Friday, July 8, 2016

The Adventures of the Space Eagle

In 1967, Whitman published the first of two books dramatizing the futuristic adventures of The Space Eagle, who was in reality Paul Girard, a millionaire whiz-kid playboy and heir to the world's biggest cosmetic empire, the House of Girard, who by night fought International crime at the request of the President of the United States. Many who used to work for George W. Trendle in Detroit, no doubt influenced by The Lone Ranger and The Green Hornet, ultimately created their own legendary heroes of fictional lore. James Jewell created The Black Ace, The Silver Eagle and provided assistance with a successful franchise known as Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy. Raymond J. Meurer, attorney for George W. Trendle, created both the characters and the setting for what would become The Space Eagle (with assistance of Jack Pearl) who wrote the text for two Whitman hardcover books.

In the first book, Operation Doomsday, set in the near future after space travel was accomplished and norm, a Chinese Communist during the height of the Cold War named Dr. Lachesis Muta devised a diabolical scheme to start a nuclear war between Russia and the United States so that he could seize control of whatever was left of the earth. Mad scientist though he was, the plot had come fearfully close to succeeding. With bootlegged I.C.B.M.'s, launched from Muta's secret underground base in the mountains of Tibet, winging through space toward targets in the U.S.S.R. and the United States, only the Space Eagle and the untested S.W.I.F.T. had stood between the deadly nuclear warheads and total world destruction. 

Armed with a number of gadgets and weapons, including tranquilizer darts shaped like eagle talons (ala Green Hornet gas gun), and his vessel, S.W.I.F.T. (Space Warp Infinity Finity Transport) which traveled through outer space and defies the laws of physics and time as according to Einstein. (Additional influences from The Lone Ranger saga was the President's two reference to Paul's great-great-grandfather was a U.S. Marshal in the Oklahoma territory during the wild west days.)

By special order of the President of the United States, a new department of the U.S. Government, known as he Spacial Intelligence Agency of the U.S.A. was formed. Paul Girard was the only member of the organization, taking directives from the President. Paul's secret base was set in the middle of the hundred-acre tract of heavily wooded land in West Virginia. His sister, Julie Girard, was the gadget genius. 

In the second book, published in 1970, Operation Star Voyage, the Russians have managed to duplicate their own S.W.I.F.T., a ship capable of traveling past the speed of light. With assistance from Sam Aarons, a boyhood friend and friend of the family, Paul and Sam travel to an unexplored region of the galaxy to meet a race of space aliens that looked remarkably like Earthmen, except that they were pygmy-sized and were entirely hairless. Their skin was albino white, almost as transparent as glass. Paul explains to the aliens of the perilous arms race between the Free World and the Iron Curtain countries, how spartanism was discovered and how it led to the building of the S.W.I.F.T., and the crisis that existed on Earth because the Russians were developing their own matter-anti-matter engine -- and because they only source of spartanism was in their territory. Should the Russians get their hands on the spartanism, the safety of the entire galaxy was threatened.

Dr. Lachesis Muta, as it turns out, is alive and well and leading a band of renegade pirates. Laser rifles, space ships, space aliens, and an arch nemesis were bound to show up in additional volumes had a third and fourth book been published. Alas, the series ran only two novels. They are both enjoyable reads and easily affordable in the collector market.

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