Monday, September 06, 2021

Number 2554: Having the time of his life...or death

I like stories about time travel, aliens from other planets, dinosaurs, and Murphy Anderson’s artwork. So we have all of those elements in “The Cycle of Time.” A driver hits and kills a man with his car, some alien scientists land and claim they are from Alpha Centauri. The aliens and the hit-and-run driver then all go back in time.

Those alien “scientists” say that Alpha Centauri is “a solar system trillions of light years away from the Earth and the sun.” I looked it up: Alpha Centauri is a galaxy, not a solar system, and it is 4.367 light years away, not trillions. Some scientists, eh? At least they have a time machine. (Note: I neglected my homework. Go to the comments below and read the corrections for my errors about Alpha Centauri. Chagrined, but glad to be set straight. Pappy)

Artist Murphy Anderson was one of my favorite artists in DC Comics, and I liked his work on the series, Atomic Knights, in early '60s issues of DC’s Strange Adventures. During his career Anderson did a lot of science fiction, including a couple of stints as the “Buck Rogers” artist in newspapers.

There are no writing credits for “The Cycle of Time,” but Jerry Siegel was the editor, and a guess would be that he may have written some of the stories.

From Weird Thrillers #2 (1951):


Daniel [] said...

The earliest story that I've read of a man using a time-travel device and killing himself at another time without recognizing what he's doing is “The Time Locker”, by Henry Kuttner. In that story, the device creates a portal in the future, but geometric relations are distorted by it, and the villain casually crushes a creature in the future.

Anderson had not yet caught his full stride with this story, but we see where he was going. As an inker, he refined the work of many artists at DC, and imparted a look that made work cohere across pencillers. And I really liked his solo efforts in the '70s.

Rick said...

Anyone who has ever read any comic book concerning time travel could see that "twist" ending coming from as far away as Alpha Centauri.

I know it's essential to the plot that Fred didn't realize it was his own time displaced self he was looking at. But it really begs credibility that he wouldn't be a lot more curious about who this guy was.
Bearing a striking resemblance is one thing but to be wearing the exact same clothing?

You also have to wonder what happened to the alien's time bubble. Did it have some kind of automatic recall that made it travel back to Alpha Centauri along with the two aliens bodies? After all Fred was the target of an all out manhunt. Someone was sure to find it and the bodies of Fred and the two aliens eventually if it were still just sitting there.
Maybe Rip Hunter stumbled upon it? That would explain how he became Rip Hunter, Time Master.

I can't help but notice that the time bubble in this story looks an awful lot like the time bubble used by the Legion of Super Heroes in their earliest adventures way back when. Perhaps that's where the time bubble somehow wound up.

s2124c said...

Minor correction. Alpha Centuri is a star. It is part of a star system (with Proxima Centuri) which is the nearest to earth

M. Bouffant said...

Definitely pre-Code. Escaped con kills two aliens, & himself (twice) w/o any apparent repercussions. Not even captured & returned to the Big House.

P.S.: You may have transposed something; it's not a galaxy. "Alpha Centauri is a gravitationally bound system of the closest stars and exoplanets to Earth's Solar System at 4.37 light-years (1.34 parsecs) from the Sun. The name is Latinized from α Centauri, and abbreviated Alpha Cen or α Cen. It is a triple star system, consisting of the three stars: α Centauri A (officially Rigil Kentaurus), α Centauri B (officially Toliman), and the closest star α Centauri C (officially Proxima Centauri)."

Pappy said...

s2124c and M. Bouffant, thanks to both of you for pointing out the need for correction. I'm not so old that I can't still learn something, and your corrections help.

Pappy said...

Daniel, I often think I'm in a science fiction story, and that time travel is involved. Living through a pandemic, not unlike 1918, and over a hundred years later watching so many people making so many bad choices.

I recall my (much) younger days, reading science fiction digests, or paperback book anthologies with doomsday stories, and in the here and now of the real future feeling it is akin to something I may have read about decades before. Not really time travel, but familiar enough to give me a sense of having been through it before.