Entry updated 22 May 2023. Tagged: Comics, Publication.
US Comic (1950-1951; vt Jet Powers). Four issues. Magazine Enterprises. Four strips per issue. Artists include Frank Frazetta, Bob Powell, Al Williamson, Wally Wood and Larry Woromay. The character Jet Powers was created by Powell and Gardner F Fox, the latter likely writing the scripts.
Jet Powers "captain of science" is a genius "inventor and adventurer" who combats "the forces of evil that seek to wrest mankind from the paths of peace and plenty". He has three stories in each issue; #1's opener sees him defeating Mad Scientist Mr Sinn, who brought Hitler and Stalin to power and now seeks to rule the world, creating earthquakes that flatten US cities. Jet's equipment identifies southern Asia as the source, so flies there in his atomic powered aerocar (see Transportation), which also doubles as a submarine; he is armed with a Ray Gun that removes the effect of Gravity. Caught and then tortured by Sinn using "nauseating colors" and sound, he escapes and destroys the underwater headquarters with a shock-wave transmitter jury-rigged from Sinn's own earthquake technology. In the next story Sinn constructs a "man-made moon" (see Space Station) as his new base – fortunately Jet has a Spaceship. The issue's third Jet tale involves a humanoid locust (see Aliens) who travels, germ-sized, between the stars as part of a meteor storm: arriving on Earth he grows to a human height. Deeming our planet suitable for colonization (see Invasion), he plans to attract the attention of his species by detonating some of the USA's nuclear reactors (see Nuclear Energy); but Jet kills him with DDT.
Jet's stories in #2 include an inventor who builds a Time Machine but is too timid to test it himself, so uses a couple as his guinea pigs; but he faints in mid-experiment, and they are sent three million years into the future instead of a century. They are found by a group of Aliens called Kroog, who copy the device's design and plan to conquer "all time and all space". However, the couple escape back to the present and warn Jet: using the original time machine he finds the Kroog ransacking 4,567,951 CE (see Time Abyss) and strands them in the age of the Dinosaurs. Another tale has a Robot prototype gaining sentience (see AI) after the Hiroshima atomic bomb: it goes into hiding for several years until found by Mr Sinn, who uses its "living metal" to create a robot army to attack Jet – but X-Rays turn them back into lifeless metal. #3 has the start of a two-part serial, where a radioactive dust cloud from space engulfs the Earth, causing panic and wiping out most of the population (see Disaster); it is continued in #4, when a military dictatorship led by a discharged general and a torch singer take over Post-Holocaust America – they try to crush a rebellion led by Jet with napalm, but their forces are defeated when he seeds clouds with dry ice and "hyperbarbitural crystals", creating sleep rain (see Weather Control). One of Jet's other appearances in #4 is simply to introduce a story about an American fighter plane crashing during the Korean war: the pilot apparently survives the explosion: scientists discover he is Immortal because of "chemical properties in his body that allows it to throw off all toxic agents". He is actually from 4579 CE, sent to the present to capture two criminals who fled here (see Time Police); but on arrival his vehicle crashed into the fighter plane and he suffered Amnesia, with everyone assuming he was the plane's pilot. Memory restored, he captures the criminals, one of whom is Stalin (see Cold War).
The comic's other protagonist, the fortune-seeking Space Ace gets only one story per issue: his first adventure is set on a Mars colonized by humanity for 300 years, during which time any cargo ship flying over its red desert appears to be downed by pirates: our hero investigates and discovers Robots are responsible. Following them underground. he finds a mummified corpse holding a set of controls and immediately concludes this person has been dead for 10,000 years and that their job was to keep enemy ships away from the desert: he turns the device off and all is well. In #2 he seeks the Ocean of Diamonds on Titan (see Outer Planets), which is guarded by an "invisible death": this turns out to be infrared radiation that cooks any unwary visitor. #3 has him finding a book from an extinct five-million-year-old civilisation from the planet that became the Asteroid belt; it leads him to an indestructible Weapon that turns matter into energy by shooting "out beams of absolute zero! It's pure nothingness". In #4 Space Ace is captured by villainess Flor, but he escapes using wiring from his "electric spacepants" then debilitates Flor and her cronies with laughing gas.
Jet Powers is a fairly dull hero; Space Ace has a little more personality, at one point hoping for "a full pardon for any ... err ... crimes I may have committed here and there"; but the stories themselves are enjoyable and varied, though their more interesting aspects tend to be quickly sidelined to focus on an action plot. There is also some good artwork.
The magazine is titled only "Jet" on the cover (though the first is subtitled "Jet Powers and Space Ace"), but its indicia (identifying details) call it "Jet Powers" and it is often referred to by this title. It is also considered part of the run of A1 Comics (1944-1955, 139 issues), namely issues #30, #32, #35 and #39 (and is mentioned in the indicia). Subsequently the same publisher brought out Space Ace (1952): the sole issue was numbered #5 (aka A1 Comics #61), though its similarities to Jet are only coincidental – it concerns a member of the space patrol named Jet Black, whose strip is titled "Space Ace". Drawn by Fred Guardineer, it had originally appeared in issues #1-#7 of Manhunt (1947-1953, 14 issues), a comic that featured various crime series (see Crime and Punishment), most of the others being set in the present day. Some years later another publisher brought out Jet Power [sic] (1958, two issues) which reprinted #1 and #2 of Jet, but with new covers. A version of Jet Powers, also drawn by Powell and physically very similar, appeared in some of the Korean War issues of the non-sf comic American Air Forces (1944-1945, 4 issues, covering World War Two; 1951-1953, 8 issues, covering the Korean War), but here he was an American pilot. [SP]
- Jet Powers and Space Ace – Volume 1 (Hornsea, East Yorkshire: PS Publishing, 2017) [graph: collects issues #1-#4 of Jet and Space Ace issue #5: illus/various: hb/Bob Powell]
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