Saturday, 26 March 2011

Rick Random: First Detective Of The Space Age



RICK RANDOM
‘CRIME RIDES THE SPACEWAYS’

Now – for the first time, the full,
complex, and fascinating history of
‘RICK RANDOM: FIRST
DETECTIVE OF THE SPACE AGE’...


‘A STORY FROM THE CASE BOOK OF
RICK RANDOM: SPACE DETECTIVE’
“In the centuries following the discovery of space
travel, many worlds were colonised… some
of them with very strange results…”
(‘Rick Random And The
Mystery Of The Robot World’)

It opens in September 2167 with the headstone of ‘stateless female’ Anna Martin, in the Vienna Municipal cemetery. It climaxes on a recently discovered ‘island in space’ midway between Earth and Venus where the vegetation of Logo – perambulating trees and giant absorbent puff-balls, take their ‘uncanny revenge’ on a lost spaceship of human interlopers. Rick Random himself doesn’t appear until page ten. This is ‘Crime Rides The Spaceways’, the first of twenty-six futuristic Rick Random escapades which happen between September 1954 and December 1959 within the pocket-size pages of the ‘Super Detective Library’

At face value all this sounds rather an odd miss-matching of genres. But in fact Rick – ‘First Detective of the Space Age’, is not as unique a phenomenon as he at first appears. The Space-Detective has been a part of the Science Fiction canon since its inception – after all, both fictions are supposedly based in the similar principles of analysis, logic and reason. And all of the fictional Space Heroes who determined forever the shape of our dreams, have at one time or another come up against the law-enforcement problems of interplanetary piracy and crooked high-tech master-minds intent on cosmic criminality. Deviant social behaviour is a problem that all societies, past, present – or future, must defend themselves against. Hence scientific innovation, reasoned methodology, and logical ingenuity must be utilised as weapons in that on-going conflict. Arthur Conan-Doyle, creator of the first problem-solving scientific Detective – Sherlock Holmes, wrote his share of science-based fantasy. He is also known to have taken elements of Holme’s character from a yet earlier SF-dabbler, Edgar Allen Poe.

Later, during the Pulp-magazine years of the 1920’s and 1930’s there were themed fiction magazines published catering to every taste, from Jungle Stories to Westerns, Love-Stories to Fantasy, Horror to Modern War. Plus genre cross-over’s of the ‘Ranch-House Romance’ variety which became an obvious market-maximising ploy. Hugo Gernsback – of ‘Amazing Stories’ fame, even launched a short-lived ‘Scientific Detective Monthly’ specifically to cater for this style-fusion, although it only survived ten issues spaced from January to October 1930. Rick Random’s own ‘Gold-Rush Planet’ story advances the process by extending his space-detection remit with elements of Western lore. The planet Arizon (Arizona?), one-tenth the size of Earth, is encircled by a deep canyon in which boom-town Tombstone is located. Gangster brothers Ed and Cal Rankin own sole rights to the world where miners and prospectors shoot-out their differences in gambling saloons ‘like the old-time pioneers in the Wild West’. And they jump claims for gold, not fissionable SF-materials such as uranium.

Yet those original 1920’s pulp genre-combinations were especially inviting considering that the same over-worked and under-paid hacks were probably churning out tales for a variety of demographics anyway, with styles and pre-occupations tending to overlap. Later mainstream SF writers were influenced by innovations in crime fiction – particularly the hard-boiled narrative style of Raymond Chandler’s knightly, if world-weary, private eye ‘Philip Marlowe’, or Dashiel Hammett’s ‘Maltese Falcon’, in a process that was bound to operate in both directions. John Dickson Carr, primarily known for his crime fiction, also wrote time-travel mysteries. While Isaac Asimov is as well-known within crime-fiction readership for his ‘Tales of the Black Widowers’ as he is within SF for his ‘Foundation and Empire’ Space Operas. Not forgetting that his ‘The Naked Sun’ (1957) works as both a classic crime detection mystery and a highly-rated SF novel. Nevertheless, there are fundamental differences too. Detective fiction, although capable of opening up moral and social equations as well as probing into the unpleasant existential conundrums of life and meaning, is essentially concerned with answers, with closures, with the precise results of procedural investigation. While, at its best, SF is more concerned with posing enigmas that aren’t necessarily capable of answers, more concerned with unmapped infinities of space and inconceivable eternities of time.

By Rick Random’s time, as well as conventional crime-fighters, it seemed obligatory that all publications aimed at a juvenile readership had to have its space hero too. Posing the question, does Rick operate best as an example of crime fiction, or science fiction? That’s a balance he uneasily maintains throughout a career successful enough to warrant a splurge of reprint editions at the end of the 1960’s, and again in the late-1970’s resulting in a one-off re-launch serial run in the prestigious pages of the ground-breaking ‘2000AD’ where Judge Dredd was also combating future-crime in his own uniquely vicious, totalitarian way. Even more recently, ten classic Rick Random tales were bound into a single 2008 reprint edition that enjoyed a satisfying visibility.

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John Lawrence, the late Ron Turner’s long-time agent, comments that ‘it’s known that Conrad Frost kicked the whole (Rich Random) thing off under Edward ‘Ted’ Holmes guidance in 1954, and Harry Harrison closed the series around 1960’. Rick operates as part of the Interplanetary Bureau of Investigation. Initially – in his first densely-plotted case-book ‘Crime Rides The Spaceways’ (Super Detective Library no.37) he betrays few pronounced character-traits beyond those suggested by Bill Lacey’s imaginative art. Particularly impressive is the full-page panel in which he interrogates Isabella Mancini in her romantically lush flowing gown with its peaked shoulder-pads, and her elaborately braided hair. To devotees of crime-fiction the story-structure is the familiar ‘Ten Little Indians’ one – an isolated community in jeopardy from a serial murderer. One of the specially invited guests is a killer – but which one? Only now, instead of happening in a remote castle or Country House, it occurs aboard a Venus-bound spaceship. Each suspect tells their tale in turn, there are false leads, and gruesome deaths, with a Science Fiction twist in the dénouement when the killer, avenging those he blames for his daughter’s death, is himself devoured by alien monsters. A satisfying debut, complex, wordy, and literate by the standards of today’s graphic-novel equivalents.

But if it proved to be an adequate introduction to the new space hero, the second volume – ‘Kidnappers From Space’ (no.44), is a full-frontal assault, drafting in Ron Turner for his first comic-book assignment. The results are spectacular, with some fantastic planetary landscapes, ornate architecture, and alien fauna including the lizard-like ‘four-winged Garron’, flying horses, and a tentacular marsh-serpent which devours Damon – ‘the first great international criminal of the space age’. With a plot built around the kidnapping of Peter, young son of Jon Bryant ‘the richest man in the solar system’, the action happens against the background of escalation towards a planetary war against Urdana, a war that Random manages to avert by assisting in ‘regime-change’ on the world even as it stands on the brink of nuclear annihilation at the hands of the robot solar fleet. It’s a hard-SF premise, uneasily balanced by the more fantasy-medievalism of Princess Dana’s arranged marriage, and her ‘Moses-basket’ discovery of the infant Peter which answers her Sun God prophecy. But this is 1954, with Flash Gordon – as well as Dan Dare, setting the strip-SF agenda…

Yet for the astronomy-literate, Rick Random could be confusingly inconsistent. In the same way that Logo – the wordlet he visits in ‘Crime Rides The Spaceways’s, Urdana – the wonder-planet of ‘Kidnappers From Space’, appears to exist within the solar system. While Narm, from the third tale, is ‘an unknown planet far beyond the orbit of the most distant one known at present’. And to reach Garganta – ‘The Planet Of Lost Men’, Rick simply passes beyond the asteroid-belt, and a week later, there it is! This obviously contradicts the fact that back in the 1950’s the solar system was known to consist of just nine planets, even though more recently we’ve grown used to the idea of dwarf trans-Plutonian objects on the outer rim of the known worlds.

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Earlier still, the first two editions of the ‘Super Detective Library’ had appeared on newsstands and newsagent’s counters in that long-ago and far-away world of April 1953. They arrived from the Amalgamated Press modestly priced at just eight (pre-decimal) pence each, in a small pocket-book format issued on the first Thursday of each month, announcing themselves as complete stories ‘Told in Pictures’. Hardly a unique format, for there were any number of other similar picture-libraries featuring Western Heroes, War Adventures, the lives of Pop or Movie Stars, ‘Love-Stories In Pictures’, or just ‘Thriller Picture Library’ editions. Under the editorial direction of Edward Holmes, ‘Super Detective Library no.1’ reprints a poorly-drawn American newspaper strip-tale illustrating Leslie Charteris’ TV-sleuth ‘The Saint’ solving ‘The Case of the Contraband People’. Soon there would be others featuring Bulldog Drummond, Graham Greene’s ‘The Return of the Third Man’ – billed as ‘more adventures of Harry Lime, the film character made famous by Orson Welles’, plus visual adaptations of Edgar Wallace, Sax Rohmer (Fu Manchu), radio-tec ‘Dick Barton’, and SF writer Fredric Brown (‘The Phantom of the Fun-Fair’), even the great Sherlock Holmes himself (‘The Red-Headed League’). But a Sci-Fi content was present from as early as no.5 – ‘The Great Flying Saucer Mystery’, oddly featuring a return of ‘The Saint’, followed by no.14 – ‘Rod Collins: Special Agent In Space’ facing ‘The Men From The Stars’. But once Rick Random arrived, as comics’ historian David Ashford recalls, ‘all such stories would be Rick Random issues… and, as good as it was, his first issue gave little indication of the wonders that were to come…’

Rick Random is seldom less than a mature and tightly-plotted creation. Space Heroes aimed at the juvenile market generally do not smoke and aren’t allowed girlfriends, but Detectives do... well, Flash Gordon is allowed a girlfriend in the lithe form of Dale Arden, and while Dan Dare’s relationship with Prof Jocelyn Peabody (or with Digby for that matter!) remains relentlessly celibate, he does manage to smoke an occasionally avuncular pipe. But Rick Random is prime-time crime, so such sophistication is admissible. So he smokes. He drinks whisky, and an occasional ‘Jupiter Julep’. And he has girlfriends. Admittedly, the romantic distractions of alien Queens falling in love with him could slow the plot for thrill-hungry juveniles. Doubly so in ‘Secret Of The Ocean Planet’ where the devious Milda – a beautiful woman ‘whose thin lips betrayed her cruel nature’ tells Rick ‘one day I shall be Queen of Coralus. I should like you to be my King’, while Rick’s feisty companion Elsie has been abducted by the evil Bestina who, in the classic rape-metaphor, threatens to marry her. But such considerations aside, as ‘Top Trouble-Shooter For The Interplanetary Bureau Of Investigations (the IBI)’ under chairman John Regan and foppishly bearded Marius Fisher, often in conjunction with girlfriends such as Detective Superintendent Andi Andrews, Rick Random solves a succession of crimes located in cosmic setting.

Among the creatives behind the editions were writers Adrian Vincent, Dick Wise, Barry Coker, and Canadian journalist and broadcaster Bob Kesten. Harry Harrison wrote for the ongoing ‘Flash Gordon’ serials, but his greatest contribution to UK comics comes through his inspired scripts for ‘Rick Random’. Credits are fiercely contested, but at least five Random tales are authenticated as operating from his original scripts. Among the titles positively identified are ‘S.O.S From Space’ (no.115) with Random and Myla on planet Qont, involved with its horned rebels riding eight-legged ‘Weltas’, perfectly imaged by Turner. Another is ‘Rick Random And The Space Pirates’ (no.127), essentially a crime mystery set on the isolated ‘Queen of Space’ speeding towards the star Merak II with a vitally important cargo of iridium – and four suspects. Its trail of false clues and unexpected plot twists makes it another detection tale of classic construction shoved out into a galactic setting. But – in Harrison’s ‘Rick Random’s Perilous Mission’ (No.129), he also visits the ‘inner space’ of a Pacific Oceanic Food Farm. In a taut mystery thriller, Random infiltrates the sub-aquatic workforce to uncover a murdering saboteur. The frames are decorated with typically Ron Turneresque architectural statuary, while the plot involves a malevolently nasty ‘Virus-DD’ and some inventive technology, as when, ‘like the flying fish it was named after, the powerful rocket-sub hurled itself up out of the sea... the wings snapped into place, and like an immense arrow the ship sped towards the southern waters’. But my favourite Harrison-penned Random is ‘The Terror From Space’ (No.143) in which the long-range exploration ship ‘North Star’ returns to Earth after ‘a fantastic five-year journey, spanning the vast distances of outer space’, during which its crew has been replaced by shape-shifting Kreggari. Once on Earth the aliens quickly gain control by replicating the appearance of World Leaders. To combat this ‘unseen invasion’ Random recruits a resistance group, which gravitates to the forgotten stronghold of Gibraltar, a ‘giant stone fortress’ still occupied by its curator Sergeant Jones, who’s been left there to care-take its antique arsenal. Fortunately this includes Labs in which the rebels discover the true molecular identity of the Kreggari, and a conveniently useful atomic submarine which they then use to re-take London from the alien nasties. It’s powerful stuff indeed. But there’s also ‘The Mystery Of The Time Travellers’, an audaciously stunning wide-screen blockbuster epic in pocket-library form, a narrative sweep across thousands of years of history, then a million years into an unimaginably desolate future of ruined devolving cities, taking in temporal conundrums – or ‘time-faults’ that a Robert Silverberg novel (‘Up The Line’) or Isaac Asimov (‘The End Of Eternity’) would consider itself smart to include, conjecturing an alternate history of Napoleon with ‘aircraft and nuclear fission’. In addition, there’s the treacherous attack by Venus on its supposed Earth-ally in the 2585 Martian war, the complete destruction of Pluto as a terrible warning of the ‘ultimate weapon’, battles between space armadas 10,000-miles beyond the moon, and tripod alien ships descending into devastated Earth cities. All rendered in Turner’s intricately detailed art at its most visionary. Elsewhere, in other media, SF academic Kenneth F Slater acknowledges its power while concurrently reviewing Capt WE Johns’ juvenile SF hardback ‘The Edge Of Beyond’, in which he observes – ‘I fear that to try to convert a ‘Rick Random’ enthusiast with such a pedestrian work as this would be an impossible task’ (‘Nebula no.34’ – Sept 1958).

Harrison’s scripts, matched to Ron Turner’s artwork, form a formidable combination. Turner was always an intensely private man who never sought acclaim or the recognition his work so richly deserved. Nevertheless, his art is now highly regarded, collected, and valued among the very finest of its time. Born in Norwich in 1922, he grew up in Romford, Essex, showing an early enthusiasm for both science and art, fusing the two with inspiration from HG Wells, Jules Verne and ER Burroughs. Leaving school at fourteen he commenced as a trainee artist at Odhams London Studios. It was while contributing to their pioneering boy’s magazine ‘Modern Wonder’ as early as 1939 that he was impressed and influenced by Alex Raymond’s graphic work for ‘Flash Gordon’, which was reprinted on the title’s glossy back page. He returned to Odhams after war service – invalided out after being wounded at Cassino in the Northern Italy campaigns. Newly enthused by Chesley Bonestell’s beautifully detailed planetary landscapes included in ‘The Conquest Of Space’ (1952), he began freelancing for paperback publisher ‘Scion’ where he was able to turn out some dramatic, highly impressive, and imaginatively designed colour-work for the likes of John Russell Fearn, EC Tubb and ‘Vargo Statten’ novels. He also established new standards of visual SF literacy for ‘Space Ace’ – first in ‘Lone Star’ then Ace’s own eponymous title, in tandem with his highly-regarded work for ‘Rick Random’. His detailed visualisation of King Leo’s ostentatious lunar-palace for ‘The Man Who Owned The Moon’ transcends the requirements of mere picture-stripology into the realm of obsessional fine-art. In the story, Leo Clayton’s con-man father buys junk-concessions to lunar mineral rights before the first moon landing, so that when tritineum-mining operations yield immense wealth his son inherits it all. Rick is brought in to track down the granddaughter of John Adler who, in an oversight, was granted a quarter of the original shares. The full-page frames of King Leo’s extravagant cityscape and banqueting hall, with statuary and visionary architectural detail are among the finest ever to grace the comics multiverse, in small tight explosions of exactitude.

John Lawrence tells me that ‘one of my interests involves reading scripts in conjunction with the finished art and discovering just how much embellishment the artist has provided. In Ron Turner’s case it was sometimes considerable. An average story could be artistically transformed, necessitating considerable narrative or dialogue changes, though without affecting the storyline one jot.’ And each small page is an incredible compression of detail, text, dialogue and character, with the art not so much reduced as straining, expanding against the imposed space-restrictions of the format. Ron Turner later graduated into illustrating the Dr Who spin-off ‘Daleks’ strip, a couple of pocket library ‘Jet-Ace Logan’ editions, and continued working in mainstream comics into the 1970’s with ‘Judge Dredd’.
Meanwhile, there was Rick Random…

‘AND NOW, SPACERS… SOMETHING
A LITTLE SPECIAL FOR YOU!’
Dan Dare introduces ‘Rick Random &
The Time Travellers’
(‘DAN DARE ANNUAL 1979’)

Across the arc of stories, through various hands, Random’s future-history is sketched out in accumulating detail. 2035 marks the Jubilee of the first-ever spaceflight – in the ‘Starflight’, followed by ‘Omega’, the first spacer to orbit the Moon. Thus neatly prefiguring not only Neil Armstrong, but Yuri Gagarin too! Since cosmic bombardment ended World War III – the last great Earth-war ‘back in the 1970’s’, peace between worlds had been maintained through the Interplanetary Board of the World Federation of Powers, founded by its ‘Prime Minister’ Dr Marius Fisher, this ‘Parliament of the Universe’ includes delegates from Venus, Mars and Pluto. There’s also a President of Jupiter, presumably a federation of Jupiter’s moons? On occasions there seems to be some point of contention between the writer, who sees Martians and Venusians as the descendents of Earth colonists, and the artist who portrays them as bizarre aliens. Rick, a member of the Board. had done space-training as a cadet at Lunaport. When he leaves Earth for various points within, and beyond the solar system, he does so from the Interplanetary Space-drome located ‘deep in the Australian interior’ (the ‘largest space-port in the galaxy’ according to ‘The Mystery Of The Frozen World’). As in the CS Lewis space-trilogy the people of the universe ‘talk’ with their thoughts, and ‘hear’ what other people are thinking. ‘Thus there are no language barriers’. All the worlds, that is, apart from Earth, CS Lewis’ ‘Silent Planet’.

Following the eventual demise of ‘Super Detective Library’ the Random tales were seldom left to languish unread. They were frequently reprinted in a variety of formats, including ‘The Terror From Space’ in the ‘Buster Annual 1963’, ‘ ...Perilous Mission’ retitled ‘Red Q Emergency’ for the ‘Space Picture Library Holiday Special 1981’ and ‘SOS From Space’ as part of the ‘2000AD Summer Special 1978’, where Rick was not only joined by a similarly resuscitated Dan Dare, but achieved a minor reincarnation himself when Ron Turner was brought in to ink a newly created Random strip – ‘Riddle Of The Astral Assassin’ serialised through ‘2000AD’ Progs 113-118 (19 May - 23 June 1979). And into the new century, Steve Holland compiled a high-profile anthology of Rick Random tales, selecting ten of the finest titles into chunky form to grace the displays at Borders and Waterstones…

Yet Rick Random was essentially a comic-book hero of the 1950’s. His future – and the role of space travel in that future, was a powerful pre-occupation of its time. His readers were cathode-ray kids – even if there were only two TV-channels to switch between, growing up in what seemed a supersonic, space-race world of head-spinning change and progress. An escapist elevation blasting them free of the grindingly dull post-war drabness, but ignited by the spectacular developments in rocketry and atomic power that had brought that war to an end. Excited at the sheer speed of its trajectory – but sometimes a little disturbed by what they feared might lie in wait around the time-bend – nuclear armageddon, alien invasion, homicidal robots? With such eventualities in prospect, they needed to know there would also be forces for justice out there, to see all that shiny new technology put into perspective on the side of virtue. That was a role Rick Random was more than qualified to fulfil.

THE FULL ‘RICK RANDOM’ STRIPOGRAPHY

‘CRIME RIDES THE SPACEWAYS’ (64 pages) Script: Conrad Frost. Art: Bill Lacey. ‘SUPER DETECTIVE LIBRARY’ no.37, September 1954 (9d) reprinted as ‘KILLER IN SPACE’ in ‘DAN DARE ANNUAL 1980’. Random solves the ‘Black Glove Murders’ committed by Otto Mayer, Anna Martin’s father, aboard the ‘Stellar’, chartered for a flight to Venus. Biog: Random and Capt Lance Vane were once ‘buddies in the Cosmic War’. Trivia: Bill Lacey also provides art-work for the ‘Bulldog Drummond’ and ‘John Steel: Special Agent’ editions of SDL, as well as no.14 ‘Rod Collins – Special Agent In Space: The Men From The Stars’.

‘KIDNAPPERS FROM SPACE’ (64 pages) Art: Ron Turner. ‘SUPER DETECTIVE LIBRARY’ no.44’, December 1954. Reprinted as ‘Kidnappers From Mars’ as ‘BUSTER ADVENTURE LIBRARY no.31’ (Oct 1967), and as ‘DAIR AVALON: THE VORTEX’ in ‘SPACE PICTURE LIBRARY HOLIDAY SPECIAL’ (1980). Trivia: confusingly the ‘Buster’ reprint uses the cover-illustration from SDL no.129 – ‘Rick Random’s Perilous Mission’. Connections: The ‘Space Tide’ – the ‘great current travelling through the solar system and out into the universe’ is described as a Vortex ‘similar in nature’ to the Sargasso Sea, just as in the later Dan Dare epic ‘REIGN OF THE ROBOTS’ (episodes in ‘Eagle’ 6th Sept to 27th Sept 1957) ‘a ghostly armada of lost ships’ is also referred to as ‘The Sargasso Sea of Space’. However, both of them are preceded by a text-story ‘THE SARGASSO OF SPACE’ by Edmond Hamilton in ‘Astounding Stories’ magazine dated September 1931.

‘THE RIDDLE OF THE VANISHED SPACEMEN’ (64 pages) Art: Lacey. ‘SUPER DETECTIVE LIBRARY’ no 48, February 1955. Reprinted as ‘THE DEMON PLANET’ as ‘BUSTER ADVENTURE LIBRARY no.33’ (Nov 1967). A slow, leisurely-paced tale with more exposition than action. Limana, an Andean space-station, vanishes, along with a local Indian tribe. Twenty years later researcher John Grant disappears on a secret flight to an unconfirmed planet, Narm. Rick, along with humorously laddish pilot Ken, top-boffin Luigi Fratensi, and Grant’s girlfriend Lana, follow in the ‘Dauntless’ to find huge Easter Island-alike statues on Narm. Trivia: ‘Ruthless, maniacal scientist’ Otto Dedekind uses a combination of hypnotism and drugs to control the stolen Indians on Narm, which is one of the great 1950’s Cold War preoccupations, brain-washing, thought-control, mesmerism.

‘THE CASE OF THE MAN WHO OWNED THE MOON’ (64 pages) Art: Turner. ‘SUPER DETECTIVE LIBRARY’ no.49, March 1955. Reprinted as ‘THE EMPEROR OF THE MOON’ as ‘BUSTER ADVENTURE LIBRARY no.35’ (Dec 1967) After his two-year Narm voyage Rick is summoned by the ‘Emperor of the Moon’, in an immensely detailed case with overlapping stories-within-stories. Helmar Vokk – Leo’s mad boffin, uses a hypnotic-chair to mess with Rick’s memories. Acting on his implanted instructions Rick tracks Bella Adler, who teaches literature at the Lusian Secondary School in Venusburg. In the final struggle, instead of Bella, it’s the devious pair who are fed to King Leo 2’s Drosera carnivorous plants, tended by his mute African slaves. Tech-Spec: Rick first uses the huge clunky visi-phones he will use in many subsequent tales. Soundbite: ‘There’s nothing stupid about a document which will make you probably the richest heiress in the universe’ – Rick to Bella

‘THE CASE OF THE SPACE BUBBLE’ (64 pages) Cover Art: Turner Inner Art: Oliver Passingham. ‘SUPER DETECTIVE LIBRARY’ no.53, May 1955. Queen Nydia arrives in Oxford Street in her time-space sphere, from Gleyx – a planet with four moons, ‘far beyond the furthest distance that we have ever travelled in space’. Its time-travel capability conveniently allows Rick (in the guise of ‘Lepe Culat’ from frozen Velda) to solve the mystery of who stole her ‘Sapphire of the Universe’, but – high on dialogue, low on action, the reader must wait through court intrigue to unmask her cousin Dagon’s conspiracy.

‘FIVE LIVES OF MR QUEX’ (64 pages) Art: Ron Turner. ‘SUPER DETECTIVE LIBRARY’ no.64, September 1955. When reclusive ‘Howard Hughes’-style multi-millionaire Mr Quex’s big Astro car goes off the cliff at Morte Cove, his four estranged but identical quintuplet brothers scheme to replace him. In his vast Satellite One home he has ‘liveried servants, a Michelangelo ceiling and powdered flunkys’, allowing Turner scope for a typically lavish full-page reconstruction of Quex’s Venetian Palace ceiling. Disguised as a valet, Rick infiltrates, helped by Lucille, but which Quex is which – Adam, Benjamin, Cain, Ephraim or David? Tech-Spec: in his car ‘Rick pressed the telephoto button and a travelling spot of light recorded on sensitised paper a tele-pic of Adam Quex’ and prints it out (a ‘micro-foto-fax’ in later tales). Detail (1): Rick has a pretty young sister – Tina, married to Dr Don Frobisher (2) During the revolution – presumably after WWIII, the Royal Collection was dissolved and sold off, including Frans Hals’ ‘Laughing Cavalier’, as well as the Banqueting Hall of Old Westminster, and bought by Quex (3) ‘It is forbidden to speak different languages these days’ other than English, according to French-born Lucille

‘RICK RANDOM AND THE GOLD-RUSH PLANET’ (64 pages) Art: Turner. ‘SUPER DETECTIVE LIBRARY’ no.66, October 1955. Rick helps Jed Bailey and daughter Belle to free Arizon from the Rankins and their cronies, despite their devious schemes to hijack bullion-ships in space, and frame Rick. Trivia: the cover is featured on page twelve of ‘NOSTALGIA ABOUT COMICS’

‘RICK RANDOM AND THE MYSTERY OF THE MOVING PLANET’ (64 pages) Art: Turner. ‘SUPER DETECTIVE LIBRARY’ no.70, December 1955. Reprinted as ‘THE TENTH PLANET’ in ‘SPACE PICTURE LIBRARY HOLIDAY SPECIAL’ (1980) Wandering-world Hesperides – named after its astronomer-discover, causes disruption by entering the solar system. Rick investigates, finding an empty control-city with a lift-shaft to the furnaces at the world’s core. Mad scientist Adrios Guildholme and his hypnotist sidekick Harn Felditch, attempt to use the world and its magnetic anchoring-beams as a weapon to become ‘Dictator of the Universe’. The few peaceful telepathic Hesperides help Rick break their power, but his romance with Vian ends as the planet leaves the system again. Continuity: ‘there was a bright moon shining’ as Rick & Vian walk together. Hesperides has no moon! Trivia: First appearance of Dr Marius Fisher

‘SECRET OF THE OCEAN PLANET’ (64 pages) Art: Bill Lacey. ‘SUPER DETECTIVE LIBRARY’ no.75, March 1956. Reprinted with ‘Rick Random’ as ‘Dick Brando’ in ‘BUSTER BOOK 1962’. Britain’s Crown Jewels are lost when space-ship ‘Ledastra’ crashes into Oceanus, the ocean planet. Rick, with Elsie Higgs – who appears as ‘Merma the Underwater Girl’ in a sideshow (breathing through the ‘Delben Gill’), finds two warring aquatic species there, Prince Ceranda of the blonde Coralus, and the dark people of Mortandus. Tech-Spec: Year 2032, the small planet Phoebe is being welcomed as a member of the ‘League of Planets’. Presumably this is not Phoebe, the moon of Saturn? Soundbite: ‘What you want is a jolly good spanking, and I’ve half a mind to give you one, here and now’ Rick to Milda

‘PLANET OF LOST MEN’ (64 pages) Art: Turner. ‘SUPER DETECTIVE LIBRARY’ no.79, June 1956. In early 2026, a ‘Lost Legion’ of mining engineers are being snatched by a mysterious space-sphere. Suspecting that corrupt ‘fabulously wealthy’ Joshua Hauser is involved, Rick gets himself abducted from a moorland path, in the guise of a miner, and is taken to tiny jungle-planet Garganta where peaceful natives are using robots and dinosaurian Garganti to resist their illegal gold-mining operation (a plot not unlike 2010 movie-blockbuster ‘Avatar’!). Rick arbitrates between miners and natives against Hauser, assisted by Princess Alona and Hauser’s daughter, Jo. Tech-Spec: There are still large industrial sites with smoky mine-stacks in Cumberland! Soundbite: ‘There will always be other mysteries for me to solve. For that is my life’ Rick to Jo

‘RICK RANDOM AND THE INVADERS FROM THE OCEAN PLANET’ (64 pages) Art: Turner. Script: Robert Wise & Conrad Frost. ‘SUPER DETECTIVE LIBRARY’ no.83, July 1956. 2035, anticipating Dan Dare’s ‘Cosmobes & Pescods’ tale, this sequel to SDL no.75, has aquatic aliens using snub-nosed spaceships to infiltrate Earth’s oceans and begin melting polar ice. ‘Black Prince’ Bestina has retro-engineered the ‘Ledastra’ and plans to create another Oceanus by flooding Earth’s cities. Again, Elsie and Ceranda help save the day, then marry – in an aquarium! Tech-Spec: Rick drives a heli-car. Trivia: The Mortandans have Spock-style ‘pointy-ears’, despite which they fail to spot Rick when he infiltrates their Atlantis base.

‘RICK RANDOM’S MANHUNT THROUGH SPACE’ (64 pages) Art: Turner. Script: B Keston. ‘SUPER DETECTIVE LIBRARY’ no.90, October 1956. The lovely Marta faces execution for murdering her husband John ‘Cracker’ Crandon by the Grand Canal on Mars. Her ‘thought-probe’ clues, interpreted by ‘Charlie’ the electronic Big-Brain archive indicates her innocence. With two unlikely companions, Feleena Smark – a cat-girl empath from Procyon, and buccaneer Captain ‘Black Jack’ McLain, Rick goes to Tropicana (Alpha Centauri system), then Anteres XXI (Kost), Spica XV, Arcturus VIII & XII, Regulus II & VI, and Pollux V interviewing a weird menagerie of strange ant-people, flying ‘birdies’ and Iron-people to trace her alibi through three-eyed Sirian magician Grink Slok, and the real murderer, Dart Emery whose hypnotic memory-block is responsible. Tech-Spec: In a key plot-development, Rick travels by hyperspace drive (at 4,380x light-speed), his first use of a genuine SF pseudo-technology for his first trips to genuine other star-systems. Trivia: As an admirable example of 1950’s ethnic diversity, African scientist Dr M’Bwango invents the ‘thought-probe’, and Chinese Lee Chong is governor of the ‘Satellite-B’ escape-proof Earth-Mars prison

‘RICK RANDOM AND MYSTERY OF THE MILKY WAY’ (64 pages) Art: two-and-a-half by Ron Turner, the rest probably by Ray Theobald. Script: B Keston. ‘SUPER DETECTIVE LIBRARY’ no.91, 6th November 1956. Poor art, dull story. 2035, after nine attempts on his life rocket-designer Sir John France (inventor of the hyper-space ‘France-drive’) retreats to Shangri-La, his private asteroid (named ‘after a 20th-century novel’), where he’s murdered anyway. Minor-role suspects include the return of ‘Black Jack’ and the three-eyed Sirian ‘Altron of Trovean’. Tech-Spec: Murderer Wilda ‘Red’ North dies when she detonates artificial air-&-gravity leaving Shangri-La ‘a hunk of rock’ with air ‘too thin to support an anaemic ghost’ Trivia: in Rick Random’s solar system, Venusian skin has a slight green tinge, Jupiter ‘skull-people’ are bald, there are sabre-toothed Saturn tiger-birds, toad-faced Jupiter lions, and Venusian Dexopod elephants…!

‘THE MYSTERY OF THE TIME TRAVELLERS’ (64 pages) Art: Turner. Script: Keston. ‘SUPER DETECTIVE LIBRARY’ no.97, February 1957. Reprinted in ‘DAN DARE ANNUAL 1979’. 2036, in Science City, Dr Laus Brunoburgh’s assistant accidentally disappears in an experimental time-box, or ‘Tee-Tee’ time-transporter. Rick becomes a time-sleuth, ‘if Martin Hart had travelled through time, where was he? In the past or the future? That was going to be Rick’s greatest problem’. Calling a scientific conference, twin sisters Gerda & Erika Svensen use high-&-low frequency inputs to send Rick back-&-forth in time (including 1066), then into the 31st Century where time-travel will be better understood. Met by ‘Controller of Future Exploration’ Mordoc in a sky-ball he appeals to the Council of Seven, who authorise their ‘foremost authority on the science of time travel’ – Lorata, to help him. Hart is in 1099, where – anticipating Chaos Theory and the Butterfly Effect, his past-time tampering results in the abrupt collapse of 31st Century buildings, disintegrating intercontinental rocket-jets, Cyprus being destroyed by a Martian saucer, and 100,000 people ceasing to exist. They locate Hart, only to witness his assassination! until more time-hops avert his death, correct the time-stream, & return him home. All this AND MORE, in 64 action-packed pocket-sized pages! Tech-Spec: Following the 2955 peace accord, a string of ‘Damocles satellites’ orbit each solar system planet preventing war. Soundbite: ‘I wish I had time to see whether Nero actually did play his fiddle while his capital was in flames’ – Rick in ancient Rome

‘THE RIDDLE OF THE VANISHING PEOPLE’ (64 pages) Art: Turner. Script: Keston. ‘SUPER DETECTIVE LIBRARY’ no.101, April 1957. After hyperactive ‘Time Travellers’ a quieter reiteration of earlier themes. 2040, Rick returns to Science City to trace 85 vanishing scientists. Meets Martin Hart & Erika Svensen again. Then to Satellite B to quiz Dr M’Bwango and ‘Charlie-Big-Brain’ (from ‘Manhunt’). As Marius Fisher vanishes Rick enters the mouth of a giant Hall of Statues Damien Hirst-style granite whale in the Museum Of Modern Art (opened Tate Modern-style in 1997), and through a matter-transmitter. To discover that there has been no crime. On Rigel V the scientists are secretly grouped to discuss Dr Brunoburgh’s discovery of immortality. There is no outcome, they vote to destroy it – ‘will man ever be ready for immortality? Surely that must be for the Gods alone’, and do so. Tech-Spec: Dilinium is a Venusian metal as light and thin as rose petals and as strong as steel. Future History: The Kronkite Meteor, first spotted in 1997, was destroyed in 2029 by the Beaugrandis Projectile before its predicted devastating impact into Mars Soundbite: ‘All right Sherlock, what next?’ newcaster Nora Eldra, Rick’s companion.

‘THE MYSTERY OF THE MAN WHO PUT OUT THE SUN’ (64 pages) Art: Unknown. Script: Conrad Frost. ‘SUPER DETECTIVE LIBRARY’ no.105, June 1957. Another continuity loop, 2038, Otto Dedekind (of ‘The Vanished Spacemen’) escapes Prison Satellite X-319, and the sun begins to die. Rick goes to Venus, then to Fiera’s city in Mercury’s twilight zone to locate him and stop his solar retarder. Soundbite: ‘With only seconds to spare, Rick had averted the worst disaster in the history of the universe – the end of all things!’ (well, the end of life in the solar system maybe, but the universe – I think not!) Planet notes: Venus has umbrella-like ‘volcanic skeleton’ formations, while, common to much 1950’s SF and astronomical theory, Mercury ‘does not revolve on its axis like other planets. One face of it is in a state of continuous molten heat’

‘RICK RANDOM IN SABOTAGE FROM SPACE’ (64 pages) Cover Art: James McConnell. Inner Art: Turner. Script: Keston ‘SUPER DETECTIVE LIBRARY’ no.111, 3rd September 1957. Summer 2042, the world is afflicted by outbreaks of ‘The Madness’, individual acts of suicidal behaviour. When Marcus falls victim, but survives a helicar crash into the Oval, Dr Altha Berins uses M’Bwango’s thought-probe to find leads. ‘Operation Spooky’, Rick mobilises the ‘Big Jumbo’ computer in Science City to detect invisible ‘Alien intrusions’, then Plan C when one of the aliens allows itself to be captured. Weird pod-like teleporting alien Fralg is from doomed planet Grivti seeking help, others – the Ivras, are causing ‘The Madness’ as prelude to invasion. Rick’s fleet destroys the dust-cloud smothering Horvinto, their sun, and the burning satellite responsible. Soundbite: ‘another link had been forged in the chain of inter-galactic friendship’.

‘RICK RANDOM AND THE S.O.S. FROM SPACE’ (64 pages) Cover Art: James McConnell. Inner Art: Turner. Script: Harry Harrison. ‘SUPER DETECTIVE LIBRARY’ no.115, November 1957. Reprinted in ‘2000AD SUMMER SPECIAL 1978’. All the plot-elements of classic Golden-Age Space Opera – the bestial Ebloni slave-empire is encroaching Galactic Federation space. A mysterious UFO-capsule found by female space-pilot Brell Canto turns out to be an SOS from the Gyzmanians, a race supposedly exterminated by the Ebloni 10,000 years ago. Rick’s Spring 2042 quest is to locate the ultimate ‘Ball of Fire’ weapon in the lost Gyzma city stronghold. Tech-Spec: New alien species include a multi-limbed Octopinian, a Croc-Head, an Ovite, a Fly-Man, and Rick’s horned girl companion Myla Orst is a Qoti

‘THE PLANET OF TERROR’ (64 pages) Cover Art: McConnell. Inner Art: Turner. Script: Bob Keston. ‘SUPER DETECTIVE LIBRARY’ no.123, March 1958. Bob Ford has disappeared on peaceful, friendly newly-discovered planet Chural. Aliens from Disca are kidnapping slaves to secretly mine Ebonidium. Rick is re-joined by ‘cosmic space-dog’ Black Jack and Feleena Smark, ‘Galactic Magazine’s special correspondent from ‘Manhunt Through Space’

‘RICK RANDOM AND THE SPACE PIRATES’ (64 pages) Cover: McConnell. Inner Art: Turner. Script: Harry Harrison. ‘SUPER DETECTIVE LIBRARY’ no.127, May 1958. Opens Xmas Day 2043, a space-liner plummets into London Space-Port missing 200-people and 300-million pounds-worth of iridium, which has replaced gold as galactic basis of exchange. Other thefts threaten to bankrupt smaller planets, and upset galactic peace. Marius calls on Rick, who smuggles himself aboard the ‘Queen of Space’ taking a shipment to Merak II. Following a gas-attack and the captain’s murder, the ship diverts towards Algol, with four onboard suspects – happy-go-lucky interplanetary playboy Willy, chubby salesman Brinkton, puny alien Jal from Canopus IV, and supposedly crippled Reeves (who turns out to be disguised Rano, Interplanetary Board Member from Merak II, using his crutch to radio his pirate allies). Rick uses the crutch to alert the Space Navy who attack the Algol planet on grav-chutes, free the captured people and retrieve the iridium. Tech-Spec: Public Visi-Plates broadcast news. Trivia: a copy of ‘Galaxy’ magazine on Weary Willy’s table

‘RICK RANDOM’S PERILOUS MISSION’ (64 pages) Cover: James McConnell. Inner Art: Turner. Script: Harry Harrison. ‘SUPER DETECTIVE LIBRARY’ no.129, June 1958. Reprinted as ‘RED Q EMERGENCY’ in ‘SPACE PICTURE LIBRARY HOLIDAY SPECIAL’ (1981) alongside SDL no.35 ‘REVOLT ON VENUS’ retitled ‘THE KINGDOM OF ZON’. 2044AD, young Harvey is drowned at the Pacific Oceanic Food Farm with a cracked face-plate on his pressure-suit, but ‘fresh water’ in his lungs! Summoned by Assistant-Director Patrick Blaine, in the guise of ‘Mike Mace’ Rick investigates this latest in a string of strange events, escaping death as Herd-36 break out and streak towards the Antarctic. The bullying Bull is killed in a fall from Director Lowe’s office-tower. Although he was stunned with a sleep-gas Rick suspects Lowe, who’s daughter Joyce, was sweet on dead Harvey, to her father’s disapproval. Sabotage at the Plankton Farm using Virus-DD leads to Rick unmasking Blaine as the real villain, intent on framing and then replacing Lowe as Director. Tech-Spec: The Food Farm is breeding a new type of edible whale ‘to help provide food for the whole world’. Continuity: Red-X Emergency is top priority code in ‘Time Travellers’

‘THE MYSTERY OF THE FROZEN WORLD’ (64 pages) Cover: McConnell. Inner Art: Turner. Script: Bob Keston. ‘SUPER DETECTIVE LIBRARY’ no.133, August 1958. Spring 2043, a series of impossible bullion robberies on impregnable bank strongholds, leave only one clue, a cigarette stub of purple tobacco from Neptune. Could it be Dr Laus Brunoburgh’s matter-transmitter (from ‘Riddle Of The Vanishing People’)? Neptune is coated in ice 2,000-miles thick, has a methane atmosphere, and F400-degrees below freezing temperatures. Earth bases are located in caverns excavated two-miles below the surface, sprayed with a thin coat of transparent insulation. Assuming the identities of George & Helen Inkster, Rick & ‘Andi’ Andrews use a super-heated ground-car to reach the deep volcanic Fulton Caves where IPB Chief Accountant John Jolson has his matter-transmitter base. Later, hypno-treatment erases all memories of the escapade, because ‘mankind just isn’t ready for’ matter-transmitters – ‘yet’, says Rick. Tech-Spec: Rick & Andi use a hyper-jump to cross over two-thousand-million miles of space to reach Neptune in ‘less than two seconds’. Trivia: £10-million in gold is stolen from the vast subterranean vaults of the Interplanetary Bank – but, according to the ‘Space Pirates’ tale, iridium had replaced gold as currency! Connections: the plot forms the ‘Rick Random’ entry on page 176 of Denis Gifford’s ‘ENCYCLOPEDIA OF COMIC CHARACTERS’

‘RICK RANDOM AND THE MYSTERY OF THE ROBOT WORLD’ (64 pages) Cover: James McConnell. Inner Art: Turner. Script: Harry Harrison. ‘SUPER DETECTIVE LIBRARY’ no.137, October 1958. Trouble on Arcadia, the ‘new Garden of Eden’, a planet of a few-thousand people, but countless millions of slave-robots. Earth-ambassador Bir Hanno is arrested for the murder of ‘illustrious’ Prime Minister Perideen. His rival, Gehra leader of the ‘crackpot’ War Party, uses it as a pretext to blame Earth. Rick, with Patti Dreen of the Galactic Press, has five days to prove Hanno victim of a frame-up, before Gehra can unleash his secret weapon – 5-million small Omicron robots against Earth. Rick is arrested by Dheel, chief of police, but escapes, contacts Ana – Perideen’s widow, infiltrates a meeting of the War Party inside a 27B-robot adapted by Leeon, a sympathetic robot-engineer, and eventually matches an antique Nubiano dagger to prove Gehra the real killer. Tech-Spec: Rick’s belt is made from one long strand of Steelite, the strongest plastic ever made. Connections: Rick uses Isaac Asimov’s ‘Laws of Robotics’ – which prohibit robot violence against humans, to frustrate Gehra (‘You heard him, robot – stop him! He means to kill me!’)

‘RICK RANDOM AND THE MYSTERY OF THE KNIGHTS OF SPACE’ (64 pages) Cover Art: McConnell. Inner Art: Unknown. Script: Conrad Frost. ‘SUPER DETECTIVE LIBRARY’ no.139, November 1958. When Arthur C Clarke wrote that ‘any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic’ (in his ‘Profiles Of The Future’) he probably wasn’t thinking of Rick Random on medieval Planet 43 (Droga). King Megi holds feasts and jousting tournaments, but Earth science puts Court Wizard Mesiter’s ‘nose out of joint’, so he uses his own hypnotic abilities to kidnap Earth scientists. When they seem to vanish from spaceships leaving the world, Rick investigates. There’s also a romance between Knight Basilon & Princess Sula who Mesiter sacrifices to the Dragons in theValley of Shadi. Poor art, and a weak story – although elements of it reappear in ‘Jet-Ace Logan: Planet Of Tyranny’ in ‘Tiger’ in 1963. Tech-Spec One: UL.034 is a vital metal necessary as spaceship fuel. Tech-Spec Two: Rick uses a ‘Volapuk’ language translator

‘RICK RANDOM AND THE TERROR FROM SPACE’ (64 pages) Cover: McConnell. Inner Art: Turner. Script: Harry Harrison ‘SUPER DETECTIVE LIBRARY’ no.143, January 1959. Reprinted in ‘BUSTER ANNUAL 1963’, then as ‘BUSTER ADVENTURE LIBRARY no.27’ (August 1967). Trivia: confusingly the 1967 reprint uses the cover-art from ‘Thriller Picture Library no.426’ – ‘Jet-Ace Logan: Ten Days To Doom’. The Kreggari are genuinely sinister aliens, although they fall into the 1950’s ‘B’-movie ‘Pod People’ shape-shifter tradition, their compact story-arc reads like a full SF novel. ‘Captain Tuoro’ and his imposters take over while Rick is away capturing the Titan Smuggling Ring. ‘Marius’ declares him a traitor, but biochemist Deena Rae assists him reach a Loyalist Resistance based in southern France. They kidnap Tuoro and Dr Rae researches his true nature. Gibraltar is destroyed in a ‘tower of atomic flame’ as Jones covers their escape in an atomic sub, to surface near Waterloo Bridge, release the replaced victims, and ‘the rule of imitation men came to and end’. Turner’s images of the ‘floating jungle masses’ of aerial-islands suspended by ‘captive gas in their cells’ demonstrates his real fluency at conjecturing theoretical alien biologies – even though, despite the year 2156 setting, squaddie Sergeant Jones, Gibraltar’s caretaker, is pure 1950’s ‘Tommy’, as Rick says ‘a page of history’!

‘RICK RANDOM AND THE THREAT FROM SPACE’ (64 pages) Cover & Inner Art: Ron Turner. Script: Bob Kesten. ‘SUPER DETECTIVE LIBRARY’ no.153, June 1959. Reprinted in ‘SUPER PICTURE SPECIAL’ (1969). Summer 2145, Rick & Marius see the galaxy’s newest top comedian, Ally Akbar, who is appearing at the ‘Variety Empire’. His daughter Buffy tells Rick of Ally’s memory-lapses during performances. Rick traces the lapses to the explosion that wrecked the spaceship ‘Starfly’ between Endes and Fondig on the rim of the hostile Krent Empire. He has been hypnotically programmed to deliver coded messages during his comedy routines. Once exposed the Krent Ambassador Baron Lyztu leaps to his death through a window fifty-storey up, and war is avoided. Soundbite: Although Rick’s methods of Crime Detection were scientific – like all great Detectives he was subject to an occasional ‘hunch’

‘RICK RANDOM AND THE KIDNAPPED PLANET’ (64 pages) Art: Ron Turner. Script: B Keston. ‘SUPER DETECTIVE LIBRARY’ no.163, December 1959. ‘Next stop Terra! Home for Christmas and a nice long vacation’ says Rick, planning a salmon-fishing trip to British Columbia. But the Anteres V colony-report is overdue. Missing colony-leader is Dalton – husband of glamorous Fran Epton, deputy controller of the Galactic Colonial Board. Approaching the planet, Rick is faced by attacking ‘hunter’ missiles, and a declaration the colony has joined the Baku Union – and, says, Rick, become slaves of the Bakusti. To avoid a Space Navy shooting war he pretends to resign the IBI and intervene ‘unofficially’ – accompanied by stowaway Fran. Deploying ‘Decoy Duck’, they land on uninhabited continent Secundus. The Bakusti invaders’ motive is deposits of Ebonidium ‘black steel’. Rick contacts the colonists and organises a fight-back underground. Tech-Spec: The Astro-Graph Projector shows three-dimensional reproductions of all parts of the universe, showing entire galaxies or a single planet. Trivia One: like the Krent, the Bakusti are giant humanoids. Trivia Two: By now Dr Marius Fisher’s Interplanetary Board has become the governing body for the ‘Galactic Federation’. Soundbite: Rick decides he won’t rejoin the IBI ‘until after I’ve been salmon fishing’. That vacation will take him a long long time… it will be twenty years before his next, and last, case

‘RIDDLE OF THE ASTRAL ASSASSIN’ serialised through ‘2000AD’ Progs 113-118 (19 May - 23 June 1979) reprinted in ‘2000AD Showcase no.26/27’ (USA Quality Comics, 1988) Script: Steve Moore Art: Ron Turner. During Trade-Treaty negotiations on board vast asteroid-spaceship Columbia, Rick and assistant Vanda Lane track and twice kill Baron Odana who is murdering fellow representatives from the Guebin Planetary Combination. But when ageing bearded Theophilius reveals there’s been no contact from Guebin capital, Shoya, Rick suspects the murders have been a diversion to cover a planetary coup. With surviving delegates, Exon Sanso and Jameela Rhodes, Rick leads 18 Commandos to attack Shoya Imperial Palace where they find Odana ruling in the throne room! Soundbite: ‘No Third Chances!’ says Rick as he blasts the escaping Odana Tech-Spec: the ‘Odana’ on the Columbia was an android, ‘a perfect copy of the real man!’

‘RICK RANDOM: SPACE DETECTIVE’ edited by Steve Holland (Prion Books Ltd, October 2008, 656-pages, ISBN 1853756733) collection of ten tales with Steve Holland introduction, includes: ‘Kidnappers From Space’, ‘Emperor Of The Moon’ (aka ‘The Case Of The Man Who Owned The Moon’), ‘The Planet Of Terror’, ‘Rick Random & The Space Pirates’, ‘Rick Random’s Perilous Mission’, ‘The Mystery Of The Frozen World’, ‘The Mystery Of The Robot World’, ‘The Killer In Space’ (aka ‘Crime Rides The Spaceways’), ‘Rick Randon & The Kidnapped Planet’, ‘Rick Random & The Threat From Space’

FOREIGN EDITIONS Among the translated Rick Random tales published elsewhere in Europe is the Portuguese ‘Misterio Do Mundo’ (‘Mystery Of The Frozen World’), and ‘Ouro Maldito’ (‘Gold-Rush Planet’)

Compiled with the assistance of David Ashford & Steve Holland’s ‘SUPER DETECTIVE LIBRARY: AN ILLUSTRATED GUIDE’ (a ‘CJ PUBLICATION’)

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