Lars barely makes it. Artist: Murphy Anderson.


Medium: Comic books
Published by: Ziff-Davis
First Appeared: 1951
Creators: Jerry Siegel (writer) and Murphy Anderson (artist)
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Lars of Mars was a superhero whose "superheroness" came from his normal attributes as a member of an extra-planetary, non-human species/culture. This put him in a class with Superman, J'onn J'onzz and half the members of The Legion of Super Heroes. He was also a 1950s superhero, part of the ongoing comic book superhero tradition that didn't, as many think, quite come to an end when the public …

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… moved on to new fads in the early '40s, and that put him in a class with Nature Boy, Strong Man, The Avenger and a couple of dozen others.

The parallels don't end there. Like Col. Bleep, he came to Earth as a response to nuclear activity. But the Martians don't seem to have even noticed the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. It took the more powerful H-bombs of the 1950s to catch their attention, but once it was caught, they acted with breakneck speed. Their Supreme Council summoned Lars, their most trusted agent, so fast they didn't even accept the fact that he was in the middle of subduing a horrible monster as an excuse for his delay in reaching their chambers.

What alarmed them was the fact that millions of years ago, a war had so devastated both Mars and Venus that all space travel had been outlawed, and now Earth was giving signs of being about to start another one. They'd quickly put together a space ship, the first in living memory, so they could send Lars there to put a stop to any possibility of war. The mission was later modified to eliminating all evil on Earth, and since nothing in '50s America could be more evil than a Commie, Lars soon had himself a Communist arch-enemy.

The first thing he did on Earth was tangle with what looked like a bunch of robots menacing an Earth woman. He defeated them without a second thought, whereupon the woman, June Conway, hired him for her new TV show about a Martian on Earth. Lars, like all Martians, looked so much like an Earthman, she thought he was just an actor trying for the job.

June thought the name he gave her, Lars of Mars, was perfect for her show, and his "pretense" of being a real Martian on Earth was good for publicity. Lars agreed that being an actor playing exactly what he really was made good cover, and next thing you know, he was shooting commercials for the show's sponsor, Crackety-Wackety Cereal.

The writer hasn't been identified with absolute certainty, but is believed to have been Jerry Siegel. In the '40s, Siegel had been co-created The Star-Spangled Kid & Stripsey; and in the '60s, Tiger Girl. He also did something else that was fairly notable. It was drawn by Murphy Anderson (Hawkman, Atomic Knights.). The publisher was Ziff-Davis, which also did Santa Claus Parade and a comic book version of The Teenie-Weenies.

Lars's first appearance was in Lars of Mars #10 (May, 1951). Nobody has quite tracked down what became of the first nine. That issue contained three Lars stories, all by Siegel and Anderson, plus one about Captain Ken Brady, Rocket Pilot, drawn by Gene Colan (Daredevil, Dracula).

Next issue (August), the lineup and personnel were the same. There wasn't a third. The next time Lars was seen was in 1987, when he was converted to 3-D and reprinted in that form by Eclipse Enterprises (Zot!, Airboy).

Eclipse's Lars of Mars 3-D was his last gasp. He wasn't seen again.


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Text ©2008-10 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Ziff-Davis.