Tag Archives: Jesús Redondo


It hasn’t really been that long since the final issue of Wildcat, two months in fact, but it’s great to hold another edition in my hands, especially one I’ve never actually read before. I wasn’t aware of it as a child because I hadn’t followed the characters into Eagle when the comics merged. There’s a rather lengthier wait after this but I’ll get to that at the end of the review. So what we have here is the standard Fleetway Holiday Special format of 48 large, glossy pages full of strips with a prose story and extra features thrown in for good measure.

After a contents page and a recap of the set up from the preview issue Turbo Jones reclaims his position as the lead strip (now drawn by Keith Page) and like all of the stories here it’s a standalone tale and not linked to the ongoing serials that all ended with cliffhangers in the last issue. Of course, by now those stories could have concluded or moved on to goodness knows what in the pages of Eagle. (That’s something I’ll look into in future posts.) Some of these read a little strangely because of this.

For example, as far as I was concerned Turbo was still languishing on his quest through the Valley of Death, but here we’ve skipped forward to the next chapter in his adventure on the new planet. We find him and his robotic friend Robo accidentally stumbling across two aliens out for blood (or whatever runs through their veins… if they have veins). This isn’t a quick summing up of things either, in the end they realise the two creatures have no interest in our heroes, they have literally stumbled upon this fight. But of course if they don’t defend themselves they’ll go the same way as the loser.

Turbo is knocked unconscious by a falling branch and Robo saves the day by knocking coconut-like fruits off the trees onto the heads of the aliens. No, really. It ends with Turbo disbelieving this tale of heroism and Robo talking directly to the reader, asking them to write in and tell Turbo what happened. It’s a fun diversion of an opener but feels very slight in comparison to the fortnightly. However, I do love that alien design. Moving on now to something somewhat darker stalking the corridors of the Wildcat itself in The Wildcat Complete, brought to life by Jesús Redondo.

That’s right, we have an actual vampire onboard. There’s also plenty of well-judged humour here too so it’s unfortunate we don’t know who wrote the script. Here on the first page the casual thoughts of our victim raise a laugh as he catches himself on about the “misty evening” before meeting his end, and later on as another victim is running late in getting home he thinks to himself how he’ll “get it in the neck” from his wife! These are the only people we see die (taking the Wildcat Death Toll up to 40) but mention is made to them being only the latest in a series of disappearances.

During the day our vampire goes by the name Dr. Joseph Lugosi, obviously a play on the name of renowned actor Bela Legosi who is probably best remembered for playing the title character in the 1931 film Dracula. It’s not just his name the story pays homage to either, just take a look at the doctor in this close-up frame.

There’s a rather dark moment where we see him dispose of a body by taking it to the food recycling plant, which is basically a bunch of retro-futuristic robots munching down on anything thrown into their pit! We get a little internal monologue of how Lugosi applied to be on Wildcat because there’d be no sunlight in space to stop him feeding, and we see him queued up to get on board, everyone else in casual gear, him in his dark cloak, standing out a mile. Given his appearance and dress sense, when he thinks his plan is foolproof and no one would ever suspect him it seems ridiculous, but it’s actually all explained in the end.

When an attack is disturbed mid-feast he has to leave the body behind and as Wildcat Commander Griffin reviews the tapes he sees Lugosi disappear into thin air. He ends up tricking Lugosi into believing he’s replacing an ill doctor on an expedition to one of the planet’s moons, but before anyone else boards the shuttle craft it’s launched out of the Wildcat on autopilot. The last page of the strip is below and very neatly wraps up the story.

I really like how Griffin had to research what a vampire is (so far into the future are we, their legends appear to have been lost) and that he simply reacts logically to the problem. There’s no disbelief, just a problem to solve and the history tapes give him the answer. While I can only show you a little bit here he’s a cool-as-a-cucumber character and one I wished we’d gotten to know properly in the comic. Check out that final caption too, vampires are now extinct! Another great anthology story, one that’s made me realise just how much I’m missing them every two weeks.

Loner gets a good bit of space in the special but unfortunately there’s not a comic strip in sight. There’s a two-page spread of pictures taken from the early issues and his initial scraps with, and ultimately friendship with, The Fuzzballs. There are also two pin ups, both drawn by David Pugh. One is brand new and the other is a reprint of the cover to #7 which was so good it deserved another outing as a mini-poster without the title and issue details. To this day it’s probably my favourite piece of art from Wildcat. In fact it’s one of my favourite pieces of comic art ever.

On top of all this we do get a Loner story written by editor Barrie Tomlinson, however it’s told in prose with reprinted images by David taken from the regular comic. At five pages and full of text it’s a meatier read than I expected and actually a whole lot better than the strip we’d been reading for the last handful of issues. Falling into a chasm he’s apparently rescued by an alien slug creature who carries him to a large cave full of slugs where he also sees another, two-headed alien. They have to fight to the death for the entertainment of the slugs!

It’s a struggle. The two-headed creature is relentless but soon Loner is able to escape by causing chaos in the audience (he throws one of the slugs into the crowd as a distraction). Back outside the alien is on Loner’s tail and in what looks like the end of the fight Loner’s gun Babe ends up pressed against the creature’s throat. But Loner backs off, trying to communicate he doesn’t want to kill them, he has no beef with him.

Both heads broke into hideous grins, then it turned and walked away.

Loner prose story

Communicating is difficult however and relies on body language more than anything, which is interesting but I’m also disappointed he no longer has the headband from previous stories. It’s only given a passing explanation that he’d returned to Wildcat and had it removed before coming back down. This completely contradicts the story where he received it! Such a shame, but perhaps a necessary evil because the images they had to use didn’t include it, rather than it being a story choice.

Anyway, the two-headed creature continues to follow Loner at a distance. When our mercenary gets back to his shuttle it appears to attack, throwing Loner to the side and leaping into the craft. Are they going to steal it? Nope, there was a deadly snake-like predator inside. The alien had saved Loner’s life. But before Loner can try to communicate a thank you, he’s attacked by the alien! He wins the battle by unhappily having to end its life, or be killed himself.

In the end, the creature had been a warrior and it was always going to be a fight to the death, but Loner had saved him from the underground slug beings and he’d had to repay that debt first. This would’ve made for a great multipart strip in the regular comic, it’s full of character and paints a wonderful, exciting picture. Such a shame it’s only illustrated by images from different stories.

There’s one more special to come and I’m very excited by it.

Alongside the double-page spread about Loner’s furry friends there’s a four-page feature about some of the robots that reside aboard the Wildcat and which have featured in previously stories, most notably the Wildcat Complete series. Features like these act as a nice way for new readers to catch up and to get an idea of what Wildcat is all about, but unlike some of the Super Naturals features which felt like filler, these are nicely put together and are still enjoyable for regulars.

Alongside more reprinted pin ups there’s another new one which hadn’t made its way into the fortnightly and it’s of one of my favourite characters from the Kitten Magee story, Bonnie. As regular readers of the comic (or even these reviews) will attest, Kitten’s team were just starting to get fleshed out some more, even going on their own adventure without their leader in the final issue. I look forward to reading the ongoing tales in Eagle and Wildcat at a later date, mainly for them.

Their story is up next in fact, as always (and just like the pin ups) drawn by José Ortiz and written by James Tomlinson. Stalked by a three-headed giant cat-like predator it ends up capturing Kitten’s robotic pet, Crud. Tracking the beast down they find a ginormous cyclops, but as they try to save Crud the cat-like creature attacks and is shot and killed. The previously monstrous cyclops burst into tears and the team realise they’ve made a horrible mistake, they’ve killed the giant’s pet. Not only that, but upon discovering a giant spacecraft overgrown with weeds they piece together a fascinating backstory.

It’s important for me to note here that at the beginning of the strip the team had captured a docile kind-of-giraffe animal for study by Doc. You’ll see below how that comes back right at the end. This story contains hints at the world building Wildcat could have achieved if it had carried on for years to come. We’d had some in the twelve regular issues but of course everything was still in its early stages of development. We can only imagine the epic, overarching stories editor Barrie Tomlinson and his team could’ve concocted over time.

Four pages within this special are made up of a Tiger comic reprint called Jet-Ace Logan, a pilot who works for the futuristic interplanetary C.I.D. approximately 100 years in the future. Two stories are included here, two pages apiece and the one I wanted to show is called Haywire House. A modern home exhibition is about to be robbed and Logan stops the burglars in their tracks in a suitably ingenious way. I particularly like the art by Brian Lewis (Eagle, TV Action, Countdown), with so much of it crammed onto the page and jam-packed with details, all without losing any of its clarity.

In his book Comic Book Hero, Barrie explains how he was the editor of Tiger from 1969, after these strips appeared originally. He turned the comic into one with exclusively sports-related strips but he always had a fondness for Logan. Back to the special and perhaps the couple of reprinted pin ups and the Logan pages were marked for something else but after the cancellation of the comic plans changed. A very real possibility.

Before a very special ending to the issue there’s one more strip. Wildcat fans will know that must mean it’s time for David Robinson‘s Joe Alien, although not in his usual full-colour format which is a shame (in fact apart from the pin ups and a readers’ drawing spread the whole issue is black and white) but Ron Smith’s artwork still shines. The strip itself finally gives us some background information on the interesting character and how he ended up as the last of his race.

Tracking a massive meteoroid heading towards their planet, his people soon discovered it was being pushed from the other side by a fleet of Kargroz ships! Joe’s race had long before abandoned space travel, keeping only one small shuttle and so he was sent up to negotiate, but the Kargroz kill for fun and for honour and couldn’t be bargained with. Almost blasting Joe out of existence they hurled the meteoroid into his planet, destroying it and all who lived there.

Fuelled by revenge Joe hijacked one of the enemy ships and crashed it into the side of one of the others, all of which were in a straight line formation, side-by-side with each other. Where Joe had crashed, his ship now faced down the long line of enemy ships. Firing one huge laser blast it tore through them all, killing everyone and leaving him the only survivor of the battle and of his race. This next page of Ron’s reminded me he drew for Marvel UK‘s Transformers, it just has that feel about it. Looking into that however, I was surprised to see he only ever drew one strip (#82)! Such was the impact he must’ve made on me I thought he’d been a semi-regular artist on it!

Joe’s men console him and try to tell him they agree with his seeking revenge, but the strip ends with our hero rejecting this. “Revenge? How can any revenge balance the millions who were killed? I am only pleased that my external brain pack allows me to switch off such memories… forever!” That is about as heartbreaking an ending as you can get as he switches off all memory of his loved ones.

One final feature rounds off this edition of Wildcat and it’s a special Back to the Drawing Board spread of Ian Kennedy’s original design sketches for the Wildcat itself and some of its characters. At the time of writing this Ian has only recently passed, so seeing these drawings, as well as his superb cover (which is on the back as well) is tinged with sadness. I’ve always loved his Wildcat design, his originality not only with its shape but also its bright colours and I think we can all agree he did a superb job of realising Barrie’s wish for a truly diverse cast of exciting heroes, which was rare.

Thus ends our look at the Wildcat Holiday Special from 1989. As I’ve said before I do own the graphic novel collections for two of the characters so I’ll be covering them at a future date, and I’m going to be tracking down the others through the individual issues of Eagle and Wildcat. But in the meantime we haven’t quite finished with Wildcat in its own form just yet.

There’s one more special to come and I’m very excited by it. Once again it’s an issue I’ve never read before. It’s even bigger than the Holiday Special and comes with a simply gorgeous high gloss, high quality cover. The Wildcat Winter Special was released several months later so look out for its review on Thursday 17th November 2022. Now that’s going to take some will power on my behalf, it’s sitting on that shelf right over there looking at me! I’m sure it’ll be worth the wait.

To finish with for now here’s the promo for the Holiday Special as it appeared in the pages of Eagle and Wildcat. We’ll be back with Turbo, Loner, Kitten and Joe before your know it!


Kitten Magee makes the cover of the penultimate issue of editor Barrie Tomlinson‘s superb creation, Wildcat. Kitten’s regular artist José Ortiz brings the style he used for #9‘s pin up to the front page, complete with very strategically placed controls on that front hover machine! I hadn’t realised some of Hobos’ people were naked floating about in the story until I saw this. Not something I expected to see on a cover of one of my comics, but that’s Wildcat, always surprising me.

Kitten starts us off inside on page two and it’s a very exciting strip this issue, as always written by James Tomlinson. There’s a lot of action happening and it varies so much throughout its five pages it stays fresh. All-in-all it’s a great action sequence with Kitten finally going up against Hobos and his followers. It’s felt like the story has been building towards this for a long time now and I haven’t been left disappointed in the slightest.

There’s one particular aspect of this chapter which really took me by surprise, I’m sure you can guess what it was from the panels above. So when Kitten and her team were dumped into the city’s ponds, ready to be electrocuted to death by the floating fat men and their cattle prod-like devices, the fish they’d been torturing for sport rise up in support and start killing them. Not only that, but it appears they can talk, or at the very least scream” Kill!” as they do so. There we go with the surprises again.

This happens thanks to Kitten firing back with her wrist lasers, something overlooked when they were disarmed last time. This causes one of the men to fall off his hover pad and another to fly in low to attack Kitten, forgetting to stay at a certain height above the water. Kitten grabs his platform and climbs aboard to fight back at long last, and soon a huge battle is raging over the skies of the Hoboan city. I love the fact there are dozens of these men, over-sure of themselves after countless years of suppressing everyone else, their privilege and lifestyle obvious on their bodies, and they’re all being taken out by one woman.

It feels like a very modern strip, and most likely one which certain dark, dank corners of the internet would criticise if it was written today because one heroic woman is fighting off dozens of evil men. I think it’s great we were getting this kind of storytelling as kids, we were exactly the right age to take on the subtext without realising. OiNK definitely helped form my sense of humour as a child, it’s not unbelievable that comics such as Wildcat helped shape other parts of my character too.

In the end, Kitten goes up against Hobos himself but as leader he’s been afforded the luxury of a force shield. Now surrounded, with no escape, he instructs his men to fire their Sleep Rays, leading her to collapse on her hover pad for the cliffhanger. While I understand he can now use Kitten as a hostage to capture the rest of the team, it seems out of character for him to spare her. We’ve seen electric rods, death rays and even a Shatter Gun this issue (freezes and shatters upon impact), but he decides to send Kitten to sleep when he finally has her in his grasp? Our final Wildcat chapter should be interesting.

The trees have sent troops down on a suicide mission to poison the gigantic slugs

David Robinson‘s Joe Alien is up next and after the shocking conclusion last time (pun very much intended), time flashes forward a couple of hours and he and his team slowly start to come around. Forcing Joe to the ground, one of his men cleans his brain pack and reattaches it. Joe tries to explain to the slug creatures (the Dargonlites, as they introduced themselves last time) but they stop him and tell him they already know why it happened, they’re “not unintelligent beings”, correcting an assumption made just because of their looks and slow nature, again a good lesson for the kids (and adults) reading. Suddenly some tree roots begin to break in above and the slugs attack. It seems like a stupid decision by the vegetation, until we get to our middle pages.

As I have (very happily) become accustomed to as of late, the second half of Joe’s strip in the middle pages is a beautiful double-page spread in which artist Ron Smith takes full advantage of the layout. The trees have sent troops down on a suicide mission to poison the gigantic slugs (there’s my pull quote right there) and one by one they die off, leaving Joe and his team vulnerable to attack. It looks like all-out war is approaching fast. It’s another winning entry in the series and, mainly thanks to Ron’s art, another hugely exciting strip for this issue.

I felt genuinely sad to see the “slurp creatures” die. Even though they’ve only been in the strip for a couple of issues I loved their design and the playfulness with which they first appeared. We were just about to find out more about them too. Their leader was beginning to open a dialogue with Joe and find out why the humans were landing on the planet. I don’t think they’ll be back, but that’s the nature of Wildcat, you can’t get too attached to things, you just don’t know where these stories will go next. With one more chapter to go, and knowing there’s be a wait before Joe appears in the pages of Eagle (which Wildcat merged into), I hope we’re in for a great climax next time, or at least a temporary one.

So on to Barrie Tomlinson‘s Loner who easily escapes last issue’s cliffhanger by simply jumping out of the huge mouth he found himself in. Much more interesting is the strange creature he was riding on the back of in the previous ‘Next Issue’ promo. He’d even given it a name and so I thought we were about to head off an a big adventure with the mercenary atop Dobbin. But one page later a fire inexplicably breaks out in the forest (of course it does) and naturally a stampede of all the animals takes place, Loner and Dobbin likely to get trampled on, so his new friend pushes him off and buries his way underground to safely, never to be seen again!

I’ll admit, when the fire broke out I kind of rolled my eyes because it was just the latest in a long line of seemingly random dangerous events that by this stage were getting comical and rather ridiculous. Yes, I realise Loner has been shrunk to the size of an ant on an alien planet by a large blob, but I can live with that, it’s an alien planet after all. I was excited by the prospect originally, but by now it’s quite clear there’s no real aim for the character or plot. Quite possibly very exciting for twelve-year-old me but now it’s just not gripping.

Things end with Loner climbing a tree and grabbing hold of a bird’s foot as it takes off, trying to fly away to safety. But it shakes Loner off and he’s plummeting back down again as the story ends for another fortnight.

Before I move on though, let’s just take a moment to once again admire the saving grace of this strip, the always gorgeous artwork of David Pugh‘s. Loner himself is still a great character too, his inner thoughts and outbursts are often funny and he hasn’t lost any of his edge from his first story. If the comic had continued perhaps this would’ve been a fun intermediate period for the kids between two proper stories, but as it stands this makes up half of Turbo’s run in Wildcat and just can’t reach the heights of those first issues.

But what gorgeous art that is.

It plays like a cross between Babylon 5 and a Marvin the Martian Looney Tunes cartoon

On the letters page Kitten’s pet robot Crud is asked by reader Hilary Thompson what planet he was made on. The response is brilliant and here it is in its entirety: “Deep in the 5th planetary system of the Outer Glorky galaxy, there’s a little planetoid called Nomond-X. On the island south of the main land mass in the Northern hemisphere of that planetoid, there’s a river. At the exact centre of that river, near a mighty waterfall, is a little workman’s hut. It was nowhere near there.” It begins by having the reader think there are some great background details to even the smallest of characters, then the “workman’s hut” had me laughing at the silliness of it, and that’s before that final line. Classic 80s UK comic letter answering.

In Turbo Jones‘ strip we get our first space battle in the Wildcat comic and it’s exciting for the kids while also including some great visual humour. The robotic crew sent to destroy the Wildcat turn to take on Turbo and Robo and somehow from within the infrastructure of their tiny shuttle out pops a gigantic claw and a net! It’s ridiculous of course and I love it. You can’t say it’s unoriginal, that’s for sure. Artist Vanyo brings this scene to life and when the Wildcat joins in it plays like a cross between Babylon 5 and a Marvin the Martian Looney Tunes cartoon. It’s hugely enjoyable.

The Wildcat may only have a brief cameo but it’s nice to see those weapons on the huge human lifeboat finally get some use. The crew on board are completely unaware of who is in the shuttles and initially don’t know what they should do. Only when Turbo destroys the claw, sending the shuttle it was attached to into an uncontrollable spiral towards Wildcat do they intervene to save themselves from a collision. The radiation around the planet is still interfering with radio communications, even in orbit, so Turbo has no choice but to return to the planet.

I could feel Turbo’s frustration here. He was so close to reestablishing contact with the Wildcat after so long away. He could’ve updated them on their findings so far, explained why comms were down and perhaps those on board could’ve found a way around it, he could even have taken more troops back down. Between having none of the correct fuel and, probably more importantly, the fear of being shot down by his own people he has no choice but to return to the planet. They decide to return to their allies the Burroids, but upon touching down we get a rerun of the events in #1. Captured by the same aliens who now believe he’d defected, they tell him he’ll be standing trial for his life.

Layer upon layer keeps being added to this story. From landing and being captured, then befriending those aliens, helping them fight an enemy, being captured by said enemy, having to take to space to save humanity, then back to being captured by the original friendlies and standing trial for being a traitor. Turbo doesn’t have the best luck in the world, but he’s definitely come a long way since that first issue when he was an abrupt individual and deliberately one-dimensional. He was in charge of the future of an entire species after all, so he was deadly serious and prone to assuming the worst as a defence mechanism. But he’s softened, he’s learned and he’s grown on me. He’s a great character and I found myself empathising with his plight this issue.

‘Great News For All Readers’

The Wildcat Complete this issue doesn’t have a story name and we kick things off in the Wildcat Robot Research and Technology Centre where some of the older robot helpers are told they’re being replaced by more up-to-date models and nano-tech. The robots summoned before the professor breaking the bad news are all lovingly designed retro-styles by Jesús Redondo with each baring a passing resemblance to certain sci-fi characters such as Darth Vader (called Mek), C3PO or even a Cylon from Battlestar Galactica, but each altered so as not to infringe copyright. It’s a nice nod and perhaps showed how Wildcat was pushing itself as a really futuristic story compared to those older franchises. It did raise a chuckle.

The small group of robots decide on an uprising and systematically go about taking revenge on those humans who have been treating them badly, or who use robots for their own entertainment or financial gain. A man who beats his robot gets beaten to death, a foreman known for slave-driving his robots is forced to carry the heavy loads he forces upon them and is squished flat, and two men who run illegal for-profit robo-fights are pushed into the ring and made to fight to the death. It’s a grim tale at times and perfect for the Wildcat Complete.

It’s a clear analogy for the class system and it’s unfortunate (but refreshingly realistic in a children’s sci-fi comic) that this far into the future we still face the same problems we do today; it’s not some Star Trek-like utopia. I think this reads even better today as a result. There’s still room for humour amongst the gruesome moments, such as the ever-so-politely-programmed robots apologising to each other as they’re forced to fight, but even then the humour just highlights what’s wrong here. As such, it’s a strip that can produce conflicting responses from the reader and I think that’s the whole point. The robots have been treated so badly we root for them, but their actions are played out like a horror story.

After murdering four people they head back to the professor and destroy his equipment for making the new robots, before they themselves are destroyed by security. Just before its shattered body stops for good, the Vader-esque robot uses its last little bit of power to say they succeeded, the Wildcat doesn’t have the equipment to replace all the robots now. The human leaders find themselves in a predicament that isn’t immediately solvable but they do unveil a statue of Mek in the robots’ rest area, to smooth over human-robot relations.

While it has some comical ‘bots, funny nods to the era’s sci-fi and an overall feeling of fun, just like the best Wildcat Completes there’s a dark streak running through the strip. It’s probably more in-your-face here than normal, but perhaps that’s down to the fact I’m a lot older and its symbolism is clear to me now. Let’s also not forget that Wildcat Death Toll either. With four more people added to it our total is 36 so far.

As this is indeed the penultimate edition, there’s the usual ‘Great News For All Readers’ message on the Next Issue page.

I certainly didn’t find the news special when #12 landed on my lap back then! To round off the issue is an advertisement for the NatWest bank with a central message which is unfortunately just as relevant today as it was in 1989. Finally, the pin up returns to the back cover and it’s Turbo’s deputies Wok and Glune of the Burroids who sign off the comic for its last two weeks.

The final regular issue of Wildcat will be reviewed in a fortnight and you can read it from Friday 25th March 2022.


While we’ve already seen Turbo Jones as a captive of The Great Ark, the latest Wildcat cover still gets the heart to pumping after last issue’s darker turn of events for the lead character. Now he’s going to be pulled in front of the living skulls and I’m excited to see what’s going to happen next. He was ordered to take the Arglons’ army and use his battle tactics against his friends and I don’t think these creatures are going to take no for an answer. But it looks like I’m going to have to wait just a little longer to find out because first up is James Tomlinson‘s Kitten Magee.

From the very first panel I’m somewhat captivated because the huge beast they’re up against appears to have a transparent stomach! Inside we see the skeletal remains of animals broken down by the acidic digestive juices swirling about. With Doc and Cassandra in either hand Kitten and the remainder of her team try to shock it into dropping them by firing near it, but this just angers the beast and next thing we know Aurora appears to have met her fate! I’ll admit when this happened I was shocked, I thought they’d killed her off! Until I turned the page that is.

You can’t get much more original action than dangling by a wire inside a monster’s stomach. Outside, the team are at a loss as to what to do, but in the end a bat-like creature they’d captured for Doc to examine breaks free and it seems it and the beast are natural enemies. With its teeth crushed after trying to chow down on Crud it attacks the beast’s neck with its claws while Crud bites at its feet, much to Kitten’s chastising. But it works and it falls over, unconscious.

The final page of this chapter begins with a bit of comic relief as we get Aurora’s speech balloon coming from within the giant jaws, which are locked tight. Not wishing to harm the animal now that they can escape, they lament not having any choice but to place small explosives on its teeth to free their friend. What imagination there is on show here. Wildcat has proven several times already how original it can be and if any one strip could be held aloft to prove that, it’d be this chapter of Kitten’s story. Straight after, artist José Ortiz treats us to this issue’s pin up of the manipulative Hobos, and despite his horrid appearance it’s still beautifully rendered in a different style than José’s previous posters.

From vicious monsters with see-through bellies back we go to killer vegetation, only this time there’s a giant slug for Joe Alien to deal with too. (Really, where else would you get this kind of fun? Writer David Robinson is another whose imagination knows no bounds.) Ron Smith‘s art truly excels here, like when the approaching trees suddenly stop and Joe starts to pick up words within his head, a telepathic message telling him their execution squad are on the way. There’s little to no hope left. Surrounded on all sides Joe tells his men they have no option but to try and fight their way out.

Suddenly all the trees start disappearing into the ground; one after the other they’re violently pulled down and then it starts to open up. Just when you think things couldn’t get any more out there after the Kitten story, up pops a ginormous slug-type creature, no eyes but all teeth. It moves about in a large circle before disappearing back down the hole, only for its heads to pop back up for a few seconds and then disappear again. Believing it to be a signal that it wants them to follow it, Joe leads his men down the slime covered sides of the giant hole.

I love the look of the slug, with its big mouth full of teeth, seemingly grinning at them. Has it just saved them from certain death? Is it really leading them to salvation? Or have they just gotten themselves into bigger problems? It’s not long before they lose their footing and slide all the way to the bottom, landing in a huge puddle of mucus, Joe’s brain dislodging as they do so. Again.

Yep, this is the cliffhanger. Where they find themselves would’ve been enough in my opinion. Leave the brain falling off until next time. It’s exciting enough and in fact having this happen yet again takes away from the originality and excitement of this episode somewhat. The ‘Next Issue’ page highlights this strip and it looks like the looney version of Joe has gone and flung himself into the slug’s mouth. There’s still no indication he’ll be eaten though, or that the slug is an enemy, so we’ll wait and see. Cliffhanger aside, it’s been a rollicking ride.

Loner‘s shrinking may have seemed like a silly idea to begin with in Barrie Tomlinson‘s story but on the very first page here we can see it’s suddenly being taken a lot more seriously, when the owner of the giant web he got tangled in comes home to feed. The opening image was shown as the Next Issue picture previously, so go and check that out if you’d like a sense of how things kick off for our mercenary friend.

He’s surely done for but at the last moment unlikely saviours appear in the shape of the two-headed ants he escaped from. They attack the giant (well, normal sized really) spider, climbing all over its body and chewing on its legs, eyes and basically anything else they can get their mandibles into. The spider isn’t going to let them interrupt dinner though and as you can see its doing its own fair share of killing, taking out three of the ants in this one gruesome panel alone.

This issue it’s basically a big monster movie, or rather a small person monster movie. Loner escapes from the webbing as the spider loses its grip, then kills one of the ants with Babe (his specially modified gun) before it can eat him too. Clearly, they aren’t the saviours after all, the spider was just in the way. They were still out for revenge after he killed one of their kind in #8. Escaping outside, Loner rests up on top of a flower for the night, before being rudely awakened by a benign animal simply eating breakfast.

After this he walks about wondering what to do and spots an even smaller insect than he. He takes comfort in this for a few seconds before it jumps in the air, lets out a shriek and wraps itself around his neck. To Be Continued. Loner is still my favourite character in the comic but his story is beginning to feel a little disjointed, like it doesn’t really know where to go next. I’ll be disappointed if it’s just going to be a series of bugs attacking him. The spider/ants had real potential but already they’ve been left behind and another random insect provides the cliffhanger. I’ll wait and see, but with some trepidation.

Moving on to our lead character and cover star now, Turbo Jones. As Robo arrives a carnival is starting in the city of the warrior Arglons. During this their enemies are sacrificed to their god by tossing them into a flaming pit and Turbo is in line for such an end if he doesn’t lead their almost-defeated army back against his friends, the Burroids. Below, you can see two Arglons leave their post, thinking the border guards are just overreacting. It’s nice that the characters painted somewhat as cartoony soldiers/henchmen of the Great Ark are being given individual personalities now. Although they are tossed in the pit later in the chapter for this.

Turbo is taken to the council where they demand his answer, Robo hidden in the background watching the proceedings. Turbo spots but ignores him, not wishing to give away his friend’s position. It’s all setting itself up to have Turbo agree to their demands and for Robo to think he’s turned traitor in a clichéd misunderstanding. But it takes a surprising turn when Turbo is told they have the Wildcat itself locked in their sights, ready to launch their troops and arrest all on board. So he lets them lead him to the council.

But seeing Robo shows him he has a chance to escape, so instead Turbo makes a run for it, hoping Robo has a way out. His treachery is the last straw and the Great Ark orders that the people of the Wildcat are no longer to be made prisoners of war, they are to be destroyed. Now this is how you do an exciting, shocking cliffhanger that still feels like a natural evolution of the story.

It should really go without saying by now how Vanyo brings the goods with Turbo every single time, but with last issue and this one they’ve done such an amazing job in altering the tone of their drawing to suit the darker elements of the story. I love how the Ark is a bigger part of the tale now and they feel like a real threat. It’s also a story that’s very organically shifted from one scenario to another. While the Loner strip has made quite a jarring transition, Turbo’s is telling different stories within the same scenario.

His strip is definitely my favourite here. Something I’ve noticed in reading the comic in real time is how my favourite shifts from issue-to-issue. From memory I thought Loner would always be the top strip but they’ve all taken their fair share of the accolade. This isn’t to take away from Loner of course, it’s just that the others have really excelled far beyond expectations, and my expectations were high. It’s a comic which continues to surprise every fortnight.

Chirpers is our Wildcat Complete this issue. Drawn by Jesús Redondo and it begins with a man feverishly writing at a (retro style) computer about things tapping at the walls, trying to get in. We begin by thinking it’s someone on board the Wildcat who has gone space crazy. This follows the revelation on the letters page that the Wildcat is only a quarter-of-a-mile long. I had always assumed it was much bigger than that, especially with some of the interiors we’ve seen. I thought this was far too small for nearly 1000 people but then I remembered Babylon 5 had a quarter-of-a-million people on board and was five miles long. So really, Wildcat is a bit roomy.

They strip skin and flesh down to the bone in seconds and the Wildcat death toll continues to rise once more

Once again the fact the exploration teams have been out of contact since they landed is brought up, but now the crew are doing something about it. They launch a fifth expedition team who land in an exotic jungle and of course they immediately lose their communications (due to the radiation storm centuries before). But it’s a paradise so they don’t care. They change into skimpier clothing and make friends with little friendly birds they nickname Chirpers.

That is, all except for one of the team. Grucker is busy taking soil and plant samples and the others ridicule him for taking things too seriously. They believe the Wildcat will realise what’s happened and send a rescue team down to pick them up and in the meantime they should treat it like a holiday. But Grucker is adamant they’re on a scientific research mission. For the others the only things that aren’t completely idyllic are the predatory birds that appear every now and again to feed on their cute little friends.

The group leader finally decides to help their little buddies out, against all of Grucker’s protestations. He’s right of course, they don’t know anything about the balance of nature here but it all falls on deaf ears. The predators look big and scary, their little bird pals are small and cute, so the decision is made. The results are disastrous. Very quickly over the next two weeks the skies fill with more and more of the Chirpers until suddenly they start to swarm and attack. Like a more vicious version of Hitchcock‘s The Birds, they strip skin and flesh down to the bone in seconds and the Wildcat death toll continues to rise once more.

So in the end it wasn’t a crazy old man going space crazy in the cramped conditions of the Wildcat, threatening to go to the ship’s ammunitions store and cause goodness knows what havoc. It was Grucker, the only sensible person in the entire team, trapped in their shed-like compound writing a diary for anyone who would find his body, knowing he was about to die. In fact the last panel is just his skeleton, with a few Chirpers happily sitting on top. It’s a rather grim ending and I love it.

Another issue under our belt and it’s been a belter. While three of the four serials concentrated more on action and were plot-lite, their originality and fun more than made up for that. Turbo and The Chirpers then brought a great, story-driven climax to the comic, so I’m really glad the running order was changed about again, with a double dose of great writing after all the action. It’s such a strong comic and it has a confidence in itself that would make you think it was going to run and run. We may be nearing the end of that run but there’s a lot still to enjoy.

The review of the tenth issue of Wildcat will be here from Friday 25th February 2022.