Welcome to the exciting world of The Future! I’m your host, Dave Lartigue, and 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!
You know, sometimes, when we think of “history”, it’s just another war, another conqueror, another military hero. We focus so much on these things that we lose sight of other things. Things like…what kind of guns did they use? This tale serves to fill that void and gives you the story behind the S-64: the gun that, to quote the narrator, “enabled Earthmen to spread their power and influence throughout the habitable universe!”
In the 23rd Century, the S-64 is your go-to weapon for colonization, octupus-removal, and diplomacy:
Honestly, the only thing stopping the S-64 is that it needs a human to carry it around. But tragically, nobody remembers who the hero who invented this incredible killing device was! And we call ourselves patriots.
Turns out it was a fellow named Mark Saunders. THE END!
Ha! Just kidding. Let’s find out more about Saunders!
In 2218 Mark Saunders is just a fresh-faced science academy graduate with a dream — a dream of disintegrating things! He hates integration! Science says it’s impossible, but Mark knows it can be done! He and his blushing bride, Helen, head for Venus to work on his gun together in solitude (this is not a euphemism.)
For five long years they have a bunch of failure parties as each model doesn’t disintegrate, merely disappoints. But Mark keeps trying, suspecting the problem is that the heavy radium just isn’t pure enough!
As he’s finishing up prototype number 64…
Good grief, a Venusian trying to make time with his best girl! Mark won’t stand for that! He points the gun at the beast, pulls the trigger, and there’s a powerful, virile, life-eradicating sound!
The fire-dragon disappears, and Mark’s heart swells at the thought of all the things he can now make cease to exist! The 64 is incredible! He can return to Earth a hero! Maybe they’ll give him a Nobel Peace Prize!
However, when he gets to Earth, things aren’t so rosy. It turns out Mark isn’t the only guy who’s been working on this project. Like perpetual-motion machines, cars that run on water, or blankets with sleeves, disintegrator rays have been a hobby of cranks and fools for some time. He just can’t seem to convince any manufacturers that the gun in his hand, which, when fired, will destroy any object, actually works!
Well, Mark Saunders isn’t a genius for no reason! If he can’t convince the manufacturers with a personal, up front demonstration he’ll do the next best thing!
A staged public demonstration! Ha! I’d like to see a scam artist try THAT!
But tragedy strikes! The day of the demonstration, the gun is stolen! Mark has got to get his invention back before the show, but how? Luckily, the gun is just dripping with radioactivity from all the pure heavy radium. He can use an alpha-counter to follow the radiation trail to the culprit, which leads him to:
A Martian! On Earth! Where they’re “absolutely forbidden”! And planning jihan…er…an attack! Until now the Martian invasion of Earth had been held back by the days-old rumored existence of a single gun that nobody believed existed or was even possible to create and now that gun has fallen into their hands! And right now it’s pointed at Mark! Is this the end of our intrepid inventor?
Nope, because before the Martian can fire a shot it drops dead! Remember all that radiation? Well if you aren’t wearing lead-lined gloves when you hold the gun, you’re a goner! That’s how deadly Mark’s gun is — it can kill you without firing a shot!
Still, the word has been given and the invasion is on! Mark knows that “our nation is totally unprepared” so he’s got to take care of this himself! He finds a group of Martians and demands they surrender. When they don’t, POP! goes their spaceship. For some reason this just enrages the Martians and they close in on Mark, giving him no choice but to…
Meanwhile at the stadium, a capacity crowd is getting angry that the amazing gun is a no-show. Dammit, these people of the future came to see a killing demonstration and they won’t be satisfied unless they get one! In the nick of time Mark, having been slightly delayed from single-handedly foiling a Martian invasion, shows up and disintegrates all sorts of things for the cheering crowd.
The public is convinced of the power of this amazing new weapon and before long “the nation” goes about mass-producing and deploying this scientific wonder. Presumably, soon afterwards the now-singly-ruled Earth then starts taking it off-planet!
And that, children, is the story of how one incredible man gave our nation the power to remove from existence anyone who would dare oppose us!
“The Secret Story of Ray-Gun 64!”
Mystery in Space #5 (DC, December-January 1952)
Writer: John Broome (as John Osgood)
Penciler: Frank Giacoia
Inker: Joe Giella
Editor: Julius Schwartz