Weird Science-Fantasy #29: "Vicious Circle"

Weird Science-Fantasy #29
"Vicious Circle"
May - June, 1955

Script: Carl Wessler
Pencils and Inks: Al Williamson
Colors: Marie Severin

He had been one of them, but still they killed him.  He was a friend, but
still they threw him from the cliff.  The hunters had been returning from
the forest and passed close by the cliffs, where the struggle had taken
place.  The scream was heard as the flailing body fell, to a
bone-shattering death.  Although a youth, the friend's death would be
avenged.  John's screams had died with him and the deer that had been
caught was dropped from the shoulders which had carried it.  Before the
hunter could get far, others got into his way.  The law had been broken
and John had paid the price.  Even so, there would be more payment from
those who slew him.

The hunting trip had been a way to get him away from John, and to prevent
from killing him, too.  He drew his club and swung in revenge.  The fight
was brief and the lone youth was overcome by the others.  In the dark, a
marker was built for John by his friend's own hands, and his grief was
left there, as well.  Samuel the Wise found the weeping youth and hoped
that his heart had been cleansed of the hate still fresh there.  David
saw the elderly leader and grabbed for a rock.  The old man's eyes never
left him, and he knew that this was the man who sent John to his death.
Now Samuel asked David if he wished to know why there was such a law.
Not wanting to remain behind, David followed the elderly man.

There had been many stories for the purpose of the law, and as he walked
with Samuel, the others would only stare after them.  Inside the cave of
the elderly leader, there was no mystery to be seen.  The secret that
David would learn was from a different time, an earlier time.  As Samuel
spoke, images began to appear within the youth's head.  Great structures
reached for the sky, while smooth paths were placed for things to race
along them.  In the sky above the city of the God-Men, winged things flew
overhead.  All was seen while the old man spoke, but then the structures
began to fall, the paths were torn asunder.  The flames of a thousand
suns was seen in the distance.  As the God-Men died, the numbers rose,
and the fires mushroomed into the dark sky overhead.  David knew that
death had come from the sky... and the things that had flown there.  In
the cave, Samuel placed another branch on the fire.

He learns from the old man about the machines built by the God-Men for
war.  Wars were fought, not for food or for shelter, but for different
reasons.  It had been rockets in the air, followed by strange metal
birds.  More God-Men died, sacrificed by the machines which they had
created, and the God-Men lost their immortality.  They began to fight
amongst themselves for morsels, as the flames began to consume the
God-Men.  They starved and died, but still the war was being fought.
Nothing was in the air now, but the ground will full of God-Men with
their black smoke sticks and their knives.

The last battle for the God-Men was being fought, with clubs and spears
downing many.  Afterwards, one God-Man rises above the ruins, and speaks
to the survivors.  He was the first to understand what had come to pass.
The first to realize what had happened to their world.  He spoke to the
others and they understood him.  He was their leader and followed him to
the buildings, where they smashed the machines with their clubs.  When
the machines were gone, they were happy, and left the ruins behind.  They
came to the forest and to the caves.  The machinery was buried by time
and the law was created.  Man must never build machines which would
destroy him.  This is the law they have always had known

This was why John had to die. The law had been broken because John had
made a machine.  To do so meant death.  If one was built, then others
would follow.  Soon, the sky would be filled with machines and destroy
the world once more.  David sees the wisdom in John's death and now
understands.  He wants to see the machine before it is destroyed.  He had
never seen one, but it would be something to tell his children about
someday.  Samuel rises to his feet and they head towards the mouth of the
cave.  The two watch as the people walk by.  The machine is to be burned
so that all may see the good of the law.  The machine was carried past
the old man's cave. What it was, David did not know.  It was a new thing
and it made the hairs on his neck grow still.  It was a machine such as
this which had started the God-Men on their path to destruction.  Samuel
urges the youth to remember so that he can tell others about the law, and
about the machine he saw today.  The God-Men had called it... a wheel.

The cover of Weird Science-Fantasy was by Frank Frazetta and colored by
Marie Severin.

A present day man is forced to fight his way through a tribe of cave
people with a solid club.  His tattered clothing suggests that this was a
space or time traveler who found his way onto an alien world or trapped
in a past one. 

"Vicious Circle" was also the story title for The Incredible Hulk #204
(October, 1976) by Herb Trimpe, Len Wein, Joe Staton, Glynis Wein, and
John Costanza.

Other series which dealt with cave people and the world that was coming
include: Kamandi, Hercules Unbound, O.M.A.C., Anthro, Turok, Kong, and

Judge Dredd is a firm believer in the law.

Steve Chung
"Vicious Review"