Star Lord No 10: Death at Warp Factor 9

Pointless cover of a fist smashing a spaceship, justified by being ‘Federation propaganda’.

A much better use of time is over the page with Mind Wars. The Solar Saint is destroyed in the first page, though anybody who is familiar with stories will know the occupants had already escaped before it blew up (at least it wasn’t used as a cliffhanger). They’ve landed in the Gobi Desert, and Kola the teddy bear does not cope with the heat well. Turns out I have something in common with the Jackal Troopers – sadistic ground forces who carry out punishment missions – they call Kola a teddy bear too. Better stop using thatracial slur then! Oh, and Kola dies from the heat / trauma of being assaulted by the Jackals. The actual cliff-hanger this episode is Ardeni and Arlen appearing in the office of Doctor Varn under the control of the Jugla.

Cutting Mind Wars by half a page is a Pepsi advert parody for 2000AD – though the campaign it’s parodying are slightly before my time so I’d have had no idea what it was going on about (other than the cola can with 2000AD written on it).

The next page is filler, with another of those ‘three option’ quizzes, this time for Time Wardens.

Ro-Busters, and Hammerstein is on a rampage and has been reprogrammed to kill Ro-Jaws first, but the sewer droid has seen what’s going on and scarpers. This was while the revolting robots were singing a song – if it was supposed to be to a particular tune then it went over my head – if anyone can fit these lines into a 1978 or earlier song, let me know: “‘droid, ‘droid, crazy ‘droid! Keep coooool ‘droid! Circuits humming… Killing coming… But don’t blow a fuse, ‘droid!”. Now that Ro-Jaws knows that a pair of humes are planning a fake robot revolt, he approaches Howard Quartz, who dismisses him (despite having brought R-J and HS to the hotel for the express purpose of finding out if anything was amiss). ½ Tough seizes his chance and begs the chairman of British Ley-Mek for a spare part. The chairman points out that if all robots lasted as long as ½ Tough has then their owners wouldn’t need to buy new ones and his company would go out of business, so orders the droid to commit suicide. Ro-Jaws can’t have that, and follows him, pretty easily talking him out of killing himself then using his sewer droid features to zoom up the garbage shoot. Meanwhile the ‘revolt’ beings, with a cousin of Mek-Quake (and pun on Quatermass) Quake-a-Mass breaking the vista window – for some reason the humes inside aren’t sucked into the vacuum, their main problem being all the suddenly murderous robots surrounding them. Notable moments of this week’s episode – Ro-Jaws sympathises with the idea of a robot’s revolt, the only thing stopping him from joining in being that it isn’t a real revolt. The other thing is a mention of Greasey Gracey, about which more in a year or two!

Next up is Starlord’s Stargrams (thought it was called Starfax before?) This is much more fun to read in light of the story in 2018 showing what happened to Starlord (something about being imprisoned for recruiting thousands of child soldiers in a deluded war). It’s not every publication that invites random strangers to write to children and publishes their full home address!

The last of the three-part Strontium Dog story, with Johnny taking revenge on McIntyre. Between my reading the last issue (three days ago – there was the sci-fi special and the same week’s prog in between) Space-Spinner 2000 covered a reprint of this story – glad I got my prediction of Alpha’s punishment for McIntyre in already – after facing the robot armies, mainly by hand (well, electronux) Alpha does indeed take Cringe as a reward. A few interesting things – our first glimpse of Alpha’s attitude towards taking revenge, shooting robots isn’t enough, he wants to get his hands dirty. The second is a monologue from Wulf talking about his Viking ancestors – the way it’s framed is that Wulf isn’t a Viking prone to killing frenzies himself, just descended from them. Guess the idea behind the Ragnarok Job was not even an idea in a notebook at that point.

Stargrams had some good news – this is the last episode of Planet of the Damned! There’s something about following instructions to build an energy flux from the downed airplanes electronics to allow return to the Bermuda Triangle – it’s all a bit silly and only those who reallylike sub-standard B-movies would truly enjoy this.

As had been revealed in the next week box in Strontium Dog, there is no Strontium Dog story next week, but this page reveals that in two weeks Johnny and Wulf will return in an adventure called ‘Paprika’. Can’t say the story title rings any bells with me. Instead of Strontium Dog and Planet of the Damned we’ll be getting Sheldon, with artwork by Casanovas. There’s also a spoiler for the end of the next TimeQuake story, beginning on the next page (stop doing this, 2000AD and Star Lord – it’d be nice to read the story before reading an advert for the next week’s issue giving away the ending).

Speaking of TimeQuake, a bolt of lightning causes a malfunction sending off some time bombs (designed to destroy other time sub-stations in case of emergency). One cannot be recalled and finds its way to Mexico in 1492. Somehow this leads to Aztec spacecraft attacking the 27th century.

Grailpage: Carlos Ezquerra’s opening double-page spread to this week’s Strontium Dog is superb, with an early iconic Johnny Alpha pose.

Grailquote: Ro-Jaws: “I was made this way. To go along the inside of sewer pipes…” ½ Tough: “Oh, I see. I-I always wondered why you were such a weird shape, Ro-Jaws.” Ro-Jaws: Watch it – or you’ll find yourself back down there before you can say “Greasey Gracey oils yer coils”!”

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