Search SFE    Search EoF

  Omit cross-reference entries  

Fantastic Comics

Entry updated 18 September 2023. Tagged: Comics, Publication.

US Comic (1939-1941). 23 issues. Fox Publications, Inc. Artists include Alex Blum, Bill Bossert, Grieg Chapian, Fletcher Hanks and Don Rico. Script writers include Toni Blum, Will Eisner, Fletcher Hanks and Fred Schwab. 7-9 strips and a 2-page text story per issue.

Always the cover star, whose stories open each issue and are about twice the length of others', is Samson: coming from "out of the mists of history", he is immensely strong (able to throw submarines) though can lose his strength following a haircut. In the present day he defeats tyrants, criminals and would-be world conquerors, who often use science for their ends, such as giant Robots; magnets able to lift ships from the sea; mass-Hypnosis devices and Dinosaurs (the latter terrorizing New York). There is also an attempt by some of Europe's royal families to restore the continent's monarchies and serfdom. On a couple of occasions he is helped by Professor Brun, whose de-moleculing ray (see Matter Transmission) can transport Samson anywhere on Earth. From #10 the strip was renamed Samson and David when he gains a young boy as his sidekick – whereupon the stories become more unremarkable. Though he made his first appearance here, at one point he (and David) appeared concurrently in three Fox Publications' comics, the other two being Samson (6 issues, 1940-1941), where it is revealed that he is a descendant of the biblical Samson, and the first 6 issues of Big 3 (7 issues, 1940-1942).

"Yank" Wilson Super Spy was the only other strip to be every issue. In #1 "Yank" stops the Eskimongolian Invasion of the US (see Alternate History). For a while his antagonists come from mysterious countries such as Russmany or Prussland, though eventually Germany is named. One group of saboteurs cunningly name their front company "Egatobas Inc". Aside from the occasional evil Scientist, the sf elements are few. At one point "Yank" goes to Shanghai and remarks of the locals "Br-r! These foreigners give me the creeps"; this is not the only example of overt racism in the comic. In another strip, adventurer Space Smith and his girlfriend Dianna initially fight giant brained Martian scientist Skomah, who plans to rule Earth (or destroy it: in #2 his Spaceships are armed with "anti-Earth demolishing Rays"); this storyline is dropped without resolution after #3 and the pair go on to have adventures in the Solar System, such as being attacked by the leopard women of Venus who fly into battle standing on the backs of saurians and wear guns in their heads. Though the stories are slight, the early issues have weird elements and an odd if simplistic art style that has its appeal. Later tales are unremarkable.

Super Wizard Stardust ("the interplanetary colossus ... the most superior man the world has yet seen") is an Alien who regularly visits Earth to punish criminals. These include a gang whose Invention temporarily stops the Earth revolving – the resulting absence of Gravity (see Scientific Errors) sends everyone floating off into space; the perpetuators chain themselves down so that when the Earth starts spinning again they will have the planet and its wealth. A plot to get the US to declare war on Japan is also foiled, at least temporarily. Later issues sometimes have Stardust fighting aliens, including Super Fiend, who sets Mars aflame then sends it to collide with Earth. He also deals with Fifth Columnists, turning them into icicles and rats. Explorer Captain Kidd has various adventures in the "remote corners of the world", usually jungles: #1 has him confronting scientist Von Haupt whose human experimentation has led to the secret to eternal life: he is now Immortality save for his withered right hand, kept encased in an iron glove. Subsequent stories are usually forgettable, though some have genre elements: such as an underground nation of devils plotting to rule the surface; a giant killer Orchid; a cult led by a woman dressed as a gorilla who has Monsters at her beck and call.

Scientist Flick Falcon (Flip Falcon from #4) invents a fourth-Dimension device which takes him to Demi Space, where a silent giant picks him up and throws him to another location (an aspect eventually dropped); he can travel anywhere in time and space. In #1 he is thrown into a laboratory on Mars, where the locals are planning to enslave the Universe: this plot ends unresolved in #4. Subsequently he uses the machine to Time Travel or explore the solar system: at first his girlfriend Adele accompanies him, later she frets at home. Early on the imagery can be bizarre, though sadly the artwork does not match the ambition: in #4 the pair find themselves on Earth in the year 1,001,939 (see Far Future) with humanity now living skeletons. Later on the stories become less odd. In 10,000 CE "Sub" Saunders explores the depths of the Atlantic (see Under the Sea); in #4 a scientist gives him the ability to survive underwater. He helps the usurped Queen of Atlantis and battles various undersea tyrants and monsters, including frog-men who exclaim "Zounds" and "Gazooks!"

The Golden Knight, Crusader Sir Richard of Warwick, sets out to fight Saracens – and in #8 he kills Saladin and frees Jerusalem: he now becomes a crusader against injustice. There are frequent fantasy elements with many Monsters, particularly dragons. In #3 he is transported to an alien planet by Magic; this seems a one-off until #16, when he visits a Kingdom on the Moon. There are further changes: his girlfriend Alice is usually fills a damsel in distress role – but in #19 she becomes a caped, bikini clad swordswoman. Then in #20 the pair are travelling in a transparent spaceship to visit his sister on the Sun kingdom: Sir Richard explains the latter is cold "else how could my sister, a mere mortal, live there?"; regarding the heat we feel on Earth, "ultra-resonic rays emitted from the Sun are converted as they reach the atmosphere". This appears to set up the intriguing possibility of a medieval planetary romance series with different scientific laws ... unfortunately this was his last appearance in Fantastic Comics (he had a one-off, less interesting, strip two months later in Eagle #2).

Up until #13 There was also the 2-4 page comic (see Humour) adventures of Mad Scientist Professor Fiend. Super Wizard Stardust was the next strip to go, being replaced in #17 by Superheroes The Black Fury and Chuck, who are a gossip columnist and the teenaged son of a murdered policeman respectively. They dress in black and red with a skull and crossbones on their chest, and fight gangsters. They have no superpowers, though one villain does obtain an emerald that makes him invisible (see Invisibility). In #21 the Golden Knight and in #22 Flip Falcon and "Sub" Saunders are replaced. The new strips are the Banshee, an Irishman visiting New York who defeats a criminal whilst tangled in a bedsheet – mistaken for a banshee he decides to fight crime in that guise. Nagana, High Priestess of Isis in 1,000 BCE is the Queen of Evil, who wants to rule Thebes in her own name – however, Isis (see Gods and Demons) destroys the city in revenge. 3,000 years later archaeologists excavating the site unearth a statue of Nagana, who comes to life and plots to rule present-day Earth: fortunately Isis revives a young priest who had rebuffed her advances to combat her. Bonnie O'Toole is a debutante who's hired as a detective by an insurance company after exposing crooks who break their legs with hammers to make accident claims. In #23, the final issue, Space Smith and Captain Kidd are replaced by The Gladiator. When the police refuse to believe an art connoisseur's story of a monster abducting a glamorous European art critic he grabs a convenient item of fancy dress and speeds in his car dressed as a gladiator, to get the police to follow him. The monster is revealed to be a man whose disguise has "a steel framework with hydraulic cylinders actuating the arms! No wonder it was so strong!" (arguably an early example of Powered Armour).

The earlier issues of Fantastic Comics had moments of lively detail, usually involving Space Smith or Flick/Flip Falcon, though Super Wizard Stardust and the others did have their moments. Later issues were largely unexceptional, suffering from forgettable heroes and routine plots, particularly when US involvement in World War Two drew closer and the present-day protagonists spent their time mundanely foiling spies, saboteurs and fifth columnists; only The Golden Knight continued to hold interest. An issue #24 was published in 2008 as a one-off, starring the original 9 characters. [SP]


previous versions of this entry

This website uses cookies.  More information here. Accept Cookies