Stingray: “Escape From Aquatraz” Part 1: “Aquatraz”

Original run: TV Century 21 #31 – #37

Writer: Alan Fennel

Artist: Ron Embleton

aquatraz2FINALLY! We’ve got round to getting more Stingray on the blog! Yay! Could this day get any better?

Well, actually, the strip itself could be a bit better, a whole lot better even. The Fennel-scribbled/Embleton-doodled “Aquatraz” is the first in a two-part story called “Escape from Aquatraz” that sees Titan gain the upper hand against the WA.S.P.s in ways we almost never saw in the TV series. Unfortunately, we don’t see much of that happen in “Aquatraz” itself.

aquasting2“Aquatraz” itself sees Troy and the gang babysitting Marshal Ketov, doing their best to impress him with their badass WA.S.P technology. It’s all going swimmingly, until Titan launches a surprise attack on the Marshal and the crew of the B-1 Bathescaphe. Capturing both crew and vessel, Titan orders his minions to reassemble the B-1 for his own devious plans, but sends Ketov and co. to the underwater prison of Aquatraz for immediate execution!

Rescuing Ketov from Aquatraz is the order of the day for this strip, but all the while reading this, you’re left wondering just what is Titan up to with the B-1? Not much of that is shown save for the first two instalments, which leads to a rather long-winded rescue mission for Troy and Phones.

aquatraz1Ketov is such an obnoxious character, who appears to be a carbon copy of Ali Khali, that you don’t really care if he’s rescued or not – if anything, if he did get executed, at least he’d shut up! But there is still some impending drama to “Aquatraz”. From the beginning, it’s made concrete clear that everyone’s heads will be on the block if the W.A.S.P.s if Ketov is unsatisfied with what he sees in anyway, and Titan’s plans for the B-1 do keep the reader turning the pages.

The best thing about “Aquatraz” however is Ron Embleton’s artwork. Aquatraz itself is located in a subterranean sea, giving Embleton a perfect canvas to spew forth some wonderfully colourful seascapes and creatures . Aquatraz itself has a gorgeously haunting appearance, a mass of seaweed-covered shipwrecks with the seabed hugging each section of the makeshift prison.

aquasting1It’s a wonder Embleton managed to piece together some magnificent visuals to Fennel’s limp script. It’s hard to pinpoint any one fault to “Aquatraz” as a story, but there just doesn’t seem to be enough excitement or danger to Fennel’s story. Embleton’s artwork does distract you long enough to keep your mind off from being more interested in what Titan has in store for the WA.S.P.s, but that distraction doesn’t last forever.

“Aquatraz” suffers from having a ‘set-up’ feel for the following adventure, “The Uranium Plant Invasion”, and coupled with it’s rather uninteresting story, it remains one of the weaker adventures for Stingray. Darn it.

Have you read “Aquatraz”? What did you make of it? Let us know in the comments section below! You can read Aquatraz in Stingray: Battle Stations and Century 21 Volume 3: Escape from Aquatraz!

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