Spaceman Jax - Sheer, dumb luck

Curio & Co. looks at how seemingly dumb characters, like classic 1960s animated TV character Spaceman Jax, can be so successful. Image from Curio and Co. of Spaceman Jax from the vintage comic Spaceman  Jax Through the Mantagon Minefield.

A hero with a heart of gold, but the intellect of a Ploridian Lunar Beast.

Spaceman Jax isn’t the brightest star in the galaxy, not by a long shot. He consistently makes mistakes – and miscalculates, misfires and just generally misunderstands the situation. So how is he so successful in all of his adventures?

For starters, he isn’t exactly stupid. No, really. Stay with me here. Even Jax’s close friends would have to admit that, although I’m sure they’re sometimes tempted to think otherwise. Jax demonstrates average intelligence and general knowledge, as well as skills in a range of areas from navigation and spaceflight to defense tactics and combat strategies. It’s just that his thoughts and his actions don’t really add up.

His first problem is that he drastically underestimates the risk of an action or situation. Artie’s told him (and us) repeatedly that those zandabite crystals he ships for a living are volatile and have to be treated with care if you don’t want them exploding. But nearly every episode Jax is tossing them about as if they were made of foam because he just doesn’t see the danger. And since Artie is always keeping an eye out, Jax is never around when they do explode. So as far as he’s concerned, there isn’t any cause for alarm. This is true for all kinds of situations – Jax puts himself (and quite frequently, those he’s in the process of rescuing) into danger for the simple reason that he doesn’t see the danger as being all that serious. He sees that nothing bad has happened to him so far, so there is no reason to think that anything will happen in the future.

It’s his overwhelming belief in himself, however, that really causes the trouble. Spaceman Jax is not just self-confident; he has an unshakable faith in his abilities that makes him overestimate what he can actually do. As a result, he trusts his gut and doesn’t bother to look before he leaps. Of course, this makes him seem rash and impulsive to others who don’t have as much confidence in his instincts. And just like underestimating the risks, his own (over)estimation of his abilities seems to him to be justified since he always manages to succeed through the help of his friends, and through sheer dumb luck.

Maybe all of this just goes to prove that Spaceman Jax is definitely the luckiest man in the galaxy. But in true Spaceman Jax form, he’s just too dim to realize it.