As a young boy, I can recall playing ouside in my yard when suddenly the still of the day was shattered by the thunderous resonance of a massive sonic boom, the tremendous clap of which would rattle the windows of all the houses in the neighborhood. I would look up to see the supersonic jets flying high overhead, contrails and exhaust streaming behind as they would make their way to a nearby military airfield. I can also recall my friends and I riding our bikes to the nearby Nike missile base, where we would often go and play army, using some of the then-abandoned concrete bunkers as our makeshift headquarters and shelter from fantasy 'enemy' gunfire.
As children, my friends and I had no real concept of the actual dangers posed by the threat of nuclear devastation, as we had been born into this 'cold war', but as yet had felt no effects from it, aside from being trained to "duck and cover"in school, and the weekly air-raid siren tests. Still, to this very day, for all of us who live on the face of the earth, the threat of imminent worldwide nuclear destruction is a constant reality, as it ever has been since the last days at the end of World War II.
Today our enemies are perhaps not so clearly defined as in the 50's and 60's, when the watchword of the day was 'communism', and the enemy that we in the USA most feared was Russia. For younger readers, it may be difficult to relate, but your parents and grandparents had to contend daily with the dark cloud looming omnipresently overhead with the threat of likely nuclear extermination. The Super-Powers were poised in a stalemate stare-down, watching and waiting for the other to flinch as their fingers teased shakily on the big red button. Youngsters were given a whole new vocabulary as words and terms once reserved for the scientific community became more common in daily usage, words such as radiation, strontium 90, fallout, half-life, roentgens, neutrons, gamma and beta rays. Tenets like situational ethics became more predominate in direct correlation to the increasing concerns where human life may be put at risk, especially in consideration of life and death motivations as caused by the imminent fear of death by atomic or nuclear bomb. Fallout shelters were constructed in inestimable numbers throughout the United Staes, Russia, and every other nation with the capabilities to do so. The world was preparing for the apparent inevitable destruction to come, and humanity was grasping at straws in an effort to find ways to somehow survive intact in the face of global obliteration.
That is the era from whence these comic stories were born, the era of the realization of the possibility of actual and complete worldwide destruction.
This therefore is that day,
THE DAY BEFORE DOOMSDAY!
Art by Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers
Originally published in STRANGE TALES # 99, 1962
What is the day after "the day before Doomsday"?
What do you call it?...Oh yeah, I know...
Art by Paul Reinman
Originally published in STRANGE TALES # 75, 1960
Whether by inter-continental ballistic nuclear missiles, or by poisonous gas, or by a plethora of other man-made instruments of mass death, the people of the earth continue to exist in a limbo of impending destruction. The sense of doom is perhaps not so acute as it existed decades ago, and most of humanity dwells in a numb and impervious state of denial when it comes to such dark possibilities. We mostly live with a sense of apathetic ignorance, wrapped in an ever-growing cocoon of complacent and casual continuity of existance, possessing a "so far, so good" attitude. Like Lynn and Walter, the two scientists in the second tale, some find hope in a supernatural Divine Power beyond our human purview, whereas some cling to only what can be seen and heard and felt by natural means alone. If such a Doomsday is in fact coming to us soon, as the banshee of constant media around us wails in it's dire warnings, we can choose to be like scientist Walter and cry "There is no greater power!", and gnash our teeth as we relegate our doomed and useless lives to oblivion. My hope is we would be more like Walter's comrade Lynn, trusting in a greater Wisdom to lead us.
The next time you stand beneath a star-filled sky and look up, or watch the glorious colors of a majestic sunrise or sunset, or witness the birth of a baby, or hold your child in your arms, or look into the eyes of one you love, and feel the beating of your own heart, I hope you will know, just as Lynn, that there exists a supernatural power beyond our full comprehension, greater than we can know in and of ourselves alone.
Even if these are just corny comic book stories.
to find out what happens
THE DAY AFTER DOOMSDAY!