PROG: 42 – TIME PAST
Script: Martin Lock
Art: Jose Ferrer
Letters: Peter Knight
Plot: Dan Aulnick has completed his first mail-order time machine and sets out to test it. He connects it to the mains and successfully transports himself to pre-historic times. Marvelling at his success he notes the proximity of several angry Neanderthals and decides it is time to head back to 2073
Shock: Dan realises there is no power-socket in the prehistoric times. He gulps as the angry mob draws near.
Thoughts: The second of Martin Lock’s four Future Shocks has a significant claim to fame in that it is the first to mine the very enjoyable seam of ‘ah….bugger‘ endings where the protagonist’s own ineptitude leads to his downfall. Aided by beautiful art by Spanish veteran this page and a half institutes a grand Future Shock trope with the maximum of efficiency and charm. It also raises one of those small query’s whereby the authorial voice of Tharg, introducing the strip, seems different to that of the author of the Shock. In this instance Tharg gives the embellishing, but superfluous, detail of Dan Aulnick’s name and the date. while in the strip Dan himself references ‘Splitsky’s first Mail Order Build-it-yourself Time Machine.’ This raises the issue of whether ‘Dan Aulnick’ is a simple consumer or whether he is the inventor. Absent Tharg’s intro naming him as Dan Aulnick the strip would read as if this is the inventor and the machine the prototype – and make the mistake more plausible. However with Tharg’s intro ‘Dan’ becomes the purchaser and so all the time machines will have the same error. Which makes it just that bit less believable because it has gone from a ‘potty amateur scientist’ trope to a ‘complete failure of a company to notice a flaw in their mass market product’ Shock. This is, of course, a very strict analysis to apply and is largely irrelevant because Ferrer and Lock give us a great fast hit of the future of Future Shocks.
Shock’d: With a large panel showing Dan plugging into the mains socket in 2073 everyone can see the shock coming but that doesn’t make the enjoyment of Dan’s ineptitude any less fun.