A Tribute to the of

All hail the reprint! Where would we be without them? Reprints allowed us to sample stories that we probably wouldn’t have known about in the first place and/or could not find or afford. So often they were from the Golden Age or sometimes obscure or popular tomes from the Silver Age. Thanks to the webmaster and some foraging I’ve done on my own, I’ve got reprints galore to choose from for this ongoing feature and while musing about what to explore this time around I stumbled across a character I’d not read before. I’d certainly heard about Space Cabby, but up to now had never been able to enjoy one of his tales. Well, no more, thanks to the foresight of those who were at the helm of DC Super Stars back in the 70s. In fact, every other issue for quite some time it became DC Super Stars of Space and would carry stories of Adam Strange, Captain Comet, Tommy Tomorrow and others. Issue #6 [August, 1976] contains a Space Cabby tale and I just had to check it out.

Before I go much further, however, the lettercol offered a nice little history of the Space Cabby, that I’ll quote here: “The Space Cabby (his real name was never revealed) began cruising the solar system in MYSTERY IN SPACE #21, August/September 1954 in a tale entitled “Space-Taxi.” It was not intended as a series at the time, but rather a whimsical space-opera story of the trials and tribulations of operating a rocket-space-taxi in the next century.

But the story proved popular, and a sequel was prepared for MIS #24. Again the mail indicated the readers enjoyed Space Cabby’s crazy exploits. Beginning with MIS #26, Space Cabby was in every issue through #47, Oct., 1958, when he was edged out in favor of more scientifically accurate stories.

Though Space Cabby’s travels were impossible (traveling to Pluto in less than a day, for instance), the stories maintained the simple charm that has prompted us to reprint one here from MYSTERY IN SPACE #45, Aug. 1958.

That’s a pretty good intro, but of course we need to include that “The Luxury Limousine of Space!” was written by Otto Binder, of Captain Marvel fame (not to mention helping my friend, the late, great Al Plastino roll out the first tale of Supergirl) and illustrated by Bernard Sachs, who of course did scads of wonderful inking throughout the Silver Age. Editing was accomplished by Julie Schwartz.

The story opens with the Space Cabby picking up an unexpected fare on an asteroid. It turns out that the interplanetary jewel tycoon, Mr. Roger Ames is stranded as his space limousine has conked out and the repairs are beyond the capabilities of his chauffeur. Ames needs a lift to Mars for an important meeting taking place in just four hours.

The Space Cabby rises to the challenge, zipping through a meteor shower, threading his way through a space hurricane by going through the eye and then using a comet to help push them along in order to meet the deadline. Ames is impressed and promises him a tip at a later date.

A week later, the cabby learns what Ames had in mind when he takes delivery of a new, custom-built space cab complete with gold trimmings. Eager to get his new ride on the “road,” the cabby takes his old cab in to a used spaceship lot and then begins to enjoy the amenities of this new craft. It seems to be equipped with everything, from a meteor deflector to a hi-fi space radio, electric brakes, perfumed air-conditioning and free cosmetics and cigars for his passengers.

What he didn’t count on, however, was what begins to happen as he plies his trade. While his customers appreciate the offerings, they reason that with such an expensive ride, he doesn’t need their tips. Furthermore, the new ship is substantially larger, so it cannot fit into a regular space, requiring double the parking fee and it cannot fit into some of the short cut tunnels. Let’s not even talk about how much more fuel the luxury limo requires.

Dejected at this turn of events, the Space Cabby tries to get his old jalopy back, but Smilin’ Sam has already sold it. Soon afterward he spots his old ride, but unfortunately it’s now being used as a getaway vehicle for interplanetary bank robbers. It seems the souping up he’d done on it made it an irresistible getaway ship. The Cabby decides to assist the “Ippy,” or Interplanetary Police by giving chase with his large engined rig, but he soon learns he’s not as maneuverable in this big, sleek vehicle.

He soon decides to use himself as bait by first removing his cab insignia and posing as a wealthy limousine owner. His ploy seems to work, but before he can radio the Ippy, the crooks catch on and jam his signal. Now the chase is on and the Space Cabby uses his meteor deflector feature to push a magnetic meteor onto his old cab, which sticks like glue to the metal exterior, slowing them down. Unfortunately, while he was focusing on his task, more meteors came along and riddled the limo, forcing him to jettison into the void in his handy space suit.

Realizing he’ll be stranded, the Space Cabby quickly grabs onto the meteor to hitch a ride with the bandits. They notice him, though and make plans for an ambush, but before they can get to their destination, they’re pulled over by the Interplanetary Police. Baffled at how they were found out, they soon discover that the resourceful cabby had the presence of mind to grab some of those complimentary cosmetics from the limo and used a lipstick to scrawl a bright red SOS on the meteor, alerting the Ippy.

The final panel shows a happy Space Cabby back at the wheel of his trusty old jalopy.

What a fun little read! I liked the light-hearted touch and Bernie Sachs was no slouch as an illustrator. As long-time readers know, the webmaster and I are old science-fiction fans as well, so this little story scratched the itch quite nicely. I’m going to do some digging and see if I have any more of these in my reprint collection. I’ll give it a 7 on the rating scale and am glad to have finally enjoyed my very first Space Cabby story. Now if I can just find a Space Museum tale…

Be sure to come on back on the 15th of the month for the next installment of the Silver Age Sage. As always, your feedback is both welcomed and encouraged. Questions, comments and other input can be sent to: professor_the@hotmail.com

See you next time and…

Long live the Silver Age!

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