Sunday, May 28, 2017

Dieselpunk Manifesto Episode Five

Buck Rogers Strips 40-49

Buck is surprised in his cell by the lovely Nunah, whom you might remember was the badass aviatrix who strafed the vagrants trying to do for Buck. She tells Buck of her lost love: Lone Wolf who was captured by the Han. Despite being a badass aviatrix and crack shot she needs his help to rescue Lone Wolf from the labs of the evil Airlords.

In a show of professional courtesy between badasses Buck of course agrees to help her. They'll rescue Wilma and Lone Wolf! Nunah for her part is deserting her Org and stealing a plane to rescue her love, which is exactly what Rogers did to land in jail and she comes off as a capable, brave character who's easy to sympathize with. Landing near Los Angeles they camouflage their plane and don Han disguises.

Wait.

Nunah might get away with this, in dim light. Buck is a  six foot three Caucasian with blond hair and blue eyes. Buck makes Superman's trick with the eyeglasses and forelock look like chopped liver. The Han really seem to have no idea what the American jumping belts can do because the City of Los Angeles is defended by a ten meter wall. They leap it pretty easily and cosh a lone guard. They slip into an apartment and hide their jump belts because they'd make the rescue easier. They slip back onto the wall (why?) and almost get arrested by another guard who kicks the pretty woman and the tall blue eyed blonde haired Han off the wall.

Meanwhile Wilma is watching this drama unfold on her magic TV. She wonders if Nunah is another one of Buck's 'sisters'. One can imagine the hijinks that might ensue if Buck called a guy 'brother' in front of her.

Buck and Nunah lay low for a couple days after this assuming no one will notice the incredible lifting belts they hid and work their way to the Han laboratories. They get in by bashing a couple of guards on the head and soon find Lone Wolf. Now with his help they intend to break into the Emperor's harem. Yes, I know harem is an Arabic term and the Han are your generic Asian bad guys (thankfully they are now extinct and we just demonize politicians). As for Wilma she makes the mistake of expressing utter boredom by wishing something would happen. Her peeping Tammy phase seems to be over.

She gets her wish. The Emperor is tying one on and the usual gaggle of pole dancers and bimbos doesn't send him so he sends for 'li'l Wild Wilma (hic)!'

Lanlu, an up and coming social climber in the Emperor's personal strip club, sees this as her chance! Fortunately Wilma will be wearing some sort of hood hiding her face and blinding her like a hawk. This is an apt metaphor if you know Wilma. Lanlu slips on the hood and costume and takes her place. She is brought to the Emperor by the Imperial flesh merchants while Wilma hides. For good measure the guards drug 'Wilma'.

You have to love the pulp era. In one strip we get female bondage, debauchery, drugs, and booze. I t's like Fifty Shades of Gray in four panels!

The Emperor gets about five seconds of cuddling Lan Lu, not even enough time to realize she isn't Wilma and kill his buzz when Buck, Lone Wolf and Nunah arrive and raise all manner of merry hell. They even bash the Emperor on his royal sconce with a priceless vase. Buck grabs the disguised and tripping Lanlu, thinking her Wilma!

The four flee raising more merry hell along the way. We're talking swords, rocket pistol diplomacy and a bunch of socks on the jaw. They grab a 'glide car' a short range version of the airships and make good their escape!

Oh wait. What about Wilma?

There has never, to my knowledge, been a mission to save Wilma Derring that has not turned into a clusterfuck in short order. Wilma grabs a funky hat, tight skirt and sequined bra and begins her escape.

Yes, the tall blonde blue eyed Caucasian woman loses the ornate robes she was wearing, bares as much skin as possible and tries to sneak out of the Han City. This alone puts her chutzpah far beyond Rogers and really she makes Superman with his eyeglasses her bitch.

Only it doesn't work. She boards an elevator car with the only two citizens who have their eyes open. they start screaming about a wild American being lose! Wilma found a gun somewhere (probably Han) and she busts both the snitches in the head as the car screams down to the lower levels of the city.

Buck and the others retrieve their jumping belts and make for the woods with 'Wilma'. You'd think someone would yank that dumb hood off to make sure she can breathe or note that this young woman probably never completed a hike in her life and was a Han but eeehhh it's already dark out. Besides this way is more fun.

When they stop for a rest they finally discover their mistake. Buck insists on going back. Nunah and Lone Wolf had enough but Lanlu is smitten with Rogers and decides to accompany him back. For some reason Buck throws his disguise away. Maybe he figures the Han are now on the lookout for blond blue eyed citizens now?

Lanlu shows Rogers a secret entrance into the lower levels of the city as we conclude strip 49 ...

It seems that Los Angeles has done a fairly good job of keeping the Americans at bay and on the defensive. The city has few defenses and few defenders, the opposite of the beleaguered Western Orgs. Obviously the Han feel the best defense is a good offense and that has worked till now. Aside from the disintegrators they have a few small arms like the pistol Wilma found that looks like a conventional slug thrower.

I'll also note, all kidding aside, that Deering and Rogers did sneak about the city so Los Angeles at least might be more cosmopolitan. In Armageddon: 2419 some orgs did deal with the Han and it is possible the Han had Americans working for them or trading. You might expect this after several hundred years of occupation.

The ease with which the Americans scale the defenses seems to show jumping belts are a recent invention that the Airlords are not familiar with (otherwise they would use it in their airships for sure) and a significant advance they have not duplicated yet. This theme ran through Arm: 2419.

Nunah and Lone Wolf were capable characters and I would like to see more of them.