Monday, July 26, 2010

Futura - Chapter 22

Planet Comics #64 (Spring 1950) marks the finale to the Futura Saga. It took far longer to get there then I originally planned but the Planet Comics issues I was seeking are pretty rare and hard to get a hold of. Fortunately there are friends and other resources that allowed me to fill in the gaps in her story. This issue is one of those online copies floating around.

For those readers not patient enough to click through her entire tale, here is some back story:

Futura's tale began in Planet Comics issue #43 in July of 1946. Secretary Marcia Reynolds is kidnapped from Earth and enslaved for medical experiments by the Brain-Men of Pan-Cosmos. She escapes, a bit too easily in fact, and steals a ship intending to head back to Earth. Unknown to Marcia Reynolds, now called Futura by her captors, her escape is being carefully monitored to measure her suitability for inclusion into the Pan-Cosmos genome.

Forced into situations that test her mettle, Futura evades her intended fate and gains allies, makes enemies and is a central witness to the fact that messiahs can be dangerous to your health. As her story continues, Futura becomes a wild card and her presence as a destabilizing threat to the status quo could not be tolerated by those in power. Fortunately for Futura the fragmented leaders of occupied space are corrupt, lazy and not used to rebellion from their cowed populace. Futura meets every challenge, fighting back ferociously and without hesitation.

For Futura does not just defeat an opponent, no. She utterly destroys an enemy by erasing their entire culture leaving them without a power base. What remains when she is done renders them in a state where they are no threat for the foreseeable future. While this tactic is not necessarily the action of a hero it certainly is that of a leader of nations. This Geo-political approach on a galactic scale is something that having recently emerged from a devastating World War the readers of the day could easily identify with.

So without further preamble here is the final climactic chapter to the Futura Saga.

Unlike many other of the Planet Comics serials Futura has a definite end to her tale, though some foreshadowing of trouble is evident. Reading the entire story of Futura I was not disappointed. While the series was sometimes the victim of the whims of scheduling, editors and creators and the series had some detours and false starts with the storytelling it was enjoyable and fantastic fun. Most serialized pulp tales, of which Futura is certainly descended from, have some element of empire-building in them and this tale was no exception. The average man, or in this case woman, is plucked from obscurity and thrust into "a world they never made" and by the end of the adventure they are Lords or Kings or Queens. Futura is cast in that mold.

Futura is different, however in that she did not simply storm the castle and sit upon the throne thereby declaring victory and an end to tyrannical rule. She leveled the playing fields of Pan-Cosmos and known space, leaving every culture she came into contact with vulnerable to being rebuilt from scratch by someone else with the strength or character and arm to do so. In this instance, Futura herself. Futura may not have intended to and she often acted for selfish reasons related to her immediate survival but the result was she destroyed a galaxy in order to save it. In her final adventure it is evident she rules Oceania and the stage is set for her to take over known occupied space.

So what does the future hold for Futura?

Fan interest in Golden Age comic books is steady and it is exposure on the internet that is most likely the reason. Forums and blogs are probably directly responsible for some collections of old stories being collected by various publishers, namely the Fletcher Hanks and Boody Rogers strips to name a few examples. These books were collected not only for fans but for those not familiar with graphic art that until recently has been lost and forgotten by even many hard core aficionados. It would be nice to see a hardbound collection of Futura but admittedly the sometimes wandering storyline could be somewhat difficult to present. Taken as a whole the Futura story does not present a particularly cohesive universe and a reader has to suspend their ideas of 'continuity' and mentally edit some entries. It could be understood that many modern fans would not appreciate the abrupt shifts in the cultural backgrounds of the Futura universe.

It is difficult to measure if there is enough of a fan base to support a revival of Futura. Often it is easier and makes better business sense for someone to create an entirely new character inspired by an old character than it is to revamp one, no matter how enthusiastic one may be for the project. Any new entries to the Futura story would have to be a personal endeavor at heart, a labor of love for the character like the one that appeared in the 1980s. One that some may not understand but hopefully can appreciate because that admiration was was shared.

So will we see Futura again? Only time will tell. I, for one, can hardly wait.

6 comments:

  1. Its a shame to see the end of Futura. Any chance you'll cover Gale Allen or Mysta next?

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  2. Mysta would be more interesting I think. She went from typical Diana Prince/Wonder Woman role to being a de facto leader. Gale Allen has some interesting stories but the series is full of cheesecake and she typically needed a man to rescue her and her all girl squadron at the end.

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  3. hhmmmm.... I've only seen a couple of Mysta stories. Would be nice to see more

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  4. FUTURA was a nice variant to the standard pulp space operas of the era. Thanx for resurrecting her -- it was a blast!

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  5. SOB! It probably goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway. I've really enjoyed these. Thank you so much for posting them.

    And I'd love to see the Mysta ones too.

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