Original run: Lady Penelope #1 – #23
Writer: Alan Fennell
Artist: Rab Hamilton
One of the finest stories to come from the comic spin-off’s of the Century 21 productions didn’t come from a TV Century 21 issue at all. Instead, Marina, Girl of the Sea was featured in the Lady Penelope comic, a title aimed at the female audiences of Gerry and Sylvia’s Supermarionation shows.
It’s a shame that such a good strip had to be sidelined and not included in the official comic spin-off itself, because this first strip detailing Stingray‘s answer to the femme fatale character, Marina, is a thoroughly enjoyable prequel to her adventures with the W.A.S.P.s The Marina strip was a regular feature of the short-lived Lady Penelope comic, and this particular tale acts as perhaps the first chronological story of Stingray.
One of the annoyingly flippant aspects of Stingray was the explanation for Marina’s lack of talking – she simply didn’t know how. Well, hold on to your hats folks, because it turns out that explanation is all a load of codswallop. The truth is far darker, has a great emotional bearing and provides a far more 3D aspect to Marina’s character.
“The Full Story” opens with Marina, her father Aphony, and the rest of the peace-loving Pacifians on the verge of spreading total peace to the underwater worlds. Only the ruthless Titan stands in their way, but he apparantly agrees to join them in their quest for peace. In true Titan fashion however, it turns out to be a devious trick, and he lays waste to the city of Pacifica, prompting Marina, Aphony and Pacifica’s first minister Barinth to being another quest sending their message of peace and hope by word of mouth – without their gorgeous city, their words are all they have left.
The strip itself takes the trio on a cinematic adventure through many a strange and bizarre underwater world, including the fire-breathing Volcans and the shipwreck-dwelling Coonadas. The Volcans themselves are a near-mouth-opening race of beings, who live near the centre of the Earth – could they have been the aliens the crew of Stingray almost met in the episode “The Subterranean Sea”? They themselves were certainly creatures the likes of which we rarely saw on the small screen.
The strip climaxes in the restoration of Pacifica and Titan’s eventual assault on them once more, but in a far more horrid and personal manner. Rather than turn this new Pacifica to rubble, he places a curse on the Pacifians, meaning that should any of them utter a single word, a random Pacifian will die. It takes the accidental death of Barnith to bring the curse to life.
Overall, this darkly camp adventure is a treasure trove for any Stingray lover. Seeing Marina actually speak adds some new depth to her persona. Although we don’t really see anything new in her character, her powers of speech make her somewhat more real than she was on Stingray.
The strip itself tells a marvellous adventure coupled with the world-building Gerry Anderson comics were well-known for. Indeed, whenever Stingray came a cropper with an undersea race, there only ever seemed to be two of them, and if they were hostile in anyway, they were blown clean out of the water! Here, that’s not entirely the case, as we a vast array of aquatic characters who display evil, good and sometimes both. Again, this added depth was something that could have really been expanded on in the TV series, and also lent a further dollop of menace to Titan
Rab Hamilton’s artwork is both colourful and full of perspective – he has a smudginess that works wonders in illuminating an underwater scene, but that smudginess is something that appears throughout, lending both flavour to the comic but ultimately slowing down the visual punch. Additionally, no panel is larger than the other, meaning we have a minuscule visual scope of the underwater canvases that Marina and co traverse through.
However, with far more pluses than minuses, “The Full Story” is almost the perfect tonic to the blitzkrieg Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet strips found in TV21. “How the Mysterious and Beautiful Marina May Never Speak Again” remains one of more intoxicating adventures in the comic strip worlds of Century 21.
Have you read “Marina, Girl of the Sea”? What did you think of it? Let us know in the comments section below!
You can read “Marina, Girl of the Sea” in Egmont’s ‘The Gerry Anderson Comic Collection’!