PROG:36 – PLAY POOL!
Script: Kevin Gosnell
Art: Kevin O’Neil
Letters: Peter Knight
Plot: While mining for minerals on the surface of the moon it becomes clear that the entire moon is one large grey steel sphere. Pondering this an astronaut considers that the ‘answer’ to why it is so is ‘out there’ in the stars
Shock: The astronaut is right – for across the galaxy a giant alien is lining up a 50 groat bet to pot the ‘grey ball’ planet to the ‘top corner’. The moon is part of a giant game of pool!
Thoughts: Kevin Gosnell, Starlord’s editor and editorial droid at 2000Ad from progs 17-85, was to turn out to be a bit of a master at writing Future Shocks and this initial effort, while relying on a deus-ex ‘shock’ in the final panel, is certainly a nice idea and despatched in a page and a half. Planets as pool balls is hardly a revolutionary concept, although again date wise 2000AD beats Douglas Adams to the gag. Given two of his Hitch-hikers routines have now been published in 2000AD during the time he would have been formulating and writing the initial radio scripts for Hitch-hikers it is interesting to note the overlap. The Future Shock will be of primary interest as another early art outing for Kev O’Neil and some of his trade-mark touches are in evidence – notably the space vehicles are precursors to the style on Ro-Busters and Nemesis. The most enjoyable aspect of the strip are the panel breakdowns which are all over the place but accommodating of the narrative flow of the story – making the main page a very accomplished piece of eye-candy.
Shock’d? After a series of Future Shocks that try to tie the shock into the story Play Pool! is a return to the less satisfying format of a completely left-field event happening in the final panel. As the strip is no-more than an extended one panel gag it can be forgiven that any shock is simply due to the punchline being so abruptly inserted.
PROG 27: FIRST CONTACT
Script: Alan Hebden
Letters: John Aldrich
Plot: At Heathrow airport planes are suspended mid-flight as an alien ship requests to land – the government, seizing the opportunity to make first contact readily agree but as the, still unseen, alien craft comes into land it garbles strange messages about an unidentified forest and being forced to land there. The government agents and military rush around nearby fields assuming the craft to be invisible
Shock : The alien craft is tiny and is crushed under-foot by one of the men searching for it
Thoughts: Third time lucky as seasoned and much under-valued 2000AD scribe Alan Hebden (Meltdown Man, Mean Team, Death Planet) turns in the first classic Future Shock. Beautifully written it’s a great punchy tale packed with fantastic dialogue (‘Man! This is FOR REAL!‘) and several human characters driving the story onwards while teasing all the time at the shock to come. While the problem of scale is hardly a novel one to Sci-Fi here is 2000AD making Douglas Adams’ jokes a year before him. Another anonymous studio European ‘Medraho’ gives great value in terms of characters, locations, a brilliant opening shot of a 747 and a lush final panel of the space-craft about to meet its doom. His art is also rather ‘english’ in its characterisations – more John Cooper than Jesus Redondo, and its a ‘commando’ style that suits the tone of the piece. The story also has some crazy but effective panel layouts and an interesting, if failed, attempt at some lettering effects. As with the original future shock, King of the World, this tale makes great use of that ‘turning the page’ moment only a physical comic can give. Any collection of Future Shocks should open with this classic tale.
Shock’d? Oh yes. The humans keep talking about an invisible craft and the Alien’s have great technology to be able to freeze all air-flight so that they are smaller than a size ten shoe on the last page works really well. For those that are interested the alien’s last words are ‘…..NO!!‘