It’s been a while so I think it is time to revisit The Futura Saga!
For those not familiar with Futura, here is a synopsis: Futura is the story of an office secretary named Marcia Reynolds who was shanghaied into space to serve as the test-subject of aliens seeking to repopulate their waning empire. Futura nee Marcia Reynolds experienced a hero’s journey in a tale that lasted nearly a decade in a late 1940s Planet Comics serial published by Fiction House publications.
Even as they necessarily catered to a primarily young male market Fiction House was known for their depiction of strong, empowered females. Futura in particular usually held her own without the story resorting to the cliche of the heroine being rescued by a man at the last moment.
You can read all the Planet Comics chapters of Futura and the 1980s revival here: The Futura Saga.
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.
Planet Comics #54 (May 1948) reveals a bit more about the state of human society in the rebuilt civilization. The Science Council, which may or may not have won the election to control the government (Mysta of the Moon, Chapter 14), assigns Mysta to investigate the cause of civil and worker unrest that is spreading through out society.
Since forbidden or dangerous science is involved Mysta seeks out a powerful industrialist and discovers his company is keeping employees as slaves and forcing them to labor even after being maimed from a byproduct of their work. It isn’t clear if this practice is just business as usual or something new in the destabilized collection of planets. Old ethics may have been dropped for expediency as desperate people give up their rights for a job, no matter how demeaning or dangerous.
Rebellion occurs with plenty of collateral damage caused by both the “good” and “bad” sides of the struggle. Will the new boss be the same as the old boss? Mysta, who previously displayed little compassion towards villains as they died through misadventure or by her own hand, is horrified at the display of a weaponized energy source when it is deployed against an evil industrialist. Perhaps a humanizing influence by her lab assistant Bron is enabling Mysta to reconnect with people and see them as more than in the abstract.
In Planet Comics #53 (March 1948) Mysta goes full Diana Prince in disguising herself as an older, unappealing tourist as she indulges in a holiday, leaving Bron behind in her fortress on the moon. The robot tags along though Mysta only seems to use it to play long-distance tennis. I guess Bron knows where he stands now.
Typically for Mysta trouble follows, though it seems something of a coincidence that Mysta is undercover at a resort in the same general vicinity as the lab of a scientist who is experimenting with a strange material she loaned out for study.
The material responds to thought, re-arranging its structure to the whims of the shaper. While the substance could be used to create almost anything to benefit (or even ruin) mankind petty criminals attempt to steal the material to make easily transferable gold coins. While the thieves are somewhat limited by their base desires for a quick space-dollar Mysta is not so handicapped and has the brain-power and imagination to make short work of the bad guys in her own way.
I’m cynical enough to speculate that Mysta loaning out such a dangerous material may have been in part an experiment of her own. A substance with the potential to build cities from the molecules up is too much of a boon to file away. Mysta may have been testing people in general to see what they would do when given such a gift. The professor may have failed the test right out of the gate. rather than build power-stations or food-dispensers the first practical item he created was a cloak that rendered the wearer invisible, something that would have little use outside of the spy trade. The thieves may have sealed the deal as far as Mysta was concerned by murdering the professor and setting up a counterfeit coin factory. After that adventure she certainly had no intention of making the special material available to the public no matter the good it could do if put to use in positive ways.
Politics as usual play a large part of this chapter of Mysta of the Moon from Planet Comics #48 (May 1947) as Mysta takes an active hand in public policy. Those following the Mysta story may be surprised by events in this installment as rival political groups comprising members of the Science Council and the Humanist Party clash for control of human civilization. Lies, distortions, back-stabbing, betrayal, terror attacks, manipulation of the media and preying upon the fears of the populace in order to advance their goals are all applied in a power-grab by a certain group of power-hungry insiders.
Mysta, with a little help from Faux-Bron and the Robot eventually figure out the plot and expose the manipulators and change the course of history. By endorsing one party over the other Mysta engages in a little propaganda coup of her own. Mysta sends a clear message that effectively renders one faction ineffective and superfluous, perhaps existing from then on forward only via her tacit approval and support, acting only on her whim or per her agenda.
From March 1947 Planet Comics #47 brings a tale of a space pirate, political intrigue and science-zombies. Much of the action concerns things being personal. Mysta reveals more emotion for Bron and the villain of the piece has something of a personal grudge against Mysta. Powerful forces seem to be allying themselves against Mysta as petty criminals and despots gather considerable resources against her. A member of the the Science Council also makes a short-lived appearance and Bron ends up in need of rescue.
In reading these stories I have come to speculate that many of the crooks and pirate leaders may have been people of considerable influence before the fall of civilization. Robber barons of the future with strangleholds on various systems and economies, reduced to being small organized crime families, yet with access to large infrastructure of horded supplies and equipment from better times.
It seems unlikely that some minor space pirate would nonetheless have a giant hidden underground base unless they were long established and with resources that remained relatively untouched while humanity dragged themselves back up from the ruins of their civilization.
This chapter of Mysta from Planet Comics #46 (January 1947) continues themes of revenge and reprisal similar to the previous two installments. Rather than help humankind progress, Mysta is forced to deal with unintended fallout of her guidance, benevolent though it may be. In this tale a scientist is on trial for dabbling in forbidden knowledge with Mysta serving as an expert witness for the prosecution. Although dangerous, the scientist Vitor is free to act on his plans to experiment with a mysterious force known as Damp Light, which can mutate insects into giant monsters.
That Vitor has not had his research confiscated or destroyed reveals much about the politics of the Mysta-verse society. Vitor is either connected, wealthy or both. Someone somewhere has a use for giant rampaging bugs and it is probably the military-industrial complex or a group poised to take over human space. Even if Vitor was not a danger before his trial he certainly became one later as his anger at having his research curtailed leads him to use his resources and family members to attempt an assassination on Mysta.
The hit fails with the aid of Mysta’s robot and assistant Bron. It is interesting to note that the body form of the robot has become less humanoid the more Bron has involved himself in Mysta’s affairs. Previously the robot was quite man-like and had defined musculature whereas it is now mechanical and primitive-looking by Mysta’s scientific standards. The robot is still as deadly as before though at this point Bron and the robot have largely interchangeable roles.
While there is nothing romantic implied happening between Bron and Mysta it is also telling that she still refers to her assistant as Bron and not by his true name. The real Bron was murdered and an impostor was sent in his place to betray Mysta. That she has not revealed to the public that the plot had failed I think falls in line with my theory that Mysta is not as benevolent at heart as she appears and takes steps to maintain a positive image. Letting the people (and family) of Bron’s home world know he was replaced would be bad news. Mysta is certainly a heroine to the general public for helping rebuild human society but perhaps is less so to the politicians and industrialists she interferes with.
Michael May of Michael May’s Adventure Blog sees the Mysta character as being less negatively affected by her power than I do. While we both agree that she truly cares for humanity I question if her inhuman intelligence and years of isolation lets her relate to people as more than dangerous, squabbling animals. Perhaps Bron is being allowed to stick around as a sort of reminder of her humanity.
As the second part of a multi-part tale Planet Comics #45 (Nov 1946) continues the story of The Face and the reluctant infiltrator, Bron and their attack on Mysta’s fortress.
The first part of the Bron’s story can be found here: Mysta of the Moon – Chapter 10.
While there is a lot of drama in the seven page story that focuses primarily on Bron it is not all hand-wringing and weeping! True to Fiction House style there is plenty of action to be found. Answering diversions set up by Bron and his master The Face, Mysta stays busy battling mutant cavemen, monster birds and a couple of Human Torches!
It is in this issue that Bron has a very nearly larger role than Mysta and the story retrogresses to the formula of a woman, no matter how capable, in need of rescuing by the opposite gender. Since this story is about Bron’s journey of redemption it is understandable that he comes out to be the hero of the story but it is a bit of a departure from the standard Mysta entry.
BONUS! Hot robot on robot action!
Planet Comics #44 (Sept 1946) brings a multi-part story and some continuity to Mysta’s story. This chapter also gives the reader some insight into the politics of Mysta and the society in which she lives.
Recognizing the need to appear friendly and cooperative, Mysta agrees with the Science Council to host a student (an ambassador and perhaps spy) at her fortress for a year. The student, Bron, will learn science at the feet of the “Queen of Science” and presumably go back to his own world wiser about the application of dangerous technology or at the least as an agreeable public face of Mysta’s benevolence.
It appears the Science Council is using Mysta who is also not above using them and any propaganda tools she can apply. Mysta recognizes the power of not only atoms but good public relations as well. Unfortunately an old enemy interferes with her plans with designs to wrest control of forbidden sciences from Mysta. The villain of this chapter, The Face kidnaps and replaces Mysta’s student with a ringer. That the villains fool Mysta and everyone else is somewhat odd. Not being able to verify someone’s identity seems somewhat unlikely but human society is probably still fragmented and rebuilding from the the Anti-Science Wars caused by Mars. It could be that even the most recovered worlds would have official databases that are easily compromised via corruption or carelessness. That a thriving space pirate and vast institutionalized criminal network exists under Mysta’s watchful probes lends credence to the theory.
Using threats to return Fake-Bron to the living Hell of the “Kafka Colony” he rescued him from, the Face plans to have the Fake-Bron betray Mysta. It isn’t clear what the Kafka Colony is but a clue might be found in the name. It may be a prison or place of exile but the name may also be ironic in nature. If not, it says a lot about how a rebuilt human civilization is treating their prisoners of war or other criminals. Again, Mysta is keeping to her policy of non-interference in day-to-day politics and culture choosing to control dangerous knowledge instead of righting wrongs and improving the general quality of life. Also, not an animal lover.
Planet Comics #43 (July 1946) has Mysta of the Moon still acting in her role as protector/comptroller departing this time by not fighting a mad scientist tinkering in forbidden science but a terrorist space pirate with access to dangerous technology. The space thug Rolkor is threatening commerce between the planets by demanding protection fees for safe passage of space ships. If not paid the criminal destroys the ships with a disintegrator ray. To make sure everyone knows he is serious Ralkor even fires upon a space ship transporting orphans to space school and killing all the children.
While those about her are losing their heads Mysta calmly and even coolly keeps hers by coming to the aid of the helpless Star Patrol and a beleaguered industrialist. Mysta is determined to take Rolkor out of action. Perhaps not because Rolkor is a criminal and is killing people (his organization appears to be well established) but because he is in control of devices that could upset the status quo. Guns and lasers are probably fine to use in the pirate trade, but disintegrator rays that can cut open ships at interplanetary distances is something Mysta is not going to allow. The Science Council makes no appearance in this story.
The images of Mysta and her robot fighting the local fauna of ‘Jupiter’ could fill a paragraph or two in The Seduction of the Innocent. The fortunate result of the battle with the worm being the destruction of Rolkor (or at least his fortress) almost as an after-thought.