Summary and themes
As with many other stories in girls’ comics, this science fiction story clearly shows influences from other media current at the time, modified for a young female readership. Xenia is the daughter of the king and queen of an alien planet; as with Superman and his fellow Kryptonians, these aliens look just like humans outwardly, but with some important differences once you get past the surface. The king and queen know about some of the differences, but not all of them, as we find out…
In parallel with the Superman story, the protagonist’s planet is doomed; her mother and father take her for a picnic on non-doomed Earth and then leave her there, with a communication pendant via which they tell her it’s ‘for her own good’ so to speak. They think she will do well on Earth because she is stronger, faster, and more intelligent than humans are; but what they don’t know is that her alien life-force is too strong for earth life, and anything that she touches will be zapped stone dead!
Adi Tantimedh draws a parallel with another hot media trope of the time: The Incredible Hulk tv series and other similar series where the protagonist is ‘on the run and on the road’, a danger to others as well as being endangered themselves. As this is a girls’ comic story with a finite span, things end happily but not before the heroine is in quite severe danger of losing her own life: a lightning strike hits her and drains enough of her life force that she no longer kills Earth creatures with her lightest touch, but her vital energies ebb lower and lower until she is herself at death’s door. Luckily, some of the humans she has befriended find her communication pendant, which is conveniently trying to tell her that her home planet has reversed the problems it was facing. Her parents come to take her home, and all that remains is for a tearful farewell with her friends before her hand-held doctor unit revitalises her energies and she is beamed back up aboard the spaceship.
The main focus of the story is on Xenia’s very literal alienation and on her struggles to understand and adapt to the world that she thinks she will be living on for the rest of her life. Readers of girls’ comics seemed to delight in stories in which the girl protagonists were unhappy, in danger, having difficulties in making friends, or even enslaved by adults against whom they were powerless. (There were reader response forms in every issue, asking anyone who wrote in to rate their top 3 most-liked stories and the one they most disliked; the editors regularly got a lot of responses.) At the same time there are also environmental concerns aired: Xenia’s home planet is facing a catastrophic drought and Xenia’s delight in the lush green world in which she is set down gives the story a lighter element.
Creators: unknown. The same artist drew ‘Alice In A Strange Land’ and ‘Toni on Trial’ amongst other Jinty strips. If anyone is able to supply further details, please do send information! [Edited May 2014: artist has now been identified as Terry Aspin.]
Publication date: 7 July 1979 – 24 November 1979.
25 thoughts on “Almost Human (1979)”
The publication dates are 7/7/79-24/11/79.
You can also see the influence of the Six Million Dollar Man and Bionic Woman in this series as Xenia has greater speed and strength than humans do.
The artist also drew Curtain of Silence, The Girl Who Never Was and Cathy’s Casebook for Jinty. The artist also drew for DCT and was seen more often there. His or her serials include Bunty’s Maisie Mercury and School’s Out!; The Portrait of Pauline, Mary’s Moneybank and Life with the Greens for Mandy; and one of Debbie’s best serials, Wendy at War. But I cannot name the artist, and I’m pretty annoyed about it because he or she is one of my favourites.
I’m pretty sure this story had a Dutch reprint as I saw the cover somewhere. Can anyone help?
Our Dutch translation page says it was reprinted as De verloren planeet [The Lost Planet] (in: Tina 1984) – but is it a front cover you’re after?
I wonder if this story was influenced by the 1970 Dr Who story, “The Ambassadors of Death”? The story also had aliens whose touch was deadly to humans. It was a curse, as the aliens wanted to establish a relationship with Earth but accidentally killed a human with their touch.