This Used to Be the Future: The Second Deluge

Welcome to the exciting world of The Future! I’m your host, Dave Lartigue, and each Wednesday I’ll be taking you on an exciting and educational journey into the time to come! Sit back, pull up a cosmo chair, pour a space drink, and enjoy!

Today’s story takes place in 2050. Sort of. It’s narrated by someone in the year 2050, but he’s talking about events that occurred in the 70s. Either way, it was written in 1950, so we’re good.

You recall how, as population increased, fresh water became more and more scarce, until, by the year 1970, all water is heavily rationed and science is desperate to find new sources of what we might call “drinkable oil”!

One scientist, Dr. John Marquait, thinks he might have a solution!

Dr. Marquait has a simple plan: blow up a hydrogen bomb in the atmosphere. The hydrogen released (because a hydrogen bomb is, of course, full of hydrogen) will combine with the oxygen to form H2O, or water! It’s pure genius!

Unfortunately, the Water Emergency Commission feels this plan is too risky, and sends him back home with his hydrogen bombs. He leaves, muttering about “short-sighted fools”, and heads for his local high-altitude helicopter dealer. Being a fearless man of science, he detonates a hydrogen bomb in the upper atmosphere with it, somehow survives, and soon…

What a great story! Planet needs rain, man bombs sky, rain falls! That’s about as happy an ending as you could want! But we still have six pages to go.

See, because it doesn’t stop raining. For weeks. It seems that Marquait’s bomb caused a chain reaction that will make the rain continue until “all the water in the atmosphere is exhausted!” The entire Earth will be flooded!

People are not happy about this.

Marquait’s assistant hides him from enraged citizens at his place in New Jersey while emergency plans are drawn up. Plans for — what else? — arks!

As you all know, New York City is situated at 1200 feet below sea level, which is why a sequence involving an ark rescuing people from the top of the Empire State Building minutes before it is completely submerged is followed by Marquait, Dennis, and Marquait’s daughter running out of their New Jersey bungalow into a waiting “aluminum ark” (also known as a “boat”).

The rain continues and the waters rise and rise. The Atlantic and Pacific Oceans meet somewhere in Kansas, and all trace of un-arked humanity disappears beneath the waves.

Then, one day…

The same egghead scientists who said that detonating a hydrogen bomb in the atmosphere was “risky” now claim it will takes ages for the waters to recede. With food supplies dwindling, what will the arkonauts do?

Dr. Marquait, despairing of his potential murder of two billion people, is despondent, until…

This gives Dr. Marquait another fantastic idea! They head to the waters above New York City and put on diving suits. The city has been utterly transformed!

And what is Dr. Marquait’s goal? Why, another hydrogen bomb from his supply, of course! Because what else could the situation possibly call for?

They grab one from the merely flooded, not submerged, storeroom, and bring it back to their boat.

Marquait orders them to go back out to where they saw the steam, and heads down underwater with the bomb in his arms.

Sure enough, the bomb does the trick, and soon all the excess water — and only the excess water — is converted to steam and sent back into the atmosphere! The arks return to land and as some unnamed passenger disembarks he declares, “We’ll clean the mud away — and begin life in our cities again!”

The story closes with an image of a monument built to the heroic Dr. Marquait, who blasted his way into our hearts. He has taught us all a valuable lesson: When all you have is a bunch of hydrogen bombs, every problem looks like something that needs to be blown up with a hydrogen bomb!

“The Second Deluge”
Strange Adventures #1 (DC Comics, August-September 1950)
Writer: Gardner Fox
Penciler: Jim Mooney
Inker: Sy Barry
Editor: Julius Schwartz

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2 Responses to This Used to Be the Future: The Second Deluge

  1. Sniffnoy says:

    I think I’m mostly confused by the idea that nobody would have ever detonated a hydrogen bomb before 1970…

  2. I think that, even after all these years of reading the comics internet, I have never seen anything crazier than this.