Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Superboy and the Captain Future Creatures

Editor Mort Weisinger's recycling of ideas on the Superman feature is notorious: stories were rewritten after the passing of a few years, scripts from the TV show were adapted into the comic books, and even cover scenes from pulps that Weisinger had worked on turned up on the comics' covers.

Captain Future Win/43 cover
One instance of reusing a pulp idea that I think I'd credit to the writer rather than the editor is a concept from a Captain Future novel Weisinger edited. It wasn't given an illustration, but here's the prose description from the Winter 1943 issue's "The Face of the Deep" by Edmond Hamilton:

"Each of these big creatures appeared to be composed of small, living fleshy pink cubes. Each cube was four inches square, and had two twinkling bright eyes and a small mouth-opening.

"'Why, I never saw anything like these before,' Captain Future muttered, stepping forward. (...)

"But now, as Captain Future approached, the centipede creatures underwent an incredible transformation.

"Their big, geometrical bodies disintegrated. They broke up into the scores of living cubes of which they were composed. Each cube was revealed to be a separate, tiny living creature. Each had eight tiny claws or legs, one at each corner of its cubical body, as well as its own eyes and mouth and ears.

"These hundreds of cube-creatures scurried swiftly together, and joined into a single big figure. The living cubes joined tightly, each to the next, by instantly hooking their tiny claws together.

"Silently and quickly as though by magic, the cubical creatures had combined to form a towering, semi-human figure ten feet high. It advanced on square, stocky legs with its massive arms raised menacingly toward the Futuremen."

Here's a scene (drawn by George Papp) from "The Super-Planet of Clark Kent and Lana Lang," the Superboy story in Adventure Comics 300 (Sept/63):

Adv 300: Clark Kent's blow causes giant creature to disentegrate into cubes
Adv 300: living cubes reform into many-legged creature to escape

In this case, the sequence goes from monster to centipede creature. I read this story when it came out, and remembered this vividly ever since; it was decades later that I reread it and attributed the script to Edmond Hamilton from the writing style. A few years after that, I read the Captain Future novel by Hamilton and instantly recognized the Cubicals, as he calls them there.


  1. The GCD practically admits that it doesn't know who wrote this story; all it has is:
    "Script: ?; Mort Weisinger".

  2. It's the credit to Weisinger that flummoxes me, since he isn't credited on the Legion story in the same issue, or any of the stories in #299 or 301 (which were as far as I just now looked)--not that he should be, to my mind.

  3. This is one of the very few 1960s Superboy stories I've never read (and I wasn't even aware of it); I'll keep an eye open for a reasonably-priced decent copy of it.