Star Lord No 5: This is gonna be a bad one, Hammer-Stein!

Kevin O’Neill depicts Ro-Jaws and Hammerstein surveying what looks like a spaceship crashing into a skyscraper (or starscraper, or whatever they’re called in Ro-Busters).

This week’s Mind Wars sees Na-Rutha control Arlen to force the ship to go to Earth. There’s a bit of confusion between artist and letterer at one stage, with the teddy-bear alien (Councillor Rashnik) seeming to say that he was given orders before leaving Earth to stop the twins from getting to the home planet, and that the ship would be destroyed before that happened – this was a conversation that Tilman had with Doctor Varn. Other than that, the ship under Arlen’s psychic control goes through an emergency ship division, which apparently all great human and Jugla warships are able to do, for some sort of safety and defensive measure. Despite all that safety and defence, the particular sub-division of the ship which Arlen, Ardeni, Tilman and Rashnik are on gets damaged during the division and they have to crash land. Fortunately the planet they touchdown on is on the planetary communications network. Unfortunately this means that Tilman can be given orders by Doctor Varn to kill the twins. I should probably have done this round-up in the fortunately-unfortunately game format…

Ro-Busters, and we get the background on that cover story. A rocket (with a cargo which gives those working at the launch-site shivers) is taking off in Nevada but a malfunction takes it off course. For some reason this malfunction allows it to travel thousands of miles in a chaotic course, but only above a certain height, and it keeps going until it crashes into an exhibition complex named Midpoint, a tall building in London a bit like a squashed octagon with its name emblazoned on its side (which is not at all like Centrepoint, a vaguely squashed octagon-shaped building in Central London with its name emblazoned at the top). p.s. I first read this story long before I ever saw Centrepoint and whenever I see the real building I still think of this story – I’ve now lived in London for about twenty years! As luck would have it, Howard Quartz is actually in Midpoint, displaying his disaster squad. Trying to make a fast buck, Quartz eventually is talked into calling in Ro-Busters as Quartz himself would also die in the inferno threatening to engulf the tower (not before 10,000 die as flames lick up the lift shafts) . For some reason Quartz points out which colour phone he’s using when calling in the disaster squad (without checking, I think he was using yellow in the swamp last story). It looks pretty straight-forward, not unlike the North Sea Tunnel disaster in the first issue. The various robots pull together to resuce the humes, but as they’re about to leave on a loaded-up Preying Mantis, Quartz gets a call from the prime minister and we find out what was giving those rocket scientists shivers – the USA have been illegally dumping highly toxic nuclear waste in space, and once the cooling system fails completely it will explode with nuclear sludge high above London. How’s that for a cliff-hanger? 10,000 dead already and millions at risk. Art for that was by Ian Kennedy, who has been shuffled over from the first part of

In a radical departure from stamp adverts, Starlord differentiates the Starfax page from the Nerve Centre by having an advert for a ‘skateboard’ pendant. The company involved gives their postcode as Chigwell 1G7 (it should be IG7 – not sure I’d trust a company who can’t get their own postcode right). Other than that, there’s more alternate rules for that game that I don’t have a copy of – I skim-read them but they made limited sense.

Johnny Alpha uses the beam polariser on the opening page of Strontium Dog and we finally see the electronux in action on the next page – basically a knuckleduster that also delivers a 20,000 volt charge. The beam polariser gives the bounty hunters an advantage until Papa Por-ka takes the captain hostage. The temporary stand-off lasts until Wulf uses the happy stick to crush the polariser and Johnny uses a descendant of the ranged beam weapon that the Sovs had during the Luna Olympics War (that story took place in 2100, this is in 2180). After vanquishing Papa Por-Ka and the pirates (sounds like the name of a children’s book) the captain of the freighter changes his mind about mutant bounty hunters and gives Johnny and Wulf an upgrade. All this is too much for the gronk’s heartses though – the bounty hunters finding him on the verge of dying. For those who are familiar with later stories (for instance, all those in 2000AD) and wondering why Wulf hadn’t been wearing that fur jerkin, this is where it came from – it is a tradition among gronks for someone dear to them to wear their skin after they die, allowing a part of them to live on. The kindness that Wulf showed for the gronk means he gets that honour. Not only does this add to Wulf’s wardrobe, but it will also have a long-lasting effect on SD in the future…

Planet of the Damned. We’ve not been told that Charlie’s Angels are cannibals, but they’ve tied the business tycoon Lew Kerr (probably the portliest of the airplane survivors) to a pole and are about to suspend him above a fire. That’s not just for torture, right? They’re after dinner (though possibly a year and a bit after the Action controversy they don’t want to explicitly say that’s what’s going on). Despite being deserted by the survivors, Flint is out to rescue them once more though is caught by Captain Schmidt a Nazi german u-boat captain. Once the germans make contact with Charlie’s Angels chaos ensues, and soon after the ab-humans get in on the action. Flint leads a bunch of the survivors away from the meleé and they finally have Sanctuary in their sights (looking a bit like a South American plateau where you’d expect to find species that are long extinct in the surrounding area).

Interrupting the pages of Planet of the Damned was a full-page, full-colour advert for some sort of flying toy (called a Rotaplane). I wouldn’t have mentioned it, but I’m actually typing this having gone on to the next week’s prog, where there’s a rather similar advert. It’s like I’m time travelling, speaking of which…

Timequake – as last week, one story featuring Nazis is followed by another, though the game is upped considerably in this one, what with them having won the second world war. An occupied London? A working class protagonist who worked in the transport industry? Buckinham Palace turned into a headquarters for the totalitarian invaders? This is really looking like Invasion from over a year earlier… Blocker recognises the figure in a portrait – it’s Martin Bormann, who went missing in the ruins of Berlin in 1945. Where that other guy who looked familiar visited recently.

Grailpage: Jesus Redondo’s last page of Mind Wars – the top half has the twins being taken back to the Yu-Jubum native’s village, the bottom half has Tilman watching the feast in honour of the twins, haunted by Doctor Varn’s command to kill the twins.

Grailquote: T.B. Grover, the gronk: “You see, we gronks b’believe that if someone… someone dear to us wears our skin, then… then a little bit of us l-lives on! You have b-been kind to me, Mr. Wulf, sir – I… I’d like you to… wear me… as a jerkin…”


One thought on “Star Lord No 5: This is gonna be a bad one, Hammer-Stein!

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