This Used to Be the Future: Dead Reckoning!

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!

She was the kind of dame you knew would result in shots: bourbon, penicillin, gun. Why she would come to a two-bit blogger like me, who needed this case to keep the landlord from closing his site for another month, was a mystery I’d have to put on the back burner, because she was giving me a new mystery.

Ahem. Sorry. The mystery here is, which of Charlton’s comics was today’s hard-boiled noir story originally written for before it was given a sci-fi makeover for Space Adventures?

Our protagonist is Andor, a space traffic cop looking for excitement.

That “Squawkk!” isn’t an unfortunate bird, it’s Andor’s radio. Check out the sweet uniform he gets to wear!

As Andor sets his patrol ship on “self-control” and climbs down on a rope ladder, he hopes the call will be for something exciting, like “a good juicy murder!” Seems Andon’s read a few old detective novels and longs for that kind of adventure but alas, “that kind of stuff ended with the twentieth century!”

So instead, all he finds as he climbs in through the window of Number 10, Vector 2, is a stacked blonde dame with gams that don’t quit and her decrepit old sugar daddy employer, who is claiming she tried to kill him.

Old Man Precorpse hired her as a maid, but claims she tried to steal a map to where his treasure is. When he confronted her, she tried to shoot him, but he disarmed her. In her defense, the woman claims the old man beats her and feeds her poorly and, since he’s old and will die soon, she should have his treasure. It sure seems like both sides have a valid claim here! Old Man, your response?

Andor has to quickly take sides here and, as expected, opts not to ally with the ugly old man beating the woman with a whip. His response? He stone cold shoots the dude dead!

Yes, he’s decided that this woman holds the key to everything he wants: adventure, romance, money, and even a good juicy murder! They celebrate their partnership with a passionate kiss (still standing next to the old guy’s corpse) and we fade to black.

Now Andor has to figure out how to take advantage of all this without it looking suspicious. It’s going to take a pretty clever and intricate plan to…

…well, that’s done!

With his air patrol duties officially ditched, Andor is now free to chase after hidden treasures with Kyt (she’s finally given a name in one of the narration boxes), the woman of his dreams. He spends all of his last “centiles” on a rocket and the two make tracks for “Klaxon”, where the map she stole (huh!) says the treasure is. They share a delighted kiss and Andor makes an odd and probably not at all foreshadowing comment:

It takes two entire days to reach Klaxon, and Kyt spends most of the time scribbling in her diary. But eventually they land on the poorly-named quiet planet and start searching for the old man’s hiding spot.

They find the crystal spires, but before they start digging, Kyt has a surprise! You thought someone had forgotten to include booze in this gritty crime drama, but Kyt remembered!

(No lie, that is some ace artwork by Ditko there.)

They embrace in a kiss and Andor, knife in hand, literally stabs Kyt in the back. Despite all his thought-balloons to the contrary, it wasn’t her he wanted all along, he was just after the treasure! As her lifeless body slumps to the ground, Andor once again tastes her fabulous lipstick. As he does so, his throat begins burning and he becomes weak.

The lipstick! It was poisoned!

As he falls to the ground lifeless he lands next to her diary, open to reveal this shocking and completely unpredictable entry:

There’s an important lesson to be learned here, kids. If they had simply agreed to share the treasure belonging to the guy they murdered, there wouldn’t be this unpleasantness. Poisoned lipstick and knives in the back are no match for friendship and sharing!

“Dead Reckoning!”
Space Adventures #11 (May-June 1954)
Writer: unknown
Penciler: Steve Ditko
Inker: Steve Ditko
Editor: Alfred Fago

(Thanks to Andrew Weiss for his help!)

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