The Return of Captain Conquer by Mel Gilden
From the book jacket
In the house with two front doors, Watson Congruent’s father runs the “Captain Conquer PX,” selling souvenirs of that famous old TV show – posters, comic books, and small pink plastic brains like those the Captain and his sidekick, Chuckles, found in the “Micro-Brains from the Penguin Star” episode.
In the back room, Watson’s father is building a motivator like the one that powered the Captain’s stratoship, the Great Auk.
And out front, a mysterious excavation grows larger every day, under the direction of the sinister Charlieville Planning Commissioners.
Then one day Watson comes home to find both house and father vanished. As the Captain would say, “It’s time to throw out the interlocks!” With the help of a troop of eccentric Captain Conquer fans, Watson sets out to solve the mystery of his father’s disappearance – and not so incidentally to save the world from alien creatures who want to turn Earth’s atmosphere into something that is almost exactly like something that is not quite the same as cold cherry Jell-O…
It is a fun, simple story. There is a little danger, a little mystery, aliens, decoder rings and hero worship that may just turn out to be misplaced. It isn’t that nothing is going on but the story is not what you would call deep. There is no convoluted plot, no angst ridden teens, no heart rending turmoil or heart stopping terror. And you sort of meander through the plot. None of those things are bad however. It isn’t slow, just laid back. You get to follow Watson as he tries to save the world and finds out that his father might not be as crazy as he always thought. It is filled with quirky characters that sometimes go a little over the top but that just gives the book a fun comic booky feel. It is simply fun to read. It is, of course, silly, the phrase ‘something that is almost exactly like something that is not quite the same as cold cherry Jell-O' gets repeated over and over, furnaces are run by chocolate cereal, there are gopher armies and secret messages in mail order catalogues. But it all just adds to the campy, Saturday afternoon fun of the story. It is very light reading that is good for kids but I think anyone who enjoys the old serials or old TV superheroes will like it.