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Mystery Comics

Entry updated 23 October 2023. Tagged: Comics, Publication.

US Comic (1944). Four issues. Wm H Wise & Co. Artists include Ken Battefield, Bob Oksner and Alex Schomburg. Script writers include Joseph Greene and Bob Stanwood. 5 strips per issue.

The stories featuring Superhero Brad Spencer, Wonderman are published in the wrong order: narratively the sequence is #2, #3, #4 and #1. Brad's "body was made tough as armour plate by a secret current" (see Superpowers) and in #2 he confronts the Mad Scientist Dr Voodoo, who has built a device to fire "actinic Rays" that penetrate safes, with their contents then extracted using the "vacuum spiral" (see Matter Transmission). In the ensuing fight the Invention is accidentally fired into space, hitting Mars and transporting two Martians – tall, purple and four-armed Aliens – to Earth. Brad realizes the Martians are afraid of something on their home planet and decides to "convert the vacuum spiral into a recurring circuit" enabling him and his girlfriend Carol (also a superhero: she can fight but lacks superpowers) to go to and from Mars to investigate. In #3, after quickly making "compensator belts" to "stabilize the oxygen and pressure" wherever they go (in #1 the belt's Gravity manipulation gives the wearer the power of Flying), they land on Mars outside a City: they are surprised to find its atmosphere is like Earth's and that the inhabitants are human and speak English. They have arrived in time to stop tyrannical nobles from overthrowing the city's queen: she explains that her ancestors invented an atomic telescope, studied Earth and copied its conditions, eventually becoming human-like and believing themselves a master-race, destined to rule the other Martians (which reminds Brad of America's current foes in World War Two). Once the rebels are overthrown the Queen allows the other Martians to visit the city, so they too will eventually become human (see Evolution). In #4 Brad analyses soil fallen from the tyres of a vehicle used to kidnap women, locating the would-be Immortal Emperor and foiling his attempt to sacrifice them to Lilith the Dark Goddess and so gain Immortality. Lilith is an invisible (see Invisibility) satellite of the Moon and in #1 Brad and Carol use the vacuum spiral to pay a visit, finding the goddess Lilith (see Gods and Demons), Dr Voodoo, the Immortal Emperor and evildoers from the past – Huns, harpies (see Mythology), wizards (see Magic), ghouls (see Supernatural Creatures) and so forth. Dr Voodoo is building a new vacuum spiral so the goddess's legions can invade Earth (see Invasion). The story would continue in Wonder Comics #9 (see below).

The King of Futuria (in #4 Dick Devens, King of Futuria) begins in 1944, when the Time Machine being tested by Dick Devens explodes, injuring its inventor and leaving Dick stranded in the thirtieth century (see Time Travel). Here, Earth is scientifically advanced but, weakened by a period of prolonged peace, was conquered by the tentacle men of Venus and their Robots five years ago; they made the city of Futuria their capital and surrounded it with a Force Field. Though the Earthlings are already fighting back, it is Dick's twentieth-century pluckiness that enables them to turn the tide. The invaders are led by Earthman Karlak, who in #3 – along with some Venusians – is accidentally taken back to 1944 where he promptly allies with the Nazis; but Dick and girlfriend Mira follow and defeat them. In #4, Karlak's sabotages their attempt to return to the thirtieth century, sending them to the fiftieth instead, where the large-headed but physically slight inhabitants wear Elizabethan ruffs. They are attacked by a division of Genghis Khan's army who have just awoken from centuries of sleep, having been drugged into Suspended Animation so the future could be conquered in the name of Genghis Khan. Again Dick rallies the people, defeating the Mongolians; the fiftieth-century people hope to integrate them into their society. Dick and Mira return to the thirtieth century.

Also appearing in each issue is the Magnet, who is Grant Halford, athlete, Scientist and inventor of the Geo-locator, which can find anyone, anywhere, by analysing an object they have owned: the stories have no other genre elements. Only appearing in #3 and #4 is Lance Lewis, Space Detective (see Crime and Punishment); from the twenty-fourth century, he has "been trained equally in higher science, and athletic skill". His first story involves overseeing a race between two companies vying for the Earth/Mars mail franchise. More fun is #4's tale of intelligent Telepathic protoplasm from Saturn (see Outer Planets), who "have but one aim in life ... to conquer the Universe" (see Imperialism); Lance's first tactic – punching them – has no effect, so he destroys them with fire. #1-#3 features Zudo the Jungle Boy, essentially a young Tarzan; one-off strips are The Silver Knight (#1), "chosen by the Deathless Druid to guard that sovereign realm that will forever be England" and set in the time of King Arthur, including Magical elements; and Jack Manning (#2), a "brilliant two-fisted young scientist" who foils Nazi agents. His sole story includes a Machine – not invented by him – that fires lightning (see Weapons).

Brad Spencer, Wonderman and the Magnet had initially appeared in the Complete Book of Comics and Funnies #1 (1944); after Mystery Comics Spencer moved on to Wonder Comics #9-#15 and #17 (1946-1948). Lance Lewis would go on to appear in Startling Comics #44-#53 (1947-1948); Dick Devens, King of Futuria would appear in Wonder Comics #12 and #14 (1947). [SP]


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