PROG: 78 – Nothing On Earth!
Script: Chris Lowder
Art: Pierre Frisano
Letters: Jack Potter
Plot: At the American Space Research Centre, Houston, Professor Weems and his team identify a UFO heading for earth. Mobilizing the military, under the command of no-nonsense General B. Buckner Bulspitt, the military and the scientists rush to the landing site. The alien craft drops its ramp and out slither small many-eyed, multi-tentacled aliens. So repulsed is Gen. Bulspitt that he orders his weapons to open fire and the aliens are swiftly destroyed. Almost immediately a different alien craft arrives and this time tall bear-like creatures lollop forth. Weems and Bulspitt regard them as much friendlier looking and engage them in dialogue. The aliens ask what happened the previous spaceship which they identify as belonging to the ‘Sloog’ race.
Shock: The new aliens laugh at the Sloog’s destruction, and, as they open fire, they inform the General that the Sloog were peaceful and no-doubt intending to warn Earth about their own arrival, because the second aliens are ‘space pirates and planet destroyers‘. The General and Professor are slain in a hail of laser-fire.
Thoughts: An odd Shock that seems to rely on a central premise, that mankind will automatically kill any ‘ugly’ aliens’, that doesn’t really hold much water. Chris Lowder, whose two previous Shocks have been played for laughs, enjoys himself with ridiculous character names and a over-the-top Yankee accent for the General but there is an absence of any actual humour in the plot. This results in his scripting coming across as rather contemptuous of the audience and the genre, as if saying he knows the story is cliché hack-work but here it is anyway. Given his central premise is somewhat odd he might have concentrated on rationalizing it away a tad better than ‘bampot General thinks you’re ugly so die’. In addition it’s not exactly clear why a seven-foot tall brown bear in a spacesuit is automatically cuddly and friendly. Sure children have stuffed bears as toys but by the time they get to reading 2000AD many of them will have stored such away and be more likely to know that Bears are gert big killers like Sharko. This problem, along with oddities such as the American Space Research Centre not actually having a plan for alien contact, makes the whole script seem lazy even if there is, as no doubt Lowder took, pleasure in the silly names etc. The art by Frisano is professional but again slightly hampered by his 1950’s stylings and the strip, printed in the era of Star Wars, is all very B&W B-movie in tone. The result is a lesser Shock from two talented creators.
Shock’d?: The Bears’ sudden turn to violence isn’t telegraphed but nor is it very connected; the Major’s decision to shoot the Sloog is so random that after that juncture the story falls apart and any shock is more of a ‘oh well’. To buy into the ending being a shock the reader would have to have been enamoured with the ‘cuddly toy’ nature of the Bear aliens and it seems highly unlikely that readers of Judge Dredd and Robo-Hunter, both in this Prog, would still be at that level.