Thursday, March 1, 2018


(w/a Sururi Gumen)

The Wham-O Giant Comics collection offers more to its young readers than mere adventure, action, eyestrain and neck-pain. Yep, in addition to high-flying action in space and beyond, they also craft magical realist dramas of existential import in which death makes itself known in spandex.

It is the year 2068, and the spacelanes are under the dominion of the villainous space pirate Captain Blud, and his sinister ship The Serpentis! Blud and his robot crew prey on prospectors in the inky void. One victim carries an unknown element in his cargo hold, sending Captain Blud into a tizzy -- what good is an unknown element, after all? "The actinic refraction counter gives no indication of any known element!" he blares of the dull, orange rock, "It's all absolutely worthless!"

That's clearly untrue, as science would surely lose their shit over a new element. Still, Blud sends all but a handful of the rock into a nearby sun, along with the bound and helpless prospector. Typically, in a story like this, the hero would swoop in at the nick of time and save the helpless old sock avoid a fiery death. This does not happen. The prospector sort of basically is just killed in one tiny panel.

Skip Savage: Olympian, scientist, two kids in an overcoat...
Meanwhile on Earth, Olympic athlete/scientist/action hero Dr.Skip Savant is leading the search for the elusive Savantium, an element they don't even know really exists! But if it does, he's got dibs on naming it evidently. I call all future elements, they're all gonna be called "Poopium," sorry, I called it.

The Earth of 2068 is strangely prescient -- "Decades of uncontrolled and negligent pollution of the entire planet's limited air and fresh water, together with a gigantic and ever-expanding population has created a worldwide crisis that grows more somber by the second!" If there's a Cheeto-colored Troll doll running the country, then this comic is Nostradamus.

Savant leads the call to build massive rockets to take humanity to better digs, and let's just take all the obvious problems with that plan as written. The Savantium -- if he could find any -- would fuel them all with ease, but where to find it? Well, Sam happens to stumble across the aforementioned remnant while passing a "Space Salvage Store." Yeah, you remember the place before they put in all these space salvage stores? Used to be pecan trees as far as the eyes can see...

Blud hears about Savantium's value and abducts Savant, stealing the last piece of the element while simultaneously carefully avoiding the mention of how he USED to have a spaceship full of this stuff but he threw it into the sun. Butterfingers! To hide his embarrassment, he sends Savant to suffocate on a lifeless asteroid.

Dig this naturalistic dialogue.
Which is when it gets weird. All on the third page of a three-page adventure, Savant is: Saved by a future spaceman, Antares, decked out in a banana-colored costumed and handing out "the spectrum of energy that radiates from the entire cosmos." This gives Skip a red costume, insane super-powers, and access to Antares' super-fast ship.

In short order, Skip boards Blud's ship, destroys every robot pirate beats the tar out of Blud and recovers the Savantium. Unfortunately, while the Serpentis is sent back to Earth with Blud as prisoner, Skip must stay in space. Antares informs him that Skip is now dependent on cosmic energy in space and cannot survive in Earth's polluted environment.

Folks, he's dead. Everything from the part where he suffocated in space and was saved by Antares? That's got to be a Terry Gilliam End-Of-Brazil-style hallucination. Blud stole the Savantium, everyone on Earth chokes to death and Skip is dead. Everything else is just fantasy. Enjoy that story, kids? Don't worry, you'll star in one much like it eventually...

The cold comfort of a fading mind palace...

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