Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Starlord #1

Here's a moment from British comics history that I picked up at the Lawgiver convention. I don't really know much about Starlord and certainly don't remember getting it at the time, we were a 2000AD house. All I know is that Strontium Dog and Ro-Busters started here before the inevitable merging that was so common in UK comics back then.

Cover is by Ramon Sola and combines some tough looking characters with acres of free space so the title, blurbs and free gift can fit on. It looks very different from anything we'd get on 2000AD until the much later painted era. At first glance I might be hard pressed to pick out Johnnie and Wulf but more of them later.

Planet of the Damned by R.E. Wright, Lalia and Bill Nuttall.
It's a classic science fiction trope about the routine passenger flight that crashes through some inter-dimensional portal and ends up in a barbaric world with the passengers fighting for survival. Stephen King has done it, DC comics have their Warlord character, and on TV we've seen both Land of the Giants and Lost.

Thick, dark inks and some typical 1970s artwork with no less than 3 circular panels in these 6 pages alone. Interestingly the creators named are featured in little credit boxes so the experiment which began in 2000AD prog 36 was carried over into this title.

Timequake by Jack Adrian, Ian Kennedy and Peter Knight
This one seems like a variation on the Invasion theme with the twist being the invaders are the alien Droon from the future and time-travelling scientists are putting together a Time-Control team and need a Bill Savage like hard case from the 20th century to complete the gang. I don't know what happened to this strip from here on but I suspect it involved Blocker and some shootahs.

Strontium Dog by John Wagner, Alan Grant, Carlos Ezquerra and Jack Potter.
Johnny Alpha's first appearance gets the colour centre-spread as Alpha uses his mutant eyes to track down the bad guys so he and Wulf can wipe them out. They then have to explain themselves to the local police which gives them a chance to fill us in on the background of the search and destroy agents.

There's some odd stuff in this first episode, Johnny's helmet gives him a more reptilian look than we are used to. He uses a time drogue to resurrect a body and get a clue to their next target from him. And then Johnny uses his eyes to look at the electro-patterns of the perp's brain and see if he is lying. I don't know if they stuck with this power for very long. It's a bit like the birdie lie detector that Dredd uses which Wagner now admits was a bit of a mistake as it removed one element of tension in interrogation scenes.

But it's still a thrill to see Johnny and Wulf for the first time, and to have no explanation of the pairing of the weird looking mutant with a huge Viking. Top thrill (if I'm allowed to say that about Starlord).

Ro-Busters by Pat Mills, Carlos Pino and Tom Frame.
Ro-Jaws and Hammerstein along with Mr Ten Per Cent and Mek-Quake all make their first appearances, and there is a gorgeous colour splash page by Pino. Clearly it's meant to be International Rescue with robots but it's brilliant and so much 2000AD goodness will result from this opening episode.

Star strip goes to Strontium Dog even though his look hasn't been finalised yet. A fascinating trip down one of the 2000AD side alleys, and an astonishing Whittle circular panel count of 12!

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