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Saturday, April 25, 2015

Space Ace Volume 4

The latest (April 2015) issue of John Lawrence's quarterly Ron Turner's Space Ace magazine takes on one of Turner's longer stories this issue, combining the pages of a six-part serial into one long 24-page story. 'The Island Universe' originally appeared in Lone Star, the anthology weekly published by DCMT in the 1950s and 1960s. Turner had taken over the character Space Ace with issue 17 in 1954 and would later take over the artwork for Rick Random later that year, cementing his place as Britain's premier science fiction comic strip artist.

'The Island Universe' was Turner's debut on the strip and reflects Turner's early enthusiasm for bringing variety to the shapes of his panels. This falls away as the strip progresses due to Turner taking on Rick Random, which allowed him less time to experiment. However, the insistence of Super Detective Library editor Ted Holmes that Turner make Rick Random look more realistic—following the style laid down by Bill Lacey—also spilled over into Space Ace.

As for the story, five strange spacecraft are approaching Earth and the Space Patrol are sent out to investigate. When they receive no response to their attempts at contact, Space Ace and his Black Spade co-pilot Bill fire a shot across the bows of the alien craft. They are immediately attacked by robot ships that disable the Black Spade. Boarded and taken captive by the aliens, the creatures reveal their plans... and Space Ace watches in astonishment as a quartet of flying saucer-shaped spaceships fire beams of light towards the Earth—and the planet vanishes!

Despite efforts to shoot their way out of danger, Space Ace and Bill are still captive when the aliens use their transender drives to cross galaxies to the planet Metharon, near to where the planet Earth has reassembled. But not for long, as their alien captives plan to blow up the planet, releasing untold energy that will power the alien's home world.

As writer/artist of 'Space Ace', Turner created a run of action-packed and entertaining adventures and it is a pleasure to see them back in print, especially in colour thanks to the efforts of John Ridgway, who has made every effort to capture the essence of Turner's painted covers and the later 'Daleks' comic strip. My first exposure to Ron Turner's work was in colour—his fantastic covers for Vargo Statten novels—and while it is nice to have strips reprinted in their original form (in this case black & white), I have no problem with seeing them coloured. In this I suspect I'm like most readers, who won't remember the original b/w versions anyway.

There is a second Space Ace story backing up the longer lead strip and John has printed some extracts from his conversations with Ron Turner, which offer some of the artists insights into the 'Island Universe' story, and a lively letters column rounds off another fine 40-page issue.

You can get hold of this latest volume for £8.95 (UK) or £14.00 (Overseas) including p&p — and that's pretty much at cost, I can assure you — with payments through Paypal via spaceace.54 AT or by cheque or postal order to John Lawrence, 39 Carterweys, Dunstable, Beds. LU5 4RB.

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