PROG: 51 – GALACTIC GARBAGE
Script: Richard Burton
Art: Trevor Goring
Letters: Tony Jacob
Plot: Arthur Upshot operates as a salvage merchant in near earth orbit, collecting what little there is of value and ‘shooting’ waste off into space. He finds a unrecognisable probe lodged amongst his waste and, regarding it worthless, fires it away. Arthur is unaware that the probe was leading an advanced alien invasion fleet to earth – the probe was fed sufficient data for the aliens to locate earth and their fleet is fast on its tail.
Shock: The probe, and the following fleet, plunge into the sun, where Arthur has been disposing of all his worthless waste.
Thoughts: Hey, its famous editorial droid, and future Tharg, Richard Burton in his only credited script for 2000AD. While doubtless his re-write pencil featured heavy on many scripts over his long tenure at the Command Module this was the only time his name was to appear on a script. Galactic Garbage isn’t a bad effort however it does need some indulgence both logically and in terms of storytelling. The script has a strange device of showing that the Alien’s homeworld is notified of the fleet’s destruction before it occurs in the Shock, with the event , following the probe into the sun, being the shock reveal of the strip. In terms of storytelling it just about gets away with it, logically it is hard to believe an invasion fleet would ignore the technological signals coming from an inhabited planet and head into a sun. Had the strip had them warp into the probes position then that would have been a device to excuse it but there isn’t any sort of explanation; they simply ‘follow’ the probe blindly. The script also calls the aliens ‘very alien’ but they do seem to be wearing WWI gas-masks and Roman helmets so maybe the script’s description could have been a bit more ‘alien’. However it is well paced and the excellently titled ‘Arthur Upshot’ is nicely portrayed as frustrated and hard-done-by so he’s an unlikely saviour of earth. Trevor Goring again does a fantastic job on the art with beautiful space-craft and several wonderful close-ups of Arthur’s resigned facial features. The script certainly could have been tighter but Goring’s superior art places this firmly in the pantheon of excellent early Future Shocks.
Shock’d? The space fleet plunging into the sun is pretty obvious given we’ve been told the fleet is destroyed and we’ve seen Arthur fire off the probe so it’s not much of a shock but what mystery there is by the time the reader turns to the final single panel page is still nicely enough played. The sun is at least different to the fleet being eaten by a small dog.