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Fantastic Worlds [comic]

Entry updated 21 August 2023. Tagged: Comics, Publication.

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US Comic (1952-1953). Standard Comics. Three issues, numbered #5 – #7, on alternate months to the imprint's other sf comic Lost Worlds, which ran for two issues numbered #5 – #6 (many of the comic series owned by the publisher – Ned L Pines – started with #5). Artists include Jon L Blummer, John Celardo, Art Saaf and Alex Toth. Each issue included four comic strips, a two-page short story, plus one-page non-fiction strips and a cartoon strip.

Issue #5 begins with "Triumph Over Terror", with America's leading sf writers abducted by Aliens: "They fear us because they really think we can see into the future and would prevent them from conquering the Earth." However, when they scan Thomas Alden's brain he imagines their Invasion being easily defeated, so they cravenly return him and his colleagues home (one of the sf authors is called Cleve, possibly a reference to Cleve Cartmill). "The Space Treasure" (script by Otto Binder) has the crew of a meteorite-clearing ship rebelling when the captain insists a diamond-encrusted meteorite should be handed over to the proper authorities. In other tales, a laboratory assistant goes to the Ganymede (see Jupiter) colony to find a heroic husband, but the man she falls for turns out to be a Robot built by the Scientist she spurned. In another, Mercurians invade a peaceful colony and find that humans will turn violent when their freedom is threatened. One of the non-fiction pieces discusses Richard Adams Locke's 1835 "Moon Hoax". The short story is "Johnny Randall's Body" by Jerome Bixby.

In #6, "The Cosmic Terror" has alien "scientists and conquerors" hollowing out a planet, filling it with an armada then drifting into our solar system as if a lost planet: as they approach Earth their ships exit, leaving just a few human prisoners behind, sending it to crash into our planet ... then it is suddenly revealed that humanity is Telepathic and can send out a warning. In "Run, Martian, Run" a big game hunter decides to hunt a Martian (see Mars), now outlawed though it was not so in the past; he is outfoxed by his intended victim and tricked into a cave whose fumes paralyse for a thousand years before killing. In "The Space Lorelei" (script by Otto Binder), women carve a giant female face on an Asteroid to lure men – theirs having died out – then go into suspended animation and wait. Men arrive and discover giant spiders have infested the asteroid; fortunately the women wake and kill them.

In #7's "The Ace of Space" (script by Otto Binder), there is a War between the inner planets and Jupiter: two agents discover the latter are building robot suicide pilots to crash their Spaceships into the inner planets' bases: they are imprisoned but escape (it is not explained how!). "Doom in the Depths" has radio signals detected from both space and Underground: the former indicate an imminent alien invasion, whilst a mechanical mole discovers a civilization at the Earth's core planning to conquer the surface – our hero sets the two forces against each other. Another story has music-loving but hostile plants inhabiting Aldebaran. The short story in #7 is "Flight to Forever" by Harry Neal, a pseudonym of Jerome Bixby (that in #6 is by Allan Anders, who might or might not be a Bixby pseudonym).

Several tales seem to be reworked stories from other genres, whilst there are some lazy plot resolutions. On the plus side there are a few strong female roles, such as a scientist, an intelligence officer and the spider killers (see Feminism). "Run, Martian, Run" is unusual in having an alien as the protagonist (as opposed to a victim) against a human antagonist, and a lukewarm attitude towards colonialism (see Imperialism). [SP]

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