Monday, March 12, 2018

Dieselpunk Manifesto Part 12: One Morke for the Road

This review deals with strips Buck Rogers strips 110-19 found  here.

Om Ka-Zoril is about to renege on his surrender and sweetheart deal to the Americans, Back and Wilma. The two Orgzone scouts are amazed by one of those magic television systems that treats them to various views of Golden Dragon operations (theft of disintegrators, blackmail evidence on a viceroy etc.) Om stands behind them a monkey wrench in hand and is about to bash their heads in.

I doubt it would work. Number one, Om Ka-Zoril is not used to physical combat (he surrenders to Buck pretty quick.) I could probably take him. Number two, there are two of them and once he conked one the other would beat the hell out of him. Number three, they are wearing helmets so he might not even land a solid shot.

As it happens Om decides they would be more useful to him left alive and that the deal he offered is pretty good for him. He quickly hides the wrench in his robes. Buck says that running the Goden Dragons could be vital in their struggle against the Emperor. Wilma decides that Buck should take the flyer back to Niagara, to get MacGregor's final word on the deal. Sending a radio message would be to dangerous for a deal of this magnitude. Buck flies off leaving Wilma to guard Om. Wilma vows to blow him to the streets of Glory at the first wrong move.

Buck presents the deal to MacGregor who is all for it but fears bringing Om to Niagara (spies, remember?) Instead he assigns Buck a squad to garrison the old fort of the Elmira Orgzone. Buck heads back to Om's lab only to find Wilma and Om gone and traces of a gas bomb lingering.

It seemed that not long after Buck left several Golden Dragons arrived and knew something was amiss when they saw the lights on. Wilma was a little creeped out. Om was sleeping soundly. The scouts sneaked up to a window, saw Wilma lolling on a desk and threw a gas grenade through the window. They bundled the unconscious woman and Om into their ship and took off.

The Golden Dragons headed for More Ka-Lono's headquarters in the ruins of Davenport on the Mississippi River. More was expecting accolades but Om was ... ungrateful to say the least. Called More an idiot and everything while Wilma just clicked her tongue and rolled her eyes.

Meanwhile, Buck and MacGregor were going bat shit crazy over worry for Wilma. I would like to point out that Wilma Deering's degree of peril is often inversely proportionate to the amount of worrying Buck does over her. Buck sees the repellor beam marks indicating the abductors were Mongols and assumes (correctly) they were Golden Dragons once the Emperor's goons would have likely destroyed the lab.

MacGregor gets that luckless spy they'd caught in Niagara and demands answers and demonstrates that shit just got real, slapping him around and generally ignoring the stuff about treating prisoners humanely that we know everyone ignores.

The spy quickly tells  MacGregor that More Ka-Lono's headquarters is in Davenport and Buck flies off ready to fight to the last (Last Han that is) to save Wilma.

Meanwhile More and Om were inches away from a sloppy fight. Om in particular is panicked that rogers will 'smash their defenses like an eggshell.' This is not unreasonable. The man rescued Wilma from the capitol city, busted up the Emperor's 'adult' party and was involved in the destruction of at least one Mongol raider. Plus he did a number on one lab. They start a fresh round of name calling when Buck's ship is spotted.

Morke Ka- Lono is of the opinion that Rogers will not believe this all silly misunderstanding and blow them to bits without listening. Wilma poo-poos the notion and calmly calls Buck on her radio saying all is well, she's coming out and please don't level the area.

Buck hovers in his ship, suspicious while Wilma prepares to meet him.

The gas grenade used by the Mongols resembles a WW2 potato masher the Wehrmacht used (I think it was similar to the grenades the Germans used in WW1 as well.) This is the second time the Mongol s have used gas. Previously, they used a gas gun to knock out an entire section of an Org to kidnap Wilma (that lady gets kidnapped a lot).

The gas is very fast acting. Wilma is armed and ready for trouble but the 'pill' drops her before she can get off a shot. It and seems to have few side effects (Wilma has a headache but seems fine otherwise.) In fact you wonder why the Han raiders don't just drop gas bombs and round up Americans. They may do that at times for slaves or just for kicks.

We get a better look at Wilma's helmet while she is radioing Buck and you can see that there are ribs of metal or plastic running under the surface. It seems more like a bicycle helmet than a combat helmet. It has serious ear protection which makes sense as the American rocket pistols fire high explosive shells. She uses a 'radiophone' to contact Buck which is about the size and shape of a hockey puck. there might be some sort of wireless set up where she speaks into the puck but gets transmissions through ear phones. I guess Philip Nowlan missed out on throat mics but considering the things he did predict I can't fault him.

I'll also note that since earphones and a throat mic would still have to be linked to a communications device anyway she might have had a throat mic but was being theatrical for her 'captors'. Wilma does that.

The topdown view of the rocket that Buck's been using is interesting. The seams are all riveted, not welded and this may indicate the outer hull is inertron. In the original novel inertron was used on outer hulls because it could withstand disintegrators. Being opaque to all forms of radiation you couldn't wed the stuff. It had to be riveted. This doesn't seem to be the case in the comic strips. Disintegrators cause horrific damage to rockets in at least one later strip. Plating the outer hull with the stuff might have just been done to retrofit inertron to the rocket and increase its lift.

Inertron in the books and comics behaves differently from negative matter. It is stated in the books that inertron not only makes you effectively lighter in weight (not mass) but slows your fall somewhat. You may slam into a wall and knock yourself senseless but then you sort of float to the floor (like a cartoon character). It is also stated that a standard belt reduces your weight to a few pounds so air resistant or buoyancy can't account for it. I assume that while the inertron's major force is directed at the Earth it also will repeal any nearby matter and cushion a collision or fall somewhat. It must be weird to wear such a device, the inertron in it will repel you and strain on the straps holding it to you.