Bert sees a prospective client through the insurance-mandated medical exam. Artists: Carmine Infantino and Sy Barry.


Medium: Comic books
Published by: DC Comics
First Appeared: 1953
Creators: Sid Gerson (writer), Carmine Infantino and Sy Barry (artists)
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There was an unstated assumption in most early science fiction, which, if expressed, would have negated a lot of reader interest in the genre. That is, the future would be pretty much like the present. The premise of the story would make it seem like it took place in a wondrous new environment, but if it had been too wondrous and new, the reader might have …

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… found it difficult to relate to the story. So most of the characters and situations found in it would be similar to the here-and-now.

Thus in DC Comics' Mystery in Space, which (along with its companion title, Strange Adventures) editor Julius Schwartz deliberately made similar to the sci-fi pulp magazines of his youth, one of the early series heroes, Bert Brandon, was an ordinary guy making a living in an ordinary 1950s way — an insurance agent of the future. It's just that his work-a-day world often included situations the reader would find interesting.

Mystery in Space had been series-less for nine issues, following the demise of Knights of the Galaxy, when Bert made his first appearance. In the 16th issue (November, 1953), he starred in a back-pages story titled "Interplanetary Insurance, Inc." It was pencilled by Carmine Infantino (The Flash) and inked by Sy Barry (The Phantom), from a script by Sid Gerson (whose comics credits consist mostly of non-series Stange Adventures and Mystery in Space stories).

I.I.I., the company Bert worked for, was what we today would call a mega-corporation, spanning inhabited planets light years apart. Bert's job was to promote their services, selling insurance against a variety of mishaps. He appeared again in the following issue, in another back-pages story by Gerson, Infantino and Barry, doing the same thing.

He kept on doing it until #25 (May, 1955), never once getting out of the back pages or appearing on a cover. The only change in the credits came in #22, when Infantino started inking his own work. In the 26th issue, another work-a-day future guy, Space Cabby, started his regular series, and Interplanetary Insurance, Inc. was seen no more.

DC has reprinted an occasional Interplanetary Insurance story, just as it has other stories from Strange Adventures and Mystery in Space, but has never reprinted them as a series.


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Text ©2009 Donald D. Markstein. Art © DC Comics.