Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Nigel Verkoff Insults American fans

...an introduction from the Pinnacle reprints of Doctor Who novelizations...

Introducing DOCTOR WHO
amenities performed by

They could not have been more offended, confused, enraged and startled. . . . There was a moment of stunned silence . . . and then an eruption of angry voices from all over the fifteen-hundred-person audience. In retrospect, turning up nude on the lecture platform at the Inner Sydney Annual Star Wars Convention was almost as bad as the heretical words that had sent the kids and adults (all of them, to a man, utter retards spot-welded into their Darth Vader fright masks and Jar-Jar Binks novelty codpieces) into animal hysterics, howling with fury as I threw rotten vegetables at them.

“Star Wars is adolescent nonsense! Enterprise is obscurantist drivel! Twilight can turn your brains to purée of bat guano! The greatest science fiction series of all time is Doctor Who! And I’ll take you all on, one-by-one or all in a bunch to back it up!”

Auditorium monitors moved in, vibrating light sabre sex toys ready to violate anyone foolish enough to try jumping the lecture platform; and finally there was relative silence as the mouthbreathers realized I was superior to them in every way. I think it was the nudity that did it. Anyway, I heard scattered voices screaming from the back of the room, “Why are you even at a Star Wars convention if you hate it?” and I said, “Mind your own damn business, you nosy gibbering geek!”

(It was like that old William Shatner routine about fans being losers, except it was funny the way I said it. God damn it I am brilliant!)

After a while we got it all sorted out and if they didn’t understand that I was actually there to recruit them to the multifaceted fandom of Doctor Who, then at least they’d stopped caring enough to argue. Quite a few of them had gone to lunch and missed me being incredibly erudite and funky. I told them that Doctor Who was the most famous science fiction character on any kind of media you cared to name, and so many hot fangirls were there to make your brain bleed from the sheer amount of estrogen on offer. The renegade Time Lord, the far traveler through Time and Space, the sword of justice from the Planet Gallifrey, the scourge of villians and monsters the galaxy over. The one and only, the incomparable, the bemusing and bewildering Doctor Who, the humanistic defender of Good and Truth whose exploits put to shame those of pantywaist nerds like Han Solo or Captain Archer!

My hero! Doctor Who! I mean, OK, Richard Dawkins gets to go home to Lalla Ward every night, but the Doctor got there first, oh yes he did! YEAH!!

For the American audience (my god, you redneck hicks can actually read?!), I suppose Doctor Who is a new factor in the equation of fantastic literature? Mind you, you lot still can’t wrap your fat brains around the word ‘philosopher’ in the Harry Potter franchise, so sci-fi fantasy must be one long acid trip to you lot like that loser at the end of 2001 A Space Odyssey. Since 1963 the Doctor and his exploits have been a consistent element of British culture, give or take the odd fifteen years you greasy Yanks tried to get involved and buggered everything up like a horny Labrador at an intensive care unit! YOU BASTARDS! Anyway, I’m sure you’ve noticed at some point in the last five bloody years that the wonderful universes of Doctor Who are being shown in the States and proved pretty freaking spectacular, huh? Oh, you lot don’t know you were born, unlike us who lived in shame and ridicule watching the TV series on BBC and trying to buy every single Doctor Who novelization in the days when eBay was halfway reliable. The time solitary proselytizing is at an end! What is proselytizing? No idea, but spell check thinks it’s a real world and who am I to argue with Bill Gates? Usually the first in line. HAH! No, seriously...

You have probably had this Who novel shoved into your hands still sticky from the thirteenth hamburger that hour, you unknowledgeable tools, so if you can drag yourself away from the TV set without causing your internal organs to implode under your blubber, try reading about the Doctor going through his paces instead of watching it on 32-inch high-definition plasma screens you lazy bludgers! Just look at these words and understand them, IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK?

I envy you your first exposure to this amazing conceit. Well, I don’t, but it’s about the only kind of edge you Americans could possibly have over a superior being like myself. I wish for you the same delight I felt when Michael Moorecock, the amusingly-named fantasist in the English speaking world, became my friend on FaceBook. Oh, and he likes Doctor Who as well. Knew there was something relevant involved.

I’ve been hooked on Doctor Who since the moment it ended, and being in Australia it took about three years before that fact became known thanks to the AB friggin C. Oh, how I despise television, how I urge passers by to bash in their picture tubes with highly-polished cricket bats to free themselves of the monster of the coaxial cable. And also to drum up business for my pal Andrew who runs a very profitable second-hand television repair shop in the local high street. But you must perceive that I speak of something utterly extraordinary and marvelous to even suggest watching Doctor Who in whatever ridiculous syndicated time slot or environmentally-unfriendly digital recording media may possess. I suppose you think you’re clever and I’ve lost all credibility for future exhortations by telling this TV series will not harm you?

Well you haven’t! Sucked in!

Because I’m telling you that rather than vegetate in front of your set-top-boxes, actually crack open this dead tree and read what it contains. Like the TV show, it will delight and uplift you, stretch your intellect of all lesser visual SF affections, improve your disposition and clean up your zits. OK, it won’t, but you just admitted you’re a miserable, depressed idiot with bad temper and worse skin! HAH! You so suck.

But the point of this introduction, in case your some grass-munching spastic who needs these things codified simple and directly (oh wait, of course you are, you’re Americans!), is that Doctor Who is the apex, the pinnacle, the tops, the Louvre Museum, the tops yet again, the Coliseum, the bee’s knees and the dog’s bollocks!

Now, since the non-functional morons who reprint these Target Novelizations have chosen to not only print part two of a two part story, but also the epic finale to five of those long freaking years I mentioned earlier, so there’s a fair bit of basic facts you’ll need to brighten your way through this lunatic bit of scheduling.

OK. The Doctor is a Time Lord, one of that immensely wise and powerful super-race of alien beings who, for centuries unnumbered, have watched and studied all of Time and Space with intellects (as H.G. Wells put it – please god I don’t have to explain who he is to you people...) vast and cool and unsympathetic. Their philosophy was never to interfere in the affairs of alien races, merely to watch and wait.

Until the Daleks pissed them off one hell of a lot.

Oh yeah, imagine R2D2’s evil psychopath cousin who had been locked in a cellar all its life fed nothing but Nazi propaganda and Sarah Palin for company and you’ve got the tiniest glimpse of how terrifyingly badass these mobile dustbins are. You think international communism is a threat? Dude, you’ll be quoting Mao and calling everyone comrade five seconds after these tin bastards begin with the exterminating.

Ah, Daleks. Movies have been made about them, some of them involving naked supermodels getting zapped in their erogenous zones by those wacky armor-plated mutant guys. Toys have been manufactured of Daleks, coloring books, Dalek candies, soaps, slippers, Easter eggs and even special Dalek fireworks. They were all cheap shitty tat, but it’s amazing how much they sell for nowadays. They rival the Doctor for the attention of a fascinated audience and they’ve been brought back again and again during the forty-plus years the series has managed to screw out of BBC television; and their shivering pleasurable manifestations have not been confined just to sex shops and perverted sci-fi conventions in America. Though I wouldn’t put it past you, you freaks.

Anyway, what happened in the Last Great Time War between the Time Lords and the Daleks we’ll never see, because any one of you bitches to see the prequel Star Wars trilogy will know why this is a good thing. And if you don’t, I’m sorry, but you should be taken out and humanely gassed. JAR-JAR BINKS IS AN ABOMINATION!

Only one man came out of this mythical massacre alive, a Time Lord known as the Doctor who has studied the interplay of great forces in the cosmos, the endless wars and invasions, the entropic conflict between Good and Evil, the rights and lives of a thousand alien life-forms debased and brutalized, the wrongs left unright . . . and he was overcome by the compulsion to get jiggy with hot blonde teenagers from council estates! Yes, he was a renegade, a misfit in the name of justice and the age of consent, but when YOU see your entire race die in flames and want a bit of jailbait action, see how YOU like it!

Plus he has one dead cert way of pulling chicks: his motor.

Ah, yes, the TARDIS. that most marvelous device for spanning the Time-lines and traversing all of known/unknown Space. The name is an acronym for Transporting All-Purpose Robotic Dimensions Inner-Time Spaceship, and anyone who says otherwise should be ignored because they don’t know what they’re talking about. This marvelous, amazing, sod-it-I-can’t-be-arsed-thinking-of-any-more-superlatives machine can change shape to fit in with any locale in which it materializes, but this one is a piece of crap that’s stuck in the shape of a British police box. No one in the entire world knows what the hell a police box is, except it looks like a TARDIS only with smaller windows and smaller on the inside.

That’s right, tree-huggers, the outward size of the TARDIS does not reveal its relative size within. The size of a phone booth outwardly, it is enormous within, holding a rather rubbish interior that resembles the underside of Brighton Pier only with lots more barnacles and mould. Still, what can you do? It still pulls attractive female travelling companions, whose liaisons with the Doctor are never sufficiently explicated for those of us desperate to see the assistants with their knockers on display.

Let me conclude this increasingly pornographic paean of praise with these thoughts: hating Star Wars and Star Trek is not a difficult chore for a god-like being such as myself. I recoil from that sophomoric species of creation that excuses its simplistic cliché structure and homage to the transitory (as does Kath and Kim) as violently as I do from that which sententiously purports to be deep and intellectual when it is, in fact, superficial self-conscious twaddle (as does much of the work of Mark Gatiss). This is not to say I am an ivory tower intellect whose doubledome can only support Proust or Descartes. I am an ebony tower which is a lot more than most babes can handle, you gonads!

The Doctor’s sexual conquests are sunk to the childbearing hips in humanism, decency, solid adventures and simple good reading. And the girls never wear a bra under there, honest, which is as solid entertainment based on an understanding of Good and Evil in the world. They say to us, “You, too, can be Doctor Who. You, like the good Doctor, can stand up for that which is bright and bold and true. You can shape the world, if you’ll only go and try. And the girls will do anything. I mean anything. Look at this diagram...”

And that’s just the TV show! Can you imagine the sheer about of hot, pus-bloated sex you can get your sausage-like digits on when it’s in the form of great literature?! With a cracking good, well-plotted adventure yarn? DEATH BY SEX, PEOPLE, DEATH BY SEX! These are the direct lineal and venereal heirs to the sexcapades of Rider Haggard and Talbot Mundy, of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne, of Mary Shelley and Ray Bradbury. WHOVIANS DO IT IN ALL DIMENSIONS!

Doctor Who and the Daleks have millions of rabid fans in over thirty countries around the world. You don’t see that kind of universal appeal from Sherlock Holmes, Tarzan or the Chaser Team, do you? Every nation knows about the Doctor and loads and loads of girls, frustrated at being unable to shag this fictional character, turn to their fellow fans. Especially the incredibly well-hung and fantastic-at-love-making fans like myself. Oh yeah, I’m drowning in the estrogen and squees!

Oh yes, it’s all mine and it might just be yours, kiddo, if you keep your wits around you. Give yourself up to the Doctor’s winsome ways, he will take substance and reality in your nasty and diseased imagination. For that reason, for the inestimable goodness and delight in every Doctor Who adventure, for the benefit he proffers, I lend my name and urging to read this book about the best thing in the history of history itself!

Mind you, Stargate is pretty damned cool...


Friday, March 19, 2010

*Somebody* Had To Do It...

It's amazing what you can find out you've written while completely pissed, so here I present my novelization of The End of Time Part One. So for the last week I've been finishing it off for the sheer hell of it, and since my Short Trip concept Saturday Night at the Red Lion has been sent off to Big Finish for their no-doubt-immediate rejection, I might as well post it here.

The sequel is already underway...

...and both installments will be reissued in one massive bumper edition!

And meantime, a snippet from the novelization of the Eleventh Doctor's first episode...

The Doctor sprinted out the back door as fast as his new legs would carry him. ‘We’ve got to get back in there!’ he shouted over his shoulder as he hurtled into the garden. ‘The engines are fading! It’s gonna blow!’

Amy lifted the hem of her nightie and tried to keep pace with the manic figure. She finally found him crouched beside the end of the police box, fastening a length of rope around something on the ground. She could barely see him, the only light coming from the blazing inferno inside the overturned blue booth that shone from the shattered windows. Smoke was belching out through the open double doors, that were now acting more like lids. ‘But it’s a box,’ she gasped, ‘How can a box have engines?’

‘It’s not a box,’ the Doctor replied briskly, tightening the knot and leaping to his feet to face the little girl. ‘It’s a time machine!’ he said excitedly and then ran around the disintegrating TARDIS, looping the rope through the brass door handle.

‘What?’ asked Amy incredulously. ‘You’ve got a real time machine?’

‘Not for much longer if I can’t get it stabilized!’ he grimaced, flinging the free end of the rope onto the far side of the horizontal police box. ‘A five minute hop into the future should do it...’

Amy realized he was serious as he began to slide the rope through the other brass door handle, linking the two open panels together. ‘Can I come?’ she asked hopefully.

‘Not safe in there, not yet. Five minutes,’ he told her with a smile, running past her and climb up the base of the police box, clutching the free end of the rope like an explorer scaling a mountain. ‘Give me five minutes, I’ll be right back,’ the Doctor promised her, and dropped inside his dying time ship.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Stripping Down... Blake's 7 (iv)

Blake's 7 Magazine was one of Marvel's success stories, achieving more popularity in 25 issues than Doctor Who Magazine had managed in two whole Doctors. The magazine voluntarily closed its doors in August 1983 when it was confirmed the show was not coming back, and when it appeared the show was being resurrected in the mid-1990s, there was no hesitation in bringing the mag back - though, unfortunately, there was no actual material for them to print.

Doctor Who Magazine graciously stepped in to help out, and thus two special magazines were completed as an Andrew Pixley archive on the whole show (the first issue synopsis, the second production). But with there being no revival of B7 - even those damn audio plays wouldn't be out for another four years - it was decided to abandon Blake's 7 Magazine and focus on a 70s-cult-nostalgia magazine called Playback (which focused as much on Blake's 7 as it did Sapphire & Steel, The Wombles and Dad's Army).

Thus, here is the last published Blake's 7 comic... unless you include gags from TV Action! (where the Goodies are arrested by a Federation trooper) or The Last Word (Ace gets all her weapons from Dayna Mellanby, as they have much in common).


Issue: Blake's 7 Magazine Winter Special (1994)

Writer: Gareth Roberts

Art: Martin Geraghty

Hearing rumors of a war on the planet Konesta between the native population and the Federation, Blake has the Liberator head to the planet to investigate. Upon arrival, a Federation ship leaves the surface and heads for the Liberator - but before the crew can open fire, they are contacted by Dr. Zeer Hills who is aboard the ship. She explains the ship is a medical cruiser full of injured civilians, as she has been allowed by the Federation to tend the casualties from the war. Blake teleports across and confirms Hills' story, realizing she is an idealistic like himself, but Avon remains suspicious. Orac confirms Hills' story, but reveals the medical ship is actually a disguised Federation battleship. Aboard the cruiser, one of the medics draws a gun and reveals this is all a trap, using Hills' genuine desire to aid real casualties to distract Blake. Blake, Jenna and Cally defeat the Federation agents, but not before they arm the cruiser's missiles, forcing the Liberator to destroy the cruiser - and all the innocents aboard - in self-defense.

This story is clearly set at some point between Trial and Gambit. Blake, Cally and Vila seem to be wearing their outfits from Redemption, while Jenna wears a weird skin-tight red pvc outfit with black and white strips with a circular gap exposing her cleavage. Avon wears a black outfit with heavy shoulderpads.

Blake doesn't disagree when Avon accuses him of enjoying ordering Zen to open fire on Federation ships. He doesn't take Hills story entirely on trust, and insists on not only sparing the ship but also providing the Liberator's medical kit technology to help the wounded. He's clearly cheered that there are other idealists working inside the system, and he would most likely have stayed on the cruiser despite the danger if Avon hadn't saved the crew at the last second.

Avon sensibly gets Orac to check out Hills' story (something Blake really ought to have thought of himself), and is as always undermining Blake's reputation, reminding Vila about what happened to Gan. He has no qualms about destroying a civilian ship in self-defense, and instinctively saves Blake and the others even when he could have let them die and seize control of the Liberator. As in The Web, Avon is the first to criticize his own selfless actions.

Vila is apparently drunk for most of this story, as he hugs a bottle of liquid (until dropping it in fright when his life is endangered) and is eager to knock it back with company, even Avon's. He's remarkably relaxed and confident there's no danger around. (Given Blake's disapproval of Vila's binge drinking, he must be "off duty" - perhaps he's still recovering from the punishment he got in Hostage and the booze is medicinal?)

Orac bitches he is busy examining the nature of pulsars, against which the crew's requests are "trifles".

The Liberator is rather oddly-depicted in this strip, with its spherical engine being disproportionately large and also shown as much smaller than in the series, with a Federation ship being a quarter of its size (compare to the numerous shots where other ships are tiny against it). The main screen (which has a lot of interference on it) is an actual hexagonal screen rather than an oval hologram. Zen clears the neutron blasters for firing without being asked and communicates with the teleport section by a hexagonal speaker beside the doorway rather than the usual rainbow grille beside the teleport. The teleport effect is depicted at both ends as the subject turning into a bleached out silhouette filled with concetric circles.

Seven years previous, the planet Konestra was annexed by the Federation after a long and bloody struggle but recently the resistance struck back. The Federation responded with an all-out slaughter that killed thousands. The Federation's media blackout meant that the war was simply rumored to be occuring, and they hired medics from an independent planet to deal with the civilian injuries. When Federation Security realized Blake was intending to investigate Konestra, they offered the medical team what they thought was a carrier ship and replaced the pilot and a medic with security agents. The battle cruiser is armed with plasma missiles capable of destroying the Liberator (it seems the force wall can't deflect these weapons, so it's odd the Federation doesn't use them more often...) and the pilot seems almost wired into the control systems, wearing a helmet connected to cables into the flight computer and floating hologram images. (The technology of this cruiser is seemingly the most advanced the Federation has ever shown, so maybe it's a prototype that was too expensive to replace?).

Konestra is seemingly a planet treated the same as Zondor in Warlord - skyscrapers full of people with shaved heads and numbers stamped on their brows under the guard by troopers. The Federation use strange-looking cruisers and floating vehicles on the surface (they never mastered anti-grav technology to that degree in the series, but maybe Konestra has really low gravity).

The independent medical team all wear the red cross logo, and Hills wears wierd rayban sunglasses while working (presumably they help diagnose patients' status like X-ray specs).


Vila: Come on, Avon, lighten up. Blake can look after himself.
Avon: Of that I have no doubt. But as we know, Vila, he is not very good at looking after other people.

Hills: I don't know how to thank you...
Blake: Then don't try.

Avon: I don't like this. Blake's... recklessness... has got us into trouble before.
Cally: [smiles] The word you're searching for is "bravery".
Avon: Well now, the word I was thinking of was "stupidity".

Vila: Is there anything I can do, Avon?
Avon: Not that I've noticed.

Jenna: [after Cally has beat nine colours of crap out of a Federation agent] You went to a good school.
Cally: I didn't, actually.

Vila: Hello, Avon, thought you might be lonely. Need some company?
Avon: If you count as company, eternal isolation has a considerable appeal.
Orac: Ahem! IF you have finished these pathetic squabbles...?

Hills: You must leave, Blake. If you stay, we'll be killed. This way, at least you and your crew will survive. Go!
Blake: We can't abandon you - [he is abruptly teleported out]
Hills: You already have.

Blake: Hills was a pawn in the Federation's game. They made her death unavoidable.
Jenna: Death's a fairly unavoidable thing.
Avon: I don't know. Some people have a talent for avoiding it.
Blake: And Avon - thank you for bringing me back. You could have left me over there. You surprised me.
[Blake walks off.]
Avon: I surprised myself.

While it's refreshing to encounter the Second Season crew for a change, the artwork is not the best - Geraghty's style is still in the 'old, lumpen charicatures' he used in DWM at the time, and is clearly not comfortable drawing these strange people and spaceships, with all the original characters and settings his usual grotty future Robocop-chic clashing with the B7 usual minimalist style. The bizarre layout of the panels and arty closeups is rather odd as well. In story terms, it's very similar to a Robert Holmes story, with Avon and Vila getting all the funny stuff while Blake and the girls deal with a depressingly cynical slaughter of innocents in a rather sparse B-plot. There's just not enough space to give anyone any real characterization beyond Avon's traditional blend of Blake's bodyguard and biggest critic. Had the new magazine taken off, with multiple-part stories, this could have been the start of something great. But, alas...

An awkward attempt to compress a full-length B7 episode into eight pages.

And to complete the analysis, some mini reviews of the text stories in each B7m. These were mostly written by Ken Armstrong (the same bloke who did most of the comic strips), and were illustrated with vaguely-appropriate stock photos. The quality of the stories was variable, especially since they were written by people who loved Blake's 7 but knew next to nothing about what would happen in Season 4. Probably the biggest divergence is the portrayal of the regulars, who have none of the comparatively easy friendship the Scorpio crew have in the majority of the episodes. They're all dangerously unlikable maveriks, able to turn on each other in an instant, and their insults aren't just deadpan snarks but intended to wound. Avon is just plain scary in these stories, having seemingly lost the inner battle with his idealist and left a one-note bastard (albeit a very witty and erudite one-note bastard, sort of like a homicidal Blackadder... if there's a difference).

(A moment of boredom turns into an exciting adventure! The Scorpio crew pit their wits against the might of the Federation in...)
Credit Transfer
A neat little tale combining the best elements of sci-fi, cop show and sitcom like all the best Blake's 7 episodes. While channel-surfing, Vila spots an infomercial for a bitching pleasure planet - and while Vila moans that the alpha grades get all the freaking luxury, Avon is more interested in Duxa hotel's Impossible-To-Steal-From Vault where all the guests leave their valuables. He wants to raid the vault and then pimp Scorpio with some more Dynamon crystals and the crew bluff their way to landing on the planet by Avon's amazing Belinda Neal impression and the belief there's now an interplanetary bank on Sarran. But what's this? Yes, they've double booked the hotel the exact same day Commissioner Sleer is on vacation! Gazooks! Servalan has Avon locked in the Impossible-To-Steal-From Vault, which proves a problem as this allows Avon to nick everything not nailed down and teleport to Scorpio - and then he refuses to give Vila any cash because he let the theif have a holiday! Oh, Avon, you magnificent bastard, how we love you!

Queen of the Bankalls
A couple of Androxan space pirates raid Xenon and kidnap Soolin, and when the others try to follow in Scorpio they are attacked by more space pirates who kidnap Avon and Tarrant for good measure. It turns out Dorian massively pissed off the Bankalls of Mintar, who have retaliated by kidnapping his girlfriend and stealing his ship. But since Dorian's dead, they decide to execute Avon and Tarrant - with a brainwashed Soolin being the one to kill them! However, Dayna and Vila easily save the day with good, old-fashioned pyromania and our heroes escape, nuking the space pirates as they go, then it's back to Xenon for cucumber sandwiches and lashings of ginger beer...

(The most valuable object in the galaxy! Could the master cracksman resist the temptation or would be make it...)
Vila's Big Score
No, not a three-way with Soolin and Dayna, as Vila discovers a random wiki article revealing that on the shithole planet of Harridan 4 is an ancient alien artefact which the most-guarded object in the universe: a freaking enormous diamond. Deciding to indulge in his professional kleptomania, Vila sneaks off, joins the cult that guards the diamond, stuns most of the cult, switches off the force field around the diamond, gets attacked by a living acidic fungus, then gets teleported to safety by Tarrant and Dayna. Avon gloats that the diamond is a fake! Another crook stole the real thing 200 years ago and left a dummy in its place and no one noticed! But Vila doesn't care cause he still got away with the most valuable thing in the universe, even if it is just a novelty paperweight, SO UP YOURS!

Loop of Death
Deja vu all over again as Scorpio gets shot by a plasma bolt, leading Avon and Tarrant to switch on the forcefield and repair the hull - but this time the life support systems are fried and our bitchy main characters are steadily suffocating! Oh wait, Avon fixes it. Orac suggests they get a half-decent laser weapon for Scorpio, and all they need is some freaky crystal... but the only crystal exists on a pre-Atomic-War science exploration probe on the other side of the galaxy which has been abandoned for ten years. Even Dayna's creeped out by this ghost ship orbiting a white dwarf, and it turns out that there have been people there very recently... who have then been eaten. The cannibals attack the gang but Avon, bluffing like mad, explains that if they let him take the crystal he can magically turn the cannibals back into the normal scientists they were some decades ago. The cannibals fall for it, and everyone runs away with Scorpio. Wiring in the crystal, Avon fires at the probe and misses - only to hit the white dwarf and turn it into a supernova that destroys the probe anyway! Well... yeah. I think I preferred it when they did the comic strip called Stranded.

(A mission shrouded in secrecy - with death close at hand!)
Blood On His Hands
So there are these two great empires that form a buffer zone between the Federation and the rest of the universe, and these two great empires have been in a cold war situation for ages, and when the prince of one side tries to assassinate the rulers of the other he gets condemned as a filthy pinko bastard by both sides. To keep up the diplomatic front, the two sides agree to have Avon as a courier to take the dirty filthy bastard back to his own side and then be executed for his crimes. In return, the buffer zone doesn't fall into war with Xenon right in the middle. Simple, no? But to keep his four groupies off his back, Avon pretends that the prisoner is actually a valued diplomat and NOT a dead man walking. Alas, the fact the 'diplomat' is bound, gagged and drugged soon gets Vila suspicious, and when the 'diplomat' claims he's really a peaceful bloke trying to end the cold war and Avon's only doing this execution run for the bounty money, they all instantly believe him! By the time Avon explains the truth, the traitorous bastard has already called in the Federation to attack. But to cut a long story short, Scorpio escapes at the last second and the liar's father has Avon himself stab the git to death live on TV as a public execution. Which he does. But he says "Sorry." Awww.

As our dysfunctional heroes take off from Xenon for... I dunno, milk or something... Tarrant spots a small flier also taking off from Xenon as well, but Avon is (yet again) being a completely secretive bastard and insists they ignore it. It takes roughly thirty seconds for everyone to conclude that Avon has somehow betrayed them all to the Federation, while Avon reveals they are not actually after some milk but are following a rogue deserter fleet of ex-Fed battle cruisers who are mining Braxomite (a mineral that is the energy equivalent of Gene Hunt). Avon intends to follow them and nick some of the Braxomite, leg it home and never worry about electricity bills ever again, and passes the time by nuking a couple of the cruisers with the Matracon from Interception! Holy shit, story arc! Scorpio nicks the Braxomite and then fires a plasma bolt that causes the Braxomite mine to explode and destroy the whole planet, and Avon explains he got tipped off by Servalan - in return for ending the mining ring, they get to keep what they've stolen. Until they get attacked by pursuit ships and have to throw all the Braxomite out to escape, anyway...

(A simple message... a cunning plan... once again Servalan has set...)
The Trap
It's Hal Mellanby's birthday, and Dayna is understandably in a bitch of a mood. So, when Slave picks up a transmission revealing where Servalan's going to be today, she and Tarrant nick Scorpio and leave Avon, Vila and Soolin on the planet Muntal Minor looking like losers while trying to organize an alliance. One problem: as the title has implied, this ambush may not be entirely straightfoward and within minutes Scorpio has been shot down and crashed on the planet Julgac. Servalan travels there to personally nuke the wreckage but Avon and pals have hitched a lift and drive the Bitch in White away, saving Tarrant and Dayna's lives... at least until Avon gets his hands on them.

The Red Moon
After yet another failed alliance, Scorpio is headed back to Xenon when Slave starts acting creepy in a Hal 9000 kind of way and then shuts down. And then so does Orac, leaving Scorpio stranded in the middle of nowhere when a crimson satellite appears and a booming godlike voice explains our heroes are in deep, deep crapola. Avon and Vila are teleported across to the moon, where the godlike voice explains the Federation equivalent of Torchwood has found some of its sufficiently advanced technology which must be recovered before they discover how it works, and the Scorpio crew are recruited to rescue this technology... which looks like a cardboard box painted black. Avon and co aren't too impressed, so the godlike alien continues to take over Slave and Orac, forcing them to travel to Asico Prime. Being a clever bastard, Avon rewires Slave and Orac so they think they're raiding Asico Prime while everyone piles into a shuttle and dock with the red moon ship - it turns out the satellite is a giant spaceship run entirely by computers when the original crew died of old age trying to find the black box. Avon programs the red moon to fly straight into Asico Prime and blow it to pieces, technically saving the whole universe. But more importantly, Avon got to play pool with planets, yo!

Mind Over Matter
Orac's stupidly-unique batteries have gone flat, leaving him stupider than Father Dougal and our heroes are completely stuffed. Avon decides to try and mine some replacement mineral to make new batteries, a mineral that turns out to be so freaking common they even have bits in their own teleport bracelets. In fact, their teleport bracelets LEAD the gang to the jungle planet (how freaking convenient), but alas, without Orac to check ahead, it turns out Servalan's already set up a mine on the monster-infested jungle planet (how freaking inconvenient). Servalan then rather stupidly waves a phial of the refined mineral they need right under the nose of a professional thief who - get this - steals it. And then blows up the mine. And then escape through the monster infested jungle, repair Orac, and run like hell. The only real surprise is the hint they just blew up Servalan and forgot to mention it...

Diamond Death
Aboard Scorpio, the gang are distracted from playing a game of scrabble when they spot a carrier ship that left an independent planet just before Servalan blew said planet to smithereens because the inhabitants were so damn clever they cracked Federation codes with the ease of Numberwang. Avon does some checking and then allows Tarrant and Dayna to teleport across to the ship and rescue the crew and last survivors of their planet (since someone that clever would be damn useful), but warns them that there's a plague on the ship left by Servalan. They find only one survivor, a girl called Quandi, whose miraculous escape makes Soolin damn suspicious this could be another convoluted trap (involving amongst other things, Vila's raging libido). However, since Tarrant and Dayna have managed to contract the plague, they're all completely stuffed anyway! With Orac explaining they're suffering from the 48-hour terminal Diamond Death virus, Quandi reveals she IS a traitor and offers to get the crew the cure in exchange for her miserable life. It turns out the cure bit is the trap, so the moment they're all innoculated, Avon leaves Quandi for Servalan to use as target practise. Everyone bitches at him, so he tells them to shove it up their arses.

Next: The Golden Book through to A New Beginning

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Stripping Down... Blake's 7 (iii)


Issue: XV

Writer: Ken Armstrong

Art: Mick Austin

Scorpio is suddenly holed by the wreckage of another spacecraft. When Avon and Vila space walk outside to assess the damage, a meteorite storm knocks them into the void. Putting on a spacesuit, Dayna teleports after them with two bracelets. However, Vila is unable to grab his bracelet and helplessly drifts into the gravity well of a nearby planet as Avon and Dayna are teleported back inside Scorpio. Avon has Tarrant fly Scorpio above the atmosphere while Avon dangles on an 'astrocord', snatching Vila to safety at the last moment.

The crew are wearing their "first half" uniforms this week, putting this pre-Assassin. There are at least three bulky spacesuits aboard Scorpio (which aren't the usual Flash Gordon-style rescue suits from the TV series). There appears to be a viewing platform underneath Scorpio's antennae. Teleportation requires a fix on the person being transported, which is very difficult in space (the bracelets appear to be no help with this). The crew lose a teleport bracelet in this story.

Vila loathes wearing a space suit, and gets another three-way cuddle from Dayna and Soolin when he's safe. He really is more popular than he thinks, Dayna even thinks it's "great" to have him back.

Objects that are exposed to rantogen-charged particles can absorb radar waves and thus become undetectable. There are rantogen-charged meteorite storms to be found in Star Systen Cryno Callus in the fifteenth sector, along with at least three planets.


Soolin: We can't stand by and watch Vila die!
Dayna: Surely the life of a friend is worth the risk?
Avon: I have no friends.

Vila: Avon, I thought...
Avon: Don't think, Vila, it only complicates things.

Vila: Avon risked his life for me, I owe him a lot!
Avon: You "owe me" the price of a bracelet. Next time, catch it!

A thin story by any standards, this seems to be an attempt to do a happy-ending version of Orbit where Avon saves Vila instead of trying to kill him. Mick Austin is clearly not having much fun on the artwork, and all the space-walking scenes are drawn with more detail than the confusing indoor scenes where word balloons go to the wrong people. Ultimately, it relies on the whacking great plothole of Avon and Vila not thinking to wear their teleport bracelets in a hazardous situation, which is just ridiculous.

Kind of like the start of Stardrive before it all went downhill.


Issue: XVI

Writer: Paul Neary

Art: Phil Gascoine

The Federation construct a planet-sized computer called Federac. Using Slave to distract Federac's defense ships, Avon has Scorpio open fire on Federac, reducing it to scrap metal. However, the sentience of the computer survives in its remaining debris. A shard of Federac holes Scorpio, and when Avon and Vila remove it, the fragment is able to leave a post-hypnotic suggestion in their minds to return to the solar system in six months when the sentience of Federac has regained its strength.

Unaware they are being controlled, Avon and Vila return in Scorpio half a year later and go on a spacewalk, when the debris attack. Dayna is able to save Avon while Vila is knocked into planet fall. Federac removes its conditioning so Vila understands his fate, but Avon's conditioning is also undone. Thinking quickly, Avon broadcasts a message in computer language to Federac - "You are feeling sleepy" - over and over again until the sentience itself is hypnotized and they are free to rescue Vila.

The crew are all wearing their "second half" uniforms for once, and Soolin has her GP-hairstyle, putting this towards the end of the season. Avon locks the armory when he's off the ship (a strange move presumably down to his brainwashing) while Tarrant insists on abandoning Vila and saving Avon only for some reason (perhaps Tarrant got hypnotized as well at some point?).

Federac the computer world was build into a moon, and created with a personality. Scorpio attacked while it was still young and naive and could be fooled by Slave of all things. Scorpio's cannons reduced it to a few relay switches, solar panels and circuits, each one containing part of Federac's mind and capable of self-propulsion and triggering hypnotic light shows. Federac can undo its hypnosis simply by counting to three. Federac is left hypnotized and compelled to travel at top speed to Alpha Centauri, and according to Soolin was last seen near Arcturus. Avon regrets the loss of this great intellect, even though all the signs are he was the one that kept trying to destroy it. He is convinced that, on some emotional level, Federac is "human".



Phil Gascoine takes over as regular artist with this curiously-untitled tale which is at the end of the day a slightly more complicated rewrite of Overboard (the last page copies it panel for panel) only this time with an insane computer with a grudge. The mid-story flashback is just confusing and the static in the computer's message is almost as annoying as the cheap hypnosis trick that resolves the plot. Why Federac didn't simply brainwash Avon and Vila into killing themselves and the others escapes me, like why Orac is never used considering how handy he would be. Presumably Federac was some kind of replacement for Star One but this idea is never really dealt with. Even the living planet with self-willed parts seems derivative of Sand. As a side note, this is the final comic strip not to feature Servalan.

A weak attempt to make the previous story's plot more epic with a truly awful ending.


Issue: XVII

Writer: Paul Neary

Art: Phil Gascoine

Rebel agents have infiltrated Servalan's HQ and spread news of her secret holiday on Orion 4 where she will be unguarded. Orac picks up the news and Avon and the others head to Orion 4 in Scorpio to simultaneously assassinate Servalan and also make contact with the native resistance movement. But when Scorpio comes in to land, it is captured by the natives who have mistaken it for Servalan's ship. Servalan then arrives with a battle fleet - her "holiday" has been one giant trap for her enemies. The Federation forces wipe out the natives, but their shots at Scorpio only succeed in freeing the captured ship, which promptly shoots down Servalan's ship and flees in the confusion.

The costumes suggest this in the latter half of Season 4. Avon wants to kill Servalan himself, and is looking for potential allies to aide their fight against the Federation. He dubs Scorpio "a rebel privateer". Tarrant fears that Scorpio could fall apart if the drives were set to their full power.

Servalan's Outer Sector Security Headquarters are on Paalus Major. Her last few pleasure trips have been dogged by rebel activity (presumably a reference to the short story Credit Transfer), but she deliberately allows spies in her camps to set up traps. She wears a Ming the Merciless-style cloak in this adventure, presumably to help with her "body double" scam since the real Servalanwears her outfit from Orbit. It seems that the rebels are aware of her real identity, as the Orions address her as "Servalan" rather than "Sleer."

Orac has the ability to print out messages. It is tied down while aboard Scorpio, ala Blake.

Orian Four is a recreation planet and its surface seems covered with jungles, mountains and flowers. Dragonite lines are cables strong enough to hold a planet hopper like Scorpio down. The rebel spy ring consists of "Fox Base" (apparently on Orion 4) communicating with various "Foxes", the third of which is spying on Servalan. Until she arrests him anyway.


Vila: But Avon, if those rebels are after Servalan, why don't we leave them to deal with her?
Avon: And give them the pleasure of killing her? No - that pleasure will be mine and mine alone!

Tarrant: We're trapped! We can't break free!
Avon: ...Is that a fact?

Captain: Commissioner... are you hurt?
Servalan: Only my pride! He's turned the hunter into the hunted, but one day, Avon... one day I'll get you! That's a promise!

The central premise is pretty clever, with Servalan turning the rebels against each other and then bombing both sides, but the Scorpio crew barely appear and do sod all except get captured and then run away while the "lunatic" rebels of Orion make a huge balls up of everything they attempt. This time the no-score-draw ending feels much like a success for the good guys, with Servalan saving Avon from another doomed alliance...

As an effort to reestablish Servalan as the Big Bad of the comic strip, Hunted is an unqualified success, but the problem is it's not trying to do anything else.


Issue: XVIII

Writer: Paul Neary

Art: Phil Gascoine

Scorpio manages to hijack a Federation transporter, but the crew evacuate and hit the self-destruct, depriving the rebels of new food supplies and nearly killing Avon, Tarrant and Vila. In desperation, they head for Torrac Six, the Agri-Planet that provides catering for the Federation Headquarters. Orac hacks into the computers and has a consignment of supplies loaded into Scorpio - but the supplies were meant for Servalan, who always comes in person to collect her food. Realizing they're discovered, the crew flee in Scorpio, shooting at Servalan's ship when she tries to follow. Servalan survives, humiliated and hungry, while the crew enjoy a feast fit for a would-be empress.

Another mid-season story judging by the outfits with the men wearing their first-half uniforms. Soolin and Dayna seem to have swapped personalities, with Dayna being aloof and sarcastic while Soolin is meek and emotional - she once again offers to make Vila dinner (definitely something going on there). Soolin doesn't take her gun-belt off, even to eat dinner. Vila's hunger drives him to volunteer to be boarding party and hurl abuse at Avon when the plan goes wrong. Scorpio's flight deck is very different in this story, as a large square room with thick rhomboid doors and one flight console at one end in front of a huge square room (there's no sign of Slave at all).

Federation transports have a similarly-shaped craft as their sole escort. The crew seem to believe they can blow up all their supplies and not be punished for it (though presumably keeping the supplies out of terrorist hands is a higher priority?). Torrac Six is an Agri-Planet famous for providing food for Federation Headquarters, with huge hydroponic domes on the surface. Food is transported in wooden crates carried on floating sleds driven by blue-collar workers in baseball caps, while more distinguished-looking men act as Stewards (presumably for PR reasons). The usual troopers provide security. Thumbprints are used instead of signatures to sign off on clipboards.

Servalan's rations are consignment 106, and seemingly consists of roast turkeys, apples, grapes, loafs of bread and wine. She always collects it in person (presumably because she's paranoid it might get poisoned). She has the Steward executed for unwittingly humiliating her, and is accompanied by two bald men in Federation uniform (mutoids?).


Avon: [into communicator] Heave-to! We're sending a boarding party! Any treachery and your ship, its crew and contents will be blown to pieces!

[Dayna teleports Avon, Tarrant and Vila, saving them from certain death]
Soolin: They're alive, Dayna!
Dayna: And in one piece. I hope they're suitably grateful?

Vila: More re-processed junk! I thought the Big Man was going to ensure decent grub for us with this latest daring adventure. What a fiasco!

Tarrant: [to Vila] Just keep cool.

Servalan: I hope the food chokes you, Avon!
Caption: There was little likelihood of Servalan's curse coming to pass...

Avon: I give you a toast. Servalan - MAY SHE ALWAYS GO HUNGRY!

A clear sign of how the comic strip was becoming less and less of a priority of Blake's 7 Magazine, with a reduced page count, a simplified plot and promises of "laughs" yet little genuine humor: Gambit this ain't. It's played completely straight until the jolly romp of the last page, undermining an otherwise straightforward "scam-goes-wrong" plot typical of Season 4.

A lightweight kid-friendly story that can't decide if it's comedy or drama.

Target Practice I

Issue: XIX

Writer: Ken Armstrong

Art: Phil Gascoine

The Federation are testing a new weapon, the particle cannon, on the uninhabited planet Signatum Major. Their target is an unmanned Federation craft piloted by remote control when Scorpio (the crew not realizing the ship's true nature) attacks. The particle canon is fired on both ships, which fall out of the sky as all the power is drained out of them. In desperation, Avon drains the remaining source of energy aboard (Orac) into the force field, allowing Scorpio to scrape across the shore and splash down in a sea. Servalan arrives on Signatum Major to oversee the testing of the cannon and when she sees the testers used Scorpio as target practice, she heads out to capture the rebels. Twenty fathoms below, the crew in the stricken planet hopper realize they are trapped with their worst enemy right above them...

Once more, all the crew except Vila are dressed as they are in the final episode.

Avon considers any Federation craft fair game to be fired upon. Orac's logic cell is not effected by the particle canon, and Avon can transfer energy from the computer to Scorpio's systems by flipping a lever. Avon is concerned the freighter isn't water-proof (and he's right to judge from all the leaks in the flight deck), even though Dayna rightly points out any half-decent spaceship should cope under water.

The weapon testers record their experiments on video tape for ease of replaying. They do not recognize Scorpio as anything out of the usual until Servalan points it out for them and notes the huge reward for their capture. Servalan is dressed in her black feather outfit from Traitor. She bitchslaps her subordinates for showing initiative.


Tarrant: Let's hope the planet can support that ship's crew; they're about to lose their mode of transport. Five seconds to firing!

Tarrant: A hit! It's dropping like a stone!
Avon: Interesting, Tarrant... especially as you missed it.

Tarrant: We're flying like a brick straight towards the mountains! RESPOND, SCORPIO, DAMMIT!

Dayna: We're still safe inside the pressurised hull... aren't we?
Avon: In a manner of speaking. This ship, however, was never designed to withstand pressure from the outside, only inside.

Avon: Why did you issue a warning about danger now?
Slave: Oh, I should have said...

Vila: This is the end of the line, Avon! We're stuck in this submerged coffin with no power and no way out! We've got to throw ourselves on Servalan's mercy!
Avon: Servalan has no mercy, Vila, and she doesn't want our surrender. Servalan only wants one thing - and that's to see us dead!

Short on plot, long on action, this is basically one big cliffhanger with the comic strip again trying to recreate Scorpio's crash from Blake (in fact, it's start to lose its emotional impact considering how often the damn thing crashed on alien planets...) with the crew in a completely hopeless situation - no teleport, no Orac, and surrounded by Federation forces armed to the teeth. Unlike Blake, however, this cliffhanger has a resolution...

A well-paced drama with all the regulars getting a slice of the action.

Target Practice II

Issue: XX

Writer: Ken Armstrong

Art: Phil Gascoine

Servalan prepares to fire upon the submerged Scorpio when Tarrant, Dayna, Vila and Soolin swim to the surface and surrender, claiming Avon perished in the crash. Servalan has the Federation dredge the planet hopper, wanting to see Avon's body with her own eyes - while inside the ship, Avon manages to reactivate Orac and learn about the particle cannon Servalan now controls. Avon kills one of the troopers sent to search Scorpio and steals his uniform, mingling with the others who locate Orac sans key. While Servalan prepares to execute Tarrant and the others, Avon activates the particle cannon and sabotages all the trooper's weaponry. With control of the cannon, Avon maroons Servalan and her forces on Signatum Major and steals her ship. Later, once they have repaired Scorpio, Avon and the others destroy the other ship and the particle cannon, depriving Servalan and the Federation from its new weapons technology.

For once Vila trusts Avon to save them all from certain death while Tarrant is the one to panic, even though Tarrant does all the talking once they're on the surface (no doubt he's either trying to use his prior relationship with Servalan to his advantage, or simply doing his usual alpha male thing). Avon fears the particle cannon could be used against "a rebel fleet", suggesting the resistance is more organized than we normally give them credit for in this show.

The particle cannon fires a beam that can terminate all electrical and mechanical functions (which can be tuned to specifics like side-arms) and render them useless until the effect is reversed. A Scorpio clipgun can fire an electro-charge which is a silent but lethal blast leaving no injuries on the victim.

Despite recieving huge damage on its crash-landing, it takes only minutes to restore Scorpio to a space-worthy state. Avon is able to transfer the last of Slave's energy into Orac to get the little bastard working properly again, but it leaves Slave switched off.


Servalan: I want to see Avon's body for myself!
Captain: B... but Commissioner, it will take all our resources...
Servalan: Damn your resources! I've got to see Avon's body! I must know if he's really dead! Now obey my orders - or suffer the consequences!

Avon: Come on, Orac, I need you to give me some answers!
Orac: At last you have declared you have need of me! Then why did you deprive me of power?
Avon: The power was needed to save the ship! Now tell me what Servalan's playing at!
Orac: ...she never plays!

Dayna: That's put Servalan's takeover of the universe back a few years. She could have caused a lot of damage with that cannon.
Avon: She doesn't need a cannon to create havoc. Now more than ever she'll want us dead - we've only bought a little time...

Part two of the story is mainly a bluff between the Scorpio crew and Servalan, in which very little happens and all bar Avon are more or less sidelined. Admittedly, Servalan having the entire crew at her non-existent mercy gives the story a drammatic buzz... but the exact same thing happened in Sacrifice fifteen stories earlier. For the first time Servalan's survival really beggars belief as there is absolutely no reason why they should spare her, and one does wonder why Avon destroys the particle cannon instead of keeping it. There's some evidence the magazine was getting slightly bored of the comic strip and missing adventures at this point, as they cancelled the comic strip for the next two issues (whereupon the editors decides to end the magazine and published one last story...)

A reasonable conclusion, though it smacks of a "greatest hits" package.

The Omen

Issue: XXIII

Writer: Ken Armstrong

Art: Phil Gascoine

Avon has a nightmare where he is trapped in a black void surrounded by Federation troops lead by a spectral figure who Avon recognizes. He is then woken by Tarrant, who has prepared Scorpio for a final test flight before they leave Xenon for good. Tense and irritable, Avon joins Tarrant and Vila aboard the ship but as they leave orbit they are bushwacked by a fleet of Federation battle cruisers sent by Servalan. Avon has Tarrant jettison a cloud of delay charges, which destroys several ships, but Servalan nevertheless orders the survivors to continue to attack the damaged Scorpio. Despite the protests of Tarrant and Orac, Avon overloads the engines and puts Scorpio into flat spin...

Scorpio accelerates so fast it temporarily slides out of the space time continuum, and Avon sees the spectre from his dreams on the flight deck - the walking corpse of Roj Blake, who has been shot three times. Scorpio returns to time and space. Tarrant and Vila wake Avon from his nightmare and reveal they have eluded the Federation for the meanwhile. They return to Xenon for the last time and the dazed Avon knows that soon they all will have face their unavoidable destiny...

This story is set between Warlord and Blake, (though Vila is still wearing his "first half" outfit) as the crew are preparing to abandon Xenon. Most of the lights in the base are out, and Dayna and Soolin stay behind to gather supplies. Tarrant treats Avon with suitable contempt, telling Soolin he doesn't believe Avon has a conscience (understandable sentiments considering what's just happened to Zeeona). He is nevertheless impressed with Avon's genius in escaping the fleet, explaining why they appear to be on such reasonable terms in the next episode.

Avon sleeps alone in a long-sleeved nightgown. He doesn't keep his bedroom door in Xenon Base locked. His first nightmare leaves him ragged, with a hair-trigger temper and more paranoid than before to the point he ignores the advice of Orac and Slave, believing them "mere machines". He is the only one expecting the fleet to regroup (so either he's just pessimistic or else has twigged Servalan is behind it). Avon is the last one to black out from the acceleration and is left very disoriented afterwards. It's heavily implied Avon's on the edge of a total breakdown after the stress of recent events and perhaps the "ghost" is part of that.

It's not clear if Blake's appearance is simply a nightmare, an actual ghost or a side effect of Avon becoming unstuck in time - though there's no way Avon could expect Blake to look exactly like he does on GP after he's been shot dead. Avon's first nightmare has Blake seemingly leading the Federation troops and Avon shouts, "You can't do this to me!", as if he thinks Blake has betrayed him to the enemy (so despite his blind faith to others, Avon was already beginning to wonder if even Blake might turn on him). Oddly enough, in the first nightmare Blake mocks Avon for not listening to him, but in the second vision he seems to be almost forgiving, noting that things "had to be" and sadly wondering what would have happened if Avon had known the truth. Presumably Avon's final smile in the last episode is partly motivated by understanding what the nightmares foretold.

Servalan makes one final appearance, wearing the diamond-shaped earrings and black feather coat. She remains at Security Central coordinating the battle rather than getting anywhere too near danger herself (continuing her "pulling the strings" strategy from Warlord). She is presumably the one who sent the battle fleet to Xenon - although Zukan never told her the location, she could easily have found out herself by various means, not least simply triangulating Dayna's distress signal from the episode.

When Scorpio slides out of reality, the battlefleet abandon Xenon - presumably assuming the whole crew are aboard - allowing it to return in secret. Scorpio requires one last repair to its generator and stabilizers before they abandon the base. Avon uses the last of Dayna's bombs (recognized as 'delay charges' by both sides and can be remotely primed and released from the flight deck). Scorpio no longer seems to have any weapons. Orac insults Slave as "the inferior machine", continuing their bitchfight in the final episode.


Avon: It's happened. The time has come.

Blake: I tried to warn you but you wouldn't listen...

Tarrant: You look like you've seen a ghost!
Avon: Maybe I have, Tarrant. And not for the first time.

Servalan: Don't dare to question my orders, Commander. The rebels are to be destroyed at all costs, regardless of your own casualties. Do I make myself clear?
Commander: Perfectly, Commissioner. You're prepared to sacrifice us all to get Avon.

Avon: I'll have to risk a flat spin!
Orac: That would be extremely foolish. The time-related continuum would be destabilized. I caution against it.
Avon: The time for caution has passed! This is life or death, Orac!

Commander: We've trapped them! Blow them to atoms!

Blake: You're coming, Avon. I told you you would... It had to be, Avon. But if only you'd known. If only...

Avon: Xenon? Ah yes. That's where we're going. At least for the time being. Then we have another appointment to keep. One from which there seems no escape...

Blake's 7 Magazine clearly had been saving up this comic strip for their final issue, with the postmodern edge of Avon realizing that these missing adventures have run out, combined with the magazine's stoic acceptance that, two years after Blake had been screened, this really was the end. A page shorter than normal, Vila and Dayna get no dialogue, the plot consists of one last space battle, and it doesn't quite synch up with the final episode as much as it wants to (the Federation know about Xenon Base here, but the crew leave as a precaution in the filmed episode), but it's a (literally) dark and depressing tale as Servalan moves in for the kill and Avon realizes that their fate on Gauda Prime is inescapable.

A final, surreal chapter that - in terms of tone at least - segues perfectly into Blake.