Some have referred to space as a frontier. The final one, if you think about it. And like the frontier it’s filled with excitement and opportunity but also danger and lawlessness. This is a roundabout way of saying that you can go ahead and mark the “space crooks” square on your Space Cabby Bingo card.
But I’m jumping ahead. We start off with some of that crazy music the kids all seem to be into these days.
There’s only one thing to do with a dead battery. Space Cabby pulls over and signals the SSS — the Solar Spaceship Service — who come out to fix space-motorists in trouble!
Usually the SSS takes for-freakin-ever to answer a distress call, but Space Cabby lucks out when their ship shows up only one panel later!
SC turns off the SSS signal and takes a moment to marvel at the SSS guy’s back-end emissions.
The SSS leave, and, unbeknownst to SC, it turns out they’re actually — hold on to your hats, folks, you’re never going to believe this — space criminals! Believe me, I’m just as shocked as you are! The “mechanic” reveals that he connected the battery wires “any old way” to get Space Cabby to turn off the SSS signal and leave.
Our hero finds out about this nearly immediately when a “space dust storm” makes him turn on his windshield wipers — which proceed to wipe so fast they start to wear through the glass! Fortunately Space Cabby is able to turn them off in time! When he turns on his heater, it gives off so much cold, icicles form in the cab! And when he jams on his “electronic brakes” to pick up a fare, he starts to “skid all over”.
After his turn signal malfunctions, nearly causing him to collide with a freighter in the crowded confines of interplanetary space, he radios to explain, but the freighter crew isn’t concerned. They have problems of their own, as they’ve been robbed by space-bandits disguised as…yep, an SSS ship! Promising a free engine inspection, they were let on board, where they stole a whole load of jewels from the Martian mines — and didn’t even so much as glance at the engines! As Space Cabby puts two and two together, the bandits lay out their scheme.
Little do they know, that same super-octane gas leaves an exhaust of “radioactive-glowing atoms” that Space Cabby can easily follow! The trail leads past Saturn, and when that planet’s gravitational force starts to affect the cab, SC turns on the “anti-gravitator”…which of course malfunctions due to the atomic battery tampering. Only a narrow escape through Cassini’s Division (* Editor’s Note: A gap between two of Saturn’s rings!) prevents the cab from being crushed by the rings’ moonlets! This only intensifies his desire to catch those crooks.
However, the criminals have other plans.
Space Cabby lands and, forgetting that these guys are villains, I guess, falls for their “trap”. They push him over and steal his cab to make their escape. But speaking of forgetting things, there’s one thing these guys should have kept in mind:
Hoist, they are! By their own petard! They finally manage to land the wacky cab and Space Cabby takes them prisoner with a ray gun he suddenly has. One quick call to Ippy and he’s now 500 reward credits richer! Which only leaves one matter unaddressed…calling the REAL SSS to fix his space taxi!
Next week: Through the Time Barrier!
“Trail of the Glowing Atoms!”
Mystery in Space #38 (June-July 1957)
Writer: Otto Binder
Penciler: Gil Kane
Inker: Joe Giella
Editor: Julius Schwartz
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