Friday, March 31, 2017

Electric Warrior #1 (1986)


Electric Warrior #1 (May, 1986)
"The Whole Nasty Night"
Writer/Co-Creator - Doug Moench
Artist/Co-Creator - Jim Baikie
Letterer - Annie Halfacree
Colorist - Tom Ziuko
Cover Price: $1.50

Going to chat up one of those wacky mid-1980's New Format books today.  This one gets a bit mature toward the end... just thought I'd give a warning.

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We open with some strange looking fellas rappelling down to some elevated tram tracks.  Once there, one mounts some gel on the line.  Moments later, a medi-car rushes down the way... and there is a terrible explosion when it reaches the ghetto napalm.  The track breaks... ad the "bullet" plummets toward the ground.  I gotta mention, the two geeks speak in this strange and nearly indecipherable argot.  The word "zig" is said at least 700 times.  The medi-car crashes into the ground, and before long it is swarmed by dozens of these strange "ziggie" transients, looking for a fix.


We shift to a wide shot of the city... and we can now see that those ziggies live in the warrens, which is the "old" and what we might consider to be the "modern" city.  Atop the buildings sits a new city.  It is clean and futuristic.  We also can see that outside the city limits is a wilderness, where men can live among nature... men, like Derek Two-Shadow.


From the palace of the Council of Cities, a woman named Quintana petitions to head into the wilds.  She is given the okay, however, she must be accompanied by some Electric Warriors.  Oooh, that's the name of the book!  As she leaves, she learns of the "bottom-dwellers" attack on the medi-car.  This scene is juxtaposed with Derek Two-Shadow going for a swim.  We learn that he lived in the city until he was nine... but escaped.  That was twelve years ago.


From here we get some vignettes.  Quintana arrives at her destination, and decides to send her escorts packing.  We shift to the Electric Warrior barracks, where it seems one of these robots might be... dreaming?  That's probably going to be important.  In the warrens, the bottom-dwellers discuss an attack on the power station.  Meanwhile, Two-Shadow is fetching some art equipment he'd hidden under a large stone.


He unpacks an easel, and begins to paint.  A blonde woman approaches... and upon noticing this fact, Two-Shadow stashes his supply under the stone.  While this is going down, Quintana is setting up a strange looking camera mounted on a tripod.  Nearby, another wilderness dweller named Simon attacks her... fearing that her device might be a weapon.  There is a brief struggle before she convinces him that she's no threat.  He looks at the holographic image she'd snapped, and sees Derek Two-Shadow in the midst of painting.  Satisfied, he allows her to accompany him back to his village.


Meanwhile, back in the city... the ziggies silently break into the power station.


In the village, Quintana is doing a wonderful job entertaining the wilderness children with her "techno-trash".  The same blonde from earlier is on the periphery... and appears to be intrigued by Quintana's voodoo.  Here we learn that her name is Amber Brightstar... which definitely sounds like a sci-fi leading lady, don't it?


Again, back in the city... the ziggies are affixing their crude napalm gel to the machinery... and the workers!  At the same time, outta town... Two-Shadow heads out of the village.  Quintana is not far behind.


She follows him to a waterfall where she learns a bit more about his backstory.  They discuss their similar origins, but drastically different journey/destinations.  Both came from the warrens, both (sorta) left the city... however, only one will be going back.  This chat feels a bit contentious...


Back in the city, word of the terrorist act has gotten back to the council.  Rather than look into it, they decide to send the Electric Warriors out to take care of business.  The 'Leks awaken... and go to work.  One of these bots, however... just ain't feelin' it.


Back at the village, Quintana is looking at her holographic images.  She questions why Derek Two-Shadow would hide his artwork when Amber Brightstar hit the scene.  The images continue with Derek and Amber making love.  It gets a bit weird here, as Quintana flips through her Holocorder instruction manual, where it advertises that the images captured are so lifelike... you can feel it.  A-hem. 


We return to the Electric Warriors as they make their way into the power station.  'Lek 9-03 suggests they pull back, lest they destroy the station themselves.  It's made pretty clear that 9-03's opinion wasn't solicited.  And so, they bust in... and start blasting away at the ziggies and the gels.  As one might imagine, there is a sizable explosion... and the lights go out, city-wide.  There's a really interesting exchange here between some council members.  They discuss that the folks from the warrens had so little to lose, that risking their very lives wasn't all that big a deal to them.


The Electric Warriors leave the scene... all except 9-03, that is.  He sees a dead body, and decides to move it... even straightens its leg, giving the corpse some dignity.  An older woman notices the act, and calls out to him.  She sees something in him... something different than the other 'leks.  9-03 charges his blaster and takes aim... after all, the orders were to kill 'em all.  At the last moment, 9-03 turns and releases the blast at an Electric Warrior billboard.


We wrap up back in the village, where beastmen begin their descent.


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I'll be honest... this one took a few tries for me to get going.

In opening with the bottom-dwellers taking down the medi-car we were positively hammered over the head with dweller lingo.  It was incredibly hard to follow without any context.  It wasn't until they blew up the bullet that we knew what they were on about... which made me have to reread the opening bit a few times.  I will concede that it may just be my density... but, boy... this was a toughie.

Later scenes with the ziggies, while annoying, weren't nearly as confusing.  We kinda knew what they were planning to do, and so it wasn't too terribly difficult to fill-in any "dweller talk" blanks.

Sticking with the dwellers for a bit... I really like the way the council members described them.  They fight like they have nothing to lose... because, honestly... they don't.  Every act is a means to an end... and, hell... it didn't even seem they were sure what result they were seeking.  While gelling up the power station, they were chatting among themselves about what they were going to demand.  Isn't that something you usually work out before committed a terrorist act?  Well, not when you come from the warrens, it seems.

The warrens... and the new city.  I love the design here!  It's so cool that they just build a brand new city atop the architecture of the old one.  Such an obvious concept, but not one I can recall seeing before.  I will say my sci-fi game is totally weak, so this might be somewhere between old-hat and cliche for some folks... but, I really dug it.

The wilderness scenes were a nice bit of contrast... but, it didn't really hold my attention.  The idea that Derek Two-Shadows is kind of a man without a country is pretty novel... he fled the city, and yet doesn't quite fit in with the villagers.  He refers to himself as their "mirror" and "observer", which is interesting... especially when we consider that he is a super-secret artist.

I suppose we ought to discuss our Electric Warrior with a conscience... 9-03.  I'm really not sure what to think, as my immediate reaction was "sigh...".  Seems like such a cliche, right?  I dunno... I probably shouldn't judge it just yet, we've only seen 9-03 briefly thus far.

Overall... despite the complaints listed, I enjoyed this.  I must say I'm actually intrigued as to how all of these disparate concepts are going to mingle.  I thought for sure that Derek Two-Shadow was somehow going to be the Electric Warrior... otherwise, why spend so much time on him, right?  I might have to track some more of this series down to find out how it all shakes out.  I'd say, if you see this in a cheap-o bin, you could do far worse.  Definitely worth at least a flip-through... even if it's just to check out the character and location designs.  They're worth a look!

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(Not the) Letters Page:

 

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