Garth – Story 20 – Space-Time Rivals

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Space-Time Rivals
Writer: Don Freeman
Artist: Steve Dowling/John Allard
Published: 18/3/52 – 5/7/52 (L66 – L159)
Number of Episodes: 94

Now returned to the International Research Station at El Wadi, Lumiere uses its resources to do a thorough analysis of the remains of Garth’s Jasonite space-time kit. Garth remains in England, as a guest at Sam Gorgon’s home, waiting for Lumiere to send for him. Several days pass before Garth receives a telegram from Dawn, who is acting as Lumiere’s secretary at El Wadi:


Garth sends a telegram to say he is coming at once, and Gorgon and Sylvia see him off at the airport. On boarding his plane, he is surprised to find that Karen is also a passenger on the same flight. She tells him she has a secretarial job at the desert observatory. On arrival at El Wadi, Garth is met by a military escort, and he offers Karen a lift to her office. To his surprise she declines, informing him that she is working for a foreign government – Boravia. Colonel Bluff, the commander of the British forces there, explains to Garth that as soon as the risk of interplanetary invasion from Jason had been averted, the various governments had fallen out. It is no longer an international enterprise – all the governments are now working independently. They are competing against each other to find the secret of space-time travel!

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Garth reaches Lumiere’s department, and Dawn conducts him to where Lumiere lies sleeping on a divan, fully clothed. He is being watched by a worried doctor who wants to revive him – to save his life. Garth warns him to leave his friend to awaken in his own time – when he has solved the scientific problem he is working on. (Lumiere’s amusing eccentricity of being able to solve scientific problems by sleeping on them was a recurring feature of Freeman’s stories, but would not be continued by later writers.)

Meanwhile, Karen has reported to her boss in the Boravian section, General Rataban, who is both a scientist and a soldier. He tells her that the conquest of space-time travel is a military operation, and that his country must get it first – at any cost. Work on the secret is well advanced, but there is a final equation that still eludes him. He is immediately alerted when Karen informs him that Garth has arrived in the British section, and may be the catalyst that can supply the answer.

In Lumiere’s quarters, Dawn shows Garth a blackboard covered with equations and formulae, that were unresolved – at which point Lumiere had resorted to his deep sleep technique. She confides to Garth that she hopes he won’t solve the final equation, because she fears that it would involve Garth in some mad adventure into space or time.

Karen arrives at the British section on horseback, having crossed the desert from the Boravian section, and asks to see Garth. She tells him that she had heard the professor was sick, but Garth sees through this as an excuse when Karen (who, like Dawn, is enamoured of Garth) tries to vamp him.

Lumiere suddenly awakens, with a cry of “Eureka!” having solved the final equation in his usual fashion. After refreshing himself with food and drink, Lumiere goes to his blackboard, followed by Garth, Dawn – and Karen. He quickly inserts the vital missing equation – and, unseen, Karen carefully copies it in lipstick on her mirror compact.

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As Lumiere excitedly expounds his scientific reasoning, Dawn counsels him not to talk whilst Karen is listening, but Lumiere just laughs when he sees Karen may have been taking notes – “even if she did, I doubt if she could understand them!” Garth interposes to say that Dawn is right, because Karen is now working for a rival power. Karen says languidly that if they don’t trust her, then she will take her leave.

Lumiere and Garth escort her outside to her horse, and as she rides off across the desert, Garth suddenly notices the glint of a rifle barrel in the leaves of a nearby palm tree. He grabs a lump of rock, and hurls it unerringly at the palm tree. A shot rings out, and an Arab gunman falls from the tree. It had been an assassination attempt on Lumiere.

On learning of the incident, Karen protests to her ruthless boss, General Ratablan, who admits that he had ordered the hit on Lumiere. Karen then produces her compact and asks dryly: “Can you read lipstick?”

Meanwhile Lumiere is explaining to Garth the fruits of his research on the Jasonite fragments. Although they were composed of elements unknown on Earth, Lumiere is confident he can create them by transmutation of terrestrial elements, using a new cyclotron which he is having constructed. Whilst this work is underway, Lumiere encourages Garth to scout around on horseback and check on the movements of Karen and the Boravians.

Using binoculars, Karen sees Garth approaching her section, and rides out to meet him. After some verbal fencing, they dismount and settle at an oasis where Karen again vamps Garth, and asks if he is in a relationship with Dawn, and where she stands. Exasperated, Garth repeats his standard response to Karen: he simply regards Dawn and herself equally – but only as friends. Whilst they are talking, three Arabs have stealthily crept up behind them.

They are soon routed by Garth’s enormous strength, and flee into the desert on camels. Garth accuses Karen of being complicit in an attempt to kidnap him – much to her distress, as she had not been involved. Garth rides back to report the incident to Colonel Bluff.

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Bluff tells him that the Arabs have dispersed; it will be almost impossible to prove they were sent by Boravia, and he wants to avoid an international incident by accusing them. Lumiere then invites Garth to see the machine he is constructing – a machine for travelling through time. Meanwhile, Karen has returned to the Boravian section, and berates Ratablan for his attempt to kidnap Garth. Ratablan tells her that he is no longer concerned about Lumiere or Garth, because he has now solved the secret of time travel, thanks to Karen copying Lumiere’s equation. A Boravian time machine is even now under construction.

Later, Garth and Dawn are relaxing at the side of the swimming pool in their swimming costumes, when Lumiere runs up to announce that he has complete his ‘space-time globe’, and he wants to make its first practical test. Dawn throws a towel over her bikini and follows Garth and Lumiere to the control room. They learn that the globe has a transparent, permeable wall that they can pass through like a soap bubble – but unlike a bubble, it will not burst.

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Lumiere indicates the extremely delicate controls which incorporate a left-hand switchboard for travelling into the past, and a right-hand one for futurity. He demonstrates how it works by setting a dial for millions of years into the past – the Mesozoic era. Just as he does so, Dawn’s heavy towel accidentally brushes the controls, activating the machine. It vanishes with a blinding flash and an implosion of air! The technicians summon Bluff who sees from a second control board – in sympathy with the globe – that they have been projected back to prehistoric times.

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Lumiere’s space-time globe materialises some 150 million years in the past, in the Jurassic period, and from the globe they gaze in wonder at lumbering saurian monsters in a swampy jungle landscape, adjoining a lagoon.

Although Lumiere had intended to investigate the future first, he is happy to stay where they are and make notes and records of the Mesozoic era.

Back in the present day, Karen has called to see Lumiere to warn him of Ratablan’s breakthrough, but learns that he has departed into the past. She looks at the duplicate control board, and makes a careful note of the time setting before riding back to Ratablan to give him the news. For his part, Ratablan has completed the construction of his own ‘time sphere’, a solid metal sphere with an observation window. He looks at Karen’s readings and decides to visit the same period, lest Lumiere gain a scientific advantage. He summons Smitz, the toughest of his officers, and invites Karen to join them. Karen readily agrees, but first changes into as bathing costume to make her level with Dawn in her battle to win Garth’s affections.

The Boravian globe vanishes into time, emerging very near to Lumiere’s craft on an atoll in the lagoon. As Garth watches, Karen is the first to disembark from the metal sphere. But her arrival has been noticed by non-human eyes too, and a monster plunges towards her. Lumiere identifies it as a plesiosaur. Karen is swept off the islet by a powerful lunge of the sea-dragon’s head, into the turgid water. Garth leaps from the globe to rescue her, and finds that he has mysteriously gained the power of flight. Diving into the water he drags Karen away from the jaws of the plesiosaur, just as Ratablan and Smitz emerge from their sphere.

Suddenly, a new monster enters the fray – identified by Lumiere as an ichthyosaurus – and seizes the sea dragon’s neck in its terrible teeth. Ratablan urges the armed Smitz to shoot at the creatures.

Garth carries Karen back to Ratablan’s islet. Meanwhile, Lumiere and Dawn have ventured out from their globe, and like Garth discover that they too can now fly. Lumiere deduces that they have absorbed some of the properties of the globe. He congratulates Ratablan on having reached the same conclusions as himself, but Ratablan concedes that Lumiere’s transparent craft is superior to his. He instructs Smitz to put his weapon away – Lumiere has earlier objected to the destruction of any monsters – and invites Lumiere to look over his sphere. Garth remarks to Karen that his sudden friendship is suspicious, but Karen urges that they should all be friends, and hints that Garth’s rescue of her was a sign of his own regard for her. Garth insists it was just common humanity as Dawn comes up and professes that she is terrified.

They all set off to take up Ratablan’s invitation to inspect his sphere. Whilst Garth’s party is able to fly, the two Boravians and Karen have to follow in a rubber dinghy. Arriving ahead of them, Lumiere whilst trusting of a “brother scientist”, heeds Garth’s warning by immobilising his globe’s controls.

Meanwhile, Ratablan has instructed Smitz to conceal weapons under camping gear in the dinghy, and recruits the peeved Karen to distract Garth whilst he plans to “handle the simple professor.” They arrive in the dinghy, and Ratablan announces that he has brought a tent to protect the ladies from the fierce Mesozoic sun. For his part, Lumiere has lit a fire to scare off monsters and insects.

As the two scientists converse, Garth announces his intention of diving into the lagoon to gather oysters to help sustain them, as they had left without food supplies. Dawn urges him not to risk his life, but Karen dives in to follow Garth down. Underneath the water she kisses Garth, and continues to vamp him after they return to the surface.

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Ratablan is having no joy in prising out of Lumiere the secret of how his time-globe works, and is annoyed that he has not absorbed the power of flight through being in the globe. Lumiere explains that the radiation is no longer active, because he has neutralised it.

That night, they all enjoy the prehistoric meal of oysters, and Lumiere tells the dismayed Dawn that they will be staying another day in the past, in order to complete his scientific report on the era. Ratablan invites Dawn and Karen to sleep in the tent, whilst the men take turns in mounting guard over the camp fire, whilst the others sleep.

Inside the tent, Karen taunts Dawn by claiming that Garth had kissed her underwater. Distracted by Karen’s mockery, Dawn rushes out of the tent – to where some pterodactyls are hovering. Her screams rouse Garth, who seizes a burning brand from the fire, and flies to her rescue, driving the creature away. Dawn asks Garth if he had kissed Karen, and Garth tells her it has been the other way round. Ratablan overhears their conversation, and muses to himself that he has found Garth’s Achilles’ heel.

Next morning, Lumiere finds the enormous footprints of a diplodocus or brontosaurus and Ratablan agrees they should follow them, as they are harmless herbivores. Garth stays behind to guard the globe and the two girls, and Smitz is sent to guard the sphere on the islet.

As he leaves, Karen asks him to give her a gun from the dinghy; she has a hunch that she may need it. She turns back to discover that a massive triceratops is nearby and Garth and Dawn have climbed up a tree to escape it. However, the monster lumbers past, having lost interest in them.

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Meanwhile, Lumiere and Ratablan are filming a brontosaurus which has managed to get itself bogged down in a swamp. Suddenly it is attacked by a tyrannosaurus. Lumiere decides that Garth would wish to witness this battle of the giants, and flies back to fetch him. On the way, he finds that he is losing the power of flight, and arrives on foot. Whilst Lumiere remains, Garth flies off to watch the battle, following the footprints. Dawn impulsively flies after Garth, feeling safer in his presence. But as happened to Lumiere, they begin to lose their power of flight, just managing to reach the waiting Ratablan.

They all watch as the tyrannosaurus kills the brontosaurus. But when it begins to rend its body Dawn faints in horror. Whilst Garth tries to revive her, Ratablan puts his plan into action. He opens fire on the tyrannosaurus, drawing the maddened monster towards Garth and Dawn before running off. With Garth having lost the power of flight, he lifts the unconscious Dawn over his shoulder and climbs the nearest tall tree, where they are trapped.

Back at the camp, Lumiere is explaining to Karen that his powers of flight have been lost because the radiation from the globe has dissipated. She realises with horror that the same thing might have happened to Garth in the vicinity of the tyrannosaurus. A tremendous electrical rainstorm breaks out, and Lumiere and Karen rush to take shelter in the globe. At the height of the storm a huge wave sweeps over the islet and carries Ratablan’s sphere away into the sea, leaving Smitz stranded outside it, until he too is swept away by a second wave.

When Ratablan staggers through the now weakening storm and reaches the camp, he is appalled to see the islet virtually submerged and his sphere floating in the sea. As the storm ends, Lumiere and Karen emerge from the globe, and Lumiere tells Ratablan that Smitz had also been lost in the sea.

Dropping all pretence at friendship, Ratablan tells them that Garth had Dawn are also lost, since he had left them under attack from the tyrannosaurus. He boasts to Karen that he has succeeded where she failed. Karen runs off into the jungle with her gun, to try and rescue Garth.

At gunpoint, Ratablan demands that Lumiere tells him which reading on the dial will take them back to the present. Realizing that Ratablan does not understand the use of the right and left panels, Lumiere tells him “1952”, which from the present setting of the controls will actually precipitate him into the year nineteen thousand five hundred and twenty.

The globe, with only Ratablan aboard, disappears into the far future, and Lumiere spots that Smitz has been washed ashore – alive. As Lumiere helps him ashore, Smitz learns that Ratablan has abandoned them both.

Meanwhile, Garth is desperately trying to beat off the claws and jaws of the tyrannosaurus with a branch torn from the tree. As Karen arrives she sees that the weight of the dinosaur is now splitting the tree, which is beginning to totter, and Garth and Dawn are thrown heavily onto the marshy ground. Quickly recovering, Garth snatches Dawn up into his arms and staggers clear just as the massive tree falls across the tyrannosaur, temporarily pinning it to the earth. Karen pours shot after shot into the great saurian’s head until it lies dead.

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Garth looks wonderingly at Karen, remarking that she appears to have defied her boss to come to their rescue, and Karen asserts that she is on his side, which he must surely now believe after all that has passed. Watched sadly by Dawn, Garth takes Karen into his arms and kisses her.

The three of them then return to Lumiere’s camp where he greets them thankfully. Garth asserts that it is now time to leave the past – but looks round in vain for the globe. Lumiere informs him that it has been taken by Ratablan by force of arms, but that he had tricked the General into far futurity. He adds that the Boravian sphere was not submerged, but had washed up on another islet, which they can reach in the dinghy. With Smitz’s help he can make any necessary repairs, and then they can pursue Ratablan into the future in his own machine.

The sphere is made operational, and Lumiere pulls the lever which sends them off on their second voyage into space-time – into the mysterious future!

Previous: The Wings of the Night | Flight into the Future

Synopsis by Philip Harbottle

• Garth: An Introduction

• Garth – Strip Checklist – Part One | Two | Three | Four | Five | Six | Seven | Eight (Garth Reprints)

A Tribute to Garth Artist and Editor John Allard by Philip Harbottle

In a feature encompassing the entire history of the much-loved strip, Garth writer Philip Harbottle pays tribute to artist and editor John Allard, who worked at the Mirror for over 50 years, outlining his huge contribution to Garth‘s enduring success

Strip dates given are those of their original appearance in the British newspaper the Daily Mirror, first compiled by Geoffrey Wren and Ann Holmes and updated by Ant Jones and Philip Harbottle

Garth © REACH/ Daily Mirror