Sunday, January 08, 2012

Forbidden Worlds #108

The first story presents the usual Silver Age characterization on the fly:
We can get a quick sense of Caton from just those two panels; kind of a wimp and yet it's not really his fault, so we also sympathize with him.  We subsequently learn that he has one particular tormentor: Bat Jennison, and a love object: Celia Jones.  When he grows up, he applies for a job at the local rocket plant:
Okay, so Celia isn't really his type.  Bat decides to pull a prank on him.  He gets several buddies to dress up as generals.  They tell Caton that the astronaut scheduled for the next mission has taken ill, and that they have decided that he must take the rocket jockey's place.  They strap him in and put a firecracker under his seat, knowing this will scare him thoroughly.  It succeeds, so well that Caton is blown out of his seat and lands on the rocket's firing mechanism.

When the rocket finally lands on another planet, Caton discovers that the humans there have patterned their civilization after Earth's medieval period, with knights in armor.  He also learns that he's tremendously strong and has other powers:
And when the princess is threatened:

He wins the heart of the princess, but one thing makes him miserable.  When he returns to Earth, he'll go back to being a weakling.  Fortunately she has a wizard who can take care of that:
And when he gets back on the rocket, he's pleased to discover that the princess has joined him.  When he gets back to Earth, he's a big hero, but Bat still intends to bully him.  Bad idea:
And with a princess won, he has no interest in Celia Jones when she flirts with him.  He even wins first prize in the company costume ball, dressing up as (what else?) a knight in shining armor.

Comments: Cute story.  Writer Richard Hughes did a lot of these types of tales, where the hero takes a trip (often to another planet) and comes back with new confidence and drive.  It's not hard to see the appeal to adolescent boys, who were often subjected to bullying and the scorn of the girls they adored.

The next tale concerns a chemist who works for a tobacco company, trying to come up with a filter that doesn't change the taste of the cigarette.  His latest effort seems to work at first, but soon leaves him feeling dizzy.  He reads the news on the bus home and learns that Ambassador Alvarez was killed and that Pan-Oceanic Oil's stock had soared.  When he gets home, he still feels odd and his wife suggests that he go to bed right after supper:
The next morning, he's eating breakfast with Susan when the radio breaks in with a news bulletin.  Ambassador Alvarez has just been assassinated!  Wait a minute, didn't that happen yesterday?  He hunts around for the newspaper, but can't find it.  He realizes that somehow he tapped into the future, and thinks quickly:
Sure enough, Pan-Oceanic shares climb into the stratosphere, and Arthur sells his shares for over $200,000.  Now there are lots of ways this story could go, but Hughes pulls a big surprise on us:
Comments: A beautiful little story.  Hughes often used a similar plot of someone gaining unexpected riches and then blowing it.  Arthur shows that he deserved his little stroke of good fortune, and has more sense than to try to parlay it into a bigger payday.

The third story is a very shot tale of a sailor who receives a visit from his wife in a dream.  She's concerned about reports of severe weather on the seas.  The next morning, his bunkmate reports that he also saw the woman.  And when he returns home, his wife had had the same dream of visiting him.  What happened?

Comments: These stories are not Hughes' forte, because there isn't room for any real characterization.

The finale is the cover story.  Twin boys were separated at birth due to the divorce of their parents.  One of the twins, Leonard, grows up in America and becomes an unsuccessful painter.  He's told his paintings don't have any effect, and so:
Cue the fella with the horns and a red costume.  Leonard discovers that his new paintings do have an effect; the scenes that he paints come true the next day.  Is he seeing into the future?  No, instead he's changing it, as he soon discovers.  So he gets a great idea:
And sure enough, despite nearly universal scorn for his still life painting, the judges find themselves awarding him the prize.  But he needs new supplies and when he visits his rich uncle, the old man refuses to untrouser the wallet.  Knowing that he's the only heir, Leonard paints again:
Sure enough, the uncle dies in a car wreck.  But Leonard had completely forgotten about his twin brother Henry, who inherits half the estate.  Time for yet another painting:
But by painting the beard out, he blundered, for the man in the painting was himself.  And sure enough, he
falls into an old well the next morning and drowns, much to the delight of Mephisto, who comes to collect his soul.

Comments: Somewhat predictable, but still very entertaining.  It's the flip side of the Arthur tale.  Overall, as usual with ACG comics, I loved this issue.


Anonymous said...

Caton is clearly an adult version of Hughes' character Herbie Popnecker, whose adventures had been running in FORBIDDEN WORLDS for several years. The artist -- who I think is Herbie artist Ogden Whitney -- even drew Caton to resemble a grown-up version of Herbie. -- Jim

Pat said...

Jim, he does look like Herbie, although quite slimmed down from his juvenile form. The artist is indeed Whitney.