Alan and Ted's excellent adventureComics newbies may be wondering why, if there is so much crossover between comics fans and SF fans, and mainstream hero books draw so heavily on sci-fi themes, the earliest science fiction comics were so out of the loop.
Well, the college kids in their blazers roaring into space were doing so at a time when cleancut was the buzzword for the stuffy arbiters of morality in kid lit. But, more importantly, comics pre-date the staples of scientifiction
with the first comic book appearing fifty years before a real life heavier-than-air craft left the ground and a century earlier than the first steps we took on our own moon.
Regardless, the medium found ready use for robots, androids and cyborgs;consider that an offshoot of one of the most popular comics franchises is a clone of a superhuman alien (a literal take on something the former National Periodicals Inc already did)
I think the comic publishing world finds it convenient to warp the space-time continuum for its own purposes; that is, to preserve their A list heroes into perpetuity while, by turn clumsily and astutely, explaining to anal retentive fanboys'n'girls the reason that a hero who fought in World War 2 is still around and still fighting tyranny with as much verve and good looks. And to compound their dashed off deus ex machina, the company concerned will usually spin the whole farago into a bestselling mini-series.
When comics does speculative fiction - and Marvel's "What If..?" series is silver age-style tinkering with DC's 'imaginary stories' idea - the SF underpinnings are close to the surface: 'What if Conan the Barbarian walked the Earth today?', 'What if Sgt Fury fought WWII in Outer Space?'
The medium comes into its own in spectacular fashion as the depiction of futuristic weaponry and advanced technology are only limited by the skill and imagination of the artist. As with SF in all its forms, the passing of time trips the obvious - machines don't become more marvellous by becoming ever larger and imposing but by becoming ever smaller and more accessible. This requires quite the paradigm shift but then the King's best work contains that clutter of Big Machinery; a more streamlined art style might suit microtechnology.
Posted by berko_wills at 1:47 PM EADT
Updated: Monday, 13 December 2004 3:09 PM EADT