After having examined the first ten of these magnificent beasts a few stats and considerations.
Horacio Laila has been the most prolific artist with 3 strips.
Continental Artists dominate the art chores at this juncture with 7 strips . Future Shocks would go on to be the breeding ground for new domestic talent but at this time they are pure and simply stories for pleasure.
Steve Moore and Peter Harris share the official accreditation for most scripts (2 each) though it is likely Harris was also responsible for the uncredited A Promised Land!
Kev O’Neil is the first person to pick up a pay-check for both script and art duties on the same strip.
In terms of settings 6 have been pure futuristic Sci-Fi, 2 have been contemporary world Sci-Fi and 2 have been that interface between Fantasy and Sci-Fi.
Mankind has been the most frequent ‘bad guy’ – being behind genocide against the galaxy (Beautiful World) with a destructive warlike nature (King of the World) while thoughtlessly killing sentient beings (Food for Thought) and being horrible to our own species (A Promised Land! and Excursion). Aliens have only really had it in for us three times (Food for Thought, Wings and Fangs)
To pick a top 3 from these first batch isn’t hard:
1) Prog 31 – A Promised Land! (unknown (likely Peter Harris) / Horacio Lalia) – due to its excellent dialogue and art and the classic 2000AD touch of a thoroughly malign central character
2) Prog 27 – First Contact (Alan Hebden / Medraho) – the first really great Future Shock and the execution of a classic Sci-Fi idea
3) Prog 34 – Fangs (Chris Lowder / Carlos Ezquerra) – for Ezquerra’s turning in a top-notch comedy piece.
and an honourable mention to Prog 29’s Just Like Home for the finest panel to appear so far – Ron Turner’s beautifully miserable human-‘zombie’-sasquatch-horses:
PROG: 30 – BEAUTIFUL WORLD
Art: Ron Turner
Letters: Peter Knight
Plot: A massive starship drops out of warp on the edges of a planet responsible for a failed attempt to destroy every other species in the galaxy. The crew take evasive action to avoid the debris of war and the still active missile defence system. A crew member ponders why the combined allies had not destroyed the source of such an evil genocidal race when they had finally defeated them..
Shock: The ‘most warlike species the galaxy has ever known‘ is the human race! The captain tells his crew, and the stare in amazed agreement at the planet, that Earth was the most beautiful planet and so paradoxical it should spawn such evil as humans.
Thoughts: A similar theme to both King of the World (Shock 1) and Food for Thought (Shock 2) of ‘man is a violent creature’ comes back and is nicely disguised by the alien species in the craft having a humanoid form, including a rather foxy blonde crew member in a 60s Star Trek style mini-dress, but, as revealed in the final panel, having rather lupine hairy forearms and claws which had been kept out of sight. That similarity of theme points to the ‘unknown author’ being Steve Moore however Peter Harris could also be a candidate due to the 50s Sci-Fi feel and the use of a non-relevant dramatic tension device (the attack by the missile system) making it strongly reminiscent of the previous Prog’s story Just Like Home. Either way the tale shares that story’s ‘classic golden era’ sci-fi feel although it lacks it warped nasty final imagery, instead going for a Gene Roddenberry preachy ending. Ron Turner’s art gives good space ship and even better Space- hottie; even if she is a wolf.
Shock’d? After a two page build-up of just how horrible the genocidal species have been it’s not a huge shock to find out it’s mankind; there is not a lot else it could be unless they discovered Santa’s home-world had gone homicidal. In addition the fact that our role as ‘the most warlike species ever’ and the crew’s non-human form are revealed in the last half-splash page tends to lessen the impact of each – the impact of the lupine claws is slightly diminished by the heavy prose and the huge central image of earth, even though they are front and central on the page. However like Just Like Home the story has a good visual dramatic tension with the missile fight so it works nicely as a story if not a particularly shocking one.
PROG 29: JUST LIKE HOME
Script: Peter Harris
Art: Ron Turner
Letters: Peter Knight
Plot: Tex and Mitch land on a earth-like planet after four years using an experimental warp drive. Unsure of their precise location they are shocked to find branded cattle just as they would in Texas. After an initial confrontation with two lizard-like ‘cowboys’ the four settled down to enjoy beans by the camp-fire before Tex and Mitch leave to continue their space voyage.
Shock : As the astronauts depart the two lizard cowboys debate whether they should have told the two humans that they had come ‘full circle’ back to an earth 50 years in the future and that mankind was ‘reduced to zombies’ by germ warfare.
Thoughts: A classic 50’s Sci-Fi feel pervades this excellent strip, down in no small measure to Ron Turner’s excellent traditional art. Peter Harris, the neglected author of the ‘first’ Dredd story in Prog 2, turns out a bobbins tale that doesn’t make a lot of sense (experimental warp drives given four-year missions, navigation units being accepted as unreliable) and a description of the human condition ‘reduced to zombies’ which doesn’t match the images (the lizard cowboys ride off on hairy human-faced ‘horses’) but still it works because yes those are bonkers aliens in Roy Rodgers gear and yes that final human-horse-wildebeest image is just so weird and wrong and magnificent. And also because, lets face it, this is ‘The Last Rumble of the Platinum Horde‘ rendered as Charlton Silver-Age Sci-Fi five years ahead of Mr Moore’s more famous piece.
Shock’d? Most certainly. The story has its own separate tension, mainly the initial confrontation with earth’s new cowboys which seems sure to end badly for Mitch and Tex, and the Shock is totally bonkers and unexplained (who are these lizards?, why are they so happy to let our heroes go when they ride human-slave animals? , why are they dressed like RKO serial extras? and what’s the whole zombie thing about?) but still all is forgiven for that last panel of the pained human-horse-Sasquatches looking so miserable.