From Outer Space (1952 comic book) review…

From Outer Space (1952 comic book) review after the break…

From Outer Space (1952 comic book) review…

When two United States military men find a landed unidentified flying object (UFO), they inadvertently set off on an adventure where they must escape from a tyrannical humanoid alien bent on Earthly destruction and it’s equally humanoid mechanical servants.

Eight pages is so limited in telling a complete story that I’m just not certain why anyone would take up the challenge. Of the short comic books that I’ve reviewed so far, none have been able to fully tell the story they have wanted without making painful sacrifices in scope or explanation. “From Outer Space,” though, has the distinction of telling the most complete story so far in only eight pages and not looking inept at it. That isn’t to suggest that the story is complete as it still suffers from some conventions that comic books suffered from that time.

The beginning of the comic is impressive enough, setting up the two military soldiers who investigate a possible meteor landing and find an UFO instead. I wasn’t fond of the typical convention of people merely investigating something strange, though, as it was recklessly foolhardy to simply wander into an alien spacecraft. No call for back-up? No call to headquarters to report a meteor landing? It would have been a tighter story if the two men were given a REASON to just enter the spacecraft instead of just curiosity. Since the craft was designed to draw people in, perhaps they may have heard human voices from the inside. Perhaps upon being even near the thing, they are instantly “beamed” into the spacecraft. If they had been given a reason to immediately investigate the inside of the spacecraft without calling in their position or requesting back-up, it would have made for a more compelling beginning.

Once the two men are in the spacecraft, they are transported by the craft to an outer space lair where they are captured and spoken to (telepathically) by an alien space explorer from the planet Xylon (Yes, alien planets must always have uncommon letters and odd letter combinations in their name) about plans for the conquering of Earth. Obviously, this is not well received by the human captors, who deduce a weakness in the alien (mainly, his big eyes) and escape back into the spacecraft. Once safely landed back on Earth, the military then decides that the best course of action is to stuff an atomic bomb into the spacecraft and send it back on it’s way, detonating once it reaches it’s destination and thus ending the alien threat.

There are a lot of hokey conventions in the eight-page comic book that simply have not aged well. America’s affection towards the atomic bomb in the comic can be forgiven on the fact that the comic was written in the 1950s. The claim that the spacecraft is flying one thousand miles per minute is also a bit laughable, given how slow such a speed actually is in the expanse of space. The main villain (who is never named) is quite stereotypical for space aliens of the era, complete with ridiculous head gear. The telepathic method for communicating was a nice touch and nicely dealt with the realities of communication barriers. Not seeing other captives may have been understandable given the solution the comic book takes (via atomic bomb) but so many other story directions were questionable at best (not having military scientists study the space craft? That the atomic weapon was the only option and not a strike force sent back to eliminate one alien and two robots?). Also, what could aliens want from our planet that they couldn’t already find in abundance elsewhere?

“From Outer Space” is the best attempt at a short comic book story thus far but can’t escape the limitations of the format. The comic is also hampered by some conventions of the genre and is probably best read by people who have a strong forgiveness towards the 1950s atomic age mentality.


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