So far Space Cabby’s adventures have ranged from dealing with space criminals to encountering scientists with bizarre inventions. And back. And forth. Repeat. Last week we had a scientist, so this week we get crooks. Who says the Silver Age wasn’t wildly inventive and unpredictable?
The story begins with Space Cabby singing the praises of the “well-marked space thruway”, which he claims to always use, since it avoids all space hazards. So, clearly we all just imagined those hazard-filled trips he’s made before.
But the Rocketbahn isn’t without problems of its own.
After dropping this guy off SC picks up another fare, headed to Neptune. But as luck would have it, this passenger isn’t in a hurry, and would like Space Cabby to take him through the back roads!
(Let me comment on something before we proceed. This story is from 1958, and the Eisenhower Interstate System broke ground in 1956, so the idea of dedicated routes for long-distance travel was fairly new. Space Cabby here is lamenting the rise of I-40 and I-55 and the fall of Route 66, as hinted at in his dialogue.)
So Space Cabby and his fare head for Route 88, where they take in all the wonders it has to offer. So many wonders, in fact, that I can’t choose just one to show you, so you get the full montage:
The panoramic wonder of the space billboards doesn’t keep Space Cabby from noticing a spacemobile that’s been following him ever since he left Earth. And, sure enough, just as he moves to shake it,
It doesn’t take long for SC to figure out the plan, largely because it’s pretty much identical to one in a previous story: car full of loot, safe getaway, don’t try to get Ippy’s attention or I’ll blow your jetting head off.
His first attempt to attract attention is pretty solid. He stops at an asteroid gas station which, due to its atmosphere being filled with static electricity, requires spacecraft to glide down instead of using rockets. The following spacemobile is unaware of this, but oh no! The gas station has recently installed an anti-static machine, which means that rule no longer applies!
For his next trick he purposely backfires his atomic motor in order to produce “sooty exhaust smoke”. Why?
But his engine isn’t the only thing that backfires: the thick black smoke makes the whirlwind visible and the criminals easily avoid it.
His third idea is…well, I’ll let him tell you what it is:
The guy with the gun is neither stupid nor deaf and informs Space Cabby that he cut the wires to the radio, so there’s no audience for this little performance.
They make it to a remote moon where the criminals’ hideout is. Space Cabby is locked up in a wooden shack, no doubt to be executed gangland style. But before that can happy, an Ippy Squad Ship descends on the place! After a brief gunfight the criminals are apprehended and Space Cabby is congratulated on his plan. Whuuu?
So it turns out that the crook, by disabling the radio, sealed his own fate! Space Cabby never even heard the SOS! Ha ha stupid crook!
Ippy hauls away the criminals and Space Cabby has learned a valuable lesson: always stick to the main roads even if they don’t have awesome billboards to keep you awake.
Next week: Menace of the Space-Nectar!
“Follow the Space-Leader!”
Mystery in Space #42 (February-March 1958)
Writer: Otto Binder
Penciler: Gil Kane
Inker: Bernard Sachs
Editor: Julius Schwartz
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