Comics / DC Comics History

DC Comics History: Space Museum


By Deejay Dayton
May 4, 2017 - 23:58

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Space Museum, which debuted in Strange Adventures during the period 1955 – 1959: Dawn of the Silver Age, would be the first of three series that would come to run in alternating issues of the book. The other two strips would not show up until the next period.

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Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky and Bernard Sachs launch Space Museum in Strange Adventures 104. Howard Parker takes his son, Tommy, for their regular monthly trip to the Space Museum.  The basis of the strip had Tommy finding some object in the museum he found interesting, and then his father giving the boy the story behind it.  In this case, it's a pair of contact lenses. The contact lenses belonged to Tom Miller, the captain of the Star Gazer, the first manned ship to travel beyond the solar system.  The ship had vanished, and others were sent out in search of it.  They came across Tom, who was now giant-sized. 

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Within the story already being told, Tom tells of how his ship landed on a planet where the rest of the crew fell prey to a teleporting robot, which drew energy from people, but wound up on a world where no one was alive.  Or at least, until the Star Gazer arrived. The robot was unable to leech off of Miller, because of the contact lenses he was wearing.  Miller went in pursuit of the robot, and used a machine to turn him into a giant.  And that's when the others showed up.  Together the hunt down the robot, with Miller providing glass helmets to give the others the same protection the contact lenses gave him.

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It's a bizarre story, for sure.  Interesting enough.  I think the biggest surprise is the very end, which announces that Space Museum will be a returning feature.

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With Strange Adventures 106 the Space Museum series gets a logo, though it looks like it was stuck onto the splash page as an afterthought. Carmine Infantino takes the reins on the art for the strip. This time Tommy Parker asks his father to explain the story behind a big space-jewel, which certainly looks like a more interesting exhibit than the contact lenses. The story isn't quite as interesting, though it is complex, dealing with a war between planets and the human who helps one planet prevail. 

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He later gets appointed ambassador to the planet, and is stunned at the way everyone shuns him.  He discovers that a shape changer from the defeated planet took his place and smeared his name and reputation.  The space-jewel winds up being used to prove that the hero is the real guy, and expose the impersonator.

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The Space Museum story in Strange Adventures 109, as with the first one, has Tommy's attention grabbed by a seemingly innocuous object in the museum, this time a wristwatch.  The story plays off the concept that time slows down as one approaches the speed of light. In the tale, a pilot uses a new craft to travel faster than anyone has before.  He reaches the speed of light, and winds up on a far off world, zipping through its periods in history, which are very close to those from Earth.  But when he hits 1950, he finds the world devastated by magnetic storms. The one difference between this planet and ours is that they never developed spring wound watches. 

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His watch, and the ticking sound of the spring uncoiling, proves to be the one and only thing that fends off these deadly storms.  So the people on that world all start wearing watches.  The story ends by pointing out the critical importance of keeping one’s watch wound. Spring wound watches being a thing of the past, it makes the story even more absurd than when it came out. To be frank, Space Museum is certainly not the most engaging series from this era.

Space Museum continues in the next period, 1960 – 1964: the Silver Age.

Space Museum: Strange Adventures 104, 106, 109, 112 (May 59, July 59, Oct 59, Jan 60)

Next up – Rip Hunter, Time Master!

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Last Updated: May 15, 2017 - 12:13

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