Comics: Captain Venture

“Captain Venture and the Land Beneath the Sea, Vol. 1” (front cover). © Copyright 1968 by Western Publishing Company.

At the end of sci-fi comic “Space Family Robinson” (issues #6 to #36), there was a back-up series entitled “Captain Venture” included. I originally read this comic back in the early 1970s, but it took me until now to learn a bit more about “Captain Venture”. Like “Space Family Robinson”, it was drawn by Dan Spiegle (stories by Del Connell or Otto Binder), and his art has this remarkable clarity which is imho pretty much absent in today’s comics.

The story in short:

Captain Rex Venture and his engineer Scotty Mackay crash-land on a water-covered world in the remote star system Beta 52 (as they learn later, the planet is named Plantis). As the story progresses, they discover that this planet is inhabited, its population living in a kind of underground world beneath the sea. While trying to repair their ship, Rex and Scotty make contact with an underground movement which opposes the ruling council. The fact that the story is situated in this underground world imho accounts very much for “Captain Venture’s” fascinating atmosphere.

After “Captain Venture” was discontinued, it was re-published in 1968/69 by Western Publishing Company as two separate volumes, which can still be found on eBay or similar sites. Unfortunately, those two volumes only consist of excepts of the entire story, encompassing some 30 pages each.

Vol. 1 is situated in the area where Rex and Scotty’s ship has crash-landed in an underground cavern. It tells the story from the very beginning: the arrival in the star system Beta 52, the ship being hit by a meteorite, the crash, and Rex and Scotty checking out the environment and making contact with a group of outcasts who live in a hostile jungle inside the underground cavern where the space ship has surfaced after the crash.

Vol. 2 is located somewhere else, where the two astronauts fly with their small space module. They land on a volcanic island, where the gust from inside the volcano draws them into the crater and way deep into the (apparently hollow) planet. The story included in Vol. 2 was not published in issues #6 – #36 of “Space Family Robinson”.

In issue #36 of “Space Family Robinson”, the last one of the “Captain Venture” stories, Rex and Scotty escape the Plantis police by means of a submarine. At the end of the story, it says “Will be continued …”, but when “Space Family Robinson” was continued with issue #37, “Captain Venture” was not revived with it.

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