PROG:74 – DEAD HIT
Script: Robert Flynn
Art: Pierre Frisano
Letters: Peter Knight
Plot: Red Packer is a successful but cynical Big-Game Hunter who returns home to find an alien envoy asking him to come protect them from wild animals on their planet. They explain that as their race is so advanced they have lost the courage for physical tasks of confrontation. Seeing he would be well rewarded in diamonds, Packer readily agrees and soon arrives on an alien planet ready to hunt
Shock: Suddenly the Aliens depart and Packer finds himself confronted by huge talking apes who are clearly intent on hunting him. He realises he has been brought for their sport not the other way around.
Thoughts: A beginning, of Pierre Frisano’s short five issue stint on Future Shocks, and an end, of Robert Flynn’s time writing for 2000AD, marked by a very ordinary story which rehashes the theme of ‘Man does X on earth, Aliens do X to man’. With FS 2, Trawling, it was eating / being eaten, in with FS 26, Space Bug, it was mining a body to a husk and now it’s the not very original ‘Hunter becomes the Hunted‘, agonizingly with that very cliché included in the final dialogue box. Flynn’s previous Shocks had always avoided this more obvious of devices and, while often containing logical flaws, did have merit for trying to create dynamic stories. Here he produces the most trite of Shocks but manages to write a contained and flowing tale. It might not be original but it is polished. The real beauty of the strip is from the rare English-language appearance of French post-war artist Pierre Frisano, a name few would associate with 2000AD. Initially a cover illustrator, Frisano was constantly employed in one country, France, rather than being primarily associated with the UK, such as fellow Continentals Ezquerra and Belardinelli, or working throughout the continent, such as Caasanovas. Responsible for popular Sci-fi series San Ku Kai, and Courtesans, as well as several Opera translations, his B&W ink-work is highly formalist but with beautiful detail, the tighter early style of Colin Wilson is an obvious reference in the main character illustrated above; while his colour work, with a populist tendency to buxom women, has clear parallels with modern master John Burns’ wash and ink work. The five Future Shocks over the next few Progs, alongside a prior episode of MACH 1, was to be his only work for 2000AD as his French career boomed over the 1980s. As with many artists of a slightly older generation his Sci-Fi stylings are very 1950s orientated whereas his strength was in historical fantasy art, Dante would have been the perfect outing for his talents. Sadly no-longer with us it is a nice part of 2000AD‘s heritage that he contributed these fine pages.
Shock’d?: A bit of a damp squib after an effective build-up and marred by the terrible ‘Hunter becomes the Hunted’ line that should be barred from any genre fiction. Packer’s landing on the alien planet could have led to several different shock endings so that it is this very traditional reversal-of-fortunes ending is a disappointment.