Space Museum (comics)

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Space Museum (comics)
Publication information
Publisher National Comics / DC Comics
First appearance Strange Adventures #104 (1959)
Created by Gardner Fox

Space Museum was a science fiction comics series published by National Comics (now DC Comics) in their flagship science fiction title Strange Adventures between 1959 and 1964. The series was written by Gardner Fox and was drawn by Carmine Infantino for almost the whole series.

Publication history[edit]

Space Museum first appeared in the story "The World of Doomed Spacemen" in Strange Adventures #104 (May 1959), written by creator Gardner Fox under the editorship of Julius Schwartz. The series of 8-page stories was published in rotation with two others, The Atomic Knights and Star Hawkins, and appeared in every third issue of Strange Adventures from #106 - 157 (July 1959 - October 1963), with one last story, "Space Museum of the Dead World," in issue #161 (February 1964) - a total of 20 stories. With the exception of the first tale, which was drawn by Mike Sekowsky and Bernard Sachs, all the other Space Museum stories were drawn by Carmine Infantino. Only the initial story featured on the cover of Strange Adventures.

Story Listing

Issue Title

  • 104 WORLD OF DOOMED SPACEMEN
  • 106 SECRET OF THE SPACE JEWEL
  • 109 SECRET OF THE TICK-TOCK WORLD
  • 112 REVOLT OF THE SPACESHIPS
  • 115 THE GEM INVASION OF EARTH
  • 118 THREAT OF THE PLANET WRECKERS
  • 121 THE BILLION-YEAR OLD SPACESHIP
  • 124 EARTH VICTORY- BY A HAIR
  • 127 SON OF TWO WORLDS
  • 130 THE TOY SOLDIER WAR
  • 133 THE IMMORTAL SPACEMAN!
  • 136 SECOND-BEST SPACEMAN!
  • 139 SECRET OF THE ENERGY WEAPON!
  • 142 PRISONER OF THE SPACE FLOWERS
  • 145 THE MASS ENERGY ROBBERS OF SPACE
  • 148 THE EVOLUTIONARY ENSIGN OF SPACE
  • 151 THE TREE OF 1000 COLORS!
  • 154 ESCAPE-ARTIST OF SPACE!
  • 157 RESCUE BY MOONLIGHT
  • 161 SPACE MUSEUM OF THE DEAD WORLD


The first three Space Museum stories were reprinted in the DC Comics science fiction reprint anthology, From Beyond the Unknown #23 -25 (July/August 1973 - November/December 1973), but the title was then cancelled. Eighteen years later writer Gerry Conway re-introduced the Space Museum concept in "The Secret that Time Forgot" in Justice League of America #206 (September 1982), and in 1984 writer Paul Kupperberg followed in The New Adventures of Superboy #50 (February 1984), this in a 30th-century Legion of Superheroes framing sequence by Keith Giffen around a modern-day Superboy story by Kurt Schaffenberger. Two years later Dan Jurgens returned to the original 25th century Space Museum for the location of Booster Gold's origin story.[1] With the exception of the retrospective origin story of the Museum, "The Startling Secret of The Space Museum" in Secret Origins #50 (August 1990) by editor Mark Waid and Gerard Jones (with Carmine Infantino again returning to the artwork), and two stories set in the Museum - "When Robots Attack" in Legionnaires #68 (Feb 1999) by Roger Stern and Tom McGraw, and Booster Gold #0 (April 2008) - the few other references since have all been in retellings of or allusions to Booster Gold's origin.[2]

Fictional history[edit]

Strange Adventures - 1959 - 1964[edit]

Space Museum in Strange Adventures was an anthology series set in the 25th century featuring mainly unlinked heroic tales of outer space adventure; with a regular framing sequence that opens and closes each episode with the only continuing characters - Howard Parker and his young son Tommy (and on three occasions his mother) making their monthly visit to the Space Museum,[3] later established as being in Metropolis.[4] It is a museum dedicated to showcasing the history of five centuries of human space travel, and features many exhibits in transparent display cases, each artifact from an adventure an Earth space traveller had had in outer space. The objects in the display cases are often ordinary, although somehow they were used to either save the Earth or some other planet from disaster: Behind every object in the Space Museum there's a tale of heroism, daring, self sacrifice.[5] During these visits Tommy always asks his father about one exhibit in particular, and Howard Parker then tells his son the story behind that exhibit, including:

  • a pair of contact lenses that deflected an aliens' attempt at manipulating brain waves;[6]
  • a pocket watch that saved a planet by preventing magnetic storms from destroying it;[7]
  • a gold medal and a spaceship called Ike (the only time a story features two artifacts in the Museum);[8]
  • a stuffed magpie called Tommy (after which Tommy Parker was named) that saved the Earth from an invasion of deadly jewels;[9]
  • an invisible being of pure energy;[10]
  • one of Tommy's mother's blonde hairs, in a story which reveals that she was Admiral Ann 'Blondy' Gordon of the Space Marines and his father General 'Wrecker' Parker;[11]
  • a toy soldier that helped defeat an alien invasion;[12]
  • a search for the Fountain of Youth;[13]
  • a race against time to save the Universe;[14]
  • a man who discovered he could turn anything into a weapon;[15]
  • a picture of Tommy, who had rescued his parents from aliens at the age of three;[16]
  • a knitting needle used by Tommy's mother, then Ensign Gordon, to save Earth from aliens;[17]
  • an alien woman who appears in the Museum every few years in thanks for being saved by Alan Strange, a descendant of Adam Strange and his wife Alanna.[18]

Only one tale does not fit into the normal narrative sequence, when Tommy and two of his friends in the Interplanetary Boy Scouts, using the skills Tommy has learned from the heroic stories he has been told, rescue Earth from aliens bent on stealing all its energy, and also rescue the Space Museum, which has been stolen by them.[19]

Later appearances[edit]

It is eventually revealed that the founding of the Space Museum, on the site of an old Military Surplus warehouse where hundreds of years worth of space history has piled up, came about because Tommy's father was a Space Marine guard there, and he "liberated" some of the momentoes, keeping them in his military footlocker.[20] Because of his knowledge of space history, Tommy's father recognizes aliens who had attacked Earth before[21] trying again (by pretending to be scrap dealers and taking the artifacts from the warehouse to use as weapons against humanity). He is able to use the objects he has saved to stop the aliens, although demolishing the warehouse at the same time.[22] His earlier wish ("People in my time have become jaded, bored with space travel. If only they were exposed to the heroism of Earth's star-spanning pioneers, their sense of adventure might be awakened."[23]) is fulfilled when the military realize the value of "historical consciousness" and create the Space Museum on the site.

The Space Museum also figures prominently in the origin of the superhero Booster Gold.[24] In 2462[25] Michael Carter, a disgraced ex-football player is working as a night watchman in the Museum, and studies the history. He deactivates and steals Skeets, a robot Museum guard with an encyclopaedic knowledge of 20th century Earth history, together with an alien power suit, some power gloves and control bands, mystic power rods, a Legion Flight Ring, a forcefield belt, a credit card and other unspecified items from the displays, and escapes in Rip Hunter's Time Sphere, a time travel device from the 1960s, to journey back to the 1980s, become a superhero, and get rich and famous on the franchising opportunities.[26]

As an adult Tommy Parker took his own son Gordon to the Museum and told him a story of the exhibits,[27] something he had hoped for years before.[28] At some later point Ultra the Multi-Alien is known to have searched for the cosmic staff of Prince Gavin, Starman, as an artifact for the Museum.[29]

By 2984 the Space Museum has been renamed The Museum of Heroes and Legends, and has a whole wing dedicated to The Legion of Superheroes, as well as one to Earth's historical superheroes. That year one of the Dial H for Hero H-Dials is stolen from the museum by a petty crook while Chameleon Boy is attending a ceremony there. The villain escapes to 1984 with the help of the Dial, which is ripped to pieces by Krypto the Superdog before eventually being returned to the Museum in pieces by Chameleon Boy, where the Curator reveals they have another one.[30][31] The Museum appears to have been renamed the Time and History Museum some time later, and it is partly demolished by Xotar the Conqueror, a minor Justice League of America foe, on a mission to conquer the 30th century[32]

Other versions[edit]

In the non-continuity series Twilight by Howard Chaykin, in the 22nd century Karel Sorensen of the Star Rovers creates a Church in her name and headquarters it at the Space Museum.[33]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Booster Gold #6 (July 1986).
  2. ^ "From the Depths - The Secret Origin of Booster Gold," Secret Origins vol. 2 #35 (1988); Adventures of Superman #476 (March 1991); Booster Gold vol 2 #1, (October 2007) and others.
  3. ^ Unusually for comics of the day, Tommy ages almost in 'real time'; he has several named birthday visits to the Museum and is clearly drawn physically older in later issues.
  4. ^ Booster Gold #6 (July 1986).
  5. ^ The opening story of the series, "The World of Doomed Spacemen," Strange Adventures #104 (May 1959).
  6. ^ "The World of Doomed Spacemen," Strange Adventures #104 (May 1959).
  7. ^ "Secret of the Tick-Tock World," Strange Adventures #109 (October 1959).
  8. ^ "Revolt of the Spaceships," Strange Adventures #112 (January 1960).
  9. ^ "The Gem Invasion of Earth," Strange Adventures #115 (April 1960).
  10. ^ "The Billion-Year Old Spaceship," Strange Adventures #121 (October 1960).
  11. ^ "Earth Victory - By a Hair," Strange Adventures #124 (January 1961).
  12. ^ "The Toy Soldier War," Strange Adventures #130 (July 1961).
  13. ^ "The Immortal Spaceman!," Strange Adventures #133 (Oct 1961).
  14. ^ "Second-Best Spaceman!," Strange Adventures #136 (Jan 1962).
  15. ^ "Secret of the Energy Weapon!"," Strange Adventures #139 (Apr 1962).
  16. ^ "Prisoners of the Space Flowers," Strange Adventures #142 (July 1962).
  17. ^ "The Evolutionary Ensign of Space," Strange Adventures #148 (January 1963).
  18. ^ "Rescue By Moonlight," Strange Adventures #157 (October 1963).
  19. ^ "The Mass Energy Robbers of Space," Strange Adventures #145 (October 1962).
  20. ^ "The Startling Secret of The Space Museum," Secret Origins #50, (August 1990). Some of the relics he took are the same as referred to in the original Strange Adventures series - the contact lenses from "The World of Doomed Spacemen," Strange Adventures #104 (May 1959), the jewel from "Secret of the Space Jewel," Strange Adventures #106 (July 1959), the toy soldier from "Toy Soldier War," Strange Adventures #130 (July 1961) and the ray-gun from "Threat of the Planet Wreckers," Strange Adventures #118 (July 1960).
  21. ^ "Threat of the Planet Wreckers," Strange Adventures #118 (July 1960).
  22. ^ hence his nickname - General 'Wrecker' Parker.
  23. ^ "The Startling Secret of The Space Museum," Secret Origins #50, (August 1990).
  24. ^ "To Cross the Rubicon," Booster Gold #6 (July 1986).
  25. ^ this is around the time Tommy's visits to the Space Museum begin - he is specifically known to be aged about 15-16 in "Second-Best Spaceman," Strange Adventures #136 (January 1962) - which is dated to 2471, so would have been 6 or 7 in 2462. There is an oblique reference to Tommy in Booster Gold's origin in Booster Gold #6 July 1986 - "It was the enthusiasm of the children, I believe, on hearing tales of past adventures from their parents, that impressed Booster so deeply," coupled with frames showing a father and his young son going to the museum and looking at the exhibits.
  26. ^ Originally Dan Jurgens had planned to have Booster Gold as one of the custodians of the Superman Museum who went back in time to show Superman how he should be a super-hero, but John Byrne's revamp of the Superman character meant a different origin was required - "Secrets Behind the Origins," a text piece by Mark Waid in Secret Origins #35 (1986).
  27. ^ "The Secret That Time Forgot," Justice League of America #208.
  28. ^ "The Mass Energy Robbers of Space," Strange Adventures #145 (October 1962).
  29. ^ Starman vol 2, #55 (1999). Note: there is no clue as to where in DC continuity this James Robinson penned homage to the old Strange Adventures and Mystery in Space characters and stories fits.
  30. ^ New Adventures of Superboy #50 (February 1984) note: no longer part of DC Universe continuity since the ret-con removal of Superboy, but next year who knows!
  31. ^ A number of Internet sources state that The Time Trapper later either stole the second H-Dial, or it was stolen by Lori Morning of The Legion, however there does not appear to be any reference for this.
  32. ^ "When Robots Attack," Legionnaires #68 (Feb 1999) - in which the Museum is shown to contain some inaccurate replicas of the Metal Men - Tin is a dog (in a confusion with Rin Tin Tin), and Jay 'The Flash' Garrick is a member. It also exhibits Star Hawkins' robot assistant Ilda, both the Golden Age Robotman and the Doom Patrol's Robotman exoskeltons, one of the G.I. Robots from Weird War Tales, a Cyberman and a Dalek (from Doctor Who), and the power lantern of Alan Scott the original Green Lantern.
  33. ^ Twilight 1-3 (December 1990 - January 1991).
  • "A Series of Strange Adventures"," by DC Comics Editor Jack C. Harris, The Amazing World of DC Comics, #12 (July 1976) (DC Comics) (note: issue says August 1976 on cover, but July 1976 in indicia).
  • "A visit to the Space Museum" by Gleeson, Tony - article in Comic Book Marketplace #75 (Gemstone Publishing, January 2000).
  • Space Museum entry in "The Silver Age Companion" by Barr, Michael (TwoMorrows Publishing, 2007) ISBN 1-893905-81-0

External links[edit]