PROG 28: WINGS
Script: Kev O’Neil
Art: Kev O’Neil
Letters: Peter Knight
Plot: In a future air-war Pilot K Trel of the 513 th Air Defence Squadron is ambushed by two mechanically piloted planes. He curses them for getting the jump on him but defeats them as he was ‘trained from birth to fly to fight and to kill.’
Shock : K Trel lands the plane and is assisted by a ground crew that consists of a chimp and a tiger because K Trel is a kestrel. Born to fly, fight and kill.
Thoughts: If there was an example of a Future Shock to which time has not been kind to then, on first viewing, Kev O’Neil’s ‘Wings’ is such. A rare outing as a script droid, and an even rarer one away from humour scripting such as Dash Decent and Bonjo, O’Neil’s page and a half has a simple ‘shock’ to deliver and does it with the minimum of fuss. Like the previous week’s Shock, First Contact, the kicker is all in the visuals of the final panel; however what precedes it isn’t as sophisticated or interesting as Hebden’s excellent story. There is a bad pun name K Trel / Kestrel and the hint line of being ‘born to do it’ but aside from that the delivery is all in the final Panel of K Trel flying out of the cockpit while talking to the anthropomorphic ground crew. Sadly the art in that panel is easily the worst thing in the strip as O’Neil tries to draw realistic animals instead of in his own distinctive style that has featured in the preceding panels. However given that 2000AD was a young kids comic and considering ‘future war where animals do men’s fighting’ has been the highly successful basis for both Paul Cornell’s XTNCT and Dan Abnett’s KINGDOM the idea deserves a kindness in re-analysis. There are a few panels of that much admired unique O’Neil style and K Trel is clearly the spiritual pun-father of Gene The Hackman. However the highly critical will wonder why K Trel needed to wear a humanoid helmet and flight suit, the unnecessary appearance of which does undermine the final reveal.
Shock’d? More ‘WTF”d’ than ‘shocked’. The tiny kestrel shooting out of a huge traditional cockpit is just a bizarre image and completely illogical but the story has given us a few pointers, if more of the type that only become apparent after the final reveal than clever points building the story. A qualified shock undermined by the Johnny Morris look to the animals.