Space Family Robinson Archives, Vol. 1
written by Del Connell
illustrated by Dan Spiegle
The quest for home is a tale that dominates a huge swath of science fiction and fantasy, from Dr. Samuel Beckett’s leaping from life to life in Quantum Leap to Quinn Mallory’s malfunctioning timer in Sliders, John Crichton’s quest for Earth in Farscape, and Star Trek: Voyager’s journey through 70,000 light years of space toward home because of a natural disaster. It’s a tried and true story that naturally lends itself to both character development and weird alien life forms. One of the most power influences on this genre was Space Family Robinson (and subsequently the TV show Lost in Space, which was based on this 1960s comic book series).
It’s easy to see why these comics held a huge influence on the creative minds of the time. Del Connell tells the story of a nuclear family (plus a bird and a dog) who have set about exploring space in the name of science. Along the way, everything we know about physics and the structure of life is cast away as the family becomes lost in the far reaches of the galaxy, away from known science and human morality, unable to make a simple return to Earth. Like all good science fiction, they meet alien life forms, learn of unusual planetary customs, and encounter a disproportionate amount of malevolent alien dictator-scientists with armies of mindless drones at their service whom they’ve subjugated with their brains.
Honestly, through seven issues of Space Family Robinson, our adventurers seem to meet a dozen evil geniuses with potato-minded minions, but whether these drones are made of ice or look like sexy women in lizard costumes, it’s always fascinatingly weird. Why would a lizard scientist have an army of shapely humanoid women in lizard costumes anyhow? What are the mechanics that go into this? It’s the casual weirdness that hits in all of the right places.
The art of Dan Spiegle sets this series apart. Spiegle demonstrates a virtuoso ability to capture human movement and expression, giving these stories a kind of life that one rarely sees in the action-packed visual hyperbole of modern comics. This understanding of the human form extends to Spiegle’s aliens, whether they’re 9 feet tall and expressionless, miniature and paper-thin, or formless blobs with a vague resemblance to life. Everything has character and shares a charming 1960s science feel.
Reading through these first issues of Space Family Robinson conjures something magical about this particular age of science fiction. Every panel flutters and breathes a sense of wonder about evolving technologies and what could possibly be out there among the stars. Dark Horse reprints these pages on a pulpy, non-gloss paper, so the experience feels even more genuine. It’s great for all ages, and for anyone who doesn’t get tired of the “finding an alien dictator on every planet” thing. I remain genuinely curious about whether or not this family gets home, and how many more worlds of fire people or vegetable men they’ll have to work through to get there.-- Collin David