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The multimedia classroom … OF THE FUTURE!!! – Strange Adventures #148

May 29, 2010

This is the first issue of Strange Adventures that I’ve ever purchased.  It was the cover that got me — I just had to know how the kindly-looking and very well-dressed postman fought off an alien invasion.  Though you have to wonder why in the year 2956 kids wouldn’t just be getting info uploaded straight into their brains instead of snoozing through a futuristic slideshow.  But anyway…

Our first yarn (there are three in this issue) is the cover story, “Earth Hero Number One.”  Written by Gardner Fox with art from Gil Kane and Murphy Anderson, this tale starts in the far future where a teacher uses a “Tele-Time Ray” to show a class the story of Earth’s greatest champion, a 20th century mail carrier named Calvin Jackson.  He’s on his appointed rounds one day when he’s abruptly beamed aboard an alien spaceship.  The aliens are telepaths, and they use him to communicate with the people of Earth.  Trouble promptly erupts as the nations of Earth launch missiles at the aliens which are consequently repulsed by their more advanced technology.  The Earth generals surrender because the missiles’ radioactivity is poisoning the water.  It turns out that water is what the aliens are after — they plan to steal it and take it back to their parched world.  They promptly start putting it into giant water balloons, and before they leave they decide to celebrate by drinking a toast with their ill-gotten H20.  Unbeknownst to them, Jackson has laced their water with sleeping pills — one of the old biddies on his route gets special (“medically approved”) sleeping pills from her doctor son.  This knocks the aliens out, and they’re promptly shackled.  Earth and the aliens reach an agreement to share water, and all is right with the world.  And back in the future we learn that the class is taking place in “Calvin Jackson School” in honor of Earth’s champion.  I guess dead Presidents are out of vogue by then.

Our second story (from Fox and Anderson) is “Earth – The Forbidden Planet.”  It tries to have a Twilight Zone-style twist, but it falls pretty flat.  Across the universe, Earth is a taboo subject — you can’t talk about it, you can’t go there, etc.  Then one day an alien (yet another alien that looks exactly like a human) is forced by mechanical troubles to land on Earth.  Instead of finding some horrible place that kills him instantly, he’s welcomed and feted.  All his senses are tickled.  He’s given the tastiest meals, listens to the finest music, feels the softest furs, smells the sweetest flowers.  He leaves wondering what all the fuss was about.  When he gets home he’s promptly condemned, and we soon learn — through the inner monologue of the fellow that passed judgment — that Earth is planet non grata because, due to an accident of cosmic fate, it’s the only planet whose inhabitants aren’t all blind.  This judge is blind.  Rand Tal is blind.  Everyone not human is blind.  It’s feared that, if the people of the universe were to find out that they’re missing one of the senses, they’d no longer be content.

Kind of silly.

Last we have “The Evolutionary Ensign of Space.”  This one has art from Carmine Infantino (yahoo!)  and Anderson, and is a “Space Museum” story.  The treat in this one is the art — Infantino’s stuff never gets old for me.  The story?  Meh.  It’s not so hot.  There’s a lot of hooey about interplanetary wars, anti-adhesion guns, and becoming a being of pure energy.  I’ll leave it at that.

Even though I was less than thrilled with some of the material in this issue, I still had a good time going through it.  I’m glad my tastes have expanded a bit beyond the capes and tights and cowls that I grew up on — it means that I’m able to enjoy something like this every now and then.  Also, just for your viewing pleasure, I found a scan of the first story here.  It’s from a later reprint, though the only thing I saw changed was the color of the “water balloons” — they went from green to clear.  Enjoy.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Thelonious Nick permalink
    June 1, 2010 10:17 am

    The idea behind the rest of the universe being blind intrigues me. Why do they care that somebody can see and they can’t? If they’ve never seen before, what difference does it make? Other animals have senses we don’t–birds can sense the earth’s magnetism, some animals can see UV light, etc.,–and we’re not jealous of them. At least, I’m not.

    Actually, I love all the old SF and horror titles just because you never know what you’re going to get in any given issue. The stories can often be pretty silly, but there’s usually at least one story that’s really fun or thought-provoking.

    • June 1, 2010 10:39 am

      I agree wholeheartedly with your observations — the only thing I might add is that, while a lot of times the ideas in these stories are intriguing, they’re not given a lot of room to breathe, to develop and expand. That often undercuts a lot of the premises. At least for me.

  2. raylang2015 permalink
    June 13, 2015 6:47 pm

    This is a classic image of top notch artwork.
    I might have a go at painting this one so it ends up poster size, to go with all my other paintings of old Marvel and DC Comic covers.
    What a time to be a kid!

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