Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I Love Atlas Comics #4: "The War of the Worlds"

Continuing my look at the weird and wonderful days of Atlas Comics, I bring you one of the many text features which appeared in comics from the late 30s to the mid-60s. These text pieces, usually two pages in length, were necessary in order for comic companies to receive distribution through mail services. Credits are rarely available for these tales (which is probably a good thing for the writers involved). The story I've chosen to look at hails from Adventures Into Weird Worlds#3 (1952) and is entitled...

Wait...what?

Uh, I think this title might have been used before. Regardless of your story's subject matter, you don't want to draw comparison to one of the all-time great science fiction novels, do you?

At any rate, "The War of the Worlds" tells us of Kara, a man who lives thousands of years in the future. Kara wants to conquer the Solar System and wields a time machine to assemble the greatest generals of history to lead his forces; his generals include Alexander the Great, Achilles, Hector, Julius Caesar, Attila the Hun, Napoleon Bonaparte, Hannibal, Oliver Cromwell and George S. Patton. Initially, the generals fought with each other.

"Napoleon insulted Cromwell, who would have attacked him, there and then, if General Patton hadn't intervened, warning that America would never stand by and allow an Englishman to be attacked."

Uh, except for when they did, Georgie.

Anyway, the generals don't want to work for Kara, so they kill him. Then they discover that Kara was really a Martian! Informing the governments of the time (presumably the USA) based out of the superoctogen, their information enables humanity to launch a war against Mars which obliterates them. The generals watch all of this and brood, then return to their own times. Having seen all of this, they lose their appetite for conquest.

Actually, this wasn't too bad - goofy but fun. Late in the story its pointed out that the generals can't comprehend futuristic warfare or the magnitude of destruction which armies can unleash. That being the case, why did Kara think they would be ideal in conquering the Solar System to begin with...?

2 comments:

mjjhoskin said...

Why did they need to have 2-page stories to be distributed by mail? That seems odd.

Anyone who's seen Star Trek II: The Chest of Khan knows that people from our time are too two-dimensional in our tactics and would easily be defeated in a dogfight, even if we have the Genesis Device.

Michael Hoskin said...

I think it was because it needed at least two pages of text to qualify as a magazine, which was presumably a better rate than the alternative.

Chest of Khan was the first thing I thought of when I began the story, so I was pleasantly surprised that the author spent a paragraph on how they had nothing to offer but to observe futuristic warfare; still doesn't explain Kara's interest in them though.