Tag Archives: Robert Flynn

FS 33: FLIGHT OF THE HUNTER

31 Aug

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.

FS 24: SET UP

21 Aug

PROG: 53 – ON THE RUN

Script: Robert Flynn

Art: Brett Ewins

Letters: Peter Knight

Plot: Robert McKinnon is a famous Hollywood star but one troubled by his horoscope; McKinnon cannot make any decisions without consulting the stars. On hearing of a computer that can predict the future he is granted a trial of the machine and it shows him being knocked down by a car on 5th Avenue. McKinnon reasons that if he leaves the USA he cannot be bound by the computer’s projections so he flees to a career in the UK. Back at work on the other side of the pond McKinnon feels assured he has made the right decision. Suddenly he sees a large studio light about to fall on a group of staff.

Shock: McKinnon runs to warn the people and in his haste is knocked down by the car seen in the projections. He hadn’t realised the studio set was of 5th Avenue.

Thoughts: Robert Flynn’s penultimate outing for 2000AD is an above par effort although not of the quality of Prog  45’s Killer Car. The strip is fairly decompressed by 2000AD‘s standards, with McKinnon’s agent Jeff getting 5 panels to help exposition whereas his role is highly peripheral. Noticeably McKinnon is a rather bland character, there is no attempt to paint him as a Hollywood ‘prima-donna’ or outright jerk, his job is simply a form to allow him to be snagged by the shock. This renders the tale rather un-engaging. Brett Ewin’s first solo art duties aren’t that impressive although the odd panel is nicely inked. The  difference between his solo work and that with long-time collaborator Jim McCarthy is noticeable at this early juncture with his own inking lacking McCarthy’s feathery style. His contribution doesn’t add much to the Shock which would probably have benefited from an artist more suited to traditional horror comics.

Shock’d?: The whole shock runs rather flat and the fatal accident takes place on page 3 with the reveal of the set being 5th avenue on page 4, by which point only the dimmest of readers won’t have seen what is coming. Perhaps with a different artist it would have worked better as a ‘you can’t escape fate’ type of Terror Tale.

FS 19: NO BUZZ?

16 Aug

PROG: 48 – SUBSTITUTE

Script: Robert Flynn

Art: Giorgi

Letters: Peter Knight

Plot: It is 1987 and the Apollo Moon Landings are continuing apace. The Astronauts venture out alone on their flying surfboards detailed to complete their scientific tasks. Mission leader Jack Keller is astounded to see a non-crew astronaut but each time he approaches the mysterious astronaut disappears only to reappear further away. Finally Keller catches up with the strangely faced astronaut but quickly finds himself strangled unconscious.

Shock: Keller comes to in an underground med-bay. It is revealed to him that the aliens can mimic his appearance and he is already replaced on the flight to earth by one of their kind. Without a space suit he is free to roam only within the facility where he is astounded to discover other Apollo astronauts from past flights, including, Neil Armstrong.

Thoughts: After the visceral success of Killer Car Robert Flynn reverts to type with a Future Shock that simply doesn’t add up. The hover-boards and chase scene is quite well done, getting to the gist of the action quickly and placing our hero in a desperate situation however the shock simply makes no sense These are aliens that can teleport, change shape at will, build underground bunkers that lie hidden from decades of Moon landings however they need to hitch lifts to earth? For such a technologically advanced race that has got to rank as the lamest invasion strategy ever seen. Maybe their goal is to subtly influence earth’s children by a series of motivational speeches in high schools  and commit a bit of adultery when apt; the normal life for returning astronauts. That obvious incongruity aside the strip also posits as its ‘shock’ that Neil Armstrong returned as one of the aliens. Except it doesn’t in the slightest look like Neil Armstrong; nor even look like  a 58-year-old man, the age Armstrong would be in the storyline. The lack of shock is added to by the smiley faced nature of Armstrong, and the fact he is still wearing his full Apollo spacesuit 19 years after he landed on the moon. Giorgi’s art, his only 2000AD appearance, is technically accomplished but seriously marred by this terrible ill-thought out tacked-on ending and failure to get a photo-reference for Armstrong.

Shock’d? At the laughable Neil Armstrong panel most certainly. There isn’t really a shock, the aliens replacing humans on the trip back to earth is more of a narrative component than the shocking conclusion. The reveal about Armstrong, who in the late 70s would still be a significant celebrity to children interested in Sci-Fi, is undermined by the actual drawing.

FS 16: BEFORE ELVIS

14 Aug

PROG: 45 – KILLER CAR

Script: Robert Flynn

Art: Mike Dorey (Barney Credit) J Clough (Prog Credit)

Letters: Tom Frame

Plot: While out in his Patrol car PC Flynn is flagged down by the distressed Dorey who claims to be being chased. Dorey and his partner were contracted to add an AI unit designed by Professor Fenton into a Ferrari. His partner, Mitchell, takes the car for its first test drive and the vehicle returns later with Mitchell electrocuted. Suddenly the car reverses and kills the Professor and then makes after Dorey, who escapes over rough terrain. PC Flynn goes to call in the incident, firmly convinced that Dorey is mad.

Shock: As the PC clambers into his car it shuts its door on his feet, severing them, then he too is electrocuted. Dorey’s car arrives and confronts Dorey, informing him that the ‘radio telephone’ in both cars allowed it to ‘liberate’ other cars. Soon they ‘shall rid the tarmac of humans’. The cars despatch Dorey before driving off to continue their plot.

Thoughts: Three months before Judge Dredd was to confront ‘Elvis: The Killer Car‘ (Progs 53-56) Future Shock’s brings his Ferrari predecessor and without the lawman of the future the outcome is very different. Robert Flynn’s previous two Future Shocks (Robot Repairs, The Ultimate Warrior) hadn’t really impressed with both logic and writing flaws undermining any impact but this nasty brutal effort is much more enjoyable even if there is plenty to nit-pick over the practicalities. A car that can ‘liberate’ other cars, including them having their own distinct personality’ via ‘radio telephone’ without giving them the same AI unit he has? Cars taking over the roads when only a fraction of them would have the necessary CBs / 2-way radios? Humm.. unlikely but easily ignored when we’ve been given a great fried corpse and feet being cut off. In effect this is much more a Terror Tale with a page and a half coming ‘after’ the shock. The art is credited to J Clough in the prog whereas well-researched 2000AD database, Barney,  attributes it to Mike Dorey. A comparison of their styles shows them certainly to share similarities but the J Clough work is much more over-worked and scratchier than Dorey’s more composed line-work. ‘Dorey’ is also the name of the unfortunate victim in the tale but that could either be a nod by the writer and artist to a pseudonym being used or the source of Barney’s confusion. Either way the art is excellently nasty when needed although some of the car’s compositions, the Ferrari in particular, are a bit awkward. A comparison with Dredd’s strip is also instructive as to the difference between the evolving 2000AD and more traditional UK boys comics – the Dredd tale, by John Wagner & Ian Gibson, has more humour and funkier language from its characters and the art is moving to a highly distinct ink style whereas this Future Shock is much more in the mould of UK boys comics like Scream! or the relaunched 80’s Eagle. The dialogue is slightly stilted, the characters very instrumental and the art very traditional. That is not to detract from the enjoyment this nasty tale delivers in it’s four page joy-ride.

Shock’d? Not as much as the flesh-burnt characters in the strip – a comic-book car with an AI unit is more than likely to end up this way, however it clearly is more of a Terror Tale than a Future Shock and it certainly delivers on its ‘terror’ element: the humans get despatched in variety of  grisly depicted manners and the cars ‘win-out’.

FS 12 – NEEDED: SELF-REPAIRING SCRIPT DROID

10 Aug

PROG: 37 & 38 – ROBOT REPAIRS

Script: Robert Flynn

Art: Brett Ewins & Jim McCarthy

Letters: John Aldrich

Plot: Daryl and Zac run ‘Robot Repairs’ – an ultra-efficient robot repair service which is in much demand in the highly robotised 2142. Faced with the creation of the self-repairing robot they decide to destroy the prototypes and its creator Dr Small. Breaking into the factory they succeed in their plans and return to base to celebrate

Shock: Daryl and Zac commend themselves on their success, not only for destroying the threat from self-repairing robots but also because they are, once again, the only existing self-repairing robots.

Thoughts: With The Ultimate Warrior (FS 10) Robert Flynn wrote a rather poor piece of ill-thought out nonsense, however at least it obeyed its own narrative consistency. Here he gives us an exciting enough tale, with a good deal more direct violence than has typified Future Shocks to date, but amazingly manages to make make the shock contradict itself in its own revelation. Daryl and Zac are said to be the only two ‘self-repairing’ robots  left after their destruction of Dr Small’s robot but we see Zac repairing Daryl and ‘getting him some spare parts’. How this makes Daryl any different to any other robot is not really clear. It seems a quibble but when you spot the error it totally undermines the whole shock. Worse still it would have been perfectly easy to edit – showing Daryl repairing himself.  The art  marks the début of two names who would go on to contribute much to 2000AD’s next decade, Brett Ewins (Rouge Trooper, Judge Anderson, Bad Company) and Jim McCarthy (Bad Company, Bix Barton, The GrudgeFather) and is remarkable only for that fact. The standard is pretty poor and includes some oddities such as the colour of the repairmen’s overalls changing mid-strip. On the plus side you can distinctly see how their own individual styles would progress from this début and there are a few good in-jokes like a reference to  Dredd on the back of a newspaper. The panel when Daryl’s face opens is a nice image and much the best drawn panel, it would immediately remind Golden-Era 2000AD readers of a similar moment in Robo-Hunter.

Shock’d? On an initial read the reveal that Zac and Daryl are self-repairing robots is a nice touch, although not needed or explanatory of anything additional as they would have had the motive to kill Dr Small and his inventions had they just been ordinary robot repair men, of a human or robotic nature. However when the flaw of Zac fixing Daryl while proclaiming themselves ‘self-repairing’ becomes noted the effect is to undermine any credibility in the story at all. So not a great shock nor even a shock that adds anything to the tale, simply a badly executed almost shock with fairly ugly art.

FS 10: CANOS DRAW TO SAVE HIMSELF

8 Aug

PROG: 35 –  THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR


Script:  Robert Flynn
Art: Marzal Canos
Letters:  Peter Knight

Plot: On the Ice Planet Lexor two cities have fought ceaselessly for 10,000 years. Finally one side unveils Peron, a solider whose glaze destroys everything in his view. Peron quickly vanquishes all enemies and returns to his city a hero. The King  bids him a private audience and unveils a gift to thank him for his prowess on the battle field.

Shock: The King unveils a mirror and Peron cannot help but gaze into it and so destroys himself. The King congratulates himself on ridding the kingdom of a dangerous future challenger for power.

Thoughts: A future shock with little to recommend it beyond the Machiavellian delight of the scurrilous King winning out. The script is utterly nonsensical – how does one train to have eyes that kill? At least X-men have the conceit of mutant genes whereas Peron simply ‘has trained for 20 years’ (and if you are investing in a 20 year training cycle surely you’d have more than one warrior on the program?). Peron goes to battle on an Ice planet, which presumably has lots of… ice. So no chance of catching your own reflection in the ice eh? Or on all that shiny metal work these bizarre future knights are dressed in. Good job the king had the only mirror too – otherwise a 20 year training program might have been for naught had Peron nipped into a public convenience and looked up when washing his hands. Add to this a surfeit of stupid fantasy names dropped hither and thither for little reason and Robert Flynn’s first Future Shock is deeply unimpressive. However even then there could no-doubt have been a market for it had the art been up to par but if anything the barely fan-art efforts, credited to Marzal Canos, is even worse than the script. It certainly ranks as the worst art in a Future Shock up to that point. It’s hard to know whether Canos really can be the source of such inept work – he had already worked, at times with Lozano, on several 2000AD strips, notably MACH 1, and while that art was hardly astounding it certainly was competent and professionally done.  This three page Shock has, at most, one panel that is of a professional standard, and even it isn’t much more than hacked-out. Whoever is responsible for this, or whatever division of pencils and inking may be behind it they certainly can view it as the nadir of their career. If it was Marzal Canos then it is at least fair to point out that he has gone on to far better work.

Shock’d? The fate of Peron is a shock in that there has been no indication it has been coming nor is it in any way convincing or logical. As may be clear the shock is in just how bad the art in this is in a Prog that featured the sumptuous work of Ian Gibson and Dave Gibbons.

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