Thursday, August 31, 2006

Space Adventures #52

Space Adventures #52, July 1963, Charlton Comics Group

Extraterrestrial bubbles that enslave humans.

A space explorer trapped on a silent planet with a half-cat/half-ape.

Two interstellar fighters that witness the end of their universe, unaware that they live in a forlorn fiancĂ©e’s snowglobe.

A stranded astronaut-ambassador that falls in love with a winged alien.

Two tiny cosmic scouts attacked by creatures of the planet they were sent to explore – some odd orb called Earth.

What do these subjects have in common? In 1963, they were worthy concepts for sci-fi comic shorts. Although these stories are clichĂ© by today’s standards, through a culturally retrospective lens, they are quite amusing and entertaining. And, frankly, refreshing after yesterday’s dud. Unlike previous posts, in which I’ve offered a lengthy analysis of the issue’s contents and context in the grand scheme of comicdom, I feel compelled simply to list my impressions of the book as a whole, in the hopes that these brief observations provide the necessary insight. Away we go:

Although a part of me is growing tired of these four-or-more-in-one compilation comics – the “training grounds” for beginning illustrators, as I’ve called them – I appreciate efforts like Space Adventures that keep their conceptual exercises to a minimum. In other words, the reader is in and out of the writer’s idea, without the burden of unnecessary narrative or explanation. Further, these stories began in the midst of the action, sparing us the superfluous build-up many writers used to pad their skeleton plots back in the day. Like good sci-fi, some of these little tales actually left me in wonder. Go figure.

A few favorite lines: The half-cat/half-ape to the human explorer carving a spear, “How fortunately situated your digits are! You can do many things which I find impossible to achieve!” About time those alien animal hybrids realized how far up the cosmic food chain we earthlings are!

The chauvinist ambassador’s thoughts after an argument with his winged beloved, “Idiot, she called me . . . The Atwood women never spoke that way to their men! But she’d learn that in time . . .” Later, when his mission of peace is revealed and he scores the girl, “Peace treaty? With her sharp tongue and dictatorial ways, I had a strong hunch the war was just beginning . . . a war inevitably I’d lose but which promised some pretty stimulating battles!” Whoa! This guy’s talking about landing on the moon before the rocket even launches, for crying out loud!

As different as these stories were, all of them hinged on the strengths and capabilities of humanity – specifically, white, middle-aged earthmen. I wonder if a modern sci-fi jam comic would be any different. The first story in this issue was about bubbles, but the real bubbles of that era were perhaps the one these writers were living in.

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