Monday, June 5, 2017

Dieselpunk Manifesto Part Six: Han Entanglements and a Woman Refusing to be Rescued

This review is of Buck Rogers strips 50-59.

Buck charges back into the steam tunnels under Los Angeles with the lovely Lanlu to guide him on his search for Wilma. Lanlu has her own idea whatguidance she should give. Buck will have none of this. Meanwhile Wilma is making her way through the tunnels as well, deftly avoiding a monitor screen. The monitor screen actually looks more like a communications device for workers than a security device, but nonetheless she makes like Catherine Zeta Jones in Entrapment and shinnies under it and comes upon Buck and Lanlu!

Maybe Lanlu gave Wilma some directions to escape to cut down on the competition otherwise it's more evidence of how lousy Roger's karma is. Wilma leaps to conclusions and vents her spleen, gives Lanlu a knuckle sandwich and departs. Buck tells Lanlu to fuck off and she seems to have had enough of the crazy white folks and she departs. Buck runs to the exit and reaches freedom in time to see Wilma flying off with Killer Kane in the rat's plane!

It seems Kane had heard trailed Buck to the Navaho Org. When Nunah had radioed that Wilma was found he dropped in t offer her a ride.Buck and his friends return to the Org where the Boss holds a trial at the insistence of Boss MacGee. The Navaho boss is sympathetic but feels he can't refuse the request of his fellow boss.. The Boss charges him with desertion and spying. Buck is tried and branded an outlaw who may be legally shot on sight. he does let him keep his jumping belt.

Buck heads off into some badlands where two more tramps decide to roll him for his boots and inertron while he's sleeping. Buck has had enough of this treatment by now. He shows off his brawling skills and drops both. Then he takes their jumping belts and shirts. Buck uses the belts for lift and fills their shirts with sand to act as ballast. He's off to ride the winds, westward to the Rockies.

Meanwhile Wilma is taken back to Pennsylvania by Kane. Once there she learns that Kane had Buck branded an outlaw. Having warm feelings for Buck, not to mention gratitude for the sacrifices she made she declares herself a fool, realizes Kane made the king of all dick moves, and sets out to steal a plane to go get Buck. This ... wait for it, will brand her an outlaw!

Meanwhile Buck drops too much sand ballast to get over the Rockies and is on the verge of flying off into space!

The planes are beginning a metamorphosis into rocket ships. Kane's airplane is enclosed and looks comfy compared to the kites Buck and Wilma fly. Kane must be a high ranking Org officer to rate it and the leeway to fly off to chase Wilma and Buck. Several times planes seem to be scarce and valued commodities and not private property.

Kane is an intriguing figure wearing a uniform that has metal shoulder guards, a visored helmet and chainmail sleeves. No one else does. He also has a flair for inventing melee weapons (his creation looks like a lirpa exposed to atomic waste and steroids). This could be a call out to Armageddon: 2419. The Americans and Han both engage in hand to hand fighting in the later stages of the war.

He did earn the name 'Killer'. Was he stalking Han in the forests to kill in hand to hand? Possibly, even though he got his ass handed to him by Rogers in their duel, in later strips he proves to be a decent close in fighter.

But he's wearing that silly rig on guard duty. It must be hot and heavy. But hey, they have inertron! Mixing in inertron will lighten the load and provide some insulation from the sun. It will also give him some protection from Han disintegrator beams. It also points to him having a great deal of authority and respect. A mere grunt couldn't afford a custom armor suit or likely be allowed to wear it. I'm only wondering what his credits were before Buck woke up and swept Wilma off her feet.

Org military training seems pretty thorough on equipment at least. Wilma can't make a fire from scratch, and doesn't know what a bow and arrow are she can fly a plane and repair electronics. I also wonder how necessary a fire would be, if you have a uniform insulated with inertron. In Armageddon: 2419 we learn Wilma has other duties in the Org and goes on patrol on a rotating basis so woodcraft and patrolling may not be her specialty. She's basically an 'electronist' in the reserves when she finds Buck. The Org certainly had full time military types, Rogers for one. You never see him pushing a broom or washing a vehicle.

Wilma for her part is thinking straight. Her guy risked everything for her and now that she knows the score she's going to find him. She'll even throw her career away and rescue him solo! While Wilma is often ditsy (a sign of the times), and suffers in comparison to Buck (as she must, they didn't name the strip Wilma Deering in the 25th Century, she is far from a damsel in distress. She did get out of the Emperor's digs by herself. She might even be the first self rescuing Princess in the Pulp Era!

I will note that in many strips she not only doesn't NEED rescuing but she descends on the bad guys like the wrath of GHU. But that's a bit down the road.