Astra, Girl of the Future ran in the back pages of Sensation Comics for just over a year during the period 1948 – 1951: End of an Era. The first DC science fiction series to feature a female lead, the strip has been pretty much forgotten over the years, with Astra never making another appearance beyond this period.
Created by Robert Kanigher, Irwin Hasen and Joe Giella in Sensation Comics 99, Astra is a telecaster for Transvideo News in the 22nd century, operating in Metropolis, in New Futura (whatever happened to old Futura?). It's not a great story.
Strange colour changes are taking place in the atmosphere, and Astra links these with the arrival of some aliens who were having the same thing happen on their planet. The villain is actually a top scientist, who has been working on a "space gun," with which he plans to conquer Earth.
Astra shows herself capable of existing in the void of space in her second outing, in Sensation 100. Evil Plutonians send a ship to Earth that will emit a destructive ray to destroy the planet, and a message explaining exactly what they intend to do. The ship proves impervious to all attempts to enter or destroy it. Well, almost impervious. Astra gets the idea to crawl in through an exhaust tube, which apparently no one else thought of. But once inside she isn't able to do very much, except go along for the ride when it flies into position to fire the ray.
She manages to aim the beam at an approaching meteor, and in a scene that parallels the splash page, jumps into the void of space, landing in her own little ship (called a rockette), which she has summoned by remote control. The beam destroys the meteor, and it's quite the blast. The story ends with Astra using her tv show to threaten those nasty Plutonians.
Astra gets high acclaim for her adventure in Sensation Comics 102. For her job, Astra heads out into space to report on a number of space ships that have gone missing, along with their crews and cargoes. She finds a pilot, called a mariner, floating in the void of space, and pulls the man into her ship. He describes how the rest of his fleet simply vanished. Following his route, they come to an area of very small planets, used for mining, and get sucked into a hollow planet with a concealed entrance.
The pirates who inhabit this tiny, moveable world have been grabbing ships and crews, dismantling the crafts, and selling the cargoes. Astra finds and frees the crewmen taken prisoner, contacts Earth to let then know what the pirates are doing, and even disables to control on the planetoid. Upon her return to Earth, Astra deservedly receives a medal for her efforts.
Gil Kane does the art on the Astra story in Sensation 104, in which a giant green man is found, encased in the ice in Hudson Bay. He explains that he from the distant past, and tells of an ice age that destroyed his civilization.
The signs he talks about that preceded the devastation match things currently happening, and he convinces the people to move the Earth closer to the Sun to prevent the ice age happening again. But Astra overhears the extremely uncautious man communicating with his allies back on Venus.
This was all a scam, designed to get the Earth closer to Venus, enabling them to attack. Astra takes the bad guy out and reveals his plans in time to move Earth back to its proper orbit.
Gil Kane stays on the art for the remainder of the series. In Sensation 105 Astra joins Professor Rockwell on an expedition to uncharted worlds. They receive a distress call from one planet and head there, helping a humanoid alien against a giant ant. They are surprised at the bestial nature of the one who looks like them, and the apparent intelligence of the ant.
It turns out that they are on a world where ants are the sentient life form. The ants had sent out the SOS, needing help against the dangerous humanoid beasts. Astra and Rockwell are pretty embarrassed about their mistake, and help create a force field to keep the bipeds at bay.
The final tale of Astra - Girl of the Future appears in Sensation 106. An evil brain from outer space is menacing the Earth, planting bombs and leaving clues, to toy with the puny brained humans. No one else seems able to figure out the clues except for Astra, so perhaps the evil brain's estimation of human's having low intelligence is not off the mark. One odd sequence involves a bomb in a traffic light. The world of Astra has vast technological advances, but the traffic lights are still those of 1949.
Astra "defeats" the brain by giving it a puzzle to solve, the one about moving rings while keeping the smaller ones on top of the larger. I've come across this before. Astra convinces the military forces of Earth that the giant brain will take tens of thousands of years to solve the puzzle. But I bet she was wrong, and the giant brain was a lot smarter than she gave it credit for. The brain solves the problem in a month or so, then invades and kills everyone, including Astra, which is why the character never got revived.
Astra, Girl of the Future: Sensation Comics 99 - 106 (July/Aug 50 – Nov/Dec 51)