Bob Powell's Jet Powers Introduced!
Jet Powers is a science fiction hero who came out of the Buck Rogers school of comics. No super powers, but a super brain, and lots of brawn to go with the brain. For the four issues of the comic book series, Jet Powers was drawn by Bob Powell*, and scripted by prolific comic scribe Gardner Fox.
My goal is to run all of the science fiction Jet Powers stories in sequence. An issue of Jet contained three stories starring the title hero, and a separate story featuring a character called Space Ace. Powell didn't draw the Space Ace stories, but I'm going to feature them anyway. The last two in the series were drawn by none other than Al Williamson, so that alone makes them worth a look.Jet Powers is represented in this first story as being a lone genius/inventor/scientist, living in a mesa laboratory somewhere in the Southwest U.S. He also wears tight clothes, including a shirt with an atomic symbol--I guess so we'll know he's a scientist!--and knee-high boots. With his white hair he looks a bit more mature than most comic book heroes.
We are dropped right into the action, as major cities of the world, including "San Fransisco" (sic) are struck by earthquakes. Since San Francisco has a history of earthquakes I'm not sure why anyone would think that was terribly out of the ordinary, but Jet Powers does. Using his instruments he finds that the earthquakes originate in Asia. With the blessing of President Truman ("…may luck go with you!") he takes his invention, the "Aerocar," which flies through the air, drives on land and swims through water, to the Mekong River in Southeast Asia where he finds the originator of the earthquakes, the villainous Mr. Sinn, and Sinn's beautiful female assistant, Su Shan.
In this story another of Jet Powers' inventions is shown. The "gravitron gun," which "…releases the mass of any amount of matter, and so frees it from earth's gravity," is used several times in the story. Fox was a veteran comic book writer and this pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo is the sort of thing that was common in many of his scripts.
This story sets up a hero, a super villain (yet another racist Fu Manchu-styled Asian villain, replete with green, leering, hideous face), and a beautiful female assistant, in a short but action-packed 10 pages.**
I originally read the first two issues of Jet in reprint form in the late 1950s, when they were republished by I.W. Comics as Jet Powers #'s 1 and 2, part of a series of three-to-a-bag comic book reprints. I was really taken by the artwork and the energy of the writing, as well as the science fiction elements of the strip. When I had my chance to buy the original issues in the mid-1970s I jumped at it, even though I recall I paid $15 apiece for the four issues, which was the most I had ever paid for comic books up until that time. Ah, how times--and prices--have changed…
Page 1 (296K) / Page 2 (265K) / Page 3 (266K) / Page 4 (256K) / Page 5 (273K) / Page 6 (271K) / Page 7 (284K) / Page 8 (261K) / Page 9 (289K) / Page 10 (226K)
*Previous Pappy's Bob Powell postings are "The Shrunken Skull" in Pappy's #35, "The Man In The Hood," in Pappy's #90, and "Twice Alive," in Pappy's #110.
**One part of the story deserves note. Jet is put into a chamber where he's exposed to lights and noise. It looks psychedelic, a two decades-early precursor to a rock light show from the late '60s. He is driven instantly mad, which could help explain a lot of what happened to my generation.