Search SFE    Search EoF

  Omit cross-reference entries  

Planet Comics

Entry updated 26 December 2022. Tagged: Comics, Publication.

US Comic (1940-1953). Fiction House Magazines. 73 issues. Artists include Murphy Anderson, George Appel, Enrico Bagnoli, Bill Benulis, Alex Blum, Joe Doolin, Lee Elias, Fran Hopper, Henry Kiefer, Chester Martin, Ruben Moreira, Maurice Whitman and Dan Zolnerowich. Script authors include Olaf Bjorn, Ross Gallun, Thorncliffe Herrick and Douglas McKee. Initially 7 or 8 comic strips per issue, gradually reducing to 4 or 5, plus a two page text story, short strips and non-fiction pieces (some being Pseudoscience, for example "Is Atlantis on the Moon?"). Beginning with 68 pages, it had reduced to 36 by #62; the price, 10 cents, remained unchanged.

Issue #1's opening story has three imprisoned mechanics accepting Flint Baker's offer to accompany him in his flight to Mars, using a Spaceship designed by his late father, a Scientist. A stowaway is discovered, glamorous journalist Mimi Wilson. On arrival the peaceful Martian civilization tell them that Sarko, a human they exiled to the planet's dark side, has allied with one-eyed Monsters and plans to conquer all Mars. Mimi and a Martian princess are kidnapped, but are rescued by the four Earthmen – who also kill Sarko. The other series in #1 were: Captain Nelson Cole of the Solar Force and Buzz Crandall of the Space Patrol, both in interplanetary law enforcement (see Crime and Punishment); The Red Comet, essentially a Superhero in space whose Superpower is to grow in size, at one point becoming tall enough to dwarf mountains; Spurt Hammond, Planet Flyer, an adventurer; and, providing a little variation, Auro, Lord of Jupiter – effectively Tarzan, with a similar origin story, but on Jupiter.

These six characters all become regulars, eventually (save for Flint Baker) disappearing as new characters debuted – some of these are one-offs (the first being #1's other strip, Quorak, Super Pirate, actually an evil scientist who wants to take over the universe); some make only a few appearances, others have a good run. By #20, only Flint Baker, Auro and the Red Comet were still going, with new regulars Gale Allen (the only female protagonist in the early years, she initially had adventures with her all-girl squadron, then acted as a bodyguard to two bickering scientists); Mars, God of War, in which the god Mars (see Gods and Demons) possesses future leaders and others to stir them into creating conflict, in order to revel in the violence caused; Reef Ryan, an Earthman who protects the queen of Neptune (see Outer Planets); Star Pirate, the "Robin Hood of outer space", though he does little thievery; and Norge Benson, who has comedic adventures with the talking penguins and polar bears of Pluto.

With #21 Red Comet is replaced (save for a one-off appearance in #37) by The Lost World serial. Here archer Hunt Bowman is apparently the last man on thirty-third-century Earth following an Invasion by the Voltans (whose speech patterns recall Yoda from Star Wars while their headgear resembles World War Two German helmets, with a spike). When kidnapped by other Aliens Bowman meets fellow prisoner Queen Lyssa of the Lost World, where descendants of earlier human space travellers live; the pair return to Earth, gradually finding more survivors (such as "Sir David, last of the Royal Academy") and working to evict the invaders (save for a brief visit, the Lost World pays little part in the series). In #26 Flint Baker and Reef Ryan – Space Rangers turns two strips into one – until #43 when Reef goes off to get reinforcements and is not seen again in an original story until #71 (though #61 reprints the story from #31, bookending it with new material). With the page numbers decreasing, Auro (this version of the character) and Norge Benson make their last appearances in #31 and #32 respectively.

In #35 Mars, God of War rouses mobs to destroy all knowledge – but on the Moon a scientist downloads all culture and science into his children via "hypnodisc" (see Education in SF); the son is possessed by Mars and murders him, and the daughter, Mysta, has to kill her brother. Mars is seen off, and from #36 we follow the adventures of Mysta of the Moon as she battles evil with science, a Robot and the ability to leave her body and possess others (see Identity Transfer). In #41 Auro returns, after a fashion: it is 1965 and "peace rules the Earth. But one weapon introduced by the bestial huns" – the Rocket – has inspired space travel. An accident leads to American Chet Edson's experimental spaceship being launched and crashing on Jupiter, where the inhabitants transfer his spirit into the corpse of the recently murdered Auro. This Auro is no longer a Tarzan figure, but dressed in a cape and decorated helmet; Chet also exists as a ghost, commenting on the action and sometimes acting like Auro's sub-conscious. In #43 Gale Allen is replaced by Futura, a secretary kidnapped by Lord Mentor of the Brain-men of Cymradia, who is experimenting with transplanting ancient Cymradian brains into young human bodies (see Identity Transfer). Futura escapes, battles and eventually defeats him (#53); the next story arc involved her being mistaken for a notorious female space pirate and fighting to clear her name. With #62 Planet Comics went down to 36 pages, containing only four series: Lost World, Star Pirate, Mysta and Futura; #63 and #64 had Space Rangers replacing Mysta. #65-#70 featured only reprints (though the covers were original), including of previously dropped series. The remaining three issues (#71-#73) each had five new one-off stories (two set on "Planetoid X" seem otherwise unrelated), save for a new Space Rangers tale in #71 (with Reef Ryan back).

A companion to Planet Stories, on the whole Planet Comics lives up to its title, being predominately Planetary Romances set within the Solar System. Though it favoured square jawed, generic male leads, the female protagonists, particularly Mysta and Futura were dynamic and independent, albeit scantily clad (see Women in SF). As with many of the era's comics, strips would involve different artists and writers throughout their run, resulting in inconsistencies in character, plot and merit. The early art is competent or better and improves, with good work by Chester Martin and Enrico Bagnoli (both on Futura) Ruben Moreira (Mysta) and Murphy Anderson (Star Pirate); the last three issues have strong work by Maurice Whitman and Bill Benulis (particularly the former's work on "Cerebex" in #73 and the latter's cover to #71). Most series had their moments, but the most memorable were Lost World, Mysta and Futura.

The four strips in #70 (which were themselves reprints of stories from #41), were reprinted as Planet Comics #1, undated but probably in 1958, using a different cover. The contents of #72 were reprinted in 1958 as Planet #8 (the only issue of that comic), again with a different cover. Planet Comics also had some Australian, Canadian and UK reprints in the 1950s. [SP]

further reading

  • Planet Comics, Volumes 1-15 (Hornsea, East Yorkshire: PS Publishing, 2014-2016) [graph: collects issues #1-#73: in the publisher's Roy Thomas Presents ... series: illus/various: hb/various]


previous versions of this entry

This website uses cookies.  More information here. Accept Cookies