From Beyond the Unknown #23, August 1973

A pretty bizarre tale this one, reprinted from Strange Adventures #75. Across the far reaches of space, the Earth is observed by alien astronomers. Through their powerful telescopes they see that Earth is inhabited by a strange race of civilized apes–they are, of course, observing Earth as it was 100,000 years ago, thanks to the limitations of the speed of light. Thus armed with this knowledge, one of their number, Daxon, is transformed into a gorilla by means of a ray. He then jumps into a rocket and speeds to Earth, with conquest on his mind. No, really.

However, arriving at his destination, he’s travelling way too fast–much faster than light–and consquently crashes into the African jungle. Luckily, Daxon is saved from certain death by his “ultra-cushions”. Should any road safety folk be reading, I’d suggest marketing these ultra-cushions pretty darn quick!

Anyway, Daxon is disappointed to discover that the apes he meets are not civilized (nor clothed), and that humans are now running the planet. He’s relieved when he hears that a scientist is planning to transform a gorilla into a man, and so arranges to have himself captured. Caged and in the clutches of said mad scientist, Daxon is quickly turned back into human form via a ray. However, shocked by his success, the scientist gets scared and turns Daxon back into an ape, and dismantles his equipment.Fearful that his assistant might use the knowledge for nefarious purposes, the scientist hides his secret formulae in some library books that are due to be returned that evening. However, on his way to the library, the scientist finds himself killed by a runaway truck.

Presumably leaving the stricken scientist’s body lying bleeding in the road, a kind passerby returns the books to the library!

Meanwhile, back at the lab, Daxon breaks out from his cage determined to get the secret plans. He heads over to the library and asks the librarian for the books that had just been returned. Though slightly perturbed, she gives this talking gorilla the three books, and he heads off happy.

Having realised that the secret plans must be hidden in the books, the scientist’s possibly-evil-but-we’ve-since-discovered-he’s-not assistant arrives at the library just in time to see Daxon–who’s a gorilla lets not forget–jump into a flashy red sports car that’s just happened to have been left on the street with its motor running. He speeds off…

…only to lose control and drive off the edge of a cliff!

Spying the burning wreckage and barbequed gorilla corpse, the scientist’s assistant wonders just where the intelligent ape came from.

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Well, I told you it was bizarre.

With a story by Otto Binder and art by Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella, they don’t come much odder than this one. It makes absolutely no frickin’ sense whatsoever. Really, a scene where a talking gorilla wanders into a library, checks out some books, jumps into a sportscar, and speeds off, doesn’t just require the mere suspension of disbelief — it goes wa-a-a-ay beyond that. To come up with something like that takes a special kind of imagination…

And, did you know that 100,000 years ago Earth was run by an intelligent ape civilization? Nope, me neither. But, that’s comics for you: always a source of fascinating facts.

Still, it’s a great cover. Art by Nick Cardy.

©2009 DC Comics