In the heyday of America's love affair with space travel, there were few products that weren't tied in somehow to rockets and astronauts. One of these was Inapak, an unfortunately named Ovaltine wannabe.

Jumping on the bandwagon with both feet it came up with the eponymous "Major Inapak—-the Space Ace", to show all the junior spaceboys and spacegirls how the invention of its product was on a par with the wheel, electric light and the atom bomb (really: it made that comparison). And it did it through a fairly astonishing comic book illustrated by industry vet Bob Powell, probably best known for his work on "Sheena" and "Mr. Mystic".

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The story opens on June 2, 2031, with the Old Master Rocketeer spinning yarns to a gaggle of enthralled kids.

Very enthralled

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After reminiscing about the first lunar landing in 1984, at about the same time the cold war had escalated to open nuclear hostilities, the kids are told how a manned lunar mission is inspired by the discovery of radio signals broadcast from the moon. Fortunately, a flotilla of ready-made spaceships is at hand in the form of America's mighty arsenal of intercontinental missiles. Someone comes up with the bright idea that "If you substituted fuel tanks for the warhead and added a central control cabin" one of the rockets could be sent to the moon. There isn't much debate. "Then do it, Colonel!" declares the president. "Right away!"

A little urgency is added when someone decodes the message coming from the moon and discovers that it says, "Destroy earth!"

Major Inapak, naturally, is the only choice to make the trip.

He's hero-worshiped by most of the free world, but by no one so much as little orphan Robin, who is prone to saying things like "Jumping ramjets!" when excited.

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Robin, of course, stows away on the rocket. This throws the major for a loop, but he figures he could use the company and, besides, a little extra help in landing the rocket might come in handy. We learn all kinds of interesting scientific facts, too, such as that the moon is "less than half as far away as the earth is from the moon."

Meanwhile, the city of Denver has been mysteriously wiped off the face of the earth, probably because no one there has been drinking their Inapak.

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On the moon, things aren't going so well, either. An idiotic-looking creature called a "lunarchip", for some unaccountable reason, has bitten through the villain's coaxial cable, shutting down their radar and letting the major make an undetected landing. The villain is named Roxtyl, by the way, his mother evidently being a pharmacist, and he came to the moon from a planet that orbits on the other side of the moon from the earth. That explains why no one ever saw it before. Major Inapak and Robin discover Roxtyl's secret giant ray projector and figure out his nefarious scheme to microwave our planet.

There's a handy diagram provided that makes all this perfectly clear.

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The major decides on the only thing to do: turn the projector around so it points at the villain's planet. It's a tough job because in spite of the airless, waterless environment the transmitter has gotten rusty.

The villains show up. Robin runs for cover and discovers the lunarchip in cave. Inapak is captured. With the lunarchip's help, Robin saves the major by rolling a giant boulder onto the bad guys. There is a big fight.

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It's too late, though, to stop Roxtyl, who pulls the switch. And, boy, is he is for a surprise! "Awk!" he says, noticing for the first time that the projector is facing the wrong way. "No!! The...electricator is pointing...the...wrong...way!! no!! NO!!"

"Baarrooom!" goes his planet.

There is nothing left to do but surrender to Major Inapak.

Inapak and Robin return to earth. Robin smuggles the lunarchip with him. Happily, the creature flourishes in earth's atmosphere and gravity.

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But there is an even bigger surprise for the kids listening to this tale! It turns out that the Old Master Rocketeer has really been Robin all along! Wow! That's a twist I never saw coming!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have an ice-cold glass of Inapak waiting for me.

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