A Tribute to the of






The cover gimmick works, readers. I continue to be amazed at the covers I remember from childhood, whether I saw them for real or in the wonderful, ubiquitous house ads of DC’s Silver Age. They were designed to be a hook and I have no doubt it worked like a charm. I present to you exhibit “A” for this edition of the Silver Age Sage, which is another great science fiction anthology tale from Strange Adventures, issue #200 with a publication date of May 1967 and an on-sale date of March 30, 1967. Check out that cover. Who could resist finding out how a guy with a comet head came about and how he solved the problem? That intriguing cover comes to us courtesy of the immortal Carmine Infantino with George Roussos on inks and Ira Schnapp lettering while the story itself, imaginatively titled “The Man with the Comet Head!” was scripted by the terrific Otto Binder with art by Jack Sparling and editing by Jack Schiff.

Our 7.5-page tale is actually the last one in the book, with the first being a tale of the Enchantress, by Bob Haney, featuring a lovely witch in “The Guardian Eye.” The second story is titled “The Lair of the Dragonfly!; originally the cover story of House Of Secrets #19 the April 1959 issue. On to our feature story:

The splash page shows our comet-headed guy dashing along in a ragged pair of trousers befitting the Incredible Hulk and being observed with great interest by the local populace. His thoughts reveal that since he doesn’t have a mouth, he cannot tell anyone he’s no strange alien, only a human with the wrong head.

We’re soon joining astronomer Alton Wright in his hilltop observatory where he’s checking out an asteroid before calling it a night. The stars, however, have another plan for Mr. Wright when an errant comet enters his gaze and he notices his face is beginning to tingle. As it happens, that comet was emitting some radiation that funneled its way through the telescope and is affecting the astronomer.

Within a few short minutes, Alton’s head has taken on the characteristics of a comet and it’s giving off tremendous heat, burning off his shirt, but strangely, his skin is only getting a heavy coat of suntan. (Comet-tan?) He’d already been driving toward home, so in the next few moments, the windshield on the convertible melts and the upholstery ignites. Wright finally glimpses himself in the rearview mirror and discovers to his horror that he has a comet head.

He parks his burning vehicle and starts to rush about, but more calamity follows as the tail that follows his comet head is setting the nearby buildings ablaze. A motorcycle cop decides to shoot first and ask questions later and the only thing that saves Wright’s bacon is the heat from his head that even melts the slugs of the officer’s sidearm before they can strike him.

For his next trick, Alton discovers that when he gets up enough speed, he can actually fly like a speeding comet. Now he desperately begins to seek a way to put out the fire, first diving headlong into a nearby lake, but it does no good. He only manages to bring the water to a boil and likely wrecks the fishing for a while.

Flying out of the lake with a goodly amount of steam in his wake, Wright flies straight for nearby glacier mountain, betting on the ice to cool his hot head. Thwarted again, he merely melts his way through with no effect on his head.

He later seeks refuge in a concrete viaduct and ponders his options. Using his scientific knowledge, he reasons that “…just as X-rays cause biogenetic changes in fruit-flies, that erratic comet’s radiations were focused by my telescope into a powerful biogenetic beam that altered my head.” Well and good Alton, but now what?

Soon he is able to hear a passing car’s radio announce that the same comet has been spotted and is coming back toward the Earth. Wright gets a glimmer of hope that maybe this will be his chance to somehow reverse what has happened to him.

Our comet-headed astronomer soon takes flight again, but is spotted by a passing Air Force jet that opens fire on him. Luckily his comet powers come to the rescue again as he uses his comet-tail hair to stretch out the heat and prematurely blow up the missiles in mid-air before they can reach him.

Inspiration soon strikes Alton Wright when he realizes he can put his comet tail to good use and he begins to sky write a message to the additional pilots approaching him. “Attention! Can’t talk…give me chance to prove I’m human.” I’m not sure how he managed the punctuation, but okay. An Air Force Captain decides to take a chance and utilizes a special megaphone he just happens to have in the cockpit to tell the flying figure he has one hour to prove himself.

In relief, Wright makes a beeline back to his observatory and tunes in his radio to find out the trajectory of the comet from space. He learns the object is headed straight toward a city which will doubtless cause huge casualties. Thinking fast, Alton flips his telescope over, reversing it to where the eyepiece is pointing outward and aims it at the comet. He deduces that “…the ray-forces that first shot forth from the comet to my head are now streaming back…focused by my reversed telescope lenses into a concentrated beam of energy…

The gambit has paid off! It is described as draining the rays back to the comet and restoring Alton Wright’s head to normal. Furthermore, there was enough of a backlash that it sent the comet flying back into space where it came from, neutralizing the threat to the unnamed city on the Earth.

In the final panel of this short and sweet tale, Alton Wright is admiring his restored visage in the mirror, musing that while he’s no movie idol or Mr. America, it’s good to see that familiar face restored.

A fun little story and yet another feather in the cap of the ever-imaginative Otto Binder who, of course, wrote a pile of stories for Fawcett and DC over the years and along with Al Plastino, created the Legion of Super-Heroes and Supergirl.

I was happy to finally have my curiosity satisfied on that fascinating cover and as I’ve said before, I’m an old S-F reader from way back, so it was right up my alley. A rating of 8 for this one and well worth a glance if you get the opportunity.

Do join us again as we continue our silver mining expedition. We draw closer and closer to our 500th edition and hopefully I can find a good way to mark that historic achievement. Meanwhile, drop a line with any comments, suggestions or questions to: professor_the@hotmail.com.

Be on the lookout for a new review the first of June and until then...

Long live the Silver Age!



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