Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Number 2491: A jaunt to Jupiter

This type of science fiction I call a future in the past story. It was published in 1954, and takes place in 2006. The 21st century sounded wayyyy far away to those of us mid-century types. We (or maybe just me) thought  that after many years in the future we would certainly have bases on other planets, the moon, Mars, Venus...many achievements have been made, but habitation of any celestial body is still quite a few more years into the future.

The cute little 5-page tale of a couple of Army guys flying a ship to Jupiter is silly not just because we are looking back and we know none of it happened. Jupiter, at 33,000 mph, as the spaceship is flying, is a mighty long distance from Earth. According to the fount of all knowledge, the Internet, Jupiter is 483 million miles from Earth as claimed by one site, which makes a time table a bit more than a hop, skip and a jump. But actually the distance between planets depends on where the planets are in their orbits. says, “The New Horizons mission took a more direct path after its January 19, 2006, launch. On February 28, 2007, it performed a flyby of Jupiter on its way to Pluto and other dwarf planets. The travel time to Jupiter was just over 13 months.” And that’s no comic book trip.

 Art by Joe Maneely, from Spaceman #4 (1954):

Monday, January 25, 2021

Number 2490: Ice cold plunderers from the past!

 In this Moon Girl story, “Plunderers From the Past,” Some Vikings are thawed from ice and come back to life. A character in the story explains that “some frogs” can freeze and yet come back from their organs and body being in the deep freeze. Yeah, I’d heard that a time or two, so to corroborate that factoid it was to the Internet I went. The National Science Foundation has an article, “Frozen Frogs Don’t Croak,” and from that article: “Jon Costanzo, a professor at Miami University in Ohio says at the first sign of ice in late fall or early winter, the frog freezes solid as a rock.

“That touch of ice immediately sets off signals inside the frog that pulls water away from the center of its body, so the frog's internal organs are now wrapped in a puddle of water that then turns to solid ice. . .The frog's heart stops beating, its kidneys stop functioning and its respiration ceases--for months. The frogs endure this suspended animation by producing a type of antifreeze made with glucose, keeping the water in their cells in a liquid state at temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius).” So when the Moon Girl character who talks about frogs asks, “Why not humans?” we know now that it is because we don’t have antifreeze in our blood.

Antifreeze or not, Moon Girl gets involved with these formerly frozen humans.

The story is written by Gardner Fox and drawn by Sheldon Moldoff. It is from EC Comics’ Moon Girl #6, 1949.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Number 2489: Pardon me, Mr President

“Court Martial” is a romanticized version of a real-life pardon issued by President Abraham Lincoln during the American Civil War. A soldier is caught sleeping while on guard duty, and is sentenced to be shot. President Lincoln steps in and pardons him once he learns of extenuating circumstances. William Scott was the real-life soldier pardoned, and altogether Lincoln issued 343 pardons during his time in office. Scott was later killed in battle, shot by the enemy.

(A century later the punishment of death was long off the table for sleeping on sentry duty; while a soldier in the U.S. Army I fell asleep more than once while on guard. Luckily, I was never caught. I just hope after admitting it that the statute of limitation applies.)

The story is from Battle Action #17, an early Comics Code approved Atlas comic from 1955.

Art for the story is credited to Bob McCarty. 

Monday, January 18, 2021

Number 2488: Rex the Wonder Dog ain’t just a-woofin'

Rex the Wonder Dog is a super-smart dog we love to imagine. Dogs may astonish us sometimes, but they are not as smart as fiction makes out. Rex the Wonder Dog, for instance, can smell out evil. I understand that a dog’s smeller is one of nature’s marvels, but I’ll be dog-boned if evil is smellable. According to the Grand Comics Database (using editor Julius Schwartz’s records), the story was written by Robert Kanigher, and he endowed Rex with that ability. I haven't read beyond that story, which I read mostly because Alex Toth and Sy Barry did the artwork for this evil-sniffing anthropomorphic canine.

Oh, wait! I look again and see the story is titled “Trail of the Flower of Evil.” So there you go. The flower smells like evil. Puzzle solved!

The Adventures of Rex the Wonder Dog #1, which is our source for the story, came out in 1952, and lasted 46 issues until 1959. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Number 2487: Kirby Unwanted

No, no! Jack Kirby is not unwanted, the story is “Unwanted,” and from Young Romance #10 (1949), drawn by Jack Kirby and inked by Joe Simon. Mona Carter, in the story, has just gotten out of prison. She promises the warden she’ll go straight, but stepping out of the joint and into freedom she is met by her old criminal boyfriend.

I think it was audacious of Simon and Kirby to go into love comics. They supposedly created the genre, but is that true? Were their love comics the first on the stands? Someone enlighten me, please. When I think of Jack Kirby and Joe Simon I think of running, jumping, and flying fists. Action! Despite a panel in the middle of one of the pages showing a shootout in a bank, it is a love comic, and romance is generally talk and tears.


Monday, January 11, 2021

Number 2486: Thinking of a stinker, the Thinker

The Flash was one of my favorite superheroes in 1960-1961...I was especially rocked when The Flash #123 came out in ’61, and the cover featured both the Barry Allen Flash, and the alternate world Flash, Jay Garrick. 
That issue introduced the concept of Earths One and Two to the DC Universe, and it was a genius move on the parts of DC editor Julius Schwartz, and writer Gardner Fox. Schwartz and Fox, as well as artist Carmine Infantino, had all worked for DC Comics (then called “National”) during the 1940s. In the days of my youth I read every fanzine I could get my hands on, and wanted to see the early versions of the DC/National characters I liked.

The Flash story below, from All-Flash #27 (1947) is drawn by Martin Naydel with story credited to Robert Kanigher. The villain, the Thinker, does his criminal acts while throwing a variety of gases around. He would have been unacceptable to me had I seen the story in 1961. No costume! What kind of superhero comic book villain goes out without a costume? Perhaps having just broken out of prison the Thinker hadn’t the time between his escape and gassing people to shop for a good costume.