Cosmos: Old School (2002) – part eight

Taking its name from the Edgar Rice Burroughs novel The Land That Time Forgot, the second story in Cosmos Comics #1 (The Fridge that Time Forgot, obviously) was, in some ways, rather similar to Train of Thought – i.e, a character/s travels to a bizarre new reality and gets into trouble along the way. In this case, however, the lucky dimensionaut was one Ax Maxwell (who more or less has to go it alone once underway), and the story has more of a build-up before the weirdness kicks in; giving me – or rather, Crazy Jon, who gets the writing credit here – a chance to throw in a bit of extra preparatory plot stuff! In fact, until mid-way through page four, you may not even realise the direction the story is taking…. or at least, I hope not. I’ll let you be the judge of that.

Fridge clocks in at 14 pages, two more than Train of Thought (due to that pesky scene-setting, no doubt), and contains a lot more in the way of background gags and incidental ‘Easter eggs’. This was the influence of Mad Magazine at work, especially the vintage stuff by Harvey Kurtzman, Will Elder, Wally Wood et.al, which was rife with extra visual or written details unrelated to the main story – although I don’t think I went quite as nuts as they did at the height of their powers….

Fridge 1
Above: Exactly what every good story needs – a nice, big, potentially-misleading splash page to make you sit up and take notice! And speaking of misleading…. ‘Colours by Electric Ick’?! What Colours?!?

Fridge 2
Above: It’s clear who wears the pants in this relationship, as Macy gives ax his marching orders in a much-feared household task: cleaning out the fridge. Her on again / off again peace-symbol badge is also up to its usual tricks – not there on page one, back again on page two. Sigh. Macy probably should have stuck around to supervise, though…. Ax’s ‘keep or heave’ criteria seem just the tiniest bit suspect.

Fridge 3
Above: What, exactly, is Crispy Crud? Much like KFC’s ‘11 secret herbs and spices’, I have no idea – to this day, I have not specified the ingredients of this mysterious foodstuff, what you do with it, or in fact whether it is solid, liquid or gaseous in composition. We can infer several things from its packaging, though: 1) it has a truly unappetising name, 2) it may (or may not) be tangentially connected to some sort of fruit, and 3) having a seal-top lid does not save it from going horribly, horribly wrong. I’m not sure what Roll-o-Flod (panel 4) or Stuff in a Can (panel 6) are either, come to think of it. Oh, Cosmosian foodstuffs, you so crazy!

Fridge 4
Above: Here’s where things start taking a turn for the odd, and not just because of the frozen carrot-thing – I’m guessing Ax was so preoccupied with tunneling through through the geological strata of his fridge, he didn’t notice he has crossed into the whiteware equivalent of the Narnia wardrobe until it was too late. Silly man! But aren’t his feet / hands getting cold, tromping around in all that freezer-frost?

Fridge 5
Above: Voila! The big reveal! One thing I really enjoy is creating oddball alien ecosystems and populating them with strange creatures; such as the one in this story. It seems to be Journey to the Centre of the Earth meets Dr. Seuss, complete with several more sight gags – there’s Opus the penguin from Berkley Breathes’ Bloom County (penguin >> cold >> makes sense), Thor’s hammer Mjolnir (no idea), a giant chilli pepper (even less idea); and a teletubbie frozen inside an ice stalactite (because it had to be done, dammit!
It. Had. To. Be. Done.)

Fridge 6
Above: The Cosmos Monster Movie Mashtacular was actually going to be a real thing! Ax’s statement served as a potential teaser for a future issue of Cosmos Comics, if I ever found time to do any more. I’m not entirely certain what would have gone into it – a new Genezilla story, at the very least – but since it never got further than, well, Ax’s statement, I guess we’ll never know. What I do know is who’s making a cameo in panel three…. it’s Jack Kirby’s Devil Dinosaur and Moon Boy! Appropriate, given the whole prehistoric world thing goin’ on….

Fridge 7
Above: Chief Ebirah – named after the giant crustacean kaiju from the Godzilla series – is this story’s expositon provider and plot clarifier; and rather fourth wall-savvy to go with it, so it would seem. He’s clearly a charming, charismatic individual, but plainly without a single ounce of moral scruples; shown by his obvious glee at having a new victim to hurl into his village’s Pit of Death! And is that R2D2 and C3PO in the last panel? The Star Wars parodies are back in that direction, guys….

What Happens Next? Find out on Monday in the next installment of Cosmos: Old School!

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