Sep 30, 2016

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 583: The Outer Limits #17, October 1968

There's a strange disconnect in this comic. As we're all aware, comics can be a remarkable example of creative collaboration. Claremont and Byrne. Ellis and Cassaday. Morrison and Quitely. The proper team can create magic. Unfortunately, the opposite can often be true, too. Since this is a particularly old comic, there's no listing for the writer, and I only know Jack Sparling is the artist from the GCD, but it really seems that these two creators were just not communicating properly. The script says one thing, the pictures another. A "strange, gleaming metallic building" is depicted as what honestly looks like a child's version of the sun coming up over the hills. A sound weapon that "quivers like a tuning fork, vibrating faster and faster till the sound shreds [the gun] to pieces and pulverizes it into harmless dust" becomes a heat ray, and the guns melt, rather than disintegrate. Of course, it's hard to say what came first, the script or the art, but it really does seem that one of the creators involved just didn't like what the other did, and changed it.

This makes for a very off-putting reading experience. On the one hand, we can consider it from the above point of view, that there was a disconnect between the creators involved. If we want to be slightly more optimistic about it, this could be a perfect example of unreliable narration, both linguistic and pictorial, in comics. Something happened, but neither version of events lines up with the other, and so we can't really tell what happened. Similarly, the aliens in the story are only ever referred to as "the monsters" by the verbal narration - their depiction is simply one person's attempt at parsing that term.

Old science fiction is always interesting - so much less space opera, so much more hard sci fi. Onward!

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