Entry updated 26 June 2023. Tagged: Comics, Publication.
US Comic (1952). Two issues. Approved Comics, Inc (see Ziff-Davis). Artists include Allen Anderson, Murphy Anderson, Bernie Krigstein and Norman Saunders. Three Space Busters and one other strip per issue, plus 2-3 short non-fiction pieces.
With the opening Space Busters tale most of our Solar System has been conquered (see Imperialism) by the Belzar, who are indistinguishable from humans: if not Aliens themselves, some of their troops are. The Space Busters are the army task force (see Military SF) who lead Earth's fightback by invading occupied Mars. There's initially a hitch when Senstral, their Commander, proves to be a traitor and Earth's forces are ambushed: Captain Brett Crockett and his unit are captured, but manage to escape and steal a tank, causing havoc in the Belzar lines and enabling the Space Busters to establish a bridgehead on Mars. The second story has the Empress of Belzar responding by calling for her finest troops, the Battle Women, who assure her "we are not only fierce in attack, your Majesty, but full of feminine guile" (see Women in SF). Not that much guile is needed: the Space Busters rush towards them, wolf-whistling and yelling "Dames!" (see Sex) and are promptly captured. But, as Brett observes, "Sure, they're tough, but they're women": flattery combined with the prospect of Earth's atomic refrigerators and beauty parlours is enough to sway one to aid their escape. Belzar's forces include "dwarves" (also referred to as pygmies) who, in #1's third tale, want to sacrifice April, a nurse and Brett's romantic interest, to their god (see Religion).
#2's Space Busters stories has the conflict moving beyond Mars, firstly to liberate an Asteroid where the local freedom fighters are hostile to both sides, until April cures one of their injured; then to Belzar itself, to enact revenge on their shock troops, the Utani Ape Men (see Apes as Human), who captured then murdered the troops at an Earth outpost. In the third story the Space Busters support guerrillas "led by beautiful Sabra" on the planetoid Baldor; Brett's sergeant, Bolo, is forced to eat his disparaging words about women fighting Wars.
Each issue has a standalone story: in #1 this has space traveller Cliff Douglas and his girlfriend Fira being captured by Venusians (see Venus), with Cliff being forced to fight a gladiator in an amphitheatre, who is actually the overconfident Venusian emperor in disguise. Despite having only a net Cliff beats him easily, having read how to do so in Edward Gibbon's The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776-1788). In #2 the ageing Captain Bartok cracks under pressure when attacked by the invading Bat Men of Luna (see Moon) but gets the chance to redeem himself.
The short nonfiction pieces in #1 include a short essay on Jules Verne and another summarizing his Around the Moon sequence. In #2 there is "The True Story of Flying Saucers" (see UFOs), an anonymous self-explanatory piece usually credited to Harry Harrison, which takes a very positive view on the matter; plus a one-page strip considering where there might be "Life in the Solar System" (see Life on Other Worlds): "we are quite certain of life on Mars for our scientists have seen seasonal changes in coloration due to plant life" (see Scientific Errors).
This comic had memorable covers by Norman Saunders and Allen Anderson; however, Brett is a dull lead and the stories unremarkable – without the largely cosmetic sf touches most would not have been out of place in the World War Two or Korean War comics of that era (see Clichés). The only Space Busters with personalities are Brett, April and Sergeant Bolo, whose search for a means to restore his departed hair is a running gag. The Belzar – though brutal – do not really resemble any of the axis powers; but Senstral, who joins them, is a stereotypical Nazi officer – bald, with a facial scar. [SP]
- Space Busters (Hornsea, East Yorkshire: PS Publishing, 2017) [graph: includes both issues of Space Busters, plus others: illus/various: hb/Allen Anderson]
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