You all know I’m a big fan of Space Cabby, DC’s
most second-most very somewhat popular space character. I like the simple idea behind him: he’s a cab driver…in space! What’s his name? Space Cabby! (Well, sometimes it’s Space Cabbie.)
Surprisingly, not a whole lot of people know about the history of this enigmatic character, so I’m starting a new weekly feature:
I’m going to recount all the adventures of Space Cabby, starting from the first one, which is from Mystery in Space #21, dated Aug-Sep 1954.That story is called, appropriately enough, “Space-Taxi!”
As you can see, this first story is not only about Space Cabbie, but he also seems to be related to Mr. Mxyzptlk.
Our tale begins with Space Cabbie picking up a fare who wants to go to Paris. Paris, France? Paris, Texas? Oh no, Paris, Mercury! Remember, he’s a SPACE Cabbie! Jetting around the nine planets and such is everyday life in the year 2154!
One day our hero is leaving Marsport when a voice from the back of the cab asks to go to Titan, the main moon of Saturn. But there’s nobody there!
That’s the Space Cab, but don’t get used to it.
The fare turns out to be one Vugga Vott, a Martian who’s perfected a suit that allows him to become invisible, but only for an hour (his cosmis-ray battery doesn’t last longer than that.) Space Cabbie takes him to Titanopolis, but when he gets there, Vugga Vott turns invisible and stiffs the Cabbie!
However, before he can track down Vott, this fellow hops in:
(For my readers who live in the Asteroids, please don’t take offense; this story was written in a very different time.)
So Vott gets away. When, over the next few days, reports come in of robberies all over Saturn’s moons — robberies in which there are no eye-witnesses — Space Cabbie knows that Vugga Vott is using his invisible suit for the most futuristic type of crime: space crime! Space Cabbie knows that he should not try to pursue a dangerous criminal by himself — he’s just a cab driver, for goodness’ sake! — so he reports what he knows to the Interplanetary Police.
So now he’s forced to somehow bring the crook in himself! He hears a report on the space-video news that the crook’s targets so far have been Titan, Tethys, Rhea, Phoebe, Mimas, and Japetus, but have no idea where he’ll strike next! But Space Cabbie seems to know, and makes tracks for the moon of Hyperion!
Space Cabbie waits outside the First Interplanetary Bank on Hyperion until someone gets in his cab and asks to be taken to Mars. (“And jet it up!” he says, and I guess my understanding of how that word works in this world isn’t completely correct.) When SC looks to see the fare, there’s no one there! And that makes him happy! He figured Vott would rob the biggest bank on Hyperion and then look for the quickest getaway — this cab! As he says to himself, “Nobody outsmarts this hackie!”
Vugga Vott plans on stranding Space Cabbie on a deserted meteor and has that ray gun to help him get the job done, when suddenly he hears gunfire coming from behind the cab! The Interplanetary Police! (Nope, it’s the cab backfiring again!) He turns to look and Space Cabbie, figuring out where Vott’s head is by the position of the non-invisible gun, clocks him one good across what he assumes is the Martian’s chin. When Vott’s cosmis-ray battery runs out, Space Cabbie sees that he missed the chin and blacked the unconscious criminal’s eye instead!
SC takes him back to the Interplanetary Police, but by the time he gets there, the cosmis-ray batteries have recharged and Vott is invisible again! Carrying the crook, he runs into a cell and yells for the police to lock the door behind them. They think he’s nuts, so they’re only to happy to oblige. After an hour, lo, Vugga Vott reappears, along with his stolen loot. SC is exonerated! (And, being a cabbie first and foremost, he reminds the cops that Vott owes him 180 zuppolas (Martian money) for the original fare!) Much to his delight, he not only gets the 180 Zs, but he also gets a reward of 2500 zuppolas for catching the crook!
But first, the Interplanetary Police have a question. How did Space Cabbie know that after robbing Titan, Tethys, Rhea, Phoebe, Mimas, and Japetus Vugga Vott would head for Hyperion next? How about it, reader? Do YOU know?
Well it was obvious to our hero that Vott wasn’t working the moons in alphabetical order, or in order of distance from Saturn. That only left one other logical pattern to the crimes!
Of course! It all makes sense now!
So there you have it…the very first appearance of this fan-favorite* character! Although there will be some modifications in the stories to come, this story sets everything up perfectly…he’s a cabbie…in space! And he has adventures!
Join us next week for: “Hitchhiker of Space!”
Mystery in Space #21 (September, 1954)
Writer: Otto Binder
Penciler: Howard Sherman
Inker: Howard Sherman
Editor: Julius Schwartz
Table of Contents
* — I’m a fan and he’s my favorite, so jet off!