Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Strange Adventures #9: "The Origin of Captain Comet!" (June 1951)

He was a mystery to himself! Why-- young Adam Blake wanted to know-- was he so different from other people? How did it happen that there was no one else like him in the whole wide world? Where did he really come from? Who was he? All these questions which might have unsettled an ordinary mind-- only served to whet the brain and steel the mettle of the extraordinary youth who, without knowing it, was fated to fulfill a grand and awe-inspiring destiny on Earth-- as Captain Comet-- First Man of the Future! Read now the starling story of...
by John Broome (writing as Edgar Ray Merritt,) Carmine Infantino & Bernard Sachs.

Two decades ago (about 1931,) a comet appeared over a Midwestern town as Adam Blake was born "in a small city amid humble surroundings." Named after his grandfather, Adam's dad expected great things with the comet as a good sign, but his mother admonished "Oh, John! Don't talk that way! All I want is for him to be just like everyone else!"

This was not to be, as Adam "just knew" things, like the location of missing objects, by age four. At eight, he could memorize whole textbooks in minutes. By high school, he could pick up a musical instrument, and figure out how to play it expertly in no time without any instruction. In college, no one could tackle him on the football field, as though he knew in advance where his opponents were headed.
But despite his successes, Adam was a lonely young man...

"I'm not like everyone else! I-- I try to be, but I'm not! And people sense it-- and avoid me!" Blake was capable of doing anything he set his mind to, almost effortlessly. Saving a beautiful classmate named Betty from a potentially deadly fall, Blake discoverd he could catch her telekinetically from yards away "by mental force!" Yet, he questioned why a person should have a power like that, and went to the wisest man he knew for help, physicist Professor Emery Zackro. The brilliant old fellow ran a battery of tests to determine Blake possessed powers of telepathy, clairvoyance, mind over matter, and a tireless, superhuman physique.

Zackro concluded, "You've heard, I'm sure, of human throwbacks-- men born today with the minds and bodies of the cavemen of 100,000 years ago! Well, think of the opposite of that... Scientifically, there's no reason why the opposite-- an accidental specimen of future man-- should not happen! It just never has, Adam-- till now! ...You are a mutant-- born by chance..."

Blake wasn't sure what to do with his gifts, though he hoped to benefit mankind. Zackro urged him to keep them under wraps for the present, until a considered decision could be made. In the meantime, Blake used his high intellect to correct errors in Zackro's "solar-reducer," a machine that could extract gold particles from sunlight. Randomly, Blake's breakthrough was made in earshot of gangsters who had been charting Zackro's development, and sought to kidnap this new kid genius. Fearless and possessed of exceptional ability, Blake fought off the men with his incredible strength and martial prowess. This led to gunfire, but Blake telekinetically slowed a bullet in midair, allowing it to bounce harmlessly off his chest. Blake finished the fisticuffs, and turned the three hoods over to police.

Later, Zackro bemoaned the foolishness, as his $10,000 machine would take over a year to collect $100 worth of gold. However, a lesson was learned-- that Blake's revealing his powers would only bring unscrupulous opportunists out of the woodwork. For safety, Zackro urged Blake to maintain his secret, and if he must employ his powers for good, to do so in a "new secret identity."

Meanwhile, giant tops began appearing around the globe, wrecking everything in their path, and shrugging off A-bombs without a scratch. This motivated Blake to don a colorful uniform and, inspired by the unknown comet that appeared at his birth, assume the name "Captain Comet." How he would fare against the tops would remain a mystery until the next episode...

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