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Lars of Mars

Entry updated 26 June 2023. Tagged: Comics, Publication.

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US Comic (1951). Two issues (numbered #10 and #11). Ziff-Davis. Artists include Allen Anderson, Murphy Anderson and Gene Colan. Four long comic strips per issue, three involving Lars; plus a two-page text story and three brief science-related articles. Lars was created by Jerry Siegel and artist Murphy Anderson; it is probable that Siegel wrote the scripts.

Millions of years ago the Venusians (see Venus) almost conquered Mars using powerful Weapons, so when a Martian astronomer observes a Pacific H-Bomb test (see Nuclear Energy) he exclaims, "My word! The Supreme Council shall hear of this!" The Council react by sending their "most daring adventurer" Lars of Mars to be a peace-keeping agent on Earth, using his "super Intelligence and advanced scientific, crime fighting gadgets" (see Invention). On arrival he rescues a young woman from an apparent Robot attack, only to discover she is a Television producer rehearsing a new sf show. He is hired in the belief that he is a human actor, and Lars of Mars becomes the eponymous superhero of a tv series. Lars quickly finds being an actor a pain – he is made the butt of jokes and has to advertise breakfast cereal (see Advertising) – but the Council refuse his request to return until all evil on Earth is banished. Even when the press starts reporting a real-life Martian is fighting criminals, the television show is merely seen as a coincidence.

A criminal mastermind gets his ideas from watching television – and decides if people believed Lars was really from Mars, but a Villain, he could be used to intimidate people whilst his gang rob jewellers. Other criminals try to hold New York to ransom with an earthquake machine. A Russian Scientist plots to blow up an American atom bomb plant (see Cold War), but his agents are foiled by Lars's freeze Ray. Coincidentally, in the next issue the same scientist invents an Absolute Zero ray that freezes its victims; this story also has Lars travelling Faster Than Light, sending him "into the fourth and fifth Dimensions" where he is attacked by a Monster – on being shot it shatters into hundreds of small copies of Lars. The slightest adventure involves Lars giving a pep talk to a baseball player who has lost his confidence and will not visit a child in hospital. The non-Lars strips feature Captain Ken Brady, Rocket Pilot: in #10 he foils an attempt by pirates to steal his cargo of the new metal Maratonium; in #11 a boy's sad story moves Ken to allow him a ride in his rocket, whereupon he draws a gun and hijacks it. Ken later discovers the boy is a projection (see Perception) broadcast by an evil Scientist.

The first four Lars adventures are reasonably good, the last two less so; the Ken Brady stories are solid too. The most enjoyable elements are Lars's exasperation over the lack of respect he gets from being an actor, and other touches of Humour: the first tale's opening proclaims that "there isn't a man, woman or child on Earth who doesn't thrill to the fabulous exploits of that incredible crusader from another world, Lars of Mars!" Only later does the reader realize this refers to the tv show, not Lars's actual heroics. [SP]

further reading

  • Lars of Mars (Hornsea, East Yorkshire: PS Publishing, 2017) [graph: collects issues #10-#11 of Lars of Mars, issues #1-#2 of Crusader from Mars and issue #1 of Eerie Adventures: in the publisher's Pre-Code Classics series: illus/various: hb/Allen Anderson]


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