Adventures into the Unknown Volume 4

Collecting Adventures into the Unknown #16-20 (Feb-Jun 51)

Writers, artists: Various

PS ArtBooks, $49.99, color, 288 pages

I don't have a lot new to say about series collecting the ACG title Adventures into the Unknown. If you're not reading them by now you're not likely to, and if you are I'm not likely to tell you anything you don't already know.

 But here goes:

This collection, like its predecessors (and companion series Forbidden Worlds) contains stories all edited by, if not written by, a man named Richard Hughes. His sensibility is felt throughout, so there is a sameness about the stories.

But that's not necessarily a bad thing. Hughes's stories are always populated by can-do Americans of both genders, and if it's the man who must see an adventure through, his girl will insist on going along, and if it's the woman fighting "The Unknown," her man will insist on coming along. And either way, neither are decorations -- both genders usually cooperate to solve the problem/banish the demon/save their souls, whatever.

Where, in that era, did you ever see such gender equality? It's enough to make me forget "Women in Refrigerators." (Almost.) It's rather refreshing.

Also, good is almost always unbeatable, and evil is absurdly weak. Vampires in these stories usually have bat wings, but are usually no stronger than an ordinary man. Satan pops up occasionally, looking for all the world like a guy in a devil suit at Halloween, but doesn't seem able to do more than sneer and threaten. Werewolves are usually depicted as dogs, are can be easily beaten or outrun. Frankly, the Unknown isn't very scary, and can always be defeated by derring-do and pluck by Our Heroes.

Which, again, is like a tonic after 30 years of grim-n-gritty stories about heroes who often don't act very heroically.

This is especially amusing given how much abuse pre-Code horror stories suffered. Maybe some of them deserved it, but those published by ACG certainly didn't. This stuff is about as scary as the haunted house put on every year or charity by the Lions Club. No, actually, those haunted houses are probably scarier.

But I enjoy these stories, probably because of what they're not. I read a few of them before I go to sleep, knowing that good will triumph, evil will be frustrated, and the girl and boy will always hit it off and hint at marriage at the end. Ah, justice at last. ZZZZZzzzzz.

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