Planet Comics #56 (September 1948) is a pulpy entry into the Mysta of the Moon serial. Veteran pulp artist Joe Doolin is credited with the cover and it really hearkens back to the style of the 20s and 30s speculative fiction magazines. The Mysta tale is penciled by Matt Baker and his signature style is pretty clear even with the ‘good girl’ aspect of his art not as evident. Baker may not be as suited to science fiction as he is to drama and intrigue tales yet he puts in a good showing.
As for this chapter of Mysta itself it is full of imagery familiar to fans of pulps. Robots, BEM’s and the space ship wielding a giant spinning saw blade used to destroy buildings all evoke adventure mags of decades prior. The threat is from without this time and features what might be the first actual alien life form depicted in this series. It is never specifically identified as such but the villain of this tale is a colony creature suspended in fluid and may not be a genetically modified member of the human race used for labor as speculated in the other chapters.
The Safety Council and chairman Dirk Garro makes another showing and lends credence to the theory that the old government more friendly to Mysta and her decrees has been replaced. Domestic trouble at home is also on the horizon as the increasingly absent Mysta (who remains undercover with the Safety Council) causes Bron to become more dissatisfied with his role as her assistant and possible romantic interest. Mysta’s robot is not utilized at all (except for perhaps a guard keeping an electric eye on Bron) and appears modified again to be more utilitarian, vastly different from the previous model of humanoid, transparent musculature before the appearance of Bron.
Among the sites I visit the alleged death of the Human Torch a.k.a. Johnny Storm in Fantastic Four #587 has been met with a collective yawn. I’m not sure if that response to the issue is comic book snobbery or not. I’m a fan and I’m not not one of those bored with the issue. It gave me the entertainment I expected. I generally liked the story (with the exception of the Super-Genius Babysitter’s Club) but let’s face it, is there any comic book fan who thinks Johnny being eaten to death by giant alien bugs is permanent? No one probably. As example, Bully highlights the many deaths of the Fantastic Four.
Like many fans I’m burnt out on the drama of character death because it hasn’t been shown to have that much impact. It seems to occurs primarily in the run-up to a movie and the dead character will return just in time for the cinema release of the film.
In the past Reed, Ben and Sue all died and after a fashion all have returned. It was Johnny Storm’s turn is all. The last time any comic book character’s death had any real gravity for fans was Marvel’s Phoenix and Captain Marvel and DC’s CoIE Flash. I was excited to read those stories. Not because of the drama but because they gave a reader such as myself that there is a greater illusion of change than really existed in the format.
When last seen Johnny Storm was overwhelmed by the Annihilation Wave, an army of giant bugs bent on swarming into new territory. Readers see him get pulled under but don’t really witness him killed. Who we kidding? The most obvious way out for the Torch is that he goes nova and wins the fight or at least maintains a stand off. If he survived, in all probability he is injured and is now trapped in the Negative Zone. Being who he is, he would either go off in search of a way home or remain defending the portal if it was still a threat to Earth.
I expect him to come back but maybe not as the Johnny we are all familiar with. Story-wise it would not do to have Reed open a portal and have Johnny step through, grin and ask where the babes are. Years spent killing monsters in between cat naps would change a person. Decades ago an alternate-earth Johnny Storm performed a similar function in Fantastic Four #162 (Sept 1975). Amnesiac and supplied with esoteric armor and tools alternate-Johnny Storm was posted in an other-dimensional realm guarding a nexus to various earths as the hockey-themed soldier, Gaard. Something similar on his eventual return could happen but it may be too obvious an attempt in mining the past. Johnny Storm’s journey back home could provide the basic plot for a mini-series though.
How permanent is death supposed to be in comic books? Personally, if a character dies I’d expect a period of at least 5 years before they return without feeling ripped off emotionally. That gets a fan through the requisite few months of reminiscing, back-stories, drama with the replacement member of the affected group and even a period where the deceased character is not referenced at all. Then the triumphant return and a return to the status quo. Such a time line allows a whole new group of readers to discover the character and hopefully get hooked on reading the book and by extension, the entire line published by the company.
Days not paying attention to this here site means flip-flopping work schedules, no time for fun and no sleep.
Be back tomorrow.
The July 1948 issue of Planet Comics #55 brings the return of giant, marauding insects used as weapons though the culprit behind them is not a player one has seen before. Mysta again goes undercover in her investigation of forbidden science and discovers that terrorism for monetary gain is the impetus for the evil plot. The technology that created the monsters may be an example of letting the Genie out of the bottle. Once the science has been explored it is difficult if not impossible, even with Mysta’s intervention, to successfully suppress the process. It may even be that the villains of Chapter 12 were working for the terrorists. Mysta also discovers a new potential playmate or someone she can manipulate, perhaps accepting and maybe exploiting her emerging humanity.
Interestingly enough the Science Council is not mentioned. Instead the previously unknown Safety Council makes an appearance, perhaps being a new branch or department of government or a new government altogether. This would be logical if the Science Council lost to the Humanist Party in their bid to govern Earth after the political shenanigans in Chapter 14. Any new administration would undoubtedly rename the various branches of the ruling authorities even if they performed the same tasks as before. Given the general haphazard continuity of most Golden Age serials it remains to be seen if the Safety Council is ever again mentioned.
Anthropomorphic mascot promotes better health through improved nutrition and sports but not, apparently, physical safety and common sense as J. Slice’ shattered skull and exposed brain can attest.
From the National Watermelon Promotion Board’s J. Slice saves the Planet from Professor Junkfood (2003). I remember 2003. It was all about our precious snowflakes wearing protective equipment and preventing traumatic injury. How did this get approved?
To find out, click here for the The Senses-Shattering Secret Origin of J. Slice!