Forgotten Masterpiece: JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #46

One of the most remarkable storytellers in the history of comics was Bernard Krigstein. His work first came to prominence in the 1950s, when he worked for the illustrious EC Comics. Krigstein produced many notable stories for EC, but probably the best remembered was “Master Race”, published in IMPACT #1. This story, in which a concentration camp Commandant runs into one of his former prisoners on a New York subway platform was a breakthrough in comic book graphics. Krigstein composed it like no other story, fragmenting time with doppler images and repeated panels and images that were no more than a sliver. It’s a watershed in comics storytelling to this day, and still avidly studied.

After EC closed down its comic book division in 1955 following conflicts with the newly-instated Comics Code, Krigstein was forced to seek out work elsewhere. One of the places he found it was at Marvel, then operating as Atlas, a company he had worked for prior to his stint at EC. Krigstein did a number of stories for Atlas, and while none of them are quite as inventive as his EC work, they’re still a thing apart from everything else you might expect to see in an Altas book. This story, “The Desert Rat” from JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #46 is one such tale. Its writer is unknown.

The story itself is nothing special, a pot-boiler the likes of which interchangeably filled the pages of publisher Martin Goodman’s assorted mystery/suspense titles every month. But what is noteworthy is the manner in which Krigstein approaches this otherwise-pedestrian assignment. Rather than traditional six-panel pages, he takes to splitting up time into sequential moments, packing his pages with 20 panels in this instance.

This page contains a remarkable 22 panels!

As does this one! Reportedly, editor Stan Lee didn’t like Krigstein breaking down stories in this manner, and he clashed with the artist over it, resulting in the artist seeking his fortunes elsewhere. he transitioned into becoming an accomplished gallery painter and left his time in comic books behind him.

2 thoughts on “Forgotten Masterpiece: JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #46

  1. I know it’s the art rather than the story that makes this special, but that last panel had me thinking, “What, he stuck his hand out and got a tan? And now he’s delusional? No, it was raining, so…that’s meant to be actual rust? Why didn’t he wipe his hand off after he saw it was raining?” And so forth.

    It’s a dumb ending, but I might not have had the same reaction if the visual had looked more like rust. Impact counts for a lot.


  2. Gotta say, gorgeous story in its way, yet…
    This style of breakdown for a story like “Master Race” (or Steranko’s homage with “At the Stroke of Midnight “). But in this story, it was overdone and inappropriate for the story. Helped in “Master Race”, did nothing or even hurt the story here.


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