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The 1950s Science Fiction Podcast: S2 E6

Comic Review: Kenton of the Star Patrol.

By Edward GermanPublished 2 years ago 5 min read
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first issue.

Introduction:

Hello and welcome back to the podcast. I hope my show has been interesting to you so far, and you are a returning listener. Today's topic is Kenton of the Star Patrol. I discussed this pre-code comic hero who appeared in Stange Worlds comics in the early 50s; in episode 3, season 1 of the podcast. I will look at some of his stories and review each one. I recently downloaded a compilation of adventures in the digital comic museum; this will be my source material.

The Corsairs of the Coalsack.

The first adventure of Kenton of The Star Patrol appeared in the Avon comic Strange Worlds, published in November 1950. Kenton of the Star Patrol was the first story in issue #1 of Stange Worlds, created and written by John B. Michel, and drawn by Joe Kubert and Carmine Infantino. The protagonist is a space opera-type hero in the vein of Buck Rodges or Flash Gordon.

The story introduces the reader to Keyton and the future setting he resides. An introduction in the lower right of the first panel, I mention this in my previous podcast on comics. It goes like this.

Keyton is at a hotel when he receives his orders to operate undercover against space-faring pirates from the coal sack region of outer space, hence the name of the story. He explains his assignment to a female employee. Kenton has struck up a relationship with her and feels trustworthy toward her. Kenton believes that his superiours think he can seclude where others have failed by going undercover. However, the trusted friend brandishes a pistol and demands that Kenton hand over his identification. Kenton refuses her orders, and then he is shot, but it is not deadly; it renders him unconscious.

Kenton regains consciousness sometime later and reports the incident to his superiors. He is strongly reprimanded, and discharged from the Star Patrol. Despite the circumstances, Kenton decides to go it alone. Kenton steals a rocketship and heads off to the pirate's homeworld. Once there, he sees someone very familiar to him, the female bellhop who previously shot him with knock-out gas. He discovers that she now works as a dancer in a tavern frequented by the pirates. She gives Kenton a note to meet her after work in the back of the establishment, Kenton decides to meet with her. They meet each other in a back alleyway, and Kenton expresses how angry he is with her, even though she is grateful for his presence here.

The young woman introduces herself as Maeve Malloy, a space reporter working for an unnamed newspaper; yes, they still have newspapers in the future. Malloy explains to Kenton that she was working on finding the location of the corsair's home planet for her employer when she attacked him. She used his identification papers to travel to their homeworld and is now trapped there. She has learned where the pirates keep their force field generator. Maeve takes Kenton to its location, and using a ray pistol confiscated from a guard; he starts to destroy everything in sight. But, Kentons' use of force is short-lived when more corsairs storm the room and capture him. They take him prisoner and hold him in a dungeon-like jail. While Kenton awaits execution in the dungeon, the Star Patrol raids the planet and frees Kenton. Kenton had managed to sabotage the force field long enough to allow the Star Patrol to get through. Latter, Kenton is reinstated to the patrol and promoted to the rank of captain for his heroic efforts.

My thoughts.

Kenton of the Star Patrol is a juvenile science fiction/adventure series that provides an escapist fantasy for its readers. Contained in the story are the dashing hero and a damsel in distress. It was not uncommon for the time; to see this type of formula used in storytelling.

The comic is well drawn and inked with good life-like caricatures. The comic is an easy read as well. However, the comic is a product of its time and was produced cheaply as possible. I enjoyed reading the comic, and the artwork was excellent. Since it was a pre-code comic, there was more mature content than you would see until the adaption of the comics' code; by today's standards, it would be acceptable.

Now to the next comic.

The Alien Raiders.

Kenton's next adventure takes him to Uraiman mines on one of Saturn's moons. Aliens are raiding the moon for its ore and taking humans prisoner; no one knows why and the star patrol wants answers. Kenton receives a request to investigate the raiders by going undercover as a convict laborer.

The second story called, The Alien Raiders, was published in issue 3 of Strange Worlds comic in June 1951. Wally Wood worked as a principal artist for the star patrol segment.

This story is set within Earth's solar system on Titan, one of Saturn's multiple moons. An alien spaceship approaches Titian and uses a freeze ray to immobilize the security guards. Once they are out of the way, the aliens aided by their robots precede to take as much ore and prisoners as they want. The raids continue as the Star Patrol desperately defends Saturn's moons, even to the point where patrol ships are destroyed in battle.

Kenton's undercover assignment requires him to disguise himself as a convict laborer; he is transported to one of the mines to work like the rest of the prisoners. Kenton remarks how physically fit he is while working under the mine's harsh conditions. The rest of the miners are not so lucky even in the future, convicts are subject to severe conditions. Not long after his arrival, the raiders attack the mine Kenton is working. He pretends to be unconscious when taken aboard the raider's spaceship. Once inside he sneaks around the ship and discovers more information about the raiders. Kenton learns about the raider's plans to conquer the Earth and its origins.

The aliens have a special learning machine that implants knowledge instantly into the brain. After Kenton uses the device, he learns the alien raiders are from another Galaxy and using Pluto as a base. They need to use Uramaim ore for atomic weapons to use on Earth, thus the need for raids on Titian. Kenton also discovers another fact; the aliens are silicon-based lifeforms. As he is completing his research, an alien guard discovers him and tries to stop him. However, Kenton escapes from the ship and wanders around the city on Pluto where the ship has landed. He manages to find the city's air condition system and proceeds to increase the heat. Kenton raises the temperature so high that he almost dies from dehydration. In the aftermath, the inhabitants crystallize and die.

Conclusion:

This second story of the series was well written and fast-paced. However, unlike the first story, Kenton went undercover; there was no damsel in distress. The artwork was well-drawn for its time. The one thing that troubled me was that he killed all of the alien inhabitants in the city. Did Kenton commit genocide? I hope not.

This wraps it up for this podcast. I only covered the first two stories of the series, I will cover more in future shows. I hope to return sometime soon with a great topic. Please feel free to give me feedback at any time. Follow me on Twitter on Instagram

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About the Creator

Edward German

A long-time sci-fi fan who loves the internet. I am also writing on subjects other than sci-fi.

you can follow me on "X" @EdwardGerman3 Listen to my podcast The 1950s Science Fiction Podcast on Spotify for Podcasters.

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