Monday, December 21, 2009

Space Western Comics: The Madman of Mars

Well, here it is. The last Space Western Comics story I'm likely to review. ... It's too much to say it's the end of an era, isn't it.

We open on a small rocket approaching Earth. Hard to tell exactly how big it is... It's also hard to tell what direction it's approaching Earth from, especially since that planet in the background can't actually be any known planet, based on information later in the story. (We learn, as one might guess from the title, that it came from Mars.)

So what is this rocket doing?

Wrecking national monuments in France. Oh, and wiping out a city.

So who launched this missile? Nobody knows yet. (Bet they're on Mars, though.)

The carnage continues:

Somewhat hilariously, Spurs later remarks, "Well, it can't be the Commies, since whoever it was bombed Moscow!" ORLY!

Spurs gets a phone call from the military. He's apparently on a first-name basis with the general.

And we learn more cities have been H-bombed. (Why Honolulu, though? Also, why so close in time to New York? That can't be convenient when you're doing long-ranged interplanetary bombardment.)

I hope you appreciate this set of panels here, because I had to hack their respective pages all to pieces in Paint and put them together again in order to get a nice, convenient picture to put up.

Note several things: Hank Roper is carrying a rifle when they're getting ready for interplanetary conflict; they have to take a prop plane to Washington (again with the old-time planes); and the fact that a guy in a US observatory somehow spotted an object right over London right before London was hit. (Curvature of the Earth suggests that should be tricky.)

Anyway, this causes them to speculate that the bombs might be coming from Mars. Spurs' response?



Would these be the same Martians who have rocket cars and giant vacuum cleaners that can suck up atmospheres?

Less advanced? Really?

Eh, never mind.

Fortunately, there's a reliable way to get an answer: A gadget we've never seen before.

How convenient.

I wonder how much money he made on that deal.

One quick magic widget installation later...

They make sure to mention that it works, because apparently they thought their audience was made up of people mildly less capable of inference than your typical toadstool. If you just show it working (say, by showing them finding what they're looking for), the readers can tell, dudes.

So, days later (so speaketh the narration), they get to Mars, and unload a plane to fly around on.

... You... flew there in a rocket ship. Yet you're using a plane to get around.


Eh, whatever.

So, they fly 'round, looking for stuff.

When they get there, they're attacked. By a machine gun.

Considering that the Martians also use ray guns, one can suppose that their enemies aren't from around here.

And they aren't.

Because they're Nazis. (If you read the narration as saying "World War I," that's okay-that's what I read the first time, too. That's just bad scan quality.)

Yes. Nazis. On Mars. Fighting cowboys. Who fly rockets.

This is why I forgive Space Western Comics its foibles. Sure, it's stupid-but it's also really amusingly stupid.

Anyway, the Nazis are true to Golden Age comic form:

Mean and dangerous but stupid as heck.

So stupid that they try to shoot it out when some cowboys with submachine guns pop into their cafeteria while they're unarmed.

Then a Nazi barges in on them, and gets confused.

And then he gets dead.

It's funny because the Nazi gets dead.

Also, note that he had really skinny legs. Maybe it's just the style, or maybe it's just a bad drawing, but I can't help but cringe at that falling Nazi's legs.

One of the Nazi captives goes all Mr. Information, and kind of rambles on a bit.

As I've noted, this facet of Space Western Comics both amuses and annoys me considerably. (Also, note Hank headed into a random room in a known rocket base without looking. What the heck is this guy doing in space?)

We learn how many Nazis there were, and we also learn...

...that one Nazi in particular was also present.

Oh, man, how's this story going to wrap up?

Yes, we've been "To Be Continued'd." If you're interested in the ending, it's described here.

SPOILER: Apparently, Hitler dies.

Join me later this week, when I present the first in my next series of comic book posts, all about crazy space comics.

-Signing off.

1 comment:

Darci said...

I wonder why they thought Hawaii was a target comparable to Paris, Moscow, London, and New York City?