was thus proven to be right.

--Tales to Astonish I#1/4

images: (without ads)
Tales to Astonish I#1/4, p5, pan5 (Main Image - Tenuous step out of billboards and surrender to military)
Tales to Astonish I#1/4, p1, pan3 (Mark Briton drives by first billboard)
Tales to Astonish I#1/4, p2, pan2 (Mark Briton drives by next billboard, notices different face)
Tales to Astonish I#1/4, p2, pan3 (close-up of one of the Tenuous in billboard, Mark Briton's car driving by)
Tales to Astonish I#1/4, p1, pan1 (Mark Briton (foreground), several Tenuous billboards (background))
Tales to Astonish I#1/4, p4, pan5 (Mark Briton realizes secret of Tenuous)

Tales to Astonish I#1/4 (January, 1959) - unidentified writer, Jack Davis (pencils and inks), Stan Goldberg (colors), Stan Lee (editor)

First Posted: 08/15/2018
Last updated: 08/15/2018

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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