In Orbit (c.1960)

The first comic, the randomizer landed on is In Orbit.

We are told this will contain “Amazing Stories of the Future”. However, whilst their amazement level is arguable, only some stories are set in days to come.

Six of these strips are the adventures of Electroman:

One of the many short-lived attempts to duplicate the success of American superhero comics, Captain Marvel in particular. This is a character I am vaguely familiar with but had never read before.

The first tale involves an archeological expeditions having gone missing whilst looking for a lost city in the Andes. A reporter noted that one of the people on the expedition looked like Baron Kotzbue, a villain, put away by Electroman:

After discovering the baron is still in prison, Dan runs up to an electric fence and grabs it. Dangerous? No, for he then transforms into Electroman!

They all then travel to visit to the volcano where the team went missing and are informed they were last seen in the company of an indigenous Incan who they follow into the mountains. Eventually they find the lost city where a woman from one of the expeditions is to be sacrificed. Electroman is there to save her.

(As you can probably guess, the story is definitely not the best depiction of native Americans).

Going inside the temple he discovers Professor Pritchard, leader of the expedition, is tied up. The baron had found treasure in the city (it being his identical twin brother who is in prison) and then got the native inhabitants of the city to try to sacrifice the professors daughter. Suddenly a volcano erupts so Electroman flies all the expedition off leaving the baron (and presumably the inhabitants of the city) to their fate.

The other Electroman stories proceed in a similar man, involving a clown trying to ruin a circus:

Dan getting locked in a safe by thieves:

Foiling a train robbery:

And time travelling to meet Benjamin Franklin:

We also get Electroman’s origin (for some reason as the third story in the issue). Dan was originally a thief known as fingers Watkins. On a job, he is caught and sentenced to death by electric chair. However, not only was he not killed by the chair, it has cured him of his criminal tendencies and gave him superpowers:

One thing I can say for it, is this does feel unique. Superpowers by accidental electroshock therapy is a new one on me!

They are all pretty short, self-contained, stories that follow a standard Golden Age pattern. None that are 100% awful but neither are they particularly good or memorable either. They also are certainly not futuristic space stories promised on the cover. Thankfully the others strips in this issue make up for that.

First off is Space Sheriff, a tale of Sheriff Jaxon in 2052, who goes to investigate reports of horror on the planet Rubisilicon and finds half-fungus, half-animal creatures being developed as a weapon:

The story reminds me of the 1954 Flash Gordon TV series, with definite pulp roots to it all. It lacks, however, the real excitement of pulp stories, with its length require almost of the tale to be build up and then only having a page for the action and solution.

Next up in space thrills is the comedy strip, Captain Jetsom, a fantasy about space pirates. Here the crew try to battle a kind of space dragon which has been attacking the spaceways (in order to rob the ships themselves):

It is all very silly but enjoyable in its own way. It is the kind of absurd fun you would expect from a children’s cartoon in the 1970s.

Then we have Don Havoc and the Mystery of the “Flying Saucers”. This strip is explicitly called out on the front of the magazine, but I could not find any information if this strip continued elsewhere or if it was just wishful thinking for it to continue.

Either way, the story is of Don Havoc and Bill Ware, rocket ship pilots in 1975 who see a flying saucer whilst attempting to break a speed record. They take out a squadron f rocket ships and force it to land:

After getting the craft open they find an alien creature who has died outside its ship face down in some water:

It turns out these are aquatic creatures from the sea who cannot survive on land. The captured saucer is to be used by Don and Bill for an attempt to find the people this craft belongs to.

For me this was the least interesting of the tales. It is a lot of flying and shooting without any build or character work. Very dull.

And these are interspersed by science fact pieces, such as a history of the Bathysphere:

However, they tend to be rather basic and give very much an overview rather than depth.

Overall, it is a not terrible example of 50s British SF Comics but not particularly notable either. The only one I would say I enjoyed was the silly tale of Captain Jetsom.

It appears much of this album is reprints. Comic.org lists several of the stories in here as coming from All Worlds and I assume the Electroman stories are from his original ongoing series.

Next month, I will be picking up an issue of the 1971 football comic book Scorcher. As a non-football fan, let’s see what I make of it.

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