Original run: TV Century 21 #141 – #149
Artist: Ron Embleton
Writer: Angus P. Allan
Plummeting Cloudbases, fisticuffs with Captain Black and a Sam Shore cameo! Where could Captain Scarlet‘s “Unity City” strip go wrong? Well, it actually does go wrong on a couple of levels, but we’ll ramble about those later.
For all the world-building and continuity creating that TV Century 21 did for the Century 21 puppet shows, action was always emphasized over plot. The end result would sometimes be less than stellar, and “Unity City” displays both the good and bad of these elements. “Unity City” centres on the Mysterons announcing their intentions to destroy, you guessed it, Unity City – specifically the World Government HQ. In doing so, they slither their way in and out of Spectrum AND the World Aquanaut Security Patrol. Can Scarlet prevent the devious Captain Black from sending Cloudbase to its certain doom as well as escaping from being brought back under Mysteron control?! Given the strong focus of action over any intellectual content TV21 comics may posses, let’s take a look at that for starters.
Throughout the nine instalment adventure, there’s a real sense of Scarlet and the gang being against the clock in order to stop the Mysterons. Embleton’s artwork is thicker, richer and sharper than the dynamic, broad styles of Bellamy, and it serves the story’s pace well. Its a real shame then that the story is so, well, poorly executed. First off, the Mysertons intend to crash Cloudbase into Unity City, sounds good! But Spectrum quickly get wind of this and decide to move Cloudbase. However, the Mysterons still intend to destory Cloudbase anyway, even when they move to right over Australia.
Of course, using their powers, the Mysterons could easily ‘guide’ Cloudbase back towards Unity City and destroy it that way, but it still seems a flimsy plan. Also, the Mysterons hardly display their powers at all. When Captains Scarlet and Black, on escaping Cloudbase, crash-land in a remote island and are captured by island natives, it doesn’t seem to occur to the Mysterons that they could just teleport Black away and out of trouble. Instead, they go through what feels like a rather convoluted plan of having a Myseronised W.A.S.P agent pick both Scarlet and Black up, then make their way back to Mars to put Scarlet back under Mysteron control.
It’s nice to see that both the W.A.S.P’s and Spectrum do indeed exist in the same world, also alongside the World Space Patrol who lend a hand in getting Scarlet back from Black, but it just seems like the Mysterons are making life difficult for themselves. But of course, that’s what you get when you play a war of nerves I suppose. So, wait… was the Mysteron’s actual plan to capture Scarlet all along, and the whole Unity City thing a red herring? Again, that might fit in well with their war of nerves, but given how the events of the story pace out, it seems unlikely. And there you have a rather odd entry in TV Century 21‘s take on Captain Scarlet – a romp of a story to be sure, but one that feels too much like a hodgepodge of multiple story ideas flung together in an attempt at some grand adventure.
Have you read “Unity City”? What did you think of it? Let us know in the comments section below!
You can read “Unity City” Ravette’s ‘Captain Scarlet – Indestructible’ and ‘Gerry Anderson: The Vintage Comic Collection Vol. 4’!