Art and Stories by Ron Turner
Colour by John Ridgway
Published by John Lawrence
The Book: 40-page anthology comprising three stories featuring “Space Ace” by Ron Turner, colourised and re-mastered by John Ridgway. The title includes the first of a series of in-depth features on the history of the Space Ace character and an lively letters page.
The Review: While some purists who recall or regard the original with fondness continue to ask for the original versions of the “Space Ace” stories, as originally presented in black and white, I’m not one of them. For me, the arrival of a new issue of Space Ace from artist Ron Turner’s longtime agent and friend John Lawrence is always a delight, and this issue once again delivers an inventive re-work of the source material for a modern audience.
Of course, the purists mentioned above also, perhaps rightfully, will claim that since they are the only comic fans aware of this title, then they’re right to call for the originals. But I’d argue that if this magazine is to have any chance of breaking out of this potential “ghetto” and reach new, younger SF comic fans, then publishing in colour is the best way to do it, especially when the results are this good.
The problems of providing “original” editions can’t be ignored, either. I’m well aware from both an article in Space Ace Volume Eight and my own conversations with Commando and Dan Dare artist John Ridgway, who works tirelessly on this title, just how much work has to be done to restore the pages even before they are remastered and coloured with such consummate skill.
In this issue, John Lawrence may have pushed the re-mastering a little further than usual – re-drafting and combining three original stories (“The Fire Ship” from Lone Star Volume 3 #10, “The Fishmen of Formonda” from Lone Star Volume 3 #8 and “The Exiles” from Lone Star Volume 4 #7) into one longer story. His introduction to the issue indicates these tales were, he felt, a little lightweight compared with other Space Ace action SF tales; by merging them (and those new to Space Ace would never know it, unless he’d admitted it!), you get a much stronger story.
Aware that such interference with the originals might rankle some, it’s too his credit as an editor that John went ahead and did it, and the story – which sees Space Ace battling against the clock to stop an alien accidentally destroying the Earth! is page turner of a tale, with all the usual weird aliens and stunning visuals you’d expect from the late Ron Turner, who’s perhaps best known for his work on TV Century 21’s “The Daleks” strip.
The back up stories – “The Weed of Death” and “The Plunderers” are straight restorations of the original stories from the 1950s Lone Star magazine, full of the usual leave-you-brain-at the door SF action these wonderful stories of galaxy-spanning adventures always offer.
Both are entertaining, throwaway fun throughout – as they were when first published! Don’t expect any high concept moralising or deep thought – but do expect old-fashioned heroes saving both humanoid and alien races from many weird and wonderful bad guys.
Space Ace is just smashing fun. Once again, recommended!
• Ron Turner’s Space Ace Issue Nine costs is £8.95 UK, £12.50 for Europe and £14.50 for international orders. Copies may be obtained via PayPal (please use friends and family option) at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Otherwise cheques (UK funds only) payable to: John Lawrence, to 39 Carterweys, Dunstable, Bedfordshire, LU5 4RB
• Also on downthetubes: Our review of Space Ace Volume One | Volume Two | Volume Three | Volume Four | Volume Five | A “Sneak Peek” of Space Ace Volume Six | Review of Space Ace Volume Seven | Volume Eight | Volume Nine | Volume 10 | Volume 11 | Volume 12 | Ron Turner’s Beyond
All images © The Ron Turner Estate