Publisher: John Lawrence
Originally published by Atlas Publishing & Distributing Co. Ltd
The Title: A chance to read the much-sought after story “The Island Universe”, first published some 60 years ago – Ron Turner‘s first Space Ace story, serialised over a period of six months. The volume features a beautifully restored and coloured version of the tale pitting Space Ace against aliens who literally steal the Earth with all headings, repetetive continuity and re-cap boxes removed to present a smoothly, flowing, 24-page story, lovingly restored and re-lettered by John Ridgway.
The volume also includes the short story ” The Raiders from Space” and a further interview with the late Ron Turner, conducted by editor and agent John Lawrence.
The Review: As I’ve previously noted in my review of the first Space Ace collection, Ron Turner wasn’t the first artist to work on the space-faring hero who first appeared in Lone Star but later gained his own title in the 1950s, published by Atlas. But this stunning representation of the first Space Ace story he wrote and drew simply confirms what an impact his work must have had when it first appeared, offering a crazy but beautifully told space opera story, complete with evil aliens, outlandish ideas, more than compensated for by terrific art.
Although copies of Space Ace, and some later issues of Lone Star, are frequently turning up on ebay, copies which contain this lead story “The Island Universe” are rarer than hen’s teeth and haven’t been seen for more than 60 years. It’s clear from John’s editorial that he’s unsure how regular readers and fans of Ron’s work will react to this presentation of a longer tale in one issue but for me, it’s a great idea.
John Ridgway, as ever, has restored the tale with skill and obvious love for the original. The work that’s gone into this issue is all for the good, for both fans of Ron’s work and, hopefully, a new modern audience, who might find one of the number of plugs for the title online and give it a try.
The story’s concept – aliens stealing an entire planet – is completely bonkers (and I thought the same thing when Russell T.Davies had the Daleks steal the Earth in Doctor Who, too), but you expect to leave your brain at the door when reading many SF comics of this period. Even the science and engineering of such renowned 1950s strips as “Dan Dare” doesn’t stand up to modern scrutiny for very long. But I’m more than happy to forgive that when you’re treated to such a beautifully drawn romp, as square -jawed heroes take on all the universe can throw at them – and win.
The shorter tale in this volume – “Raiders from Space” is equally fun, and a story that you could see transferring to a Saturday morning TV show with ease, crammed with inventively-designed space ships and edge of the seat moments as Space Ace gets involved in a race against time to recover vital tech that maintain’s a satellite’s orbit.
Overall, this is another triumph behind the Space Ace restoration project and, once again, if you’re a fan of Ron Turner’s work then this latest release is a must. To further tempt you, check out some of the sample pages below, kindly provided by John Lawrence.
• Ron Turner’s Space Ace Volume 4 costs £8.95 (UK) or £14.00 (overseas) including postage and is available via PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org or cheque or postal order to John Lawrence, 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 | Space Ace Special Edition
All images © The Ron Turner Estate
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War” and “Dan Dare”.
He’s the writer of “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.