This is my fourth post about rereading a sci-fi comic book from my youth. I still remember the experience of reading the sci-fi adventures it contained vividly today, which is why I decided to return and revisit them. According to Google Search Console nobody has read any of my other posts about this old comic book - they’re the least popular part of my site - but is that going to stop me? You can bet it isn’t.
I review issue 1 here. This first issue was a lot of fun to read and stands up pretty well, even after all this time.
I review issue 2 here. Issue two has another cover that is less than awe inspiring, but don’t worry, there are very good things within.
I review issue 3 here. This really was a very enjoyable issue indeed, with the first great cover of the comic’s run.
With three issues under my belt, it’s time to move on to issue four. You can read along with the issue as well, using the scans of the comic’s pages that can be found here. This issue is an absolute peach, and it has a classic cover, one of the best ever to grace the front of a comic book.
It is drawn by Carlos Ezquerra, and it has a warped, abstract background that draws us into the confrontation between a future hero and an alien monster. Carlos Ezquerra was one of the most gifted artists of this era, and we were very lucky to have him come from Spain to work in Britain.
The UK was a popular market for Spanish artists at the time because the exchange rate meant the work paid well. Ezquerra eventually moved to London and settled in Croydon with his wife. The cover features the hero of one of the stories in this very issue of the comic book, Johnny Alpha of Strontium Dog. Strontium Dog is a sci-fi western about a future where mutants are an oppressed minority forced into working as bounty hunters. Ezquerra was pretty much the only artist to draw the character, until a writer decided to kill him off in a storyline called “The Final Solution”. Ezquerra disagreed with the decision, and refused to draw the story.
The comic doesn’t start with Strontium Dog, however, instead it again starts with Mind Wars. This was a very strong strip that is very obviously inspired by Star Wars, and features some absolutely delightful spaceship designs. Just look at the docking bay of a monster spaceship we can see in the image above.
The spaceship even has a pool surrounded by shrubbery and trees, where the crew can relax and our heroes can recuperate from the things that have happened to them in the story thus far. Mind Wars is followed by Ro-Busters, which carries on the story about kill-crazy alligators terrorising a bus full of kids in a swamp, with only a squad of second-hand robots to save them.
Strontium Dog is third up, and it carries on the story about space pirates from the week before. In this issue we see Johnny Alpha break into a secure area and liberate a bunch of weapons, ready for the showdown with the pirates to come. Then come two lesser stories, Planet of the damned and TimeQuake. Planet of the Damned is at least fun, with cannibals on a post-apocalyptic planet in an alternative universe, while TimeQuake is just a slog. It’s a boring alternate history story about what might have happened if the Nazi’s had won WWII.
All in all, this issue of the comic is a lot of fun, with even the weaker stories being well drawn and stuffed with interesting ideas. Just reading it again put a huge smile on my face. In fact, I think the thing that makes Star Lord so special to me may have something to do with the times I was reading it in. It originally appeared on the 3rd June 1978, which was a long time ago and a very different time. It is so far in the past that it is hard to imagine what life was like back then, before computers and mobile phones.
It was a year when science fiction events were in the news, such as the world’s first IVF baby being born. Georgi Markov, a Bulgarian dissident, was murdered in London with an umbrella that carried a poison pellet. There was also excellent music ghosting through the aisles of dingy supermarkets and department stores, but music that was very different to what we listen to now. Paul McCartney’s Mull of Kintyre was a hit, along with Kate Bush’s bonkers Wuthering Heights. Rod Stewart’s song, Do Ya Think I’m Sexy? was a gigantic hit, and was met with the ridicule it deserved on the variety shows on British TV.
It was also a grim year. Public Service strikes caused major disruption to all services. The European Court of Human Rights found the United Kingdom government guilty of mistreating prisoners in Northern Ireland. There was already talk of an election, which would come the following year and usher Margaret Thatcher - the witch - into power. She was propelled to victory by a severe winter - the famous Winter of Discontent - which saw snowy weather combined with rubbish piled up on pavements and dead unburied because of the strikes.
On June 3rd, this was all still in the future but somehow there was a feeling of foreboding. It could all already be felt on the air, and this little science fiction comic book was a bright spot for me among all the gloom.
Galaxy Dog (Dark Galaxy)
I don’t just read sci-fi, I also write it. The fist sci-fi book I ever wrote, and still the one that sells the best, is Galaxy Dog. It is the first book in the Dark Galaxy series and it is a story of adventure, spaceships, and rebellion across a galactic empire. A small group of friends, one woman, one man, and one robot incite a revolt and take on the might of the Tarazet Deep Space Navy. They find an immensely powerful alien spaceship so, even though the rebellion is extremely outnumbered, they still stand a chance. Galaxy Dog combines the action of military sci-fi with the heart of space opera. There are robots, aliens, space battles, and all the good things that make sci-fi so enjoyable. Galaxy Dog is available from Amazon right now, so just click the Amazon link and download a copy.