Here's the first issue of a comic book that never had a second. Written by the prolific Walter Gibson (he of The Shadow fame) and drawn by Gene Fawcette, Robotmen of the Lost Planet* has an odd little charm to it that is not diminished by poor editing. The tale is told in three chapters.
The time is the future. Humans have gone soft. All work is done by robots -- queer looking things made of synthetic flesh with a giant egg-like head the size of a human body. The robots have even taken over the production of new robots.
Our hero, Alan Arc, is celebrating his wedding to the beautiful Nara when he receives word that his father wishes to speak to him. Alan's father is worried about the robots; he wants Alan and Nara to come with him to inspect a robot manufacturing site. He hands Alan some papers, saying that they were the plans for making weapons -- if anything should happen to him. The robots will only let Alan's father into the site, so Alan and Nara wait outside only to soon see his father being thrown to his death by a robot. They run to the emperor (a fat, do-nothing glutton) to warn them that something is up with the robots. That's when the robots get a worldwide signal to attack, massacring most of humanity. Alan, Nara, and a few survivors manage to escape and hide out in a remote cave.
Some wedding day, huh?
A few words about Nara's inconsistent clothing. She is basically wearing a blue sleeveless dress that come down to just above her knees. In one panel, this inexplicably becomes a blue one-piece bathing suit. In another panel,the dress is no longer sleeveless. In yet another panel, someone forgot to color the dress. I found the whole thing disconcerting. Also, in one panel Alan is shirtless while in every other panel he wears a green short-sleeved shirt, unbuttoned at the neck. The robots wear red pants or red shorts, depending on their mood. I guess. Or, perhaps their status. It's something to make me wonder if they have robot genitalia that they want to cover.
Fast forward five years. Alan and Nara are still in the cave, which they have turned into a crude laboratory where Alan is trying to create the synthetic flesh used on the robots. It's his hope to eventually disguise himself as a robot using the flesh and to spy on his enemies. Alan and Nara now have a son, a cute curly-haired four-year-old named Laurie. Being cave-bound, Laurie has never seen a robot and has no fear of them. Alan disguises himself as a robot (big head and all) and infiltrates the robot manufacturing facility. There, he discovers that the robots are embedding nerve ganglia into their bodies in an effort to become more human-like. Why? Who knows? But the robots are no longer invincible -- they can feel pain.
A few more brief words about sartorial choices. Now that they are cavemen (and women), are now dressed in fur, flintstones-like, with an over the shoulder look for the men and a sleeveless look for the women and briefs for Laurie (who appears to be the only kid around). In a couple of panels, Nara is back to her blue one-piece swimsuit -- At least when the remember to color it. Fashion is confusing in the ost-apocalyptic world.
Another five years have past to get us to the third chapter. Now the cave are all filled with fancy electronic equipment. The caves are wired for electricity although is is uncertain how it is generated. But, who cares? Mankind is ready to strike back! Little Laurie wanders off from the cave and encounters some robots. (Laurie may be nine now, but methinks his brain has stopped developing at four.) Laurie shoots at them with a toy gun. Or is it? The robots run off in fear and soon report to their leader, The Great Master, AA-Plus Robot. Anyway, this sets up the scene for the final confrontation.
Who will win? Mankind, who has just dragged itself from savagery in just ten years? Or the murderous evil robots who, while hating humans, are trying to be more like them?
One final fashion note. Laurie had grown out of his fur briefs. He now wears a complete little boy outfit -- normal shirt, shorts, shoes... Everybody else is still wearing the Flintstone outfits. Lucky Laurie!
This issue also contains a onus story, "Cargo from Mars." Strange things are happening at the North Pole Beacon Lighthouse and immigration officer George La Grange is sent to investigate. There he stumbles upon a blind Earth-girl "clad in the costume of the Martian-Valley country." And, yeah, he also stumbles upon danger.
Enjoy Robotmen of the Lost Planet #1 and weep that there never a Robotmen of the Lost Planet #2.
* BTW, we are never told why Earth is a "Lost Planet." Nor, I suppose, do we need to know why.