Tripwire’s contributing writer Tim Hayes takes a look at Rebellion’s Wildcat 1 – Turbo Jones, out now…
Wildcat – Turbo Jones
Writers: Barrie Tomlinson and John Sanders
Artists: Vanyo, Ian Kennedy
Rebellion’s Treasury of British Comics project jumps forwards in time from its usual 1970s stamping ground with Wildcat – Turbo Jones, collecting a strip from Fleetway’s short-lived Wildcatcomic of 1988, written by Barrie Tomlinson. The tale has 500 humans and acollection of animals escape from a doomed future Earth aboard the goodspaceship Wildcat, while the comic of the same name was as an anthology ofparallel stories following members of Wildcat’s command crew, each having theirown adventures on different areas of an alien but unnamed planet.
This reprint contains the storyline of mission-leader Turbo Jones, whose warnings of Earth’s demise are as ignored as the ones from Jor-El of Krypton ever were. Heroic, square-jawed, and assisted by a cyborg simian sidekick, Turbo first joins a war between the planet’s alien races on the side of the oppressed underdog, a conflict fought with giant dinosaurs and air-strikes from pterodactyls, before embarking on other adventures with equally strange creatures, on land or under the ocean.
Ian Kennedy draws the origin story that sets the tale going, but most of Turbo Jones’s odyssey is credited to Spanish artist Vanyo, whose lively and energetic art is all jagged layouts and open space and sloping panels. UK comics expert David Moloney has deduced that brothers Eduardo and Vicente Vañó Ibarra contributed to the shared Vanyo pen name at times, but even allowing for the details being lost to history, it’s a missed archival opportunity when the Treasury reprint downplays Vanyo’s work by discussing only Kennedy’s contribution in the intro, especially since Vanyo drew some early 2000AD stories too. After the Wildcat comic folded, its strips transferred over to Eagle and to other artists, two of which are also briefly present here: a colour story by John Gillatt involves the whole Wildcat crew and has a very different tone, but he isn’t named in this volume anywhere. In any case, Vanyo’s clean lines and heavy blacks and monster critters feel like Turbo’s house style.
Tomlinson’s plots look back to sci-fi forebears like John Carter, or at least Battlestar Galactica, although this is also a post-2000AD world for both Fleetway and for readers. Sometimes the strip aims for a younger flavour of 2000AD’s satirical bite, as when members of Jones’s crew turn out to be callous xenophobes in line for suitable comeuppance. But most of Turbo Jones is fast-paced doomy space opera with big lizards and brains in jars. If Rebellion go on to collect the other Wildcat adventures then prepare for tales of team members only glimpsed here, notably feminist warrior Kitten Magee and her robot assistant Crud.