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Comic Book / Inspector Spacetime

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    British Comic 

In 1967, English publishing house Creation and Concept Comics Publications' first issue of Inspector Spacetime hit the newsstands. While the series has earned its share of accolades — Alan Moore and Warren Ellis, both longtime fans of the Inspector's adventures, have written a few award-winning issues — it's also drawn its share of criticism for cutting corners, and is regarded as one of the most wildly uneven comics series of all time. Nevertheless, this is the only comic adaptation true enough to the source material to even qualify as part of the Expanded Universe.

This comic provides examples of:

  • Art Shift: Due to strict deadlines, about a third of the comics consist of immobile stick figures with transcripts taken from various episodes pasted over their heads. And the less said about the issue drawn (and, alas, written) by Rob Liefeld, the better.
  • Race Lift: The first few issues in the Tenth Inspector's run depict him as white. In a later issue the Inspector claims he was "feeling a bit peaked from Venusian flu" at the time.

    American Comic 

In the early '70s, Archie Comics, on the lookout for hot new properties and aware that American teens were still gripped by the anglophilia that followed in the wake of Beatlemania, purchased the rights to produce a comics series (under its Red Circle imprint) about the burgeoning British phenomenon that was Inspector Spacetime. They then immediately forgot what they were doing and handed the writing duties over to Henry "Bud" Wickerman and L. W. Grievely, two interns whose lack of writing experience or knowledge of Inspector Spacetime was balanced by their enthusiasm and love of illegal drugs. Starting in 1973, the team produced over 400 (increasingly convoluted and surreal) IS comics which fans now call "ISRC" (for "Inspector Spacetime Red Circle") or "UMC" (for "unadulterated madness comics").

ISRC was finally canceled in 1979 when a new bill closed the obscure tax loophole that had allowed the comic to remain profitable despite its readership of approximately thirty people. The comics are now valuable collector's items.

This comic provides examples of:

  • Cerebus Syndrome: Over the course of its run, the series became more and more burdened with its authors' half-baked political, religious, and philosophical views. The book was canceled in the middle of an arc about the 22nd Inspector riding a colossal robotic Ayn Rand into battle against God while wielding a marijuana leaf made out of flaming swords.
  • Continuity Snarl: Over the course of four hundred issues, the comic develops a rich, textured, and completely self-contradictory continuity. The Inspector is variously said to be a.) an ascended human, b.) the last member of an alien race, c.) the son of God, d.) the son of two differently-gendered versions of himself from the future, and e.) a peyote-induced hallucination.
  • Crossover: The issue drawn by Robert Crumb introduced Fritz the Cat to the IS universe.
  • Disowned Adaptation: Needless to say.


    Japanese Comic 

The Inspector Spacetime manga spinoff (大胆な現実の調査官4, or Bold Reality Investigator Four) was released in Japan between 1989 and 1992. It focuses on Reality Investigator (loosely based on Marius Goring's Fourth Inspector), a moody but stunningly beautiful alien prince who rights wrongs throughout all spacetime with the help of a pagoda-shaped time travelling phonebox, a perky high-school girl named Ayano, and a cute robot cat named Nyuichi.

This comic provides examples of:

  • Bishounen: Reality Investigator, so much.
  • Calling Your Attacks: "Visual Satchel Blade, GO!"
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Nyuichi, the manga's version of FE-Line.
  • Shout-Out: When the Inspector is asked his age, he responds that he is "Over 9000." This might jokingly refer to Akira Toriyama's brief involvement with the manga.
  • Tournament Arc: For reasons that aren't fully explained, Reality Investigator spends six issues engaging a series of opponents, including his previous three metamorphoses, in superpowered martial arts battles. These issues bear Akira Toriyama's signature art style, although the work is credited to a mysterious manga-ka named "Mayor Ita."


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