"A Tomb With A View"
Buckaroo Banzai: Origins (Moonstone)
Story by Earl Mac Rauch & W.D. Richter
Art by Amin Amat
Cover by Ed Hannigan
A young Buckaroo Banzai chronicle taking place shortly
after the death of his father.
In 1950, Dr. Masado Banzai climbs into his experimental jet car
to test its ability to travel through solid matter. However, as
soon as he hits the ignition switch, the vehicle explodes,
killing him instantly in front of his wife and son.
Just days later, some suspicious people from the Far East come
to Mrs. Banzai saying that they would like to take responsibility for
young Buckaroo's education, in exchange for not taking away the
Banzai Ranch in lieu of $85,000 owed to them by Dr. Banzai which
went toward his experiments. Buckaroo eavesdrops on what is said
and heads out himself to save his mother's ranch.
The boy rides out on his horse Buttermilk and uses his natural
gifts and honesty to find Big Jack, the pawn broker in nearby
Silver City who holds the deed on the ranch. When he arrives in
Silver City, Big Jack's pawn shop is on fire and the man himself
is trapped inside under his own safe. Buckaroo rides into the
inferno and uses a rope pull the big safe off Jack with Buttermilk.
Jack is safe, but now he wants his safe. Buckaroo says he can
have it, but he must sign a paper sparing his family's ranch. But
Jack keeps trying to grab the safe, which is still tied to Buttermilk, so
Buckaroo leads him on a chase through the desert. Jack
eventually tricks Buckaroo off the horse and tries to get on
himself, but his immense weight breaks the saddle strap and the
startled horse takes off with the safe, leaving both behind.
Jack thinks they're both dead in the heat of the desert sun, but
just then a helicopter piloted by Jack's Asian cohorts arrives.
Unfortunately for Jack, they only want the boy, shooting
Jack. Then Mrs. Banzai shows up on horseback with some Native
American friends, firing rifles at the copter, scaring it off.
Jack dies, telling Buckaroo if he finds that strongbox again, he
can tear up all the I.O.U.'s in it and keep the cash.
Mrs. Banzai decides to have Buckaroo stay on the nearby Indian
reservation with the Chief and his family for his own
Sometime later, Buttermilk finally shows up back at the ranch,
with the safe in tow.
The title of the story is a play on the title of E.M.
Forster's 1908 novel, A Room With a View.
The year of Dr. Masado Banzai's death in the first jet car
seems to change from version to version. Here, it
is said to take place in 1950. In Across the
it is said to be in 1954. In Pinky Carruther's Unknown Facts
subtitle track on the DVD of the movie, he first says it was
1953, then later says 1955!
Dr. Banzai's test site is described as being near the ruins
of U.S. Cavalry outpost Fort Disgusted, Texas. This is a
fictional Cavalry outpost that has never existed in the real
The test vehicle that ends Dr.
Banzai's life is an obvious precursor to the jet car successfully
used to test the OSCILLATION OVERTHRUSTER by Buckaroo in the movie
Across the 8th Dimension.
(In the extended version of the film, the jet car does not appear to
have been built from a truck but possibly from a jet plane hull; the
novelization of Across the 8th Dimension suggests it was
built on a 1950 Ford truck.) The look of the base truck seen here
does not quite match any Ford trucks I can find.
|1950s jet car
||1980s jet car
On page 1, panel 4, we see two scientists on the left of the
panel. After Dr. Banzai says he's not going far, one of the
scientists says, "You never know. It's all relative," to
which the other remarks, "Right for once, Bohr." This
identifies the two scientists as Niels Bohr and Albert
Einstein, who were well-known for their good-natured
scientific arguments in the early half of the 20th Century.
Einstein developed the general theory of relativity which,
in part, states that the measurement of time and distance
(among other things) changes relative to the viewer of the
phenomena; hence, Einstein's agreement here with Bohr when
the latter tells Dr. Banzai, "It's all relative." The
presence of the two scientists also serves to indicate Dr.
Banzai's importance as a U.S. scientific researcher. (In
the extended version of the film
Across the 8th Dimension, these two scientists do
not appear to be present.)
Buckaroo's age is not given here, but in
"Of Hunan Bondage"
Part 1, he is described as having been 4 years old when he
witnessed his father's death, as happens here. But the boy
presented here seems at least twice as old that. In
Across the 8th Dimension, he is described as having
been 5 years old at the time.
On page 1, Dr. Banzai mentions Casimir refractors mounted to
the jet car. This is a reference to the Casimir effect,
describing a force that exists between particles at a
Also on page 1, Dr. Banzai mentions his family could become
richer than Croesus if his invention works. Croesus was the
king of ancient Lydia (within modern-day Turkey) from
560-547 BC, who was known for his enormous wealth.
Dr. Banzai's jet car explodes at the mere touch of the
ignition switch, suggesting his death may have been foul
This depiction is a bit different than seen in Across the
8th Dimension; in that film, the jet car looks
different and Dr. Banzai is accompanied in the car by "the
fastest man alive", British race car driver George Campbell.
Campbell appears to be a fictional character.
In this story, Mrs. Banzai survives the explosion. In most
other sources it is said she was killed trying to help her
husband get out after the explosion.
The far east representatives who want to take responsibility
for Buckaroo's education are probably members of the World
Crime League working for Hanoi Xan.
Page 4 suggests that Dr. Banzai preferred the Mongolian
custom of open burial, on top of the ground and pointed
north towards the old gods.
On page 4, young Buckaroo speaks over the body at his
father's funeral saying, "For thou art Freedom's now, and
Fame's, one of the few, the immortal names that were not
born to die." This is a quote from the 1825 poem "Marco
Bozzaris" by Fitz-Greene Halleck, about a real-life hero of
the War of Greek Independence from Turkey in the early
Also on page 4, Buckaroo then says, "Sleep, soldier, still
in honored rest, your truth and valor wearing. The bravest
are the tenderest, the loving are the daring." This is a
(slightly modified) quote from the 1863 poem "The Song of
the Camp" by Bayard Taylor.
On page 6, Einstein tells Buckaroo he hopes he'll come visit
him at Princeton. Einstein taught physics at the
Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey from 1933 until
his death in 1955.
Buckaroo asks Einstein if he's read Faraday's lecture on a
candle. This is a reference to a series of lectures given in
the early 1800s by English chemist and physicist Michael
Faraday called The Chemical History of a Candle.
There are a number of subtle bits in the art in regards to
Buckaroo. The below may all be indications that adventure,
danger, intrigue, mysticism, etc. have a tendency to follow
Buckaroo around, partly by his design and partly by fate. He's a
strange attractor or weirdness magnet.
As Mrs. Banzai looks for Buckaroo on
page 7, notice that he's hiding on
top of a dresser, behind the open
door, in panel 4. He appears to be wearing an American Indian
headdress and something around his neck.
On page 12, panel 4, notice that two
scorpions are crawling up Buckaroo's leg. Nothing is ever said about
them afterward. Is it supposed to be an indication that he even has
a certain rapport with animals such that they like and generally
won't hurt him?
On page 15, panel 3, the rifle he's
carrying is smoking, indicating he just fired a shot to get the angry crowd to
stop throwing things at Big Jack.
On page 18, panel 6, he appears to
be tamping tobacco into his
Although not so subtle, on the very
last panel of the story, he comes
across a human skeleton in the
desert while riding with his Indian
friends. We're not told if the
skeleton is part of a new mystery
he's about to get caught up in or if
it might be that of his father or
Big Jack, both of whom were left
unburied in the desert per their
Page 8 reveals that Dr. Banzai had owned a samurai sword
collection which he sold to get money for his experiments.
On page 9, there is a poster on the wall of Buckaroo's room
that may be of Buddy Holly, who was one of the most
influential pioneers of early rock and roll. Only problem is
this story allegedly takes place in 1950 and Holly did not emerge onto
the rock scene until 1956!
Holly may have been one of
Buckaroo's musical inspirations; as an adult, he even looks
a bit like Holly while playing, especially in the trademark
glasses they both wore.
There is also a poster that says "Gambino" on it, but I
don't know what the reference is.
On page 11, Buckaroo asks some local Indians how he can find
Big Jack. After the conversation he says, "Ihe edn." This is
Apache for "thank you".
Throughout the story it is indicated that Big Jack's pawn
shop is in a town called Silver City. Since the Banzai Ranch
is in Texas, it may be that the Silver City referred to is
the tiny rural community by that name in northeast Texas.
Big Jack Mathers seemingly dies in the desert in this issue.
"Of Hunan Bondage"
Rawhide mentions a Big Jack Matters in the Banzai
Institute's legal department...almost the same name.
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