Mystery In Space #63: "The Weapon That Swallowed Men!"

Mystery In Space #63
"The Weapon That Swallowed Men!"
November, 1960

Story By: Gardner Fox
Art By: Carmine Infantino & Murphy Anderson

On his latest trip to Rann, Adam Strange knows the bitter taste of
failure!  For the first time, the Earthman has been beaten by an alien
threat to his adopted world.  Even in defeat, Adam must find a way to
save Alanna and her people from... "The Weapon That Swallowed Men!" 

Deep in the jungles of Peru, Adam Strange rockets towards an ancient
Incan temple.  He waits for the Zeta Beam which will carry him 25
trillion miles to Rann.  Three...two... one... Zero!  Now on the planet,
Adam is greeted by Alanna, who has been counting the minutes since their
last meeting.  As they soar towards the main city of Ranagar, Adam
expresses curiosity towards the earlier civilizations on Rann.

The following day finds the couple exploring the ruins at Sumuru.  This
was the first city built on Rann -- by a reptilian race.  As they pass
the remains of a stone fountain, an emergency alert sounds for them to
return to the capital city.  Now in Ranagar, Adam and Alanna learn about
the aliens who have arrived on the planet, and are asked to meet with
them.  The Earthling and Rannian learn that the aliens want them to
surrender, but are also aware that the inhabitants would want to fight
against such an invasion.  The aliens are confident that their vacuumizer
weaponry will handle any threat.  Their attack on the capital city of
Ranagar will occur at dawn.

At dawn, the fighting army of Ranagar are lead by Adam and Alanna, who
plan to outflank, and catch the aliens in a crossfire.  One of the aliens
presses the control on a vacuumizer weapon, with suction waves striking
the fighting warriors, who begin to dissolve before their very eyes.  The
ray-guns prove useless against the aliens, while more of the Ranagarians
are dissolved.  Alanna is struck by the suction waves and begins to turn
into a type of gas.

Adam Strange is the next one to be struck by the alien weapon... and
moments later, the aliens begin their march on Ranagar.  With the
soldiers gone, the elder statesmen realize that further resistance is
futile.  Unbeknownst to them, the Zeta-Beam radiation has worn off, and
the Earthman has been returned to Earth in one piece.  Now in the
tropics, Adam must wait nine days for the next Zeta Beam to strike, and
think of a way to defeat the aliens.

Nine days pass... Four...Three...Two...One...Zero!  Now back on Rann,
Adam sees a strange but familiar sight.  The city of Ranagar and its
inhabitants are nowhere to be found.  Hearing a cry from behind him, Adam
whirls to find Alanna running towards him.  She tells him that the aliens
have taken Ranagar to their own planet, but left the inhabitants behind.
The vacuumizers had changed their molecular structure into a gaseous
form, then stored in their tanks.  After the surrender, the aliens
restored them to their rightful form, and converted Ranagar to a gaseous

The aliens are long-lived and become bored with their lifestyle after a
time.  They steal the cities from other worlds to reside in.  Left
without a city to live in, Alanna and her people must now live like cave
people.  She sees little hope in regaining their city.  Adam has found a
way to overcome the effects of the vacuumizer weaponry.  The inhabitants
are gathered and listen as the Earthman tells them how their ray-guns
were not affected by the weapons.  The device had been adjusted to
dissolve the carbon of their bodies, not the metal of their belt buckles.
In order to overcome the vacuumizer, they must coat themselves with
several metals, and be able to meet the aliens at hand-to-hand range.
The next days find the Ranagarians being trained in Earth-fighting
techniques, while the aliens are gathering the other cities on Rann.

The attack begins when Adam leads his armored army across the open ground
towards the waiting aliens.  The vacuumizers are raised, then aimed at
the oncoming troops from Ranagar.  Even at full power, the soldiers are
not dissolved.  The aliens see that the Ranagarians have coated
themselves with liquid iron.  The vacuumizers are activated once more,
but the Ranagarians still continue forward.  Beneath their iron coating
is another with tin.  The weapons are adjusted once again, with the tin
coating dissolved, and the advancing army now covered in copper.  Beneath
the copper removed by the vacuumizer is gold... Twenty yards are between
the Ranagarians and the aliens.  As they close in, the golden armor is
gone, now replaced by cobalt, then barium.  This is their final coasting
and now the Ranagarians are ready to fight with their bare hands.

Now at close range, Adam and the soldiers are able to sever the
connections on the vacuumizers, and see how the aliens are good at
fighting without their weapons.  Without their weaponry, the aliens
surrender, and agree to return all of the stolen cities. After a day and
a night, Ranagar is returned to its rightful state and place on Rann.
Alanna is about to give Adam her -- personal thanks... but her sweetheart
has already vanished back to Earth.  She promises that next time --
she'll be waiting for him with a great big kiss for him.

This story was reprinted in Strange Adventures #224 (May - June, 1970).

The Atomic Knights adventure, "The Attack of The Giant Dogs!" is also
reprinted in this issue.

"The Weapon That Swallowed Men" looks a lot like an earthly vacuum

Time stands still for Adam and Alanna when they are together on Rann.

The aliens have rectangular stone heads, wear blue tank tops, with black
pants, and boots.

I guess that the various metals are far more plentiful on Rann than they
are on Earth.

With Alanna waiting for him on Rann, I'm sure that Adam will be counting
the seconds for the next Zeta Beam, and that great big kiss.

In the Spotlight On...Strange Adventures letters page, Carl Gafford of
New Milford, Conn. writes:

"Dear Editor,

I have been an Adam Strange fan for years: in fact, I started my comics
reading with Flash and Adam Strange.  Over the years, my collection was
lost - but now that I am a working student, I have been able to rebuild
my old collection, and now have over half the Mystery In Space issues you
edited (plus the Showcases) in the three months that I have put any
effort to my collection.  It really is great to look back at "Planet that
Came to a Standstill" and "Invisible Raiders of Rann" as a FAN, able to
truly appreciate those great Adam Strange works, than as the READER I

That is why I greeted Strange Adventures #222 with mixed emotions.  It
was great to see Adam Strange in action again, but this latest version
left some things to be desired, while giving us new things to think

First off: "Beyond the Wall of Death" is an "untold" story of Adam
Strange.  Alanna still has the costume worn in the early issues' stories
which you reprinted (no doubt on your part to increase continuity).  As
you know, Alanna got a new costume in Mystery In Space #88 ("Robot Wraith
of Rann" - as yet un-reprinted.)  So if you want "Beyond the Wall of
Death" to be as recent as possible, it must take place between MIS #87
("The Super-Brain of Adam Strange") and MIS #88.

Second: Art.  Art is one of the things that made Adam Strange
outstanding. First it was Mike Sekowsky at his best, then Carmine
Infantino doing veritable wonders of mood and effect.  After that...
well, you can't win 'em all.  I find that I must present several
"extenuating circumstances" on behalf of Gil Kane for his latest work.
First, he had not drawn Adam for nearly ten years, and he had a hard act
to follow.  Even though the art was good, the figures were much too loose
and figures jumping out of panels didn't "fit" the Adam Strange we all
knew and loved.  Although Gil's work was good, it could've been better.
(One thing I did miss in the art was the rocket flames from the jet-packs
of Adam and the Ranagarians.  This was a personal touch by Infantino, to
make the jet stream long and supple like the living thing, and the
wearer's legs gracefully out of the way.  When you looked at them, you
knew they were flying!) 

Third: Cover.  It was atrocious!  The Reekan chieftain was
misproportioned.  Alanna looked like her spine had been snapped, and Adam
was in an awkward position that had practically nothing to do what with
what happened on the inside.  Remember when the cover design was always
redone inside as a part of the story?  Now that was the epitome of
continuity, and an interesting contest to look for the cover in the
story.  It was one of the little things that added up to make Adam
Strange the most original and best series ever!

Fourth: Inking.  Murphy Anderson's inks were too loose in most places:
and it would've helped Kane's pencils if the inks were as tight as they
were in Green Lantern #73.

Fifth: Story.  Not bad.  Denny O'Neil has at least managed to keep to the
old format.  A little clumsy in some parts, but that can be accounted for
by his lack of experience.  Denny brought in two elements that were not
part of the old Adam Strange series: the "great powers" that Sardath and
Alanna mentioned, and Sardath's own large role.  For some time I've been
wondering if Rann DID have a religion, and if so, what kind?

Did I like SA #222?  Well, I'm not sure.  As a first effort, it wasn't
bad, though it doesn't live up to all the old Adam Strange standards.  It
presented new things, obscured others, and the art did not have the extra
effort that the old staff put into it.  SA #222 was ALMOST equal to the
early Mystery In Space adventures.  And despite the fact that I tore you
guys down for the most part in this letter, I am glad that you presented
a new Adam Strange story, and hope that you continue to present new

Steve Chung
"The Weapon That Reviewed Men!"