Tag Archives: Martin Lock

FS 34: VANCE, KATHLEEN, MAUREEN AND JAMES TOO

1 Sep

PROG: 76 – The Illusion Man

Script: Martin Lock

Art: Pierre Frisano

Letters: Jack Potter

Plot: Vance Shaw is a ‘lighthouse keeper’ orbiting a lone dead sun ’20 parsecs’ from the nearest inhabited planet. Fretting over the non-appearance of a re-supply ship he confronts the station’s AI for answers but is met with a suggestion of virtual ‘companions’, from the minxy Kathleen and Maureen to ‘playing chess with James‘, or even a simulated fight with Venusian Swamp Dragon. Shaw is angered by the lack of direct answers to his queries and the trivial virtual distractions offered; he orders the computer to ‘Get Rid Of all The illusions

Shock: Vance Shaw realises too late that he is a mere illusion for the AI and is deleted, leaving the machine alone to start again.

Thoughts: Seen that ‘Moon‘? Oh ain’t that clever! And that ‘Inception‘? Oh, it’s so smart and original. Ah, no. They are really just a two page Future Shock expanded over 90 minutes. Well how about that? To be fair the ‘its all an illusion’ isn’t new to literature so it might be a tad overblown to claim some royalties are due but certainly those celluloid visionaries may well have half-remembered this fantastic Shock from their openly confessed days as young Squaax.  Nor is ‘what is human’ new to Future Shocks, the ‘human-droid’ switch having been seen as recently as FS 31, however Martin Lock and Pierre Frisano get more fun into two pages than anyone has a right to. The dialogue is hilariously insane ‘let’s sail the Spanish Main! Explore Mars with Bonhomme!‘ and the artist has a riot with lots of breakout panels, monsters with tridents and making ‘James’ every inch the 70’s foxy gent looking ready to do more than just play chess. Lord knows what the readers thought of this, or whether they got the fun the creators were having in the fantasy sequences but the ugly monsters and the neat ending would doubtless have appealed to them. Frisano’s orbital light-house and computers are all very retro looking but he’s clearly more interested in Kathleen and Marueen (and James) all looking like 70’s Charlie’s Angels and a monster with a stick. Never reprinted this is a Future Shock that more than stands the test of time.

Shock’d?: Well, I’ve seen Moon and Inception so not really. Otherwise slightly, the moment Shaw cries out for all the illusions to be deleted the alarm bells are ringing. Always beware of anyone asking for absolutes in Future Shocks!

FS 17: THERE GOES THE NEIGHBOURHOOD

14 Aug

PROG: 46 – TIME WAS

Script: Martin Lock

Art: Ramon Sola

Letters: Peter Knight

Plot: At his home the inventor Tim Mathews has completed the project which has consumed his money and life, a time machine. After powering up and being rendered dizzy by the machines effects he runs to the window to see the results. Disgusted, he finds himself staring at the same street and he breaks the machine in rage at his failure

Shock: As dinosaurs begin to prey upon the street it is clear Tim had created a time machine, and taken his whole neighbourhood with him to prehistoric times. Now with the machine in pieces there is no escape.

Thoughts: Martin Lock so enjoyed writing his Future Shock Time Past (prog 42) that he has repeated the exact same strip here. Where Time Past had death by Neanderthal here we get Dinosaur despatch; where Time Past had a lack of a power socket, here we have an inventor destroying the machine under misapprehension of its failure – although presumably his flat is now off the power grid too. As with his two previous Shocks the very brief tale is well told but it is slightly cheeky to have recycled the exact same idea so quickly. Ramon Sola brings his excellent dinosaur drawing skills from Flesh to this enjoyable tale and the final scene of the modern terrace street being destroyed by several prehistoric beasts is a marvellous panel.

Shock’d? Lock certainly had a flair for these short one-panel reveal Shocks and this is no exception. The misdirection of a  street shot after the time machine has operated but before the dinosaurs arrive nicely sets up the reader for believing that the shock isn’t going to be a ‘successful’ trip before then delivering the whole street to its bloody fate.

FS 15: THRILL POWER SOCKET

12 Aug

PROG: 42 – TIME PAST

Script: Martin Lock
Art:  Jose Ferrer
Letters: Peter Knight

Plot: Dan Aulnick has completed his first mail-order time machine and sets out to test it. He connects it to the mains and successfully transports himself to pre-historic times. Marvelling at his success he notes the proximity of several angry Neanderthals and decides it is time to head back to 2073

Shock: Dan realises there is no power-socket in the prehistoric times. He gulps as the angry mob draws near. 

Thoughts: The second of Martin Lock’s four Future Shocks has a significant claim to fame in that it is the first to mine the very enjoyable seam of ‘ah….bugger‘ endings where the protagonist’s own ineptitude leads to his downfall. Aided by beautiful art by Spanish veteran this page and a half institutes a grand Future Shock trope with the maximum of efficiency and charm. It also raises one of those small query’s whereby the authorial voice of Tharg, introducing the strip, seems different to that of the author of the Shock. In this instance Tharg gives the embellishing, but superfluous, detail of Dan Aulnick’s name and the date. while in the strip Dan himself references ‘Splitsky’s first Mail Order Build-it-yourself Time Machine.’ This raises the issue of whether ‘Dan Aulnick’ is a simple consumer or whether he is the inventor. Absent Tharg’s intro naming him as Dan Aulnick the strip would read as if this is the inventor and the machine the prototype – and make the mistake more plausible. However with Tharg’s intro ‘Dan’ becomes the purchaser and so all the time machines will have the same error. Which makes it just that bit less believable because it has gone from a ‘potty amateur scientist’ trope to a ‘complete failure of a company to notice a flaw in their mass market product’ Shock. This is, of course, a very strict analysis to apply and is largely irrelevant because Ferrer and Lock give us a great fast hit of the future of Future Shocks.
Shock’d: With a large panel showing Dan plugging into the mains socket in 2073 everyone can see the shock coming but that doesn’t make the enjoyment of Dan’s ineptitude any less fun.

FS 13: TALENT UNMINED

11 Aug

PROG: 40: SPACE PROSPECTOR

Script: Martin Lock

Art: Trevor Goring

Letters: Peter Knight

Plot: Space Miners Harlan Smith and Jerry pilot their craft through the asteroid belts looking for rocks with suitable mineral content. They bemoan the lack of money and the elder warns the newer man that he has heard tales of  ‘strange monsters, snakes and birds’ more dangerous to miners than any ‘claim-jumpers’. The young man scoffs at such as the products of going space-crazy from too many years in the business. Finally they come across a more promising looking asteroid and blast it with the ships laser to yield its mineral deposits

Shock: The lasers crack open not an asteroid but an egg and the prospectors are faced with a huge Pterodactix Cosmotis space bird that squawks ‘mother’ to their ship.

Thoughts: A real hidden curio of a Future Shock, Space Prospectors marks the appearance of two British creators who were to have enduring careers in the field but who never really made an impact in 2000AD. A fact that is all the more curious by just how solid this 2 page shock is. Writer Lock was to go on to found Harrier Comics – a short-lived but prolific UK imprint notable for the Bolland associated character ‘Redfox’ and the début of Eddie Campbell’s ‘Bacchus’ as well as further writing in 90’s erotic comics. An editor of considerable experience this tale showed how Lock had a flair for naturalistic language whereas previous Shocks had tended towards expository utterances to drive the tale along or, in the case of jive-talking Peter Harris’ characters,  fun dialogue to flesh out character. Such a technique is a marked change in the tone of Future Shocks and gives the Shock a feeling more akin to a foreshadow of Warrior comics, Alan Moore and more sophisticated story-telling in 2000AD itself. This feeling is undoubtedly compounded by the neat atmospheric work of Trevor Goring, a man who may well claim to be the most successful 2000AD artist the fan base has no memory of. Goring clocked up around 60 pages of artwork for 2000AD, the bulk of which was on Dan Dare with Gary Leach, but would go on to work for Marvel, Dark Horse as well as storyboard artist for films such as Watchmen and X-men 2.However even a seasoned vet of 2000AD would be hard pushed to identify where he worked for the comic. There is no surprise he had a successful career; this strip is beautifully drawn with a similarity to the ink-heavy earlier style of Steve Dillon. The final monster is a bit under-whelming but that is a minor point especially as he carries off the more challenging task of keeping interesting two pages of talking heads via using varying angles and a very readable but dynamic page breakdown. At two pages this is too slight to call it a classic but it certainly is a very classy Future Shock.

Shock’d? The real shock is that the piece ends so quickly. Lock’s naturalistic characters have a certain languid effect making for an anticipation of a much longer strip; however they find and ‘crack’ the space egg in two panels and all is done. The half-page splash of the Space Bird does detract from the shock as it is immediately too visible when the reader should be still on the panels setting up its appearance but with two pages there was obviously limited room for manoeuvre. However it’s not a bad shock, the space creatures are nicely foreshadowed in the dialogue and you don’t immediately assume the asteroid is an egg, largely because you expect this tale has more than 2 pages to run.

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