Into the back issue box #2

Well, it's time for another installment of the critically-lauded comics review series that dares to read books from the distant and not-so-distant past! Check out the ground rules for these posts here. Today's random comic book is even more outre than Outsiders #12! What could it be ...?

Stark: Future #8 by Gordon Derry and Peter Drinnan (back-up story's art by Collin Young). Published by Aircel, 1987.

If someone had made this comic their first comic-book reading experience, that person would never have picked up another one. It's so bad I think I lost IQ points just reading it. I know I will lose them trying to describe it. But I will soldier on!

First, the "best" part of the book - the art. Which isn't saying much. It's stiff, mechanical, and has no flow whatsoever. There are a few worthwhile panels, but generally, it's a bunch of people standing around, and when they do move, they're awkwardly posed. The only good thing, in fact, about the art is that it successfully conveys the sense of a futuristic alien city. It's an ugly futuristic alien city, but at least it looks like something that exists on another planet. But that's about it for the art. I usually don't pick on art too much because my theory is that if I can't draw it, it must have some merit, and even though I can't draw what's in this book, I certainly wouldn't inflict what I draw on others. It's a crime!

However, it's not as big a crime as the writing, which isn't horrible in a "Let's all laugh at how horrible it is" way but horrible in a "I want to gouge my eyes out with a filthy spoon so I never read anything as bad as this again!" way. Our story begins, according to the inside front cover, in the city of Herod on the planet of Kanen. Some reject from the Black Lagoon is about to inject a virus into a woman, Rachel, who is the lover of our hero, Space Ranger Ely Stark. Horrors! This virus will turn her into one of these demon creatures, the O-Uahi. Apparently the demon creature was once human herself, but she allowed herself to be infected because, I guess, creatures with buboes all over their heads are popular with the geek set. Now maybe Floyd in the lab will notice me, thinks the once nerdy but now super-powerful Dr. Opyr! Here's some sample dialogue: Stark says, "You joined with those monsters ... freely?! You're insane!" Black Lagoon chick: "A fool like you might think so, but I'm a survivor! I realized there was no way to defeat the O-Uahi. I wanted to be on the side that wins!" To which Stark replies:

Ooh, snap!

Rachel gets away (the demon might be ugly, but she's weak, apparently), and Stark tosses her his gun, which she uses to blow her tormentor's arm off. Once she escapes, she and Stark do some mackin', and then she utters the worst line in the book (admittedly, there are a lot of contenders): "I love you than life, Ely Stark. But our lives aren't as important as stopping the O-Uahi!" It reminds of that line from Flash Gordon, when Dale Arden says "Flash, Flash, I love you, but we only have fourteen hours to save the Earth!" Gloriously stupid. But at least that movie had Max von Sydow, Topol, and Timothy Dalton. This book has none of those.

The O-Uahi have a plan to enter our dimension through a big gateway under the city, and needless to say, they must be stopped. When they think all hope is lost, a genuine flying saucer (an "Aylvan anti-grav ship") rescues them, flown by Orrista, who is a strange lizard-looking woman who wears a trenchcoat and nothing else. Seriously:

Stark wants to use the ship to ignite a vein of fossil fuel running above the gateway, which will explode and destroy the gateway. One small problem: it will probably destroy the city as well. Orrista thinks this is, well, a shitty idea, but Stark says, with grim determination, that they have no choice. They commandeer the ship and put their excellent plan into action! Orrista screams that they'll all die in the chain reaction, but Stark, pragmatic as always, tells her "We would have died at the hands of the O-Uahi anyway!" It's far better if we destroy the city than the O-Uahi, because we're the good guys! The gateway is destroyed, the Rangers barely escape, and the city, well, it's destroyed. Not only that, in what I can only believe is an unintentionally hilarious scene, the citadel crumbles directly onto ... the various Ranger vehicles that are coming to assist Stark. He not only kills the bad guys, he takes out a bunch of his own comrades in friendly fire! And he's the hero!

So what have we learned? Well, a valuable, valuable lesson, of course. Something that only destroying a dimensional gateway through which demon creatures are flooding and in the process destroying the city you were trying to save in the first place while killing a bunch of your comrades can teach you:

Wow, Stark, really?

The back-up story is called "Salvage Police" and concerns two cops who hang out in the sewer. One of them has a beard that grows so fast he can't cut it. And that's really all I want to say about it. Gadzooks.

Boy, what a bad comic book this is. These two "creators" should never have been allowed near a comic book again, and if this book wasn't the one that put Aircel out of business, it should have been. If someone who had never read a comic book before read this, they would figure out the basic plot points easily enough, but Derry and Drinnan don't try to give us any clear idea who the O-Uahi are or why they're trying to come through into this dimension. I assume it's in an earlier issue, but a quick reminder wouldn't kill them! It's just a lousy comic book all around. I'm angry that my unconscious mind selected it out of the depths of the back issue box. If you ever see this comic not lining the bottom of a bird cage, it's being put to the wrong use. If someone gives this to you as a present, they aren't your friend. You should kick them in the balls, hard, and run fast the other way. Your life will be far better for it.

Once & Future #1 Is an Adventurous, Endearing Debut

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