Real Name: Sam Binder

Identity/Class: Human (1950s era)

Occupation: Explorer, showman, television star

Group Membership: Explorers' Club (see comments)

Affiliations: Moko, unidentified Explorers' Club member

Enemies: Monstro

Known Relatives: None

Aliases: "Great 'Spell' Binder" (stage-name)

Base of Operations: An unidentified American city (possibly New York)

First Appearance: Journey into Mystery I#54/1 (September, 1959)

Powers/Abilities: A seemingly ordinary man, Binder was skilled at hypnotism--the extent of his mesmerizing ability is unrevealed, but by making eye-contact, he was able to hypnotize gorillas and make them obey his voice commands.

Binder twice used a gas canister to render the giant gorilla Monstro unconscious.

Height: 5'10" (by approximation)
Weight: 160 lbs.(by approximation)
Eyes: Blue
Hair: White (with black goatee and mustache)

(Journey into Mystery I#54/1 (fb) - BTS) - The past of Sam Binder is largely unrevealed, but after he learned to hypnotize apes, he became a showman and developed a stage-act with the gorilla Moko--at some point, Binder joined the Explorers' Club.

(Journey into Mystery I#54/1 (fb) ) - Binder's stage-act was very successful, but just as he was about to hit the "big time," Moko was injured in an accident--the gorilla became too dangerous for him to use anymore, so Binder had to find another ape.

   One night, Binder went to the Explorers' Club to get a line on some possibilities where he could get another gorilla to replace Moko; while he was there, he overheard another member talking about an isolated isle off the African coast, where legends claimed the world's largest gorilla could be found--Binder's interest was piqued, for he would be an international success with such an ape in his act!

   A few weeks later, Binder took a gas canister and traveled to the island, where he bargained with the native chief to purchase the gorilla, whom the chief called "Monstro". The chief led Binder to a pair of huge carved doors that blocked the entrance to a cave, then ordered his tribesmen to unlock the doors. In fearful silence, the natives removed the massive bolt...then suddenly, the doors were flung wide open by a gigantic white hand, and a gargantuan form emerged from the darkness. As the natives scattered in every direction, Binder was frozen in his tracks when he beheld Monstro, a giant albino gorilla! As the gargantuan ape's hand reached for him, Binder sprayed the creature with gas, which rendered Monstro unconscious, and the great ape dropped silently to the ground.

   Binder had the unconscious Monstro loaded aboard the cargo hold of a ship and transported to America. Before long, signs appeared everywhere throughout the city, announcing Binder's new attraction, and his act was booked solid for a year in advance.

   Then came opening night, and Binder stepped out on stage before the excited audience. As the curtains parted, an unbelieving gasp rose from the stunned spectators when they saw the chained gargantuan white gorilla. To add to the drama, Binder called for Monstro to be turned loose; panic began to spread throughout the audience members, but Binder calmed them by assuring that he was Monstro's master, and that the giant ape would obey him completely--Binder believed there was nothing to fear, for he was confident he would hypnotize the monster to be as gentle as a kitten.

   Binder stood in the spotlight and raised his hand dramatically, preparing to put Monstro under his hypnotic spell, and he commanded the ape not to move. But instead, Monstro's mighty arms slashed outward and tore down the stage curtains--as cold fear ran through him, Binder realized that his hypnotism had failed, for Monstro wasn't responding to his control. With a roar, Monstro turned and crashed through the theatre wall, then began to run amok through the city; having unleashed a gigantic walking menace on the world, Binder could only wonder why his hypnotism didn't work, for he was certain he had made eye-contact with the behemoth.

   As the monstrous primate lumbered crazily through the streets, brushing aside anything that got in his way, Binder grabbed the gas canister he had used previously and chased after Monstro. When the giant ape entered a newly-constructed tunnel, Binder followed after him. The tunnel was dark, but even in the absence of light, Monstro's senses were uncanny, and Binder felt a huge hand grasp him and squeeze. Despite the pain, Binder managed to fire another blast of the gas at Monstro, but then the canister was crushed, the gas escaped, and Binder passed out.

(Journey into Mystery I#54/1 (fb) - BTS) - The police found Binder and Monstro unconscious from the gas, and got them both medical attention.

(Journey into Mystery I#54/1 (fb) ) - When Binder revived, he found himself in a hospital bed--luckily, he had only a few cracked ribs, but he still couldn't understand why his hypnotism didn't work on Monstro, for it had never failed him before. But the mystery was solved for Binder when he overheard a pair of doctors outside his room talking about their examination of Monstro--they had found the giant gorilla to be perfectly healthy...except for the fact that he was blind!

(Journey into Mystery I#54/1 (fb) - BTS) - Binder learned that the authorities transported Monstro back to his island, where the natives returned him to his cave--Monstro was happy again...and so were the natives, to whom Monstro had become a symbol.

(Journey into Mystery I#54/1 (fb) ) - Because of the publicity generated from the events, "Spell" Binder eventually found employment in a new field when he received a contract to be the star of the Jungle Tales TV series.

Comments: Created by an unidentified writer and Steve Ditko.

The name of the organization was mentioned in a caption as "Explorers' Club" (with apostrophe).

Profile by Ron Fredricks.

Sam Binder/"The Great 'Spell' Binder" has no known connections to:

Moko has no known connections to:

The unidentified Explorers' Club member has no known connections to:


A seemingly ordinary gorilla, he had been hypnotized by showman Sam Binder for his stage-act.

Billed as the "World's Most Intelligent Gorilla," the entranced Moko was trained by Binder to respond to his voiced questions--Moko would "answer" by posting letters on an easel.

But just as Binder was about to hit the "big time" with his act, Moko was involved in an unspecified accident; having apparently suffered from some type of head injury, Moko became too dangerous for Binder to use anymore.

Binder gave Moko to a zoo, then went to find a replacement for him.

--Journey into Mystery I#54/1

unidentified Explorers' Club member

An elderly member of the Explorers' Club, at some point in the past, he went to an isolated island off the African coast. While there, he heard that the island was the legendary home of the world's largest gorilla--although he never actually saw the beast himself, he did see the locked, constantly-guarded cave where the gigantic gorilla supposedly dwelt.

One night, he was at the Explorers' Club, where he was telling some of the other members about the legendary behemoth--his story was overheard by showman Sam Binder, who came to the club to get a line on some possibilities where he could find a gorilla for his stage-act.

--Journey into Mystery I#54/1

gas canister

Carried upon an individual's back, it was a large metallic tank, connected by a hose to a spray-gun. It contained an unspecified greenish-colored vapor which could render lifeforms unconscious.

It was first used by Sam Binder when he was on an isolated island off the coast of Africa. Binder sprayed the gas at Monstro, then transported the gigantic albino gorilla to America.

When Monstro ran amok through the city, Binder tried to stop his rampage with another blast of the gas; but even as Binder sprayed it at Monstro, the giant ape squeezed him in his hand and crushed the tank--subsequently, all the gas escaped, and both Monstro and Binder were rendered unconscious.

--Journey into Mystery I#54/1

images: (without ads)
Journey into Mystery I#54/1, p1, pan3 (Main Image - Sam Binder at Explorers' Club)
Journey into Mystery I#54/1, p5, pan7 (Headshot - Sam Binder learns that Monstro is blind)
Journey into Mystery I#54/1, p5, pan6 (Sam Binder, laying in hospital bed, with cracked ribs)
Journey into Mystery I#54/1, p5, pan8 (Sam Binder by television set)
Journey into Mystery I#54/1, p1, pan1 (Moko performing on stage with Sam Binder)
Journey into Mystery I#54/1, p1, pan2 (Moko, after suffering head injury; veterinarian and Sam Binder (background) )
Journey into Mystery I#54/1, p1, pan3 (unidentified member of Explorers' Club tells other members about legendary location of Monstro)
Journey into Mystery I#54/1, p3, pan2 (Sam Binder equipped with gas canister; Monstro's hand (background) )
Journey into Mystery I#54/1, p3, pan3 (Sam Binder sprays gas at Monstro)

Journey into Mystery I#54/1 (September, 1959) - unidentified writer, Steve Ditko (pencils and inks), Stan Goldberg (colors), Artie Simek (letters) Stan Lee (editor)

First Posted: 01/13/2021
Last updated: 01/14/2021

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