House Of Mystery’s “The Rebel” from issue 228 of 1974 is all about the future: A Malthusian, dystopian future that never happened.
The story “The Rebel” takes place tomorrow. A young man is being chased by police (who look like evil space aliens) in the future. Eventually, much to his horror, he’s captured and genetically altered by doctors at the “Conversion Center”. In the future, the world is polluted and people must be genetically modified for their own good and survival.
Typically, the story is a Malthusian story. The Malthusians said the earth would run out of food. They said we would overpopulate the planet. They said we would pollute the environment. We would run out of fuel. However, the Malthusians were wrong because science developed ways around these problems like how to grow more food on less land.
Malthusian ideas began to pop up in popular culture in the 1970s. Malthusian ideas were promoted in books like “The Population Bomb” or “Silent Spring” and discussed pollution and population growth. Movies like Soylent Green, Silent Running, and Logan’s Run, played on Malthusian themes. Ideas like population control, food shortages, pollution, birth control, sex education, and abortion, made their way into popular media of the 1970s.
The story, like other Malthusian based stories, suggests possible solutions to societal problems. Rather than fix the structure of society, we must fix the individual (gas masks built into the body to deal with pollution). In regards to other problems like population control, the Malthusians suggested eugenics ideas like sterilization and birth control. Malthusian ideas formed the basis of many comic book stories from the 1970s and were conservative in thought.
Neal Adams is the comic book artist in this story. Neal Adams is famous for doing early “Batman” artwork. He did early artwork for the “Uncanny X-Men”. Also, he did art for early “Legion Of Super-heroes”. Plus, he did work on magazines such as “Conan The Barbarian” and “Deadly Hands Of Kung Fu”. Recently, he’s done work on “Harley Quinn”. Neal Adams is considered the best comic book artist, and he has done lots of comic book art.
The comic book story “The Rebel” is interesting. It plays on Malthusian ideas, and it shows us the horrors of such ideas. However, it really feels like liberal propaganda of the 1970s. There are lots of liberal ideas underlying this comic book story.