As the year nears its end, let’s look back on the past of the future. Tomorrow was different back then.
Edmond Hamilton was a science fiction writer and primary driver behind Captain Future, a juvenile-oriented space opera series. Known as the “Man of Tomorrow” and “Wizard of Science,” The Captain sailed through many adventures…
Hey, wait, what’s he doing fighting that other Man Of Tomorrow? And did he get a promotion?
Colonel Future appeared in Superman #378 in 1982, and threw down with Supes. But who is this mystery man?
Upon recovering from his ordeal, Hamilton did what any scientist would do in his situation…. don a retro-futuristic costume and embark on a career of crime.
A man gifted and cursed with the power to see the future…. but only when in mortal danger. This was a pretty wild idea in comics at the time, and kinda blew my 12-year old mind.
Superman flies off to find Colonel Future stealing more scientific equipment, and once again fails to stop him. Our Hero begins to wonder if the Colonel really is a man from the future, as he seems to know exactly how to best Superman at every turn.
Following another defeat, Supes flies off to deal with the threatening asteroid…
The good Colonel learned his lesson… or so it seemed.
Colonel Hamilton returned in 1984…
…after having a vision that convinced him Superman was soon going to die.
Unlike the first story, which was pretty clever and engaging, this one turned out to be rather lame. The guy at the end of the page is dressed as Superman to collect for a charity drive. Several others are doing the same, and some criminals get the idea of infiltrating by wearing Superman costumes and stealing the money. Through a complicated event chain, Hamilton ends up in a costume and gets shot at and techinically dies until resuscitated by Superman, fulfilling his vision.
The story did give us this neat sequence, though –
There’s also a brief scene of Hamilton congratulating a Dr. Isaacs on a proposal for a navigation system for the space shuttle. Perhaps a shout-out to another science fiction writer turned supervillain?
BONUS ROUND: In 1978, four years before this Colonel Future appeared, there was another version in a retro-style Superman story set in the 1940s…
The Colonel was of course stopped, and four years later he appeared again, lamenting how his failure to kill Superman had hurt his standing among the supervillain community –
And that was it for this version of the Colonel. He was last seen in July 1982, a mere 5 months before the jetpack version first showed up and replaced him.
Indeed, the first Colonel didn’t even get a write-up in 1985’s Who’s Who series, listing nearly every DC Comics character that ever appeared, while the not-so-villainous villain version got a full page…
So just how did Edmond Hamilton come to be connected to Superman, anyhow? A couple of readers wrote in asking that it be explained for younger readers, and one even suggested a possible inspiration for the story of Colonel Future –
Strangely, the editor’s response didn’t mention that longtime Superman editor Mort Weisinger created Captain Future in the first place!
Extra Trivia Bonus: Captain Future’s real name was Curt Newton. The first appearance of each version of Colonel Future was drawn by legendary Superman artist Curt Swan, who drew some of Hamilton’s Superman stories. A second appearance of the first Colonel was drawn by Kurt Schaffenberger. All of which, I’m sure, probably amused the writers and editor of the stories.