Krypto. Streaky. Topo. Ace the Bat-Hound. Pieface. These are the pet sidekicks that we have all come to know and love. But did you know that Space Cabby briefly had a pet sidekick?
As you can see, Gabby is a remarkable creature! So remarkable, in fact, that the guy in the back seat offers to buy it, but Space Cabby ain’t selling. Not even for a “solid-gold asteroid!” What makes the be-antennaed bird so valuable? It’s a long trip, so SC is gonna tell you, whether you want to hear about it or not!
It all started when Space Cabby got a call from a dude on Saturn, who needs a ride in a hurry. SC puts on the speed, and even takes a short-cut through Cassini’s Division* to save time. In the gap, he sees a strange glowing cloud, but he decides to take a chance and zip through it at top speed.
Soon afterwards, he gets stopped at the Space Customs Station. It seems that his cab is now glowing, and highly radioactive! And what’s worse:
The customs officer explains SCIENCE! to Space Cabby: “As a ‘carrier’, you radiate rays OUTWARD, not INWARD!” So while he’s perfectly fine, he’s a menace to all other sentient life. (Next issue: Mystery of the Guy Who Took a Cab From Saturn and Then Dropped Dead a Few Days Later and So Did His Wife.) The Space Customs Service, a division of Spaceland Security, thus bar Space Cabby from landing on any civilized planet. Yes, they have that power!
He finds himself a lonely asteroid with food, water, air, and animal life, and settles down for a life of eternal solitude. He grows a beard, finds a wooden staff, and wears animal skins (complete with corsair boots like primitive men wore) and starts making friends with the wildlife.
It’s while out riding some kind of lizard that travels a hundred yards with each hop that Space Cabby first notices Gabby’s uncanny and unerring sense of time and distance. And soon afterwards he notices something else: even though he’s been hanging around all these critters for a while, none of them have been harmed by his radioactivity! Something on the asteroid must be keeping it in check!
Our hero devises a simple testing method. He goes into a dark cave (where he can see himself glowing) and holds various minerals and plants near him to see if they have any effect! (Before he does this, he locks Gabby in a cage outside to keep the bird’s chattering from distracting him. Gabby responds to this with “Sabotage!” I don’t think that word means what you think it means, Gabby!)
Nothing seems to have the effect! And yet he knows there must be something! But what? WHAT?
While he puzzles this, a spaceship comes close to the asteroid. Space Cabby tries to warn the pilot away with a giant flaming message, “DANGER! DON’T LAND! RADIOACTIVE POISON!” but the pilot, looking at the messenger’s scraggly beard and primitive fur outfit, assumes that Space Cabby actually found a valuable gold strike on the asteroid and is trying to keep it all to himself! SC sends Gabby up to the ship with a message explaining that his master is radiating deadly rays, but the pilot doesn’t buy it. “Then why aren’t YOU dead?” he asks the talking bird.
Finally our contaminated Cabby is able to convince this guy of the danger by standing in the mouth of a dark cave so that deadly radiation’s telltale glow can be seen.
As the guy flies away, the weight of Space Cabby’s exile returns to him. Not even Gabby, flying into the cave to comfort him, can make him feel better. Except…wait a minute! Once again, Space Cabby has been oblivious to something right under his nose all along!
And that’s how Space Cabby met his beloved pet sidekick, Gabby! Ever since then, the two have been completely inseparable!
Ha! I kid. Gabby never appears again. I assume Space Cabby sold him to pay off gambling debts.
If this story seems familiar to you, it could be because it was collected in DC Comics’ Mystery in Space trade paperback, which makes it the second Space Cabby story I ever read. As you can imagine, I highly recommend this collection if you like this kind of story!
Next week: Search for the Space Sparklers!
“The Robinson Crusoe of Space!”
Mystery in Space #30 (February-March 1956)
Writer: Otto Binder
Penciler: Gil Kane
Inker: Bernard Sachs
Editor: Julius Schwartz
Table of Contents
* – Educational!