SPEED CARTER, SPACEMANMedium: Comic books
Published by: Marvel Comics
First Appeared: 1953
Creators: unknown writer and Joe Maneely (artist)
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saucers in all the papers, there was still plenty of room for heroes flitting between planets and having adventures, like Tommy Tomorrow and even Space Cabby, especially in comic books, which had a less adult audience than other contemporary entertainment. That was the media environment that produced Marvel's Space Squadron, starring Captain Jet Dixon, in 1951; and, two years later, Speed Carter, Spaceman.
The official title was "Spaceman" (no relation), with Speed's personal name affixed to the logo almost as an afterthought. The words "and the Space Sentinels" were added to a non-fixed location underneath, identifying the organization he worked for, and weren't on all issues. This "space police force" was commanded by General Stone, and consisted of Speed's sidekick, Johnny; Lt. Crash Morgan; and Speed's girlfriend, Stellar Stone. Speed himself was a captain, making the unit somewhat top-heavy with officers. The series was set in the year 2075.
The general was Stellar's father, putting Speed in a category with such diverse comics as Adam Strange, Knights of the Galaxy and Bucky Bug, with the hero's love interest being the authority figure's daughter.
The writer who created Speed is, like many from that era, unknown. But the artist is easily identifiable as Joe Maneely, who was the company's star at the time. Before his untimely death in a train accident, Maneely was involved with The Black Knight, The Yellow Claw and many other 1950s Marvel characters.
This scenario was fully formed in the first issue, dated September, 1953. It remained unchanged throughout the six issues the title lasted, ending July, 1954. In a few more years, Sputnik would change the face of science fiction, bringing in near-future space heroes such as Major Matt Mason and Sky Masters of the Space Force. They didn't flit between planets, but had their more mundane adventures in cislunar space.
And a few years after that, The Fantastic Four, Thor etc. ushered in the Marvel Universe. Unlike those other Maneely characters, Speed Carter was never swept up into that publishing phenomenon. He remains a '50s period piece, of interest mainly to Marvel antiquarians and fans of Joe Maneely.