Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Strange Adventures #14: "Destination Doom" (November, 1951)

While Captain Comet's name was known for adventure across innumerable planets, Adam Blake only represented a "quiet and scholarly library clerk!" Yet it would be Blake, not the heroic Man of Destiny, who would be called upon to save the Earth!

An unidentified flying object the size of an ocean liner appeared over Washington, D.C.. The vessel manifested skywriting that requested samples of human life, one average specimen, in four hours time. The Secretary of Defense ordered an air strike, to no avail. As congress convened to discuss the next step, Captain Comet was contacted... millions of miles from Earth! Using his Cometeer ship's faster-than-light Spectrum-Drive, the Captain swiftly made his way home... only to have congress rule out his taking any action in the matter!

To abide by the ruling, Adam Blake submitted himself as an "average" candidate for the aliens' specimen, then used his "telematic force" mind over matter powers to insure he won the lottery. Aboard their craft, Adam Blake met Octro of Venus and Nilor of Saturn, specimens from those other worlds. Thanks to his secret telepathy, Blake could communicate with the beings. Neither had ever met their captors, following their disembodied commands from speakers.

Later, while his companions slept, Captain Comet would investigate. Opening the ship's sealed passageways was "child's play for futuristic muscles like mine." Comet's suspicion the aliens also used telepathy to learn from their specimens meant "I must keep a tight rein on my thoughts-- to prevent anyone from prying into them..." The mighty Man of Destiny was startled to find "Great galaxies! The control levers here are operating by themselves!" A meteor suddenly ripped through the hull, but even before the Future-Man could save the passengers from explosive decompression, the ship resealed itself. "It's almost as if the ship can think! It doesn't need anyone to direct it! By Pluto! I'm convinced now... that Octro, Nilor and myself are the only ones alive on board! But I'd better rejoin them-- as my other self! We're approaching our destination!"

The three passengers were placed in a barred cage, and turned over by the VX2 ship to its robot master. Adam's futuristic brain activated the memory of the Machine-Commander, who was one of many robot slaves to an ancient human race. The one, who was in charge of the machine-power-station, determined that the robots should turn the tables on the humans and rule World FV 782. However, all humanity was slain in the revolt, and the machines couldn't "construct" new ones to serve the machines. Blake realized the purpose of the mission to Earth was to study and replicate organic life to enslave, but fretted over becoming Captain Comet in front of witnesses. Just before the machines fired their needle-ray at the trio, the heroic Octro rushed them in hopes his fellows could escape. Blake hid in a corner and "became" Captain Comet by discarding his tan plaid jacket, navy trousers, black diamond pattern sweater vest, plain white shirt and tie in favor of a red jumpsuit, no mask required.

Having collected two specimens, the machines sought the third, but instead faced "Captain Comet-- the great space-warrior from Earth," as Nilor declared him. The Master Machine was unimpressed, as it was "only a human-- therefore inferior to us machines!" From its index finger, the "Master" fired a dainty little ribbon of tempered steel, which bound Comet's arms to his sides. Though no force on this world was supposed to be able to break the line, the Man of Destiny's extraordinary mutant muscles burst right through. A paralytic beam was tried next, but "the Future Man meets it with a blinding blast of his own super-mental energy..." Captain Comet said "I'd like to give you some more chances," but he was set on freeing his-- er-- Blake's friends instead. Octro thanked Comet, but worried over the missing Adam Blake.

Securing the two aliens in a forest, the space warrior doubled back to short circuit the generating station that powered the machines on World FV 782. This was done by by creating a protective screen of mental energy around himself, then grabbing two huge posts and bending them against one another.

"Later... three voyagers start on a long trek homeward..." Adam Blake made up a cockamamie story about Captain Comet building the trio a new spaceship and simply vanishing. Nilor added, "He saved you too, Blake! What a man-- and how those machines underrated him!" Blake agreed that their "mistake was in not realizing that the essence of humanity is not something you can see or weigh-- or duplicate... such as the spirit of self-sacrifice which Octro showed in trying to save us even though it might mean his own death!" Dropping off the pair, the Cometeer streaked to Earth, where the captain figured folks would be surprised to see Adam Blake return, with the Man of Destiny accepting "all the credit-- and the publicity!"

Not a bad story, and filled with evidence in the case of Adam Blake vs. heterosexuality. Blake is just a bit too lean, his slightly receded hair perfectly coiffed atop his over-sized brow. Blake's clothing is awfully twee, and what's with all this concern about his secret identity and "other self" amongst a pair of aliens and a mass of robots? Captain Comet is certainly proud of himself for one so self-conscious. Finally, Comet keeps referring to a green-skinned, hairless, pointy-eared alien as "human." While the vivacious red-head Nilor fawns over the Man of Destiny, Blake can't say enough about the heroic, hairless, nearly nude man meat that is Octro. How about Captain Comet's two-fisted action jerking off those big poles at the power station? I've got to get some scans up, I'm telling you...

This one was by John Broome and Murphy Anderson.

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