Sunday, November 13, 2005

ACG Comics: Adventures Into the Unknown #124

This April-May 1961 offering from ACG cover features "The Green Flame".

The opening story concerns the trials of one Michael Terrence O'Toole, a blue-collar guy struggling to get by as a steam shovel operator in Salem, Massachusetts. (Aside: Steam shovels are archaic; they have since been replaced by the backhoe.) So he and his wife have to make do with wishing for nice things rather than having them, even for their daughter Rosie. But Rosie wants a baton so she can be a drum majorette in the local high school band. In the meantime, Mike is having trouble with the foreman over the amount of dirt he moves. So one evening he gets drunk (the men he was with claimed it was NA beer) and goes to the job site and starts digging. And he breaks into a chamber where he finds a giant chest. When he opens it a witch climbs out, released after centuries of imprisonment. She immediately starts doing horrible things, like crashing planes and trains and ruining Mike's steamshovel. He grabs the wand from the witch and angrily wishes she was back where she came from. Of course, she flies back into the chest. He wills everything to be normal, saving the plane and train that the witch had destroyed. He heads home, giving the wand to his wife as a baton for their daughter.

Then comes the twist. ACG's editor/writer, Richard Hughes, always liked a little twist in his stories. Not quite the O'Henry twist that EC was known for a decade earlier, but still entertaining.

It turns out that the daughter wants to be the drum majorette because she likes a boy in the band, and when momma catches them making out, she burns the wand/baton. And Michael and his wife are just a little more satisfied with their life together.

There's a one-page filler called "Mysteries of Nature". Archaeologist discovers a roadside attraction is really a dinosaur skeleton preserved in lava.

The Fan Fare series entry follows. These appear to be reprints of earlier ACG stories. This issue's adventure concerns a fighter pilot who has to abandon his aircraft in the Middle East when it catches fire. He finds a garden where life seems perfect--delicious food, wonderful climate, plenty of water, etc. Eventually he tears himself away from the place to try to get back to civilization. After a long journey he is saved by an Arab on a camel. He realizes afterwards that he had found the Garden of Eden.

Another Fan Fare entry with "Space Probe". An invasion fleet sends the usual one scout craft to earth; when it fails to return the invasion is cancelled.

In the cover story, "The Green Flame", a scientist invents a green flame that appears to hold promise as a military weapon, but it rapidly gets out of control. Worse still, it shows intelligence, apparently burning the scientist's notes to prevent the military from creating a weapon to use against it. Can anything stop The Green Flame?

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