The Astronauts on the Planet of the Vampires
Membership: Captain Chris Galland; Craig; Brenda; Ellisa Galland; two others whose names I don't know
Purpose: To survive and defeat the vampiric Domies
Affiliations: Bruiser Culhane (Warlord of the Bay Ridge assassins); Bad Lenny Siegle (leader of the Myrtle Street Boys)
Enemies: Proctor; The Domies
Base of Operations: New York, c.2010
First Appearance: Planet of the Vampires (Atlas, February 1975)
History: On April 21st, 2010 six astronauts (3 couples I believe) are returning home to Earth from a five year mission to Mars. The last message they had received from their homeworld was that war had been declared, and since then they have found it impossible to contact Mission Control. Running low on resources, they were forced to return to Earth, in spite of fears that nuclear war might be raging. Without ground assistance they are forced to land in the sea by Coney Island just outside New York. Emerging from their ship, the Aries VII probe, they find the city in ruins. Almost as soon as they emerge, they are attacked by savages. Five of the astronauts are rescued by people in a small aircraft, but one is killed. The rescuers take the surviving astronauts to their home, a large dome located where the Empire State Building originally stood. These "Domies" are led by Proctor, who extends the astronauts the hospitality of their home. But while investigating screams they can hear, the spacemen discover an assembly line drawing blood from captured savages. Horrified, they free the captives, and led by one of them, Bruiser Culhane. they escape the Dome. It transpires that while the savages have developed immunities to the terrible new diseases afflicting the world, the Domies have not, and so, like vampires, they drink the blood of the savages to survive.
With Bruiser's aid, the group begin to unite the savages into an army to battle the Domies, but the vampires capture both Ellisa and Brenda. Galland vows to rescue both of them. The two male astronauts fly an old fighter plane loaded with explosives, into the dome, bailing out at the last second. In the resulting chaos, they then enter the Dome to search for the missing women. They discover Brenda in a lab, already drained to death. Craig, devastated at the death of his wife, remains behind to grieve, while Chris continues his search. He comes across the Proctor, and shoots him through the head, killing him. Immediately after this, he is reunited with Elissa, who has been found unharmed by Craig. Stealing one of the Domies floating skycraft, Chris and Elissa escape, but Craig elects to stay behind with his dead spouse.
Flying off, the last couple decide to go as far away as possible in the hope of finding somewhere peaceful, eventually running out of fuel near Los Angeles. However they are attacked by a giant mutant spider as they make their way through the jungle they landed in, and Elissa is killed before Chris can dispose of the beast, leaving Chris the sole survivor.
Comments: What a depressing series! I was informed of it by regular site contributor Mike Murphy, who sent me comments and the cover illustrations used on this page. He notes the following:
One of two inaccurate covers -- no capes or Christopher Lee look-a-likes to be had in the series. The story of the series itself was actually a hybrid rip-off -- a combination of Pierre Boulle's Planet of the Apes and Richard Matheson's I Am Legend.
Second of two inaccurate covers - there was no blond male astronaut in the cast. He was, in fact, African-American. They probably thought (this being 1975) that this would hurt sales. The woman in the blood draining device was also black in the actual story. #3's art was the best of the lot (Russ Heath).
Any Additions/Corrections? Please let me know.
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