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Robotmen of the Lost Planet

Entry updated 9 January 2023. Tagged: Comics, Publication.

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US Comic (1952). One issue. Avon Periodicals, Inc (see Avon Comics). The comic is dominated by a three part serial, "Robotmen of the Lost Planet", scripted by Walter Gibson and drawn by Gene Fawcette.

In the future all the work is done by Robots, who resemble people save for their oversized elongated oval heads with oddly designed features. Cities have fallen into disrepair as humanity lives a carefree existence in the countryside (see Pastoral): two, Alan and Nara, are getting married: "Look! How happy they are!" a caption remarks. However, they notice a sullen attitude developing in the robots, and Alan's father, a former Scientist, is killed when investigating overproduction at the robot manufacturing factory. Crying "Death to humans" and "Ha ha! They die – by thousands" the robots now go on a murder spree. Alan, Nara and a few other survivors flee to rebuild their lives in a forest cave: Alan has his father's books and over the next five years dedicates himself to learning science; Nara has given birth to Laurie, at four given to bold declarations such as "I am not afraid of robots. Bang! Bang! They're dead!" This lack of timidity emboldens the adults: "The glorious human spirit! Without it man would have died away when still the dinosaurs roamed the Earth," another caption responds, which might be ignorance or sarcasm.

Alan disguises himself as a robot to move amongst them and find their weaknesses. He discovers they are attempting to become more human, weaving nerve ganglia into their rubber flesh so they can feel – which will prove their undoing. Five years later, as humanity is about to launch its attack, Laurie meets some robots and fires his toy gun at them. The robots feel pain and are scared, and the demoralizing news reaches their capital that a child saw off one of their patrols. "Aimless ... ­paralyzed with the fear they had built into themselves", they are defeated by humanity. An entertainingly told story, the strip's Paranoia about Decadence (see Clichés) is ameliorated by the tongue-in cheek-elements: the robots' heads are based on the child's squeeze toy Panic Pete, providing an appearance that is both comic and disturbing. They are also given some personality and indications of a culture, making it a pity that this aspect was not developed further.

Also included are a two-page text story and a short strip, "An Accident in Devil's Gorge Lab!" about a dying scientist's daughter wishing to marry a man he knows is only after the money she will inherit from the new Weapon he's invented: in the end, as the man tries to kill him, the scientist uses the weapon to dissolve them both. [SP]

further reading

  • Space Detective – Volume 1 (Hornsea, East Yorkshire: PS Publishing, 2014) [graph: collects issues #1-#4 of Space Detective, plus one issue each of Attack on Planet Mars, Rocket to the Moon and Robotmen of the Lost Planet: in the publisher's Pre-Code Classics series: illus/various: hb/Joe Orlando]


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