This cover is basically a rehash of the end of last week’s episode of Planet of the Damned, with Flint about to do battle with a black knight on the back of a mammoth in front of a fortress. This very red painting could have graced any Conan-esque fantasy novel of the last fifty years. Flint also looks a little like He-Man, though I think this is a few years before whichever toy company it was came up with that idea.
Starlord doesn’t have enough space this issue for a full Star Fax so has a narrow strip at the top of this week’s Mind Wars to tell us about the Hell Planet boardgame (and how he hasn’t finished writing the rules yet). If the last episode was inspired by Star Wars (with our protagonists approaching Mos Eisley to organise transport off world in a cantina) then the similarities continue, after a brief case of misinterpreted greetings. Tip – if an alien race looks like an apex predator then their greetings will probably look like an assault. The Solar Saint (Millenium Falcon) leaves Yu-Jubum just before it gets destroyed (Alderaan, anyone?) and is immediately pursued by Federal strike ships (Star Destroyers). Even some of the dialogue has parallels (even if the meaning is opposite). Compare and contrast: “The old Solar Saint was built to outrun local planetary space police forces, not a Federal battle fleet!”; “I’ve outrun Imperial starships. Not the local bulk cruisers mind you, I’m talking about the big Corellian ships now.” Anyway, the battle fleet attacks and the Lakam twins use their powers to hold out for a while, but in the end they have to be rescued by a Jugla suicide attack, just before they head off into trans-light drive (hyperspace).
Pat Mills and Pino return for a new Ro-Busters story next, and we’re off to the Ritz Space Hotel, starting off with a one and a half-page advert for the hotel itself. It’s a luxury hotel but still cheap as it is entirely staffed by robots, including waiter robots with the same two-wheels instead of legs configuration as Ro-Jaws. Swing-alonga-Max is the Call-Me-Kenneth stand-in for this story, and gets to work killing the human owner of the hotel. Cut to the Ro-Busters base, where Marilyn the secretary is being wolf-whistled by robots. Unusually, Howard Quartz comes to her rescue by ordering the robots to stop wolf-whistling his secretary, with Marilyn defending the vulgar robots. I wonder how Pat Mills would handle this same scene nowadays? The set-up for the actual story is that Quartz is attending a conference at the hotel with other captains of industry, including the directors of British Ley-Mek and Global Dynamics. I can’t help wondering why rich directors have organised a conference at a budget luxury hotel, instead of an actual luxury hotel? Ro-Jaws is to go undercover as a waiter robot (remember how they have wheels like his?) while Hammerstein will act as Quartz’s bodyguard.
Strontium Dog, and this episode promises to be filled with illusions. That promise is fulfilled, with Kansyr using multiple illusions to trick Johnny and Wulf until he puts the viking out of action and gets |Johnny down on to his knees. Alpha takes a lesson and tries his own bit of trickery, pretending to attempt to kill himself, but instead using a ranged beam gun (as used previously in Strontium Dog, but also in that Lunar Olympics war between Luna-City and the Sov Territories) to take out Kansyr.
Planet of the Damned continues from the scene on the cover. Flint manages to take down the elephant/mammoth using just a sword (not sure it would be enough to penetrate the pachyderm’s touch hide) and vanquishes the black knight, who turns out to be a harmless old professor from the 1950s, who has been inhaling plant aromas. I saw harmless, though the Sanctuary elders think otherwise, ordering Flint to prevent Hackmann and Professor Barnes from cobbling together a way to return to Earth.
In Time-Quake, Blocker is stuck with a faulty time-strap a century into the Nazi British future. He gets caught and Martin Bormann himself watches the torture, though done in an electric chair this trips the faulty time-strap and Blocker is catapulted another century into the future. By the time he’s in the year 2478 (or thereabouts) Suzi Cho has managed to trace him and helps him evade capture by Bormann and the future Nazis. The sort-of cliffhanger has the pair on the other side of a time warp from Bormann and a squad of his henchmen. The next week tag is “85 million years in the past!” so the opportunity for tension from the cliffhanger is lost a little…
Grailpage: I’ll go for the cover this week – the painterly textures of Flint fighting (what turns out to be) the Professor on the pachyderm looks like it strode off of the cover of Metal Hurlant / Heavy Metal rather than a British comic of the 1970s.
Grailquote: R.E. Wright, Bos’un Jake Flint: “I’ve warned you before about inhaling the aroma of the insect-devouring plants, Professor Barnes!” Professor Barnes: “Oh, dear! I’ve been at it again, haven’t I? It always sends me into a demented fury!”