Sunday, June 19, 2016
Earthsearch (Jeff Hawke's Cosmos)
Thus was born Lance McLane, who debuted in May 1976 in a tale that lacked the humorous tones of Hawke and his well-established coterie of aliens; instead, McLane's adventures were set against a darker background, the Earth all but uninhabitable after a collision with the Moon and mankind's survivors based on three vast spaceships, Faith, Hope and Charity, or spread thinly around the solar system. In 'Last Frontier', McLane is performing surgery on Mars when he and his nurse are kidnapped and forced to fly to a desolate Earth populated by barbarians, knows as Pocs (post-collision survivors).
To avoid spoilers I'll skip fairly promptly through the remaining four tales. The android Fortuna takes a pivotal role in 'Telepath', set in the icy-wastes of South America, and 'Chimera', set on Saturn's moon, Titan, while Hawke and Fortuna crash-land on Earth and find themselves captives on an island of women in 'Lysistrata II'. 'The Achene on Amalthea' spans the solar system from Jupiter to Venus with Hawke and his crew in the grip of a strange alien lifeform.
For this volume, McLane has been renamed Jeff Hawke but the beard, background and storylines mean these stories sit uncomfortably within Jeff Hawke's universe. That situation was resolved after a while so that new stories could be told where McLane could adopt the name Hawke for syndication. Although there's no attempt to disguise their origins, these are definitely Lance McLane yarns, not Jeff Hawke.
I think I'm right in saying that the first tales are drawn for the most part by Paul Neary while later stories were drawn by Jordan assisted by Thayen Rich due to the pressure of having to both write and draw the strip.
The stories are accompanied by Duncan Lunan's notes and there are some short articles by Lunan, Roger Ley and editor William Rudling rounding out this issue's 110 pages.
Subscription rates are £26 for three issues here in the UK and £34/39/41 for overseas subscribers, payable in a variety of ways. You can find more details (and back issues) at the new Jeff Hawke Club web page or by contacting william AT williamrudling.co.uk.