Tommy and his dad visit the museum. Artist: Carmine Infantino.


Medium: Comic books
Published by: DC Comics
First Appeared: 1959
Creators: Gardner Fox (writer) and Mike Sekowsky (artist)
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For a comic book title that supposedly didn't feature continuing series, DC Comics' Strange Adventures had a lot of continuing series. From the very first story in the first issue, which starred Chris KL-99, editors starting with Julius Schwartz (The Flash, Rex the Wonder Dog,), originator of the title, interspersed series characters like Captain Comet, Animal Man, The Enchantress, The Immortal Man, Darwin Jones and more among its non-series science fiction and …

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… fantasy stories. During the early 1960s, it was known for three rotating series: Atomic Knights, Star Hawkins and Space Museum.

Space Museum was the first of the three to join the line-up. It started in the 104th issue (May, 1959). The other two didn't come along until the following year. The debut story was "The World of Doomed Spacemen", written by Gardner Fox (Moon Girl, The Avenger) and drawn by Mike Sekowsky (Captain Flash, B'Wana Beast) — which, by the way, marked the only time a Space Museum story was ever featured on the Strange Adventures cover.

The second story appeared two issues later. After that, it was every third issue even before it had the two others to rotate with. Fox continued to write the stories, but the art was taken over by Carmine Infantino (Elongated Man, Super-Chief). Infantino remained the regular artist as long as the series lasted.

The premise fit right in with a purportedly series-less sci-fi anthology. In an unspecified period a few centuries into the future, young Tommy Parker would visit the museum with his dad, Howard. Tommy would express curiosity about one of the exhibits, and Howard would tell him the story behind it. Without the framing device of the museum itself, the stories were virtually indistinguishable from other tales without recurring heroes. Only one time was the Museum featured in the story itself, rather than just the framing sequence. In #145 (October, 1962) aliens stole the building, with Tommy and a couple of his friends inside. Recalling the stories he'd heard, Tommy was able to defeat the aliens and, incidentally, save the planet.

Once established, the rotation continued steadily until 1964, when an editorial shift had Schwartz trade Strange Adventures and its sister title, Mystery in Space, with editor Jack Schiff (Space Ranger, J'onn J'onzz) for the Batman titles. The only change came right near the end, when The Star Rovers moved over from Mystery in Space to make room for Hawkman, throwing the rotation slightly askew and delaying the final story until #161 (February, 1964). A total of 20 Space Museum stories appeared.

For the next couple of decades, the museum was mentioned in DC's comic books just often enough to remind readers it was there. In 1986, it figured prominently in the origin of a new superhero, Booster Gold. In Booster's time, the 25th century, the museum housed Rip Hunter's old time machine, which he stole, using it to travel back to the readers' time so he could astound the yokels with his future technology.

The Space Museum has become a well-established institution in DC's fictional future history, lasting centuries. By the time of The Legion of Super Heroes, its mission had been expanded to include exhibits on practically everything DC has ever published.

But it wasn't until Secret Origins #50 (August, 1990) that the origin of the museum itself was told. Not surprisingly, Howard Parker himself had a lot to do with its founding.


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Text ©2010 Donald D. Markstein. Art © DC Comics.