Sunday, April 11, 2010

Number 717

A rocket to Uranus

The oddball-looking story with its primitive artwork and goofy-looking aliens is from Prize Comics #4, 1940. Power Nelson, called Future-Man ("Futureman" on the cover), is a scientifically produced superhuman in the advanced year of 1982. Another of those future-in-the-past stories I love.

Artwork in this episode is credited by the Grand Comics Database as being by Dick Sprang? The ? means they aren't sure. There are places where it looks to me like it could be very early Dick Sprang, and everyone has to start somewhere. Dick Sprang is my favorite Batman artist, Golden Age or otherwise.

When reading this story you're getting an allegory about the Great Depression.* During a time of economic upheaval Emperor Seng is quoting U.S. President Herbert Hoover: "Prosperity is just around the corner." (According to some sources Hoover never actually said that, but I digress.) You also get a science-fictional reference to a true life story from the 1930s, nearly forgotten today. In 1933 the Russians agreed to pay unemployed Ford workers to set up a manufacturing plant and assembly line for Russian Ford cars. Many Ford workers stayed behind after the plant was completed, but in just a few years all the Americans had been either shot or sent into the Soviet gulags to be worked to death.

So, crude as it is, the story is a history lesson.

My question is, with what currency did the Uranians pay the workers?

*The Great Depression of the 1930s, that is. Not the current Great Depression.


revelshade said...

Ah, another golden age comic that shows every sign of having been written directly by the unconscious mind while its gatekeeper was out making a sandwich...

But then, aliens arrive!

But then, the BEMs summon their army of (human) women!
Yeah, why not.

"Wages Bah!!!"

Pappy said...

You might not put all your literary skills into the script, either, if you were getting paid what this writer was probably getting per page in 1940.

Karswell said...

The Mongols look just as alien as the aliens!

Kirk Jusko said...

There was a lot of mongolphobia back in the day. Buck Rogers woke up in the 25th century to find the world taken over my mongols, and Flash Gordon performed most of his heroic deeds on the Planet Mongol.

revelshade said...

Pappy- I hope I didn't sound overly harsh. How do you criticize a dream?

Actually, i imagine rate of pay makes less difference than deadline pressure and the expectations of an industry that put a premium on color, action, wonder and heroic fisticuffs.

I like the last line of the wanted ad: "Apply space ships."