530 – Judgment Day!

A panel from Judgment Day!" in Weird Fantasy #18, January 1953
A panel from Judgment Day!” in Weird Fantasy #18, January 1953

In EC’s Weird Fantasy #18 (January 1953), the now-infamous story of “Judgment Day!” appears. This tells the story of an astronaut from Earth who lands on a planet populated by sentient robots to see if the planet is ready to enter the great Galactic Republic. After being taken through the orange robot’s society, the astronaut becomes particularly interested in how the orange and blue robots treat each other differently, with the orange robots getting several advantages over the blue robots. Taking the orange robot to the blue robot factory, he lectures the orange robot:

Another panel from "Judgment Day!" in Weird Fantasy #18, January 1953
Another panel from “Judgment Day!” in Weird Fantasy #18, January 1953

The orange robot comes face-to-face with its own racism and built-in privilege. The human astronaut tells the robots they will not be allowed to enter the Republic for now, but to not give up hope – one day, when these problems are eradicated from their society, they will be embraced into the Galactic fellowship.

Upon rocketing off of the planet, the astronaut removes his helmet, revealing he is African descent:

The final panel of "Judgment Day!" in Weird Fantasy #18, January 1953
The final panel of “Judgment Day!” in Weird Fantasy #18, January 1953

The story is famous for anecdotes in which a later reprint of the story during the Comics Code Authority era caused a judge to demand they change the astronaut to not be a black man. Feldstein and Gaines blew up at this and threatened to call a press conference. The Judge conceded but insisted the beads of sweat be removed. The story ran as is.