Friday, July 15, 2016

Number 1919: The Phantom Fountain

For a six-page story, “The Phantom Fountain" packs the craziness of much longer ACG supernatural fare. I am amazed by the audacity of the people who put this together. It has to do with the legendary fountain of youth, sought in the Florida Everglades. What is found instead is a fountain of radioactive mutation, which causes humans to become monsters, albeit with a purpose. One wonders what mutants need of money or jewelry (it’s not like they could go on a spending spree without attracting a lot of attention). They even break convicts out of prison to become monsters to help with their nefarious supernatural schemes.

[SPOILER]In this story someone is able to request an atom bomb be dropped on a specific location. Fortunately for us we live in the real world, not comic books. Admittedly, there are some desperate despots around the world we cannot trust to keep an itchy finger off a nuclear trigger.[END SPOILER]

If you can accept any of this, then I have some radioactive swampland in the Florida Everglades I’d like to sell you.

From Forbidden Worlds #9 (1952). Grand Comics Database guesses Al Camy and Dick Beck drew it.


Daniel [] said...

Yes, naturally he had a reserve of cysteine in the false cap of his back molar. After all, who wouldn't?

Of course, we're talkin' about an amino acid here, which might not even make it to his stomach before he were in the heart of the fountain, let alone be absorbed by his gut. And, well, I don't think that it helps much at all against radiation, which is why we had to rely upon our good, old-fashioned school desks to protect us in the event of a nuclear blast.

An' that's th' way that we liked it!

Pappy said...

Daniel, not only did we buy into the lies that we could protect ourselves by duck and cover, we also denied to ourselves — with prompting from the government — that spreading radiation to areas of the Southwest through testing in Nevada was not harmful to the population.

Anonymous said...

In regards to Daniel's and Pappy's comments: Of course it wasn't harmful —all that radiation in the Southwest. Or in Florida, either: "What harm can it do to drop one of... (those) BABY ATOM BOMBS on an uninhabited (and marked unexplored on the maps) section of the Everglades—NONE AT ALL!" Wowie, what an audacious comic!

Trouble shooter Gordon showed brilliance in his strong hunches, he could put 2 and 2 together better than the average agent kicking through supernatural phantoms. Gosh.

A real rip-snorter of a story. A good possibility for your Turkey comic examples you've posted on some Thanksgivings. I enjoyed it.

Unknown said...

"Headed to the Florida Everglades, and worried about succumbing to the deadly radiation in the Fountain of Youth? Worry no more! Just take a heavy dose of Cysteine, the new miracle drug that counteracts even the most lethal radiation! Available in capsules that will fit on your back molar. Cysteine--ask your druggist for it today!"

I'm back, Pappy! Sorry I've been gone so long (yeah, like you care).

Okay, this one was kind of confusing. A phantom is a ghost or figment of the imagination (or a fraudulent financial arrangement, but anyway). So, why are these mutant ghouls called phantoms? Except for that moment when Gordon's feet seem to pass through one of them, they appear to be pretty solid, especially since they can touch and physically affect things. Gordon calls them "biological distortions," but then Lavalle says that the radiation destroyed the people's physical selves and made them bodiless spirits. Um, as I recall, a bodiless spirit is a ghost, a true "phantom." But these corrupt beings are wiped out by a "super A-bomb" that would, in reality, have at least decimated the Everglades. And, as for the aforementioned Cysteine pill: as I understand it, a pill will only protect your insides (and then only If it has time to be absorbed, as Daniel mentioned); it won't keep you from being affected by radiation.

I just don't get it. Maybe I'm stupid.

Brian Barnes said...

Poor Ponce De Leon, forever going to be thought of as a kook who was looking for a fountain, when he was more or less just doing what the Spanish always did back then, crushing natives and stealing their gold.

This story is all sorts of silly. It's maximized comic-book-science to it's most illogical -- and there's no way for a story like that to end without an atomic bomb!

Alicia American said...

OMG I wuld like 2 get sum radioactive swampland in Flourida!!! Think of tha reality show we culd shoot their

Pappy said...

Ryan, you're not stupid...if you were this story would make perfect sense to you.

Pappy said...

Alicia, ship me enough bitcoins and I'll see what I can find for you in my new Glowing Swamp Estates in Florida.

Pappy said...

Brian, this story is da bomb, as they say!

Your comment brings to mind that explorers in those days weren't after knowledge or completing the world map picture...they wanted gold and land and conquest. What else could have been as important?

Pappy said...

7f7, sigh...well I blew it. I should have held this over for my Turkey Award in November, but it's too late now. Anyway, one good thing about old comics, there is always another story that is even sillier, crazier or stupider than the last. It's what we love about 'em, after all. I still have some time to find one that fits my definition.

Pappy said...

Daniel, the University of Maryland says that cysteine is kind of a miracle amino acid. And here I thought it was something made up for the story.

Of all the things it is claimed to do, though, not one of them is cure radiation poisoning. Used in treatment for Tylenol poisoning, though. That's good to know.

Mário Filipe said...

Actually we should give some credit to the writer for using cysteine as a plot point. Cysteine was one the first compound found to have radioprotective, back in 1949 by Patt et al. (DOI: 10.1126/science.110.2852.213). However, despite being effective in rats, it was found to be toxic in humans at the doses required to provide protection against radiation. Also in those experiments cysteine was administered intravenously and, as mentioned by Daniel, the rate of absorption through the gastrointestinal tract would probably render it useless. The discovery of the radioprotective properties of cysteine prompted further reseach, mainly by the US army (hooray for the cold war), for other compounds containing the thiol (sulfhydryl) group that might provide the same protection without the toxicity, and if I'm not mistaken, one of such compounds, amifostine, is currently used as a radioprotective agent in radiotherapy treatment.
All the rest is wack.

Pappy said...

Mário, thanks for your comment. The writer of this long-ago nightmare vision had probably read an article on cysteine, which may have been touted as a possible medical panacea for radiation. That gives us an opportunity to say that these sorts of miracles after much study, testing and research usually don't turn out like we hope they will.

Thanks for your insight and information.