Cowboys and Bandersnatches (August 13, 2011)

(One in an occasional series of comic book stories, August 13, 2011)

"Spaceman's Gulch" is a one-page feature/filler in Space Western #44, by Charlton Comics, June 1953. In this informational piece, Spurs Jackson tells about capturing a Jovian Bandersnatch (formerly known as the Frumious Bandersnatch) on an expedition to Jupiter.

The Bandersnatch is a dragon-like creature that has propellers jutting from each earlobe. Spurs says CO2 extinguishes the fire breath. When the bandersnatch turns on the ear-props and flies away, Spurs captures it with a lasso. The creature is captured and crated back to Earth and released, where the lower Terran gravity allows it to cover dozens of Earth miles in a single leap.

Last week, we saw "Cowboys and Aliens," 2nd movie of the year and first since "Thor." I had both hope and doubt for this one. The perfect combination of genres you liked as a kid, westerns and outer space (in fact sci-fi has been called "space oaters." Yet there seemed to be the possibility that this perfect marriage would have a reverse synergy, less than the sum of its parts.

It was a good movie, but there was a by-commitee feel to it, as if every creator with a hand in it had to have a representation. As such, many of the items of business and blocking of scenes touched on familiar tropes, everything from For a Few Dollars More, Unforgiven, Croc Dundee, Emerald Forest, multiple Twilight Zone episodes and Syfy Channel B-movies, even the Challenger explosion were touched on. A nice way to spend an afternoon, but it could have been so much more.

Maybe they should have made a movie from Space Western #44. In the lead story, Spurs Jackson and friends take a rocket to Mars, where they battle Nazis! Now that would have made a Great Movie!!!