Starlord’s “Planet of the Damned” collection on its way from 2000AD

The opening strip page for "planet of the Damned" which begabnin in Starlord Issue 1, published in May 1978.

The opening strip page for “planet of the Damned” which begabnin in Starlord Issue 1, published in May 1978.

The Bermuda Triangle-inspired science fiction comic “Planet of the Damned” that channelled elements of Mad Max straight to the pages of the short-lived 2000AD companion Starlord, is to be collected next year.

Rebellion, the publishers of 2000AD are putting out a collection in March 2016, alongside “Death Planet” from 2000AD, a short serial written by Alan Hebden and drawn by Lopez which ran in 2000AD progs 62 to 70 in 1978. While notable as the first story in the comic to feature a female lead, it’s an odd tale, mixing girls comic tropes (a brave but accident prone heroine) with unsettling horror, (the death of a young girl in a fire).

Longtime "Planet of the Damned" survivor Flint saves a plane crash survivor from a face-eating critter.

Longtime “Planet of the Damned” survivor Flint saves a plane crash survivor from a face-eating critter.

Beyond the Bermuda Triangle a connection to  a world so hostile to human beings that those stranded there know it as ‘The Planet Of the Damned!’ When a Tri-Star jet crashes on this treacherous world, the survivors find themselves being relentlessly attacked by all forms native flora and fauna, including the monstrous Ab-humans. Fortunately they are discovered by Flint – another human resident stranded on this world long ago. With their axe-wielding guide in taking charge, some of the survivors may just find a way to return home alive!

“Death Planet” is set in the 23rd century. The starship Eternity sets out from Earth carrying a cargo of colonists bound for new lives on distant worlds. When the ship is knocked off course, crashing on an unknown alien planet, Commander Lorna Varn and colonist leader Richard Cory must set aside their differences and work together to keep everyone alive.

The Bermuda Triangle element of "planet of the Damned" afforded some striking story elements, such as this World War Two submarine run by a crew demanding tolls from travellers.

The Bermuda Triangle element of “planet of the Damned” afforded some striking story elements, such as this World War Two submarine run by a crew demanding tolls from travellers.

Classic 2000AD dark humour offers this cliffhanger in Starlord Issue 4.

Classic 2000AD dark humour offers this cliffhanger in Starlord Issue 4.

Hibernia Comics David McDonald notes “Plant of the Damned” took a while to get published. It was originally created for possible inclusion in the first issue of 2000AD by Pat Mills, but was dropped along with other stories like “The Visible Man” and “Shako”. While those stories were eventually used in 2000AD, when editor Kelvin Gosnell was informed by management that his new comic Starlord was the be weekly and not monthly as planned, it left a gap in material. He pulled “Planet of the Damned” from 2000AD‘s unused pile and used it in the new comic.

Credited to R.E. Wright (re-write) as author, “Planet of the Damned” is drawn by a number of different artists – Argentinian artist Horacio LaliaAlonso Azpiri (who also drew “Black Hawk” for Tornado) and Jesús Suso Peña Rego (simply credited as Pena), who also drew “Skirmish” for Starlord and “Ant Wars” for 2000AD and numerous horror comics for US publishers including some for Eerie and Skywald Publications, a 1970s publisher of black-and-white comics magazines, primarily the horror anthologies Nightmare, Psycho and Scream (not to be confused with the British weekly of the same name).

Pat Mills believes Alan Hebden wrote later episodes of this quirky tale filled with black humour moments and action sequences.

Unused art for "Planet of the Damned" by Pena

Unused art for “Planet of the Damned” by Pena

Among a number of pages from “Planet of the Damned” featured on the ComicArtFans forum is a cannibalised page of artwork by Pena from what would’ve been the title page to for Starlord Issue 8. The bottom half was trimmed off and published but the top half abandoned for an alternative scene showing Flint condemning Hackmann to the cage for plotting to leave Sanctuary.

The final opening page for Starlord Issue 8.

The final opening page for Starlord Issue 8.

“It should be a nice collection,” says David McDonald. “The story suffers a little from the constant rotation of artists on the strip, but Azpiri does put in some fantastic art on a few episodes.

Planet of the Damned and Death Planet
Paperback: 96 pages
Publisher: 2000AD Graphic Novels
On Sale: 10 March 2016
ISBN-10: 1781084130
ISBN-13: 978-1781084137

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. 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 “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.



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