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Thursday, March 04, 2021

Review — Beyond: A Ron Turner Special (February 2021)

The latest publication from John Lawrence takes a step away from his recent Space Ace magazine reprints and concentrates here on some more recent material. Much delayed by the pandemic (Lawrence planned it for April 2020 and it is dated November of last year), it is a welcome return.

The 40-page magazine format suits these stories, showing off Turner's artwork and John Ridgway's colouring at their best. The only negative thought I have is that it's a shame that there isn't more depth to the stories. 'The Killing Zone' is previously unpublished and crams an interplanetary war into seven pages — a little like squeezing the original Star Wars trilogy into a twenty minute short. While it's fun at a certain level, there's room for nothing more than plot, and that's heading in one direction with no deviation.

Andrew Darlington, on the other hand, managed to create a far better story in the six pages of 'Terror From Moon 33' by limiting its focus, although it, too, has its problems. When two spacemen discover an ancient alien spaceship, they try to sell artefacts from it at Callisto City. However, without authentication, they cannot find a buyer and, instead, throw the alien tech away, only for it to come to life.

But that isn't the story. The story — actually an extended joke — is that Brett and Tom, introduced at the bottom of page 3 are bored and decide to leave dull Callisto completely unaware that the city is battling alien technology. Meanwhile the tomb raiders have returned to the alien spaceship, only for it to blow up... an event witnessed by Brett and Tom who dismiss it as "one less piece of useless orbital junk."

Unfortunately, the joke doesn't land. Few readers (or spacemen, for that matter) would casually dismiss a citywide riot and an exploding moon as boring. But, then, we know nothing of the levels of excitement Brett and Tom are used to, hinted at by the fact that they were originally intended to be Jet-Ace Logan and Plumduff Charteris, reviving the old Fleetway (Comet, Tiger, Thriller Picture Library) characters. Reintroduced in a different story and with a few more adventures under their belt, the lack of any engagement between the strip's heroes and this particular plot might have worked.


The problems of these first two stories are not visible in the final two. 'Lone Eagle' relates an incident in World War Two where an R.A.F. pilot aids ground forces and is then helped in return, a neat little yarn told in four pages that are seeing the light of day for the first time. Lawrence's story notes offer some poignant background to Turner's own war exploits.

Wrapping up the volume, 'Bonde Bombshell' is an adventure told over thirteen pages, its hero a sex-starved interplanetary freight hauler called Joe McGurk. The pilot is unaware that he is carrying a surprise for the intended recipient on Titan. Things look up when a space storm accidentally activates a sex robot. Turner clearly had a lot of fun drawing the strip, which features a lot of nudity (but nothing more) as it was aimed at Heavy Metal. Rejected at the time, it's good to see a story that has languished in a drawer for 25 years come to life with Ridgway's always excellent colouring. A fine way to bring Beyond to a close.

Beyond is priced £9.50 (UK) £12.95 Europe and £14.95 (Int) and you can make Paypal payments to spaceace.54@virginmedia.com.

John tells me he still has copies of Space Ace #s 1, 10 and 12, so if you have gaps in your collection, now's the chance to fill them. Just drop him a line at the above address. The good news is that he has more classic Turner material in preparation for the future

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