Real Name: Anthony "Buck" Rogers
First Appearance: "Armageddon-2419 A.D." (Amazing Stories, August 1928)
Identity/Class: Normal human
Occupation: Former airforce pilot; later surveyor
Affiliations: Wilma Deering; Dr.Huer
Enemies: Killer Kane; Ardala
Known Relatives: None known
Aliases: None known
Base of Operations: America, c.2419 A.D.
History: Anthony "Buck" Rogers first taste of action was during the Great War, when he served as a U.S. Air Service support pilot. After the war ended, he had no idea just how long it would be before his next taste of action.
Following his military service Buck started working as a surveyor in Pennsylvania. He was down a mine in 1919 when a cave-in occurred, and was trapped. The cave-in released a pocket of a strange, radioactive gas, which placed the surveyor into a state of suspended animation. It would be five hundred years before he awoke.
Buck was understandably disorientated by his experience, and things weren't helped when the first person he met after he recovered tried to shoot him. Wilma Deering was hunting for outlaws, and figured the bizarre looking man in front of her must be one of her quarry. Luckily for Buck she tripped over a root, and he was able to grab her ray gun. He then managed to win her confidence by killing the very men she had been tracking. Wilma explained to him how the world had changed. The Mongol hordes now threatened to take over the entire civilised world.
Buck returned with Wilma to the spectacular and futuristic cities with their air cars and synthetic foods. Being a man of action from a more primitive age, he soon found his niche in the military fighting the Mongols, swiftly rising to the rank of Captain, then becoming a secret agent, an intelligence officer and finally the head of the Rocket Rangers. Throughout this time Wilma remains his closest ally, although he also makes the acquaintance of the genius Dr. Huer, who acts as his advisor in this strange new world. Together they spend decades battling the Mongols, led by the malevolent Killer Kane and the beautiful but evil Ardala.
Comments: Created by Philip Francis Nowlan. Buck's first appearance (as Anthony Rogers) was in the short story "Armageddon-2419 A.D." which was published in the August 1928 issue of Amazing Stories. "The Airlords of Han", a follow-up story, was printed in the March 1929 edition.
Meanwhile the president of National Newspaper Service Syndicate, John Flint Dille, had read and enjoyed the original story. So much so that he approached Nowlan to do a science fiction comic strip based on the concept, the first such strip in the world. Richard Calkins was commissioned to do the art. It debuted on the 7th of January, 1929, under the name "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century". Three years later Buck also made the jump to radio, in a four times weekly broadcast starting on the 7th November 1932. During its run Buck would be portrayed by four actors: Matt Crowley, Curtis Arnall, Carl Frank and John Larkin
With his success in other mediums it was only a matter of time before Buck transferred to the big screen. The man chosen to play the part, arguably the most famous Buck Rogers of all the men to portray him, was Buster Crabbe, who had already twice played Buck's comic strip rival Flash Gordon. Major changes to the premise were made for the RKO serial of Buck's adventures. Instead of being trapped in a cave in alone, Buck's aircraft is forced down by a blizzard over the Arctic, and in order to survive until rescue comes, he and his friend Buddy are forced to use the newly discovered Nirvano gas to place themselves into suspended animation. They are awakened in 2040 (500 years from the date of the serial). Killer Kane is now an evil gangster who rules the world with an iron fist, and the resistance is led from a secret laboratory by Dr. Huer.
The most recent screen version of Buck was made in 1979, with Gil Gerard playing the lead role. This time round Buck was an astronaut piloting a space shuttle, which goes off course. Frozen by the cold of space, Buck thaws out in 2479, after the Earth has undergone the trauma of a nuclear war. The series ran three seasons.
Many thanks to Terry Hooper of Black Tower Comics Group for providing the image of Buck used at the top of the page.
Any Additions/Corrections? Please let me know.
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