Space Family Robinson Archives, Vol. 2
written by Gaylord DuBois
illustrated by Dan Spiegle
The more you read and watch 1960s science fiction, the more you realize just how much of it relied on a limited number of standard plots paired with a wide variety of ridiculous-looking aliens. You’ll usually have a malfunctioning spaceship that strands its crew on a mysterious planet (or a planet the crew is forced to explore for a supply run or to answer a distress beacon), two factions of alien species warring for dominance, and a bunch of humans who either make excellent slaves or specimens for vivisection. Space Family Robinson is no exception, but it’s still exceptionally charming. I don’t tire of lizard women easily, but your own experience may vary.
This time around, Gaylord Dubois writes all seven issues, Del Connell and Don Christensen having left the book, though his writing and tales are indistinguishable from those of his predecessors, allowing for complete consistency between books. Every issue, our heroic family saves each other from weird fates at the hands of alien races bent on one specific purpose or another, before discovering a new technology or map that might help them find their way home.
This consistency of story and aesthetic is aided by the continued use of the weird visual virtuosity of Dan Spiegle. If you’re bored by the copy-and-paste plots that the Robinsons are consistently entangled in, this is worth reading simply for the art of Spiegle. One alien race uses tweaked pterodactyls as a means of transportation, gliding through the sky like manta rays, while another flying fish-bug wears a ring of petal-wings as a functional tutu. Humanoid races will sometimes be depicted as cartoons in contrast to the realistic proportions of the human explorers, or sometimes, a weird hairstyle or green skin will suffice. Sprawling space vistas and strange cities demonstrate an amazing economy and accuracy of line, as well as a Seussian appreciation for the bizarre. As the Robinsons rapidly age in the final issue of this collection, their faces and body language are perfect demonstrations of both visual drama and Spiegle’s talents.
Dark Horse reprints these pages on non-glossy paper, once again preserving a kind of “pulpy” appearance and feel. They’ve also revitalized the pages’ colors to the edge of garishness, making the science-fictional scenes pop. The package is completed by an interview with Spiegle himself, who discussed both his own creative process and the methods that went into making each issue.
This collection is perfect for all ages, but holds the most appeal for vintage science fiction buffs, given its archival quality and the nature of its content.-- Collin David