Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Space Adventures - The Adventures Of Paul Mann!

Space Adventures had been published by Charlton since the 50's. The issue in question is alternately listed as issue #60 or issue #1. It's indicia says it's "Space Adventures Presents U.F.O. Vol.3 No.60, October 1967". And it's frequency of publication is four times a year, though this is the only issue with this title that I know of. The comic features a typicially dynamic cover by the painfully overlooked Rocke Mastroserio. It's mesmerizing and it's also true to the contents of the comic book itself. The editor of this comic is Dick Giordano. 

Now the stories in this comic feature a reporter named Paul Mann. He works for the Jackson County Intellegencer and he's given the task of looking into the UFO phenomenon. Chapter One is titled "Healers from Nowhere" and it's written by Sergius O'Shaugnessy and drawn by a guy named "Melonius Thonk". It's a very peculiar piece and seems actually to be some sort of file story from Charlton's sci-fi past. The artist is likely Norman Nodel according to the GCD. 

The story begins with Mann taking the assignment reluctantly, then giving us a somewhat abbreviated history of man and the UFO. The story proper begins when he relates how a saucer was seen by a young cripple hillbilly boy who leaves his home so as not to be a burden but is found by eggheaded aliens. His parents part of the Archer clan find him gone and immediately suspect the Goodwin clan with whom they are feuding. The two clans face off but before things can become too tragic the flying saucer descends and the young boy returns healed. The two clans discover they can't remember why they feud and it ends happily. 

Chapter Two of this saga is titled "The Plague" and it's drawn by Pat Boyette. And I assume this one is fully scripted by Sergius O'Shaugnessy (Denny O'Neil). This one begins with a robbery at a top-secret government installation and Paul Mann is sent to find out what's up, the suspicion being some sort of potential for germ warfare. He is rebuffed by the military, but at a local bar he stumbles across the theif and follows him only to discover an alien (the same aliens as in the first story) is in his backseat. The reporter and the alien go to the where the thief is exchanging his plunder, but a fight results from the toxins being released. The aliens save Mann and the surrounding town with a mysterious light that expunges the poisons and then disappear. Mann's editor rejects his story as poppycock, but the alien returns to tell Mann that though they cannot reveal themselves to the public they can show Mann what it's all about. 

Chapter Three reveals the secret. It's titled "The Secret of the Saucer" and it's presumably written by O'Shaugnessy again and is drawn by Jim Aparo. The alien takes Paul Mann inside the saucer and reveals to him that they are not in fact aliens but humans from the future, specifically the year 4000 AD. They have come back in time to stall a world war between the Honjnos Nation of the Eastern Hemisphere and the Esrom Nation of the Western Hemisphere. The war destroyed man's civilization, but these future men want to change that history. After he's told this Mann hears an alarm which indicates the future men have been followed by the Honjnos enemy. A battle between spaceships follows until Mann learns that the ship can make relatively short time jumps easily, and further that they are above the island of Bikini. He tells them to jump back in time from 1967 to 1964, which they do and the Honjnos follow. The good aliens with Mann then escape back to 1967 leaving the Honjnos ship to endure the effects of the first Hydrogen bomb test on Bikini Atoll on March 1, 1964. Having destroyed the immediate enemy, the aliens send Mann back as their emissary after spending thirteen years aboard the time ship training him. He is released back into the very world and time he left and the UFO disappears, leaving Paul Mann behind to take action to save the future. 

This is a very peculiar comic book. I'm only guessing, but I'd imagine that someone wanting to take advantage of the UFO craze found the old story about the aliens and then got the young writer O'Neil to spin enough out of it to make a full comic. Then two Charlton steadfast artists like Boyette and Aparo were brought in to finish it off, likely working simultaneously to meet the deadline. That's just speculation, but it seems to fit the evidence the comic itself supplies. It's a weird comic, but a memorable one. 

NOTE: This is a Dojo Revised Classic Post. 

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  1. The format seems inspired by EC's "Special Flying Saucer Report" issue of Weird Science-Fantasy, that ran a single expose-style narrative through all of the anthology stories by different artists, using reference material given them by UFOlogist Donald Keyhoe.

    1. I must've seen that story, but it doesn't ring a bell. Thanks for the info.

  2. CDB IDs the anonymous artist as Norman Nodel.