Star Lord No 21: Guardian of the Dark Star!

A rather colourful cover greets us, with a huge green alien striding over planetoids as if they were stepping stones. The cover’s not to my taste, and no doubt it will be revealed as an IntStelFed propaganda poster within the pages of this issue.

Events in Mind Wars have been building up for a few weeks, strands such as Kareela’s (successful) attempt to trick Ardeni, the latest Jugla attempt to trick Ardeni, the Controller attempting to use Ardeni to locate and attack the Jugla homeworld and the search for the Green Star. Possibly due to the forthcoming merge with 2000AD, all of these threads get at least some lip-service in this issue. Even though the episode is only six pages long, it takes two people to letter it. According to the ‘blueprinters’ (Star Lord version of the credit card) the letterers are Potter and Knight, though it also says that M. White is responsible for the art, and it is most definitely Redondo drawing the Green Star attacking Ardeni (and then retreating) and the Jugla landing fake Arlen, driving Ardeni to (apparent) suicide.

Ro-Busters rewinds from the cliffhanger panel of the last episode to replay Howard Quartz exploring the ship that has abducted him, walking through a door and discovering… his kid brother, Ebenezer. There’s not much to say about him yet – he’s kidnapped Quartz, was behind the tax collectors going to the Ro-Busters island and is also responsible for the atom-cruncher explosion. The biggest effect he has is his age shows how old Quartz himself must be (difficult to get a feel for Quartz being of pensioner age when all you see is chrome bodywork). Meanwhile, back on the island, Ro-Jaws and Hammerstein have discovered two things – the timer for the device that caused the explosion and that their tax collector overlords are even worse than Quartz was – including sacking Miss Marilyn and threatening to have Mek-Quake kill her if she doesn’t somehow find her own way off the isolated island.

After another week off, Strontium Dog is back with a new story featuring a brain in a jar. The brain is called The Brain. S/he is working with the local human criminals on the planet Lars and together they are demanding 1 billion byknls or the ultimate weapon will be exploded on the planet (my guess is it’s a bluff, though remember I have read all of these stories a long time ago, so maybe I’m just remembering). The four Dictators of Larg have brought in Johnny Alpha to destroy it, though they do so in an insulting and mutie-phobic way, so the bounty Johnny demands is increased accordingly. It’s a good start and The Brain is a great character.

In the Stargrams, Starlord hints at the forthcoming merge and prints a few letters from people with disabilities. This comic is really showing its age with the out-dated language used by both the editor and one disabled child: handicapped, spastic, invalids – how language and society changes, not to mention names of charities… The star-trooper with lead joints also mentions the world turning ‘day-glo’ so sounds like they like the X-Ray Spex!

Holocaust builds towards an end. Hunter gets taken to a secret underground base filled with UFOs, escapes and is surrounded by the reanimated dead while a Soviet/USA airstrike locates the town in Siberia and starts bombing. It’s interesting enough to read, though I wouldn’t be surprised if it hasn’t ever been collected.

The inside back cover has a now superfluous trailer for the next week’s issue, trying to be mysterious about a mind-bending alliance (despite there having been three letters about the potential merger in the same issue).

The back cover has a Star Lord Pin-Up – an iconic picture of Johnny Alpha by Carlos Ezquerra wielding the electronux. The helmet isn’t quite what we’ve seen (and will see foor the next forty years) so I’m guessing this was an early production sketch before the look was entirely decided. Also on the inside back cover are adverts for Valiant annual 1979 and Lion annual 1979. I mention these because Lion was a British comic which was merged with Valiant four years earlier, in 1974. Valiant itself was cancelled in 1976. This habit of producing annuals for comics which have ceased to be will continue, with both Starlord and Tornado…

Grailpage: the opening page of Strontium Dog by King Carlos with morning light finding its way into the dark cellar of Brain.

Grailquote: T.B. Grover, Wulf Sternhammer: “Wunce they are being verr nasty to our friend der Gronk… anozzer 25,000 byrkls.” The Gronk: “25,000 byknls for me! Oh, Mr. Wulf, sir, it’s too much!” Wulf: “Nonsense! Yo’re worth every bit of it!”

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