Sunday, October 7, 2007

Dr. K's Halloween Countdown Presents: The Singling!

From Mystery in Space 111 (1980) comes the awesome tale of the human race's final destruction at the hands of alien invaders: "The Singling":

By the way, that kid on the cover--he's dead. Even Macgyver would be screwed facing laser-touting aliens with only a pop gun and stuffed dolls.

Based on its title alone, "The Singling" sounds like it should come from a Simpson's Treehouse of Horror episode. At the very least, the title is decidedly undramatic, perhaps proving that all the good titles have been taken for stories involving the last man on earth (including The Last Man on Earth). What this title needs to make it dramatic is a little Jim Aparo lettering:

"The Singling," written by Gerald Brown and drawn by Jim Aparo, is an experimental story that occasionally popped up in DC's mystery and sci-fi books of the 70s and 80s. In this case, the story is completely "silent," with text appearing only at the beginning and the end.

The opening pages reveal the destructions the aliens have wrought on the American capitol, including this particularly symbolic image:

The symbolism here is obvious: the aliens have effectively castrated America. Or, at the very least, they performed a botched circumcision.

The aliens continue to work their way through the capitol, coming across other symbols of American history and power.

If there were a word balloon for this panel, I believe it would say something like, "Hey, Lincoln: I've got your Emancipation Proclamation right here!"

Shortly, the alien mother ship arrives and beams down the alien leader and his/her/its entourage. Some kind of awards ceremony ensues in which James Brown's cape and a large, shiny, round medallion are given to an alien by the alien leader. At least I assume it's the leader because he's the fattest.

Perhaps, however, the aliens are celebrating too quickly, as a lone human with a sniper rifle manages to get a bead on the alien leader.

But then:

Oh well, so much for that last bit of hope.

The captured human is then brought to the alien leader, who encourages his newly medallioned underling to show his loyalty and dispose of the pesky human.

Having taken care of business, the alien then returns to the ship while the leader and others remain in Washington, DC, to oversee its continued destruction.

On the next page, we see the same alien now beaming down to the wreckage of a destroyed home, thus providing the final moment of irony that anyone who has ever read one of these sci-fi comics or has ever seen an episode of The Twilight Zone expects.

(Click on the image to embiggen.)

I'm not exactly sure how to read these final images. Did the destruction of his home and family occur before or after Col. Davis negotiated with the aliens? Nothing in the story cues us to the correct answer, though I think we're supposed to assume it happened after. Whatever the case, he should also have an award for "The World's Crappiest Negotiator."


snell said...

I think the medallion "for opening the gates of earth" and "guaranteed life" means that he betrayed Earth in exchange for his ironically contrasted with his little trophy from the humans.

Dr. K said...

I got that, but was he returning home to celebrate his survival with his family only to discover that they had died in the invasion, or was he nostalgically returning to the site of his tragic loss?

Richard said...

I would much rather read a story based on that cover. "How did one ordinary child use his toys to save the world from an alien invasion?" sounds SO much like an old-school Julie Schwartz or Jack Schiff comic fact, wait a minute, they must have done that premise several times!

And yeah, that title is totally "Treehouse of Horror"...