Mystery in Space #22
Cover Date: October—November 1954 Cover Artist: Murphy Anderson
Legend has it that Mystery in Space editor Julius Schwartz commissioned the cover art first, then challenged the comic’s writer to devise a storyline to match the cover image. If that was the case with this issue, then writer Otto Binder more than earned his paycheck. “The Square Earth” relates the tale of Jason Wright, a space explorer/degenerate gambler whose reckless wagering threatens to drive a wedge between himself and his fiancée Zinda Lowell. In a last-ditch effort to save their relationship, Lowell asks a scientist friend to turn Earth and its moon into giant dice, seemingly slaughtering all the planet’s inhabitants, but so revolting Wright that he immediately forswears his gambling habit. In the end, the “square Earth” (technically a cube) is revealed to be an optical illusion, and the lesson is learned without the needless deaths of more than three hundred billion peo-ple. Future issues of Mystery in Space would expand on the “Earth in peril” theme, with covers depicting the planet engulfed in flames, sliced in half by a razor-thin disintegrator beam, shrunk to two feet in diameter, and encased inside a “cosmic safe.”