Monday, January 17, 2011

Number 880

Lars of Mars

Day two of Superzeroes Week:

Giving a Martian a Scandanavian name made sense to Jerry Siegel when he created this character for Ziff-Davis in 1951. It doesn't make much sense to me except it gives this comic a memorable title. It has art by Murphy Anderson and a somewhat creative premise: Martian comes to earth after explosion of hydrogen bomb and is ordered to stay on Earth to "wipe out evil", becomes a television actor, ends up playing a character on TV based on himself. But he also does super deeds as his true Martian self. Whew. It's like Clark Kent playing Superman on television when he's actually the real deal! Zowie!

But for whatever reason--and I suspect it's because underneath that premise are some uninspired stories--Lars Of Mars went only two issues, numbered #10 and #11. (It sounds like the old ploy of starting a title with a high number to fool the retailers into thinking it has a track record. Did that ever actually work?)

A very few (about four) years later DC Comics came out with Manhunter From Mars, and that's probably the feature Lars most reminds me of. DC got a lot more miles out of their character than Siegel or Ziff-Davis did out of theirs.

Here are the first two Lars of Mars stories:


Daniel [] said...

That … was just … painful.

Charles said...

Man, if you can't trust a "hastily-contrived rocketship" what can you trust?

Chuck Wells said...

While there certainly are some goofy elements in the twin stories, and the character premise is pretty "far out", I didn't have any problem enjoying the mighty fine Murphy Anderson artwork.

Lars of Mars wasn't too painful for me, Pappy. You may have to kick it up a notch tomorrow!

borky said...

Sounds like a character from the Viz:

Lars of Mars - he's got a red arse!

And boy hasn't he just! Anybody know who painted that cover?

I fear, though, its artist was more ahead of his time than he suspected:

Gold Clad Cover Girl: "I'm sorry, Lars, I'm running away with this anthropomorphic sex toy because he can vibrate a thousand times a second inside me, and you don' wan'o know what he can do with electric currents!"

I love the Orwell style doublethink of the Martians:

Lars: "I'm to travel [to Earth]...on a sort of interplanetary peace mission!"

Wink-wink: I'm to infiltrate their culture and spy on them.

Martian chief: "You are to eliminate the possibility of interplanetary warfare by waging a constant battle against the forces of evil on Earth--using your super intelligence, and advanced scientific, crime-fighting gadgets, as weapons!"

Wink-wink: You're to stop them developing nuclear weaponry or in any other way becoming a technological match for us.

Pappy said...

OK, Chuck...I think I'm up to the challenge.

Does anyone else remember the Eclipse Comics Lars Of Mars reprint in the '80s? It was in 3D by Ray Zone.

rnigma said...

borky: most likely it was Norm Saunders who painted the cover. His covers made ZD comics stand out.

Kirk Jusko said...

The last panel of the second story echoes the way a typical late 30s-early 40s Superman story would end, with Lois Lane putting down Clark Kent for not being more like the hero that, unbeknownst to her, he actually was. Seems to be a long-running theme in Siegel's work.

Mykal said...

Pappy: So nice to see this magnificent art by Murphy Anderson. Most of what I've seen from him is his inking (on Gil Kane). He certainly could supply both pencils and inks in great fashion!