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Monday, May 21, 2018

Space Ace volume 10

After a couple of issues running longer stories, the latest issue of Space Ace (#10, released May 2018) returns to its original format as an anthology of shorter yarns, but with the added bonus of an extra four pages to fit them in alongside an article and the usual letters' page.

As with one of his earlier volumes, editor John Lawrence has made some minor alterations which rescue parts of a less-than-stellar story and incorporate it into another tale where the original limited page count squeezed out any tension. I have to say that the join is invisible, thanks in part to John Ridgway's colouring, which blends the whole story together seamlessly. That Space Ace and Sergeant Bill Crag (our heroes) have to actually work to achieve the story's solution rather than to simply stumble into it makes for a far more satisfying narrative. The plot, incidentally, revolves around a stolen space freighter and how the Space Patrol team, abandoned on a battle-damaged space station, find a way to first get themselves to safety before their oxygen runs out, and second to recapture the space freighter.

In 'Space Ace and the Menace from Minos', a recently-joined member of the Intergalactic Federation of Planets is attacked by a neighbour and Space Ace and Bill have to resolve a multitude of problems – from attacking a space ship to shutting down a powerful drill and preventing a submarine attack – before they can save the day.

'Space Ace and the Asteroid' opens with another planet of the Federation going strangely silent. Our heroes find the population unconscious through a nerve agent; the attackers are an alien race looking for a generator that can stimulate growth on the alien's barren homeworld. The earthmen are blasted towards an asteroid moon of the planet, only to discover it is hollow, and home to a race that has been sleeping for 2,000 years.

The final story involves a stranded exploration ship, trapped on a planet whose sun is about to go supernova. The ship has been sabotaged and Space Ace and Bill head off for Mekar to obtain a rescue ship to save Mondar, ruler of Mekar, and his 150 crewmen trapped on Raxor. Unknown to them, their presence is already known to the Mekarons behind the plot.

Editor Lawrence has also penned an interesting history of the Nick Hazard strip, also drawn by Ron Turner, and how his demise led to the publication of Space Ace.

You can get hold of this latest volume for £8.95 (UK) or £12.50 (Europe) and £14.50 (International) including p&p — and that's pretty much at cost, I can assure you — with payments through Paypal via spaceace.54 AT virginmedia.com or by cheque or postal order to John Lawrence, 39 Carterweys, Dunstable, Beds. LU5 4RB

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