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Mystery In Space 7
"The Case of The Counterfeit Humans!"


Story: Gardner Fox Art: John Giunta

(Originally Reviewed On 7/17/01)

Captain Rale Madden is surrounded by pale alien beings, each who claim to be his crewmate, Lieutenant Jim Boone! (Holy Parker, Batman! Which of these guys will "Fess" up to being the real Jim Boone?) Withing the great nebula of Andromeda, Captain Madden is taking atmosphere recordings, while Lieutenant Jim Boone walks on its surface, and is advised to watch out for aliens! (Hmm, an alien on an alien planet on an alien solar system? What are the odds of that?) Lt. Jim Boone soon spots a city in the distance, which he plans to take photos of and inform the captain of what he found! (Holy Samsonite, Batman! What a tourist! Imagine telling The Khunds to say "Cheese!")

He begins to take pictures, as he enters the city, where he is soon surrounded by weird pale humanoids, who being to change form, and Lt. James Boone is surrounded by several beings who resemble himself! (Holy Carbon-Copy Men, Batman! I thought that only happened with comic book artists and their styles)

Using their mental powers, the aliens have duplicated his body precisely, as well as possessing his entire memory, and as they are tired of their native world, they wish to travel to Earth, knowing that Madden won't be able to tell which one is the real Boone, so that they will all go on the trip home! (Holy Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy, Batman!) Thirty minutes later, Captain Madden sees the running figures of Lt. James Boone, each seeking to convince him that he is the real James Boone! One Boone reminds Madden of how at the Space Academy, he won the Charleston dance contest, the other tells him that the dance partner was Vera Vanning, and Madden knows that each copy has the real Boone's memories. Each man is fingerprinted, and each is identical, even beneath a diabe-fluroscope test is no help, as Madden may be forced to leave his crewmate behind. He knows that these counterfeit humans could spread on Earth, adopting the identities of everyone on Earth... (Holy April 15th, The I.R.S. would go wild from the paperwork!) Captain Madden resolves to head back to Earth... alone!

He prepares for departure, knowing that James Boone will be a martyr in order to save Earth from this bizarre threat, and as he sees the many faces of James Boone, he wishes for a way to spot the real one, then suddenly... he knows! Time passes, and aboard the ship, Lt. James Boone asks his friend how he could tell which was the real one, and the Captain tells him that although the counterfeit humans could imitate him in many ways, they could not duplicate the fear and worry of being left alone on an alien world, which made him break out in a cold sweat, and seeing the perspiration on his brow alerted him to the real deal! (Holy Strong Enough For A Man, Batman!)

An early story by Gardner Fox and artist John Giunta, in the period between The Golden Age and The Silver Age, when Science Fiction would be rife in the comics and on the movie screen, and Industrial Light and Magic was just a gleam in George Lucas' eye.

One wonders how the aliens reacted to assuming a human shape, not to mention how they could be defeated otherwise.

At the time, space was the stuff of imagination and speculation, a time for writers to craft tales which would entertain and amuse, this in a mere four pages.

Steve Chung
"The Review of The Counterfeit Humans!"