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Outer Space

Entry updated 5 December 2022. Tagged: Comics, Publication.

US Comic (1958-1959). Charlton Comics. 9 issues (numbered #17-#25), but see the final paragraph. Artists include Steve Ditko, Rocco "Rocke" Mastroserio, Bill Molno and Charles Nicholas. Most of the scripts were by Joe Gill. Usually 4-6 comic strips per issue and a two page text short-story, mainly sf.

Under a banner "The New Frontier!" the first issue (#17) announces "We bring you the essence of mankind's eternal dream ... the conquest of space. Scientific material employed in this book is authentic and based upon known scientific fact." This issue is essentially a five-chapter Graphic Novel about Keith Emery, a boy driven to explore space who, as an adult, becomes a Rocket Scientist and head of the space programme. He has to solve the problems faced by the mission, such as data suggesting that the effects of cosmic radiation and weightlessness will mean the human body cannot survive in space; attempted sabotage by a religious fanatic (see Religion); and various technical difficulties. Circumstances means Keith never gets to leave Earth, but he oversees the first Moon landing.

Stories in later issues include an expedition to Mercury that discovers the dark side is covered with wormlike slabs (see Life on Other Worlds) which regularly migrate through tunnels to the bright side to warm up (at the time it was still believed Mercury was an example of synchronous rotation). An ageing Robot does not want to retire – fortunately his replacement proves to be such a jerk that his owner upgrades the older one. To amuse herself, an Alien scientist focuses a Ray on Earth that causes plants to grow out of control, and humanity has to flee to the poles – they only survive because there is not enough oxygen on Earth for the plants to grow further; frustrated, she redirects the ray towards Mars. A meteorite is discovered heading towards Earth and the Government rejects scientists' recommendations to fire a hydrogen bomb (see Nuclear Energy; Weapons) at it; fortunately it hits Antarctica, vaporizing itself and melting the ice; in the window before the snows return, humanity mines the continent for oil and minerals. Earth is discovered to be a giant Spaceship that was engulfed in clouds of matter which imprisoned its crew.

In "Spaceman" a spaceman retires to Earth, but the disease and ill-health resulting from his time in space (which also makes people uneasy around him) – along with the Gravity and being unable to start a family due to radiation – make him realize he is effectively an alien on his home planet. In "Ten Billion BC" (see Time Abyss) there is only one object in space: the giant globe, Primus. Inhabited by a Utopian society, there is one bored malcontent whose thoughts cause Primus to explode: the debris forms galaxies, Suns, then planets (see Cosmology) – with life developing on some, including Earth. In "Trespassers", giant egg-shaped craft land on Earth and do nothing; humanity vainly tries various methods to see them off, and when they eventually depart it is believed that the latest attempt succeeded; in fact the aliens were only sheltering here until the violent storms afflicting their home world of Uranus (see Outer Planets) had abated.

#17 did pay some attention to the science, as do some subsequent tales (others are less stringent). The numbering is a continuation of the Horror comic This Magazine Is Haunted. Though there were many unexceptional stories, Outer Space did carry a fair number of good ones. In November 1968 Charlton Comics published a solitary issue of a comic also titled Outer Space, numbered "Vol.2 No.1": December 1958's #25 had been numbered "Volume 3 Number 25": whether this should be considered a tenth issue or a separate comic is uncertain. [SP]

further reading

  • Outer Space, Volume 1 (Hornsea, East Yorkshire: PS Publishing, 2019) [graph: collects issues #17-#21: illus/various: hb/Dick Giordano]
  • Outer Space, Volume 2 (Hornsea, East Yorkshire: PS Publishing, 2019) [graph: collects issues #22-#25, plus #1 of Space War: illus/various: hb/Rocco "Rocke" Mastroserio]


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