FC

"Finn Clark"

08/08/2004 7:16 AM

Read-a-thon 182: The Hijackers of Thrax (TV Comic 690-692)

NO SPOILERS

The Hijackers of Thrax (TV Comic 690-692)
Publication of first episode: 6 March 1965
Reprinted in DWCC 13
Drawn by Neville Main
Starring the 1st Doctor, John and Gillian

Goofiness overwhelms us, sadly. The Hijackers of Thrax is a slight tale,
only six pages long with the kind of plot that you'd expect at such a
length - though I wouldn't call it actually *bad*. Captain Anastas Thrax
and his pirates are hijacking supply ships bound for Venus, then selling the
food and supplies to other planets. That's a perfectly good story concept.
Thrax even has a space station that's invisible from Earth (a decade before
the Bond films had the same idea in Moonraker), so it's all plausible and
well thought out.

Unfortunately the story's credibility shoots away like an escaping balloon
the moment Thrax opens his fat yap. "Settle with Cap'n Thrax, eh, m'hearty?
You'll have to get up early to do that! Don't move any of you - or I'll
blast you to atoms!" He even has a stripy jumper and an eyepatch. Calling
his hostages "space lubbers", Thrax embodies every pirate cliche you can
imagine... which given the strip's intended audience was probably
intentional. Had he stuck around for a few more weeks, he'd have probably
found a wooden leg and a parrot.

What's more, for the first time the strip's determination to avoid violent
solutions becomes ridiculous. The TARDIS crew's weapons in defeating feared
space pirates are... (a) a bucket of sand, (b) potatoes, and (c) soap. The
potatoes are quite funny, but the soap is downright worrying. Our heroes
have been locked up in a cell when suddenly John has an idea!

John: "This soap will come in handy."

Worried modern reader: "WHAT?"

Fellow prisoner: "What are you playing at? How can soap help us?"

John: "I'm making sure the guard gets a slippery welcome."

Fortunately we're not heading for a dubious shower scene. John's just
smearing soap on the cell steps. Mind you, he's already proved himself to
be pretty violent even when restricted to non-lethal attacks. Earlier in
the story... "Don't worry - I'll soon deal with him!" Bucket of sand falls
on head: "Unnnk!" "Nice work, John! I'll grab his key and get the door
open!"

For the first time, there's confirmation that Gillian is John's sister.
(Either that or "sis" is some kind of obscure and probably worrying
nickname.) And yes, they're still calling Dr Who "grandfather".

By this point, all pretence at seriousness has long evaporated. Thus one
greets with delight Thrax's demand for "ten thousand Earth pounds" or the
space policeman whose helmet is emblazoned with "Space Police".
Theoretically there's nothing wrong with either of those. When buying stuff
online one specifies "US dollars" to distinguish them from other kinds of
dollars, while motorcycle cops might indeed have "Police" written on their
helmets. However somehow it looks ridiculous when TV Comic does it!

Doctor Who historians might be interested to learn that for once the date is
specified. "The year 2075. A small spaceship leaves Earth with food and
supplies for the colony on Venus." (A colony on Venus? Maybe they mean a
space station that's orbiting the planet or something.) Curiously, this is
only 44 years before Lance Parkin's suggested date for The Space Pirates in
his 1996 History of the Universe.

Overall, I can't deny that I found this story highly entertaining... but
for all the wrong reasons. For big Thrax-related laughs, check out Doctor
Who Classic Comics 13. It's daft fun. Arguably, given its target
demographic, one might even say that it does everything it was meant to do.

Finn Clark.


This topic has 1 replies

dD

[email protected] (Daibhid Ceannaideach)

in reply to "Finn Clark" on 08/08/2004 7:16 AM

09/08/2004 9:22 AM

>
>From: "Finn Clark" [email protected]
>Date: 08/08/04 13:16 GMT Daylight Time
>Message-id: <[email protected]>
>
>NO SPOILERS
>
>The Hijackers of Thrax (TV Comic 690-692)
>Publication of first episode: 6 March 1965
>Reprinted in DWCC 13
>Drawn by Neville Main
>Starring the 1st Doctor, John and Gillian

>Unfortunately the story's credibility shoots away like an escaping balloon
>the moment Thrax opens his fat yap. "Settle with Cap'n Thrax, eh, m'hearty?
>You'll have to get up early to do that! Don't move any of you - or I'll
>blast you to atoms!" He even has a stripy jumper and an eyepatch. Calling
>his hostages "space lubbers", Thrax embodies every pirate cliche you can
>imagine... which given the strip's intended audience was probably
>intentional. Had he stuck around for a few more weeks, he'd have probably
>found a wooden leg and a parrot.

Well, if it's goof... I mean good enough for Douglas Adams...

>By this point, all pretence at seriousness has long evaporated. Thus one
>greets with delight Thrax's demand for "ten thousand Earth pounds" or the
>space policeman whose helmet is emblazoned with "Space Police".
>Theoretically there's nothing wrong with either of those. When buying stuff
>online one specifies "US dollars" to distinguish them from other kinds of
>dollars, while motorcycle cops might indeed have "Police" written on their
>helmets. However somehow it looks ridiculous when TV Comic does it!

Oh, they are. "Earth pounds" doesn't equate to "US dollars" unless it's a
global currency, and even in 1965 it must have been apparent that a resurgence
of Empire on that scale wasn't going to happen.

Similarly, I can believe in "Orbital Police" "Interplanetary Police" or even
"Solar Police", but "Space Police" is just silly. ("Star Cops" got away with it
by having the sheer brass neck to take it seriously. "Space Precinct" didn't.)

--
Dave
The Official Absentee of EU Skiffeysoc
http://www.eusa.ed.ac.uk/societies/sesoc
Egret: An apology sent by computer.
-Andy Hamilton, I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue


You’ve reached the end of replies