A strange visitor from another planet who uses his superior powers to aid ordinary people — the very premise that kicked off superhero comics in 1938.
But in the darker and more sophisticated storytelling pioneered by EC Comics a little more than a decade later, a different variation would be played on that theme.
In He Walked Among Us (Weird Science 13, May-June 1952), writers Bill Gaines and Al Feldstein and artist Wally Wood tell us the tale of Jerome Kraft, a 2963 space explorer whose mission is to study an alien planet inhabited by primitive humanoids.
Using his advanced technology, Kraft is able to feed the hungry with dehydrated food pills and heal the sick with wonder drugs. But the high priests don’t like the idea of Kraft helping the “rabble” of the lower caste, and demand that he only aid the rich…
Two thousand years later, when terran space explorers finally return to the planet, they find it inhabited by “Kraftians” who decorate their cities with, and wear, an image of the rack — the torture device upon which the ancient rulers put their savior to death.
The benefactor of humanity and civilization who is repaid by being murdered. It is, as the explorers muse, “…rather a familiar story.”