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Strange Worlds

US Comic (1950-1955). Fourteen issues. Avon Periodicals, Inc.. Artists include Gene Fawcette, Everett Raymond Kinstler, Joe Kubert, Joe Orlando and Wally Wood. Though fourteen issues were published, they were numbered #1-#9 (1950-1952), then #18-#22 (1954-1955), the latter sequence continuing the numbering of the recently ended Horror magazine Eerie (1951-1954, 17 issues), itself presumably a revamp of the solitary issue of Eerie Comics that Avon published in 1947. For most of its run an sf and Fantasy magazine, with some supernatural Horror, Strange Worlds changed into a war magazine from issue #20, focusing on the Korean and World War Two conflicts – its name unaltered, but now subtitled Fighting War Stories.

For #1-9 each issue would contain 3-5 comic strips and sometimes 1 or 2 brief text stories (the first two of these are credited to W Malcolm White, a pseudonym of Donald A Wollheim, the rest are anonymous). All three strips in #1 were based on short stories from the December 1950 issue of Out of This World Adventures edited by Wollheim: "Dead Man's Tale" by Henry Kuttner as E J Bellin; "The Spider God of Akka!" by Gardner F Fox (a Crom the Barbarian tale) and "The Corsairs from the Coalsack!" by John B Michel (a Kenton of the Star Patrol tale). Further Kenton stories appeared in #3-#6 (with titles like "Vampires of the Void"), whilst another tale about Crom (who was a variation of Conan the Barbarian – see Robert E Howard) appeared in issue #2. Wollheim worked for Avon until 1952, and clearly had some input in the early days of the comic.

The Kenton of the Star Patrol (see Crime and Punishment) stories were some of the magazine's most memorable. In one, sirens from Mimas, a moon of Jupiter, render astronauts immobile with their song (sung from within a floating globe), then steal their Spaceships. In another, Alien criminals from Uranus (see Outer Planets) use a Gravity beam to move the Earth out of its orbit. Another tells of the last mind of an alien species, locked in a jewel, drawing spaceships to its planet: the wrecks are linked together to form a great City, its mind-controlled inhabitants their Mutant survivors.

Other stories in the early issues include the following. A Scientist's "matter analyser" can "pick up and reproduce light Rays that fell upon ancient fossils" (and, it seems, sound waves too) to create a Time Viewer. Ages ago an earthquake had forced the Atlanteans to live thousands of miles Underground; though their present-day attempt to conquer the surface is foiled by the hero, he hopes for "a new world in which two races of mankind will unite to produce a super-race" (see Eugenics). A Robot breaks his programming to rescue a kidnapped woman, which confuses both itself ("It was as though the intricate machine had crossed a great gulf") and the humans who, through a misunderstanding, destroy it. An aged inventor is taken to a world where the things that will be created by humanity (see Inventions) wait to be called into existence – but there will be nothing by him, as he has died (see Eschatology). There are also Lost World tales involving a Viking colony on Greenland and an Incan civilization, as well as Time Travel and a drug that shrinks people (see Miniaturization).

The first six issues are the strongest, with nice work from Wood and Kinstler in particular. The story and art quality drops from #7 (the women also tend to be less dynamic), with sf tales usually routine adventures with genre furniture; "World of the Monster Brain!", where a giant brain atop a hill uses small robots to force enslaved humans (called Slaans) to mine and feed it ore, is an exception. The sf issues (#18-#19) of Strange Worlds appearing after the aforementioned two-year hiatus each had two comic strips, one long and divided into chapters, one short, plus two pages of text stories. The longer tales are reprints of the title strips from earlier Avon one-off comics: Attack on Planet Mars (1951) and Robotmen of the Lost Planet (1952). The shorter strip in #19 is "Cargo from Mars", where an agent from Earth's Immigration Bureau tackles space bandits who smuggle people from Mars to Earth: "outlaws from the brown grottos of Mars, whose instincts were to pillage and murder." (see Race in SF). [SP]

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Entry from The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (2011-current) edited by John Clute and David Langford.
Accessed 22:51 pm on 25 May 2024.
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