Monday, March 5, 2018

Dieselpunk Manifesto Part 11: The Resistance of Om (Ka-Zoril)!

This review deals with strips Buck Rogers strips 100-109 found  here.

Buck's prisoner tells a weird tale of two Han spies, Morke-Ka-Lono and Om Ka-Zoril who devised a way to destroy Niagara. They would build two ray generators a thousand miles apart. When they crossed the rays over Niagara it would result in a tremendous explosion destroying the city!

The scientists were the leaders of the Golden Dragons, a society of revolutionaries out to discredit the Emperor, depose him and bring in a democracy (backed up with disintegrator ray projectors no doubt). They figure the quickest way to do that is to succeed where the Emperor failed by destroying Niagara. Their captive spy was placed in the city to calibrate the beams to make sure they were properly focussed.

I don't know. I'd have risked a shot at full power. Worse that happens is you have your spy calibrate the beam. If it works the first time you have obliterated Niagara at the cost of a single spy (dirty trick to pull on the spy though). Maybe they did do that 'test' at full power and it flopped and they had to make adjustments. There is far more work to infernal devices than the layman supposes.

Through further interrogation and hypnosis they learn the location of one machine in the Cumberland Mountains. Buck volunteers to destroy the projector and with Wilma leaves in 'the latest type of observation ship!

Unlike the 'bonny crate' this baby boasts an enclosed cabin. Like many Niagara rockets it is armed to the teeth: a pintle mount rocket gun, nose gun and four smaller swivel mount weapons. Two bombs or missiles are mounted on the sides. I really don't know how two people could operate all them weapons. It seems to have a porthole on its belly for ground observation or bombing runs, and several other devices and protrusions that might be sensors. The fuselage has huge windows and short stubby wings are set on the nose.

Something that might have shocked people of the day, Wilma is apparently the pilot while Rogers operates the electronics in the rear. In the background we see some torpedo shaped ground vehicles driving up a ramp (Rocketcar Patrol?).

Reaching the site Rogers jumps down from high altitude while Wilma stays aboard to circle. this seems a little odd when you remember the biplanes the Pennsylvania Org used had remote controls and could circle and drop lines to allow extraction. Then again Wilma might have been staying to blast whatever troubled Rogers.

Rogers lands without trouble but then is sniped by a guard with a disintegrator. In a bit of continuity error the weapon seems to discharge a lightning bolt that whizzes over his head! Disintegrators were shown to be invisible previously. Maybe the ray was a different type. In any case a sniper with an invisible weapon beam would be way harder to spot (there's that Rogers luck again!) Buck uses his shirt on a stick to draw fire and drop the sniper who dies off panel. Buck's shirt is disintegrated and we see that wife beater tees are apparently still worn five (sorry four) hundred years from now.

Om Ka-Zoril's lab, detectors go off registering a heroic intruder. Om turns out the guards! Rogers is faced with a small horde of guards with disintegrator rifles. He manages to keep his distance using his jump belt and blasts the guards with his rocket pistols (he comes up with another one from Idunnowhere). The Han have the disadvantage of charging through a single opening. It's really a case of playing Whack-a-Mole wit a lot of moles, one hole and high explosives. 

Following the mass slaughter of minions, Rogers enters the lair of the brilliant Morke who brilliantly surrenders (the tribesman did just wipe out a squad of guards after all.) This is despite some initial threats of blasting Rogers with the giant beam itself, and Rogers discovering both pistols were empty and preparing to just kick Om's ass. Wilma lands and quickly sends the giant beam projector back to the drawing board using the pintle mount rocket gun. They bring Om back into his lab where the scientist is in tears over the destruction of the projector which he characterizes as the work of a lifetime while Wilma gently chides him "But it was wrong to foment war against the Emperor and the Orgzones."

Om bounces back quickly though (I think he might be bi-polar) and insists he has a great idea.

The scientist admits the plan of the Golden Dragons was to start a war between the Emperor and the Orgzones, take advantage of the confusion, and seize power. There's no word on how the Dragons would have dealt with the Americans after that. Morke quantifies his idea, the plan was to have the Emperor kept so busy with American raids and attacks that he wouldn't notice the Golden Dragons moving against them.

Now he suggests the Americans could work with the Golden Dragons. When Buck and Wilma demur as authorizing such an alliance is beyond their pay grades Morke offers to make them the supreme leaders of the Dragons!

The map Morke has shows that the 'Mongol Domination' Reaches roughly to the Mississippi River. Niagara seems to rule over Canada. The area beyond the Mississippi is labeled Protective Influence. Presumably the American Orgzones receive aid and protection from Niagara. I note that there are pockets of resistance in the Domination that are nor shown, such as the Navajo Orgzone and the Outlaw Gang. There's an unlabeled area of vertical stripes that might be a contested area over Pennsylvania and SW New York. This is odd since it was stated the Han built a new city over New York (Nu Yok). Maybe Nu Yok was besieged or not in control of its region (to paraphrase Humphrey Bogart, "There are parts of New York City I advise the Mongols not to invade.")

The Observation Ship

The observation ship has a console for the observer that extends upward into the pintle gun mount. It could be that the pintle could accept a variety of different devices and weapons to customize the ship for various missions. The pintle mounted gun seems a little specific. Why have a gun designed for use while landed as a standard feature? I also note that the bombs are missing in this panel. In later strips we are introduced to telev-eyes remote drones used for scouting and perhaps the observation ship's bombs were actually remote drones that Wilma had circling to keep an eye out for more Golden Dragons. Or they could just be bombs that the Americans placed in the projector to add to the 'WHAM"

The rocket weapons of the Americans seem to be creeping up in terms of power as strips progress. In fact you wonder how a soldier with a rocket pistol would deal with a guy next to him who has a knife. Shooting him would be counter productive to say the least. Buck uses two pistols going in and perhaps one was loaded with non-explosive shells.

In any case between Morke's map, the new Rocketships, the power the American weapons display, and the might of Niagara, you wonder how long before the Han will have to draw new maps.