Captain Future is a science fictional hero pulp character – a space-traveling scientist cum adventurer – originally published in self-titled American pulp magazines between 1940 and 1951. The character was created by editor Mort Weisinger and principally authored by Edmond Hamilton. There have subsequently been a number of adaptations and derivative works, most significantly a 1978-79 anime adaptation, which was dubbed into several languages and proved very popular, particularly in French and Arabic.
Although sometimes mistakenly attributed to science fiction writer Edmond Hamilton, who indeed authored most of Captain Future stories, the character was created by Better Publications editor Mort Weisinger during the 1939 World Science Fiction Convention.
The original character was published by Ned Pines' Thrilling/Standard/Better publications company. A different Captain Future was published in Pine's Nedor Comics line.
The stories were published in the pulp magazines from 1940 to 1951, featuring bright-colored cover illustrations by Earle K. Bergey and two other fellow pulp artists. The adventures mostly appeared in Captain Future's own magazine but later stories appeared in Startling Stories. Captain Future is Curtis Newton, a brilliant scientist and adventurer who roams the solar system solving problems, righting wrongs, and vanquishing futuristic supervillains.
The series contains a number of assumptions about the solar system which are naive by modern standards but which still seemed plausible, at least to the general public, in the time the stories were written. All of the planets of the solar system, and many of the moons and asteroids, are suitable for life, and most are already occupied by humanoid extraterrestrial races. The initial adventures take place in the planets of the solar system but later stories take the hero to other stars, other dimensions and even the distant past and future. For example, they visit the star Deneb, which is the origin of Earth humans, as well as many other humanoid races across the Solar System and beyond.
The series was originally set in 1990; as the series progressed, Hamilton quickly stopped using exact dates (except as "in the past" as in the voyages of the astronauts who first landed on most of the other planets of the Solar System), sticking with a series continuity. In later stories, if the date was asked or revealed, it was done so discreetly. The 1990 date then becomes unused, there only in the first couple of stories.
The series begins when scientist Roger Newton, his wife Elaine, and his brilliant fellow scientist Simon Wright leave planet Earth to do research in an isolated laboratory on the moon. Simon's body is old and diseased and Roger enables him to continue doing research by transplanting his healthy brain into an artificial floating case. Working together, the two scientists manage to create an intelligent robot called Grag, and an android with shape-shifting abilities called Otho. Unfortunately, the criminal scientist Victor Kaslan arrives on the moon and murders the Newtons.
The deaths of the Newtons leave their son, Curtis, to be raised by the unlikely trio of Otho, Grag, and Simon Wright. Under their tutelage, Curtis grows up to be a brilliant scientist and as strong and fast as any champion athlete. He also grows up with a strong sense of responsibility and hopes to use his scientific skills to help people. In the first adventure, he offers his services to the President of the System. The publicity-shy Curtis suggests he work under the alias Captain Future. Simon, Otho and Grag are referred to as the Futuremen in subsequent stories.
Other recurring characters in the series are the old space marshall Ezra Gurney, the beautiful Planet Patrol agent Joan Randal (who provides a love interest for Curtis) and James Carthew, President of the Solar System whose office is in New York City. A young boy called Ken Scott was exclusive to the anime.
Captain Future faces many enemies in his career but his archenemy is Ull Quorn, who is the only recurring villain in the series and appears in four different stories. He is part Martian – therefore called the Magician of Mars – but also the son of Victor Kaslan, who murdered the Newtons. Quorn is a scientist whose abilities rival those of Captain Future.
The first issue of "Captain Future" Magazine was reviewed in detail by S. J. Perelman in a memorably funny essay entitled "Captain Future, Block that Kick!" that originally appeared in the January 15, 1940 issue of The New Yorker. It has since been reprinted several times, including in the anthology The Most of S. J. Perelman (2002).
Captain Future shares some features with the simultaneously launched Batman, such as both living in the shadow of the traumatic experience, early in life, of their parents being murdered. Also the means used by the President to call for Captain Future's help is similar to that used by Gotham City's police chief to call Batman.
Captain Future Magazine
- 01 Captain Future and the Space Emperor Edmond Hamilton (Winter/40) [reprinted with the same title]
- 02 Calling Captain Future Edmond Hamilton (Spring/40) [reprinted with the same title]
- 03 Captain Future's Challenge Edmond Hamilton (Summer/40) [reprinted with the same title]
- 04 The Triumph of Captain Future Edmond Hamilton (Fall/40) [reprinted as Galaxy Mission]
- 05 Captain Future and the Seven Space Stones Edmond Hamilton (Winter/41)
- 06 Star Trail to Glory Edmond Hamilton (Spring/41)
- 07 The Magician of Mars Edmond Hamilton (Summer/41) [reprinted with the same title]
- 08 The Lost World of Time Edmond Hamilton (Fall/41)
- 09 Quest Beyond the Stars Edmond Hamilton (Winter/42) [reprinted with the same title]
- 10 Outlaws of the Moon Edmond Hamilton (Spring/42) [reprinted with the same title]
- 11 The Comet Kings Edmond Hamilton (Summer/42) [reprinted with the same title]
- 12 Planets in Peril Edmond Hamilton (Fall/42) [reprinted with the same title]
- 13 The Face of the Deep Edmond Hamilton (Winter/43)
- 14 Worlds to Come Joseph Samachson as William Morrison (Spring/43)
- 15 Star of Dread Edmond Hamilton (Summer/43)
- 16 Magic Moon Edmond Hamilton (Winter/44)
- 17 Days of Creation Joseph Samachson as William Morrison (Spring/44) [reprinted as The Tenth Planet]
- 18 Red Sun of Danger Edmond Hamilton (Spring/45) [reprinted as Danger Planet]
- 19 Outlaw World Edmond Hamilton (Winter/46) [reprinted with the same title]
- 20 The Solar Invasion Manly Wade Wellman (Fall/46) [reprinted with the same title]
- SS01 The Return of Captain Future Edmond Hamilton (January/50)
- SS02 Children of the Sun Edmond Hamilton (May/50)
- SS03 The Harpers of Titan Edmond Hamilton (September/50) [reprinted as part of Doctor Cyclops]
- SS04 Pardon My Iron Nerves Edmond Hamilton (November/50)
- SS05 Moon of the Unforgotten Edmond Hamilton (January/51)
- SS06 Earthmen No More Edmond Hamilton (March/51)
- SS07 Birthplace of Creation Edmond Hamilton (May/51)
Notes: Numbers #14-17 were credited to house name "Brett Sterling"; Numbers SS01-07 were short stories taking place a few years later in 'continuity'. Several issues were reprinted in paperback in the 60s, as noted above (one had a Frank Frazetta cover, several had Jeff Jones art, and several reprinted covers from the German SF series Perry Rhodan [including the Doctor Cyclops reprint book]). With pulps, Winter was the first season/quarter of the year (Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall).
Adaptations and other derivative works
In 1978, one year after Hamilton's death, Toei Animation of Japan produced a Captain Future (キャプテン・フューチャー Kyaputen Fyūchā) anime TV series of 53 episodes, based on 13 original Hamilton stories. Despite the obvious differences in cultural references and medium, the animated series was true to the original in many ways, from the didactic scientific explanations to the emphasis on the usefulness of brains as opposed to brawn.
The series was translated in several languages and distributed globally. The four episodes comprising the series' second story arc were dubbed into English and released on video by ZIV International in the early 1980s as The Adventures of Captain Future. In the late 80s, Harmony Gold dubbed the series' initial four-part story as an edited "TV movie" simply entitled Captain Future, but with alterations regarding some character names (different from those in Hamilton's stories - whether for licensing law or other reasons, remains a broad field for speculation).
While only eight episodes in total were dubbed into English, the series met huge success particularly in France, where the title and lead character's name were changed to "Capitaine Flam", in Italy with the translated title of "Capitan Futuro", in Latin America and Spain with the title "Capitán Futuro". The success in France and Italy was especially due to anthemic theme tunes (in the dubbed language) which became popular hits in the late 1970s and early 1980s on the French and Italian charts. The Arabic-language version has the title of ( فارس الفضاء Faris al-Fadha'a) ("The Knight of Space") and it is considered one of the most popular anime series after being broadcast many times during the 1980s.
The series was also broadcast in Germany, where it appeared under its original title. However, this version was cut by about a quarter of the original length, which mainly affected violent scenes or those considered 'expendable' for the storylines. The reason for this was the misconception in its time that any Japanese anime was automatically meant for children, not for an older audience; the synchronisation studios simply disregarded the fact that in Japan the series was broadcast in the evening hours, hardly a suitable time for children to watch television. Another well-known title released in Germany at about the same time, Heidi, Girl of the Alps, serves as one of many example cases for this misinterpretation.
The original incidental music was composed by Yuji Ohno, while the English-dubbed version had a new soundtrack composed by Mark Mercury. Mercury's work survived on the Latin American version, but a new opening was added for it, composed by Shuki Levy and sung by Chilean performer Juan Guillermo Aguirre (aka "Capitán Memo").
For the German version, a completely new soundtrack was created by German composer Christian Bruhn. To this day, the soundtrack is considered cult for giving the series the right feeling and not only the theme song is still used as background music in many magazines and other shows. A soundtrack CD was released in 1995, and a remix called "The Final" by Phil Fuldner entered the top ten of the German and Swiss single charts in 1998. The German publisher Bastei-Verlag released a Captain Future comic series with original adventures.
- Captain Future
- was born on the moon as Curtis Newton (short: Curt).
- Prof. Simon Wright
- a human brain living in a box
- Grag and Otho
- Grag, a seven-foot-tall robot; Otho, a white-skinned android; Grag the robot and Otho the synthetic man had a friendly rivalry in the stories. Grag was big and strong and not very bright, while Otho was quick-witted and a master of disguise. Later on, they even got somewhat annoying pets, another standard in pulp storytelling.
- Joan Randall
- an agent at the Planetary Police on earth. Romance was hinted at between Curt and the beautiful Joan Randall, but nothing very explicit ever took place.
- Marshall Ezra Gurney
- another agent at the Planetary Police
- Ul Quorn
- son of Victor Corvos, Captain Future's parents murderer.
"The Death of Captain Future"
Allen Steele's more psychologically and socially complex novella "The Death of Captain Future" won the 1996 Hugo Award for Best Novella.
In the story, as in the real world, Captain Future is a fictional pulp character. The mentally unstable captain Bo McKinnon collects "ancient pulp magazines" and acts out an elaborate fantasy life based on the Captain Future stories.
In March 2010, it was announced that German Director Christian Alvart (Pandorum, Case 39) secured the film rights for Captain Future and is working on a live-action adaptation in 3D.
The Japanese TV series Captain Ultra, a placeholder series between two actual Ultraman series, was more or less a live-action adaptation of the Captain Future series (which has remained popular in Japan as well). The characters were all present, even if the names were changed. To date, Captain Ultra has not been dubbed into English or released in any English-speaking country.
In the TV series The Big Bang Theory, a Captain Future magazine cover is featured as a wall poster beside the entrance door in Leonard's and Sheldon's apartment.
Also, in Cat Planet Cuties, Episode 9 features a well known song from Captain Future. The Cat Planet Cuties series is now being dubbed to English.
- List of defunct American periodicals
- at Don Markstein's Toonopedia. from the original on April 9, 2012.
- (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia