12 Sep

PROG: 83 – The Mote In God’s Eye

Script: Roy Preston

Art: Puchades & Martinez

Letters: Tom Frame

Plot: Valkahar is a dying planet and its advanced warrior inhabitants have targeted Earth for invasion. Scoffing at Earth’s primitive technology, that has only just facilitated Moon-landings, they launch their warp-enabled battleships confident they can handle any defences Earth can muster. Upon landing they are confused by the vast barren plains, absent life or any of the seas and mountains their scientists had predicted. Then a vast flood of rushes towards them..

Shock: The waters destroy them and they cruse mankind for having the technological ability to use vast oceans as weapons. Meantime a small boy wipes a tear from his eye, which had formed due to the tiny Valkahar space fleet crashing into his pupil. The invasion force had miscalculated the size of the earth and were ‘no bigger than an insect compared to man‘; the flood that had drowned them were his tears.

Thoughts: Editorial Droid Roy Preston steps up to scripting duties, after a brief turn on MACH 1, with the first of 3 stand-alone shorts he would write for 2000AD. Preston, who along with Nick Landau and Kevin O’Neil kept 2000AD running while editor Kelvin Gosnell was overseeing the launch of Starlord, appears, at most, to have been a part-time author with his credits appearing sporadically at 2000AD and Eagle. The story itself is a poor rehash of FS 2‘s ‘problem of scale’ and is decidedly inferior when contrasted with that earlier story. This tale, written from the perspective of the invasion force, offers no conflict, no action and no tension, whereas its predecessor is packed full of those qualities as the ‘invaded’ rush to deal with the news of the alien’s arrival. Here there is a very dull looking humanoid invasion force blasting off, one spaceship exterior shot and a lot of talking heads discussing their ‘superiority’ before a flood despatches them in a single panel. The story certainly isn’t aided by very uninspired clean-lined artwork from Puchades & Martinez , agency artists who clearly weren’t lobbying too hard for a regular appointment. The Shock, as with its immediate successor and FS 21, does mark one of the rarer occasions when the stories featured central characters of the same age as the then target readership so gains some credit for that. That factor aside the tale is derivative, somewhat incoherent – scientists looking for habitable planets managing to miss that this one is thousands of times bigger than their own – and worst of all, dull.

Shock’d?: The Shock scores kudos for being an ‘over-the-page’ reveal’ but instantly loses it for being about dull looking protagonists the reader has no engagement with and for being the rehash of an existing Shock. A new reader may find it exciting that an ordinary kid destroys an alien fleet but a loyal fan would, unlike the child hero,  have ‘seen it coming’


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