Thursday, March 17, 2016


Carl Burgos remains a legend in comics for having created the original Human Torch during the Golden Age of Comics. He's also a cult hero, for those of us in the specified field of weird old damn comics for having involved his peculiar set of inspirational skills in the creation of the second "Captain Marvel" in comics - a robot whose primary power was to literally fall apart. Like other creators, of course, he wasn't restricted to working on his best known projects. For Burgos, before the Torch, there was also ... AIRSUB D-X!

An "airsub" is what I've always called "a car," but it turns out that I might be working with outdated information. As it happens, it's actually "A deadly weapon of war, if in the wrong hands," an air-sea-land vehicle invented by the elderly Professor Gray, his daughter Rita, and hunky heroic assistant Tim.

Original lyrics.
Defending the distant future from threats both domestic and foreign, Airsub D-X inhabits a planet either in the far future or cast hopelessly distant in the inky blackness of space. Where or whenever they are, the trio find themselves pitted against a number of foes, including "Curley," the would-be conqueror of the world who's otherwise too busy to pick an intimidating sobriquet. His threat is predominantly above-sea level, though, leaving the Airsub to encounter the threats below the waves - rogue undersea colonies, "bat men of Kordano" (your guess is as good as mine) who are better known as "flying dead men," animals "automatically-evolved" to become killer human assassins, and then ... the living diamonds.

The final Airsub D-X adventure takes the trio to Mystery Isle where an old acquanitance of Doctor Grey's had long since believed to have vanished. In fact, he's turned out to be a twisted weirdo hermit with his eyes on the Airsub D-X. Blocking his ambitions are living diamonds, dire and arresting figures who nonetheless look like human faces on a novelty coaster. I'll allow the Living Diamonds to do their own press:

Airsub D-X possessed some peculiar qualities -- drawn at the wrong proportions, decorative elements adorned the top of every page. Likewise, the feature was rarely in color, and typically in spot-color when they bothered. This was unusual in American comics, although not so uncommon that Airsub D-X is its only example -- it just gives it a unique look among so many other books. Also, it's fun to pretend that the "D" in D-X stands for "D-Generation" and that these are the adventures of a ship flying around the planet, crotch-chopping offending alien powers.

The appeal of Airsub D-X is its constant inventiveness --- which is a nice way of saying "it's breathlessly weird," although that's always been my preference for old comics. If they can't be objectively great, then at least let them be batshitting insane.

It's a fine chooice.


Unknown said...

What?? No picture of the airsub itself??!

Bill the Splut said...

Who would win in a fair fight, Airsub D-X or Superthunderstingcar?

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