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Author Topic: THE ANGRY PLANET: Fleetway Files 001  (Read 1160 times)

SmallBlueThing(Reborn)

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THE ANGRY PLANET: Fleetway Files 001
« on: 15 December, 2020, 10:50:46 AM »
See how I put that triple-digit numbering in the subject header? That's because I very very much hope this series of reprint volumes is so successful for the Hibernia team (and the Treasury team at Rebellion) that we get at least a hundred of them.

The Angry Planet is not a series I've paid much attention to in the past. I wasnt a Tornado reader- and picked up my set of them via Ebay many years later. When I did, I confess to being mostly unimpressed, and still to this day I wonder why it got merged with the prog and Scream didn't. A 2000AD & Scream merger would have been almost too exciting for words back then- the wedding of 2000AD and Tornado seemed like a kick to the prog's balls, causing it to briefly stumble on its passage to greatness.

That said, perhaps a lot of my reticence to enjoy Tornado was due to the awful printing- which oddly never bothered me, and still doesn't, when looking through my early back progs.

Because here, The Angry Planet positively shines.

I mentioned the high standard of printing elsewhere, but it's worth repeating: this is the best the strip has ever looked. It's up there with an imagined luxurious Titan version. The black lines are crisp, the paper is pure white and only on a single spread of two pages did I feel the quality slipped a teeny bit. But that may well have been an error in my copy, and the fact that it slightly stuck out is only a further indication of how good the rest of the book is. And, I really need to restate this- the rest of the book is so very good indeed.

As far as the strip itself goes, I was genuinely shocked. I won't comment on the ending, or the lead-up to it, because I think outside forces nudged the story in directions it should maybe not have gone, and maybe it was forced to end abruptly when the original idea may have benefited from more room to breathe.

But the set up, and first two thirds are sublime. Bellardinelli's art is full of mad vistas and insane giant machines. Yes, he blatantly steals from Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica along the way, but who cares? This is British weekly comics of the 1970s, where would they be without swipes? His wide shot of the strip's Valles Marineris stand-in, "the canyon of lost souls", is so gorgeous it seems odd to think it appeared in the pages of a disposable 10p comic. These things would be held in such a higher regard if adults had actually bothered to open them back in the day.

Hebden's story resonates strongly, in those early chapters, to an audience familiar with Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy (begun in 1992)- and there is a 'hard sf' tone to the strip that had me double checking the dates of various classics of the genre to work out who was influenced by who. For a late seventies Mars story, this is refreshingly uninspired by Bradbury and the more fantastical Martian stories. At least, until near the end, when it gets a bit Beneath The Planet of the Apes, and I started to imagine an early eighties movie version starring Doug McClure at Matt Markham.

But at its heart, Angry Planet is a nicely political, hard sf story of frontier colonists fighting a dictatorial and corrupt organisation. The fantasy elements that come in later seem shoehorned in and ultimately unsatisfying, cheapening what could have been a much wider and more long-running story. There's one very seventies bit of racism that would have been unremarkable at the time, but nowadays thankfully sticks out a mile.

And that, dear friends, is what I made of The Angry Planet. More pertinently, what I made of the Hibernia book version- which I very much hope is the start of a long series. The volume is beautiful, the design work is second to none (though I'd have used that panel of the canyon of lost souls on the cover, not a monster, but what do I know?) and I cant wait for the next release.

Thanks guys, it's much appreciated.

SBT

sheridan

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Re: THE ANGRY PLANET: Fleetway Files 001
« Reply #1 on: 15 December, 2020, 12:33:53 PM »
I read all the Tornados about this time last year and (at the time) Angry Planet was a bit of a disappointment for me - but there's a number of reasons for that and I think if I re-read it now then I'd enjoy it more.

First reason is that it's from the same creative team from one of my favourite stories of all time - Meltdown Man.  So anything that wasn't MM was going to be a bit of a let-down - that's all on me though.

Second reason was I felt the format didn't show off Belardinelli's talent well enough.  The episode's seem to have the same amount of content as 2000AD stories, but in less pages, meaning the storytelling is a little too compressed for my liking.  I have a feeling I'd have liked it more if the pages were bodged into more pages (but not to the extent that Eagle Comics did in the early eighties or Titan on those digest paperbacks later in the decade).

Next reason, I wasn't reading them in one go, instead reading through each published Tornado in order (and also the same week's progs in between), so this would have been a bit disjointed, though emulating the reading experience at the time.

Finally - some of those other stories in Tornado really made reading through them all a bit of a drag, which obviously hasn't got anything to do with Angry Planet itself.  So basically I think the story and art were fairly good, not as good as Meltdown Man but not the best use of both creators talents.

Bad City Blue

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Re: THE ANGRY PLANET: Fleetway Files 001
« Reply #2 on: 16 December, 2020, 11:44:22 AM »
Shame about the ending, which was definitely forced on the team. then again, Hebden was known for going on forever if allowed to.

really great product, some of Massimo's best art as well. No excuse not to get it.

Dandontdare

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Re: THE ANGRY PLANET: Fleetway Files 001
« Reply #3 on: 16 December, 2020, 03:22:10 PM »
Shame about the ending, which was definitely forced on the team. then again, Hebden was known for going on forever if allowed to.

To be fair, that was the job, and he was a master of it - keep things ticking over with self contained episodes inching towards, but never actually reaching, an ending so that  strip could be extended indefinitely, but with a goal in mind that could be quickly reached if it was decided to cancel it.


I mentioned the high standard of printing elsewhere, but it's worth repeating: this is the best the strip has ever looked. It's up there with an imagined luxurious Titan version. The black lines are crisp, the paper is pure white and only on a single spread of two pages did I feel the quality slipped a teeny bit. But that may well have been an error in my copy, and the fact that it slightly stuck out is only a further indication of how good the rest of the book is. And, I really need to restate this- the rest of the book is so very good indeed.

Couldn't agree more. I am always impressed by Hibernia's repro quality - how they manage to get clean white spaces and crisp lines from those old bog-paper comics is amazing, but they really are good quality.

The Amstor Computer

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Re: THE ANGRY PLANET: Fleetway Files 001
« Reply #4 on: 17 December, 2020, 03:11:26 PM »
Really happy to hear such positive feedback on this, and it's great to see Hebden and Belardinelli's work getting reassessed when read as a whole - I think Angry Planet is a great little read, and while it has the "Hang on, we're folding Tornado into 2000AD in *how* many issues?" rushed wrap-up and it wanders a touch toward the end, it's a tale that holds up well and it's a shame that it never continued on into "Mars Force" in 2000AD.

The response to this first collection has been great, and David's got me at work on the repro for the next collection - Goodall and Blasco's "The Indestructible Man" - so I'd hope the next release will be out early 2021. After that, we'll see what David finds in his trawl through the archives, what readers would like to see and what Rebellion have plans for and we'll take it from there!

BPP

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Re: THE ANGRY PLANET: Fleetway Files 001
« Reply #5 on: 20 December, 2020, 03:27:48 PM »
About 2/3rds thru this he's just solved the maths problem and it is by far the best thing I’ve read in ages. It basically IS 2000AD in all but name. Imagine there was a story inside prog 200-221 that was on sealed pages and you never had the gumption to open them. It’s beautiful looking art, totally Pat-Mills in politics (hilariously so he’s attacking women and children so I’m going to kill every company employee is just not a line you’d see in today’s kids comic (sadly)) and the reproduction is glorious - the crisp white, the page size, the design.

Thanks Hibernia- 10/10 again.
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robprosser

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Re: THE ANGRY PLANET: Fleetway Files 001
« Reply #6 on: 22 December, 2020, 08:58:14 AM »
The villain getting his face stuck to the side of the freezing hull answered one of my longest puzzles from childhood. I knew it was Bellardinelli but had convinced myself it was a 2000ad strip.

maryanddavid

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Re: THE ANGRY PLANET: Fleetway Files 001
« Reply #7 on: 22 December, 2020, 10:59:51 PM »
Our Christmas prep and work put AP aside for a bit, so just catching up on the comments.
Thanks so much for the kind word, delighted that the book is being enjoyed. Richard put a lot of work into the design and the quality of the art is down to him.
Cheers!

Colin YNWA

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Re: THE ANGRY PLANET: Fleetway Files 001
« Reply #8 on: 05 February, 2021, 09:06:58 PM »
Well that was good old dumb fun. I mean really dumb. Have villians ever been quite so shallow and mustache twirling. Have heroes ever been so simple and straightforward. Probably - it just all really stands out here. Yet for all this tales simplicity, certainly when compared to the best of what 2000ad had to offer at this time, it somehow keens the fun going. Its not as dynamic and innovative as things we are used to here, but it retains a simple charm for what it is.

The art by Massimo has all his strenghts and weaknesses clear for all to see. At time the world he creates is boundless , energetic and enthralling. At times his figures and characters are stiff and stifled. Yet having him there as a consistent force is overall to the strips benefit.

The production from Hibernia as we can now always expect is first class. Its a handsome product, with good reproduction and excellent design. Its fair to say even when the content isn't as strong as previous volumes from Hibernia the obvious care and effort put into their creation can raise them above that. They stand as testament to age these comics were producted and a fantastic archieve fit for anyones collection.


AlexF

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Re: THE ANGRY PLANET: Fleetway Files 001
« Reply #9 on: 08 February, 2021, 09:49:48 AM »
I'm only a few episodes in an am currently torn. Belardinelli's art is simply stunning, and it helps seeing it on such high-quality repro. The politics and anger in the story is smashing as well. The anti-Japanese racism less so but as mentioned above easy to overlook. What's currently sticking in my craw a little is the science. The strip has the attitude of being hard SF, but the stuff about gravity is confusing me.

When our man reaches Earth, he is 'crushed by the extra gravity', which can only be countered by putting him in a bath of water?? My grasp of physics is limited, but I assume that the extra gravity would make him find it hard to move around as his muscles would be relatively weak compared to an Earthman, but it wouldn't crush his lungs. Maybe the extra air pressure of Earth's thicker atmosphere would be a struggle. But in that case, putting him in water would surely make it worse?

All that said, the idea of a visual shorthand for Matt Markham's struggles to cope on Earth makes for good comics, and now he's bacl on Mars I'm looking forward to further conflict with the most evil corporation put to comics (worse even than Global Foods!).