Art and Stories by Ron Turner
Colour by John Ridgway
Published by John Lawrence
The Book: 44-page anthology (extra pages this issue) comprising three stories featuring “Space Ace” by Ron Turner, colourised and re-mastered by John Ridgway. The title includes the second in-depth feature on the history of the Space Ace character and a lively letters page.
The Review: Leave your brain at the door and engage your full space opera goggles – Space Ace is back. This tenth issue collecting Ron Turner’s action adventure space patrol stories – the kind of tales that might, perhaps, like “Dan Dare” and “Rick Random”, have inspired TV shows like Fireball XL5 – is another visual treat from publisher John Lawrence.
This issue comprises four stories – “Looters of Loomar” (and no, those aren’t Daleks in the story, although you could be forgiven for thinking that from the cover), ” Menace from Minos”, “Space Ace and the Asteroid” and “Race with Death” – all of them great fun.
It should be noted that “Looters of Loomar“, in particular, is a very different version of the story to that direct printed in black and white in Lone Star, back in 1958. Quite aside from John Ridgway’s new – and stunning restoration and colour work, this version deftly merges “Looter of Loomar” with another Space Ace tale, “The Acid Test”, a cracking yarn in which Space Ace and partner Sergeant Bill Craig take on a bunch of space pirates.
I’m well aware that there are many out there who would like to see the original versions of these stories, in black and white, “warts and all”, but as someone with no experience of Space Ace other than via these wonderful collections I’m more than happy to see these “modern” takes on Ron Turner’s stunning work. In his article in the issue about the history of the character, John Lawrence, who was Ron’s agent, admits he was wary of the idea of colouring the Space Ace stories when it was suggested by Rod Barzilay, then editor of Spaceship Away. John’s samples at the time put his mind at ease and since then the project has, in my view, gone from strength to strength.
“Space Ace and the Menace from Minos” plays to the series regular themes – two alien races, one more technologically advanced than the other, at loggerheads. Space Ace and Bill take attacking a space ship to shutting down a powerful drill and preventing a submarine attack in their stride, the aliens little more than foot notes to the story. The technology, however, is beautifully realised, particularly the Minosian submarine. It’s a wonder there wasn’t a toy range associated with this comic, to be honest.
“Space Ace and the Asteroid” combines action adventure with ancient alien secrets, when Space Ace encounters a race long trapped in suspended animation while dealing with another alien race capable of knocking out an entire planet with gas while looking for a generator that can stimulate growth on their barren home world. (The “nerve gas” aspect of the story is utterly bonkers, of course, but we’re not here to assign Space Ace any semblance of high tech, logical SF, just enjoy the fun!).
“Race with Death” is classic Ron Turner, in which a stranded, sabotage exploration ship is trapped on a planet whose sun is about to go supernova. Space Ace and Bill have to save the day, and as raders we can sit back and enjoy the scenery, particularly Ron Turner’s amazing machines.
With a feature delving into the history of Ron’s “Nick Hazard” strip and how his demise led to the publication of Space Ace, this is another great issue of this smashing title. As with Spaceship Away, the cover price reflects the low print run, pushing up the unit price, but if you’re a fan of old fashioned but fantastical space opera, this is right up your space lane.
• Ron Turner’s Space Ace Issue 10 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 | Space Ace Special Edition
All images © The Ron Turner Estate