Original run: TV21 #155 – #161
Writer: Scott Goodall
Artist: Frank Bellamy
International Rescue have to deal with killer robotic penguins and gigantic, claw-ridden polar bears in this highly entertaining yet bizarre and rather gruesome Thunderbirds strip. “The Antarctic Menace” sees another of Century 21’s heroes go up against the villainous forces of Bereznik, the on-off enemy of TV Century 21.
In this adventure, Scott, Virgil and Gordon must save a group of oil truckers transporting vast amounts of raw minerals from Antarctic plants to Australian refining facilities across a vast trans-oceanic highway. But when an army of robotic penguins (!) launch an attack on the truckers, International Rescue must save the truckers and put a stop to whoever is controlling these mechanical monsters…
“The Antarctic Menace” is yet another Thunderbirds strip that’s pure 1960’s sci-fi hokum involving killer robot animals (which obviously go haywire), and shifting ships disguised as icebergs and a maniacal genius after precious fuel for the world of tomorrow. In short, it’s got all the makings of a classic Thunderbirds adventure, but there’s a nasty undercurrent to this tale.
That sense of nastiness comes in the form of International Rescue actually failing horridly in doing their job. Plug your fingers in your ears if you want to avoid spoilers because (or plug whatever into your eyes) the oil truckers die in a crashing inferno when they and I.R. attempt to fight back against Bereznik forces.
I don’t know about you, b that’s a real kick in the rollocks for this reviewer folks.
Thunderbirds was always the optimistic one in the Century 21 universe. They were the ones who saved people in trouble, not go round fighting Aquaphibians or Mysterons. It’s true that the day is still saved somewhat by the end of “The Antarctic Menace”, but here, International Rescue fall in the line of duty.
That failure gives “The Antarctic Menace” a rather sour taste, coupled with the other moments of violent action the strip has, such as the Tracy brothers and oil truckers chained to a wall of ice with a robotic polar bear on the prowl – if Virgil hadn’t intervened, would the others have been torn to pieces? Brutal stuff.
But if you’ve got the stomach to look past these points, then “The Antarctic Menace” is still an adventurous read. There’s plenty of action and danger with every instalment, and Bellamy brings Goodall’s death-laced script to life in the usually fab manner.
“The Antarctic Menace” is a story that lives up to its name, and although its stop-the-mad-scientist entertainment factor can’t be denied, the strip’s frivolous approach to life leaves a bitter aftertaste in one’s mouth. International Rescue don’t even seem that bothered when, in all, technicality, they fail in their mission. Oh well, at least Bellamy knew how to draw some badass robot polar bears.
Have you read “The Antarctic Menace”? What did you think of it? Sound off in the comments section below! You can read “The Antarctic Menace” in Ravette’s Thunderbirds… Lift Off! and Egmont’s Thunderbirds: The Comic Collection Vol. 1