COMMANDO CODY: SKY MARSHAL OF THE UNIVERSE (1953) – This will be a comprehensive look at the winding saga of Commando Cody, the character’s changing names and his status as the inspiration for the much later Rocketeer figure. As a quick preface to this look at the short-lived half-hour television series Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe I will recap the three Republic serials that preceded it.
King of the Rocket Men (1949) – This 12-episode serial was directed by Fred C. Brannon and written by Royal K. Cole, William Lively & Sol Shor. An organization called Science Associates finds its major scientists being killed off one by one through the efforts of a mysterious villain calling himself Dr. Vulcan.
One intended victim, Dr. Millard, secretly survives the attempt on his life but lets the villain and his underlings believe him to be dead. He covertly joins forces with fellow S.A. scientist Jeffrey King (Tristram Coffin) to fight back and flush out Dr. Vulcan and his organization.
With Dr. Millard playing dead, Jeffrey King dons the experimental rocket pack invented by Millard and takes to the air. King, the title “King” of course, also arms himself with a ray-gun pistol that he and Millard developed together. To keep his identity a secret, Jeffrey wears a helmet that conceals his face in addition to providing protection.
Through 12 chapters the hero thwarts Dr. Vulcan’s schemes for world conquest and brings him to justice after he destroys New York City in the rollicking finale. (It’s just recycled footage from the 1933 movie Deluge.) King of the Rocket Men was edited down to become the 1951 feature film Lost Planet Airmen and became the inspiration for the band Commander (sic) Cody and The Lost Planet Airmen. Continue reading