Thunderbirds: TV21 & TV Tornado, 1969
'2069' saw the recently merged TV21 and TV Tornado come up against competition from an errant offspring in the form of Joe 90: Top Secret. While the title was probably never going to be able to compete in terms of production, it did have the advantage of including two new shows which were very popular - Star Trek (still to make its UK television debut after an aborted scheduled date of autumn 1968) and Land Of The Giants. Editor at the time, Howard Elson, speculated that the new title may have divided the already dwindling readership, although it is equally possible TV21 was not attracting new readers as its original ones grew up and out of comics.
TV21 and TV Tornado was still running Thunderbirds - popular but now over three years old - as its main spread, with Zero X as the second colour attraction, based on characters in a commercially unsuccessful film, even if the strip was dramatically and artistically satisfying.
Thunderbirds, by now, was also beginning to wear thin on artist Frank Bellamy, and even if it was still a regular source of income to him, his boredom showed in searching around for new work, notably strips for newspapers. Even if Bellamy's style, dynamic as it continued to be - was the main holding interest for many of the readers, it was nowhere as detailed as it had been.
Script-wise, the plots were veered more into the fantastic - beast-men, radioactive lobsters, time travel - before lurching back to three relatively good stories. The Hood, always a crowd pleaser and a nemesis who upped the dramatic content, returned for The Zoo Ship which saw him wreak havoc not seen on Tracy Island since, ooh, the last time he was in a Thunderbirds strip. And somehow, he gets away with it all, disappearing into the ether with the cherished secrets of International Rescue! A massive script-editing blunder, or a sign that even the editorial team realised the end may well be nigh?
Thunderbirds strip guide - part four
Sabotage! (aka The Hawaiian Lobster Menace)
Writer: Scott Goodall.
Artist: Frank Bellamy. 2 pages, colour.
Part 1 - Issue 197, dateline 26 October 2068
The Golden Dawn Hotel, Hawaii... playground of the holidaying rich...
The chefs are pestered by young Pedro Sanchez, trying to sell lobsters for 'fat Americanos' but the hotel has a contract that all sea food be bought from the Pacific Marine Production Farm. That night, as the guests eat their expensive, well-prepared dinner, there is a massive explosion, trapping fifty people in the main building, which could topple over the cliff. This is a job for International Rescue, and shortly Thunderbirds 1 and 2 are in the area. The Domo is dropped onto a ledge under the hotel, to support the building until the people can be rescued. But as Scott and Virgil investigate the ruin in case anyone else is trapped, they find a body, with the message 'Pedro Sanchez Sabotage' scrawled beside him...
Part 2 - Issue 198, dateline 02 November 2068
Fisherman's Son - Mass Murderer?
The head chef identifies the body as Sam Culver, his assistant, and he tells the Tracys Pedro is a fisherman's son, who tried sell them lobsters that afternoon. Scott and Virgil investigate Tayara, a poverty stricken village nearby, but on finding Pedro, the boy takes fright and flees in a motorboat. Scott follows in Thunderbird 1, and leads Gordon in Thunderbird 4 to the area the boy is diving in. This leads Gordon close to the western boundary of the Pacific Marine Production Farm but as he approaches to ask permission to search, the frogman guards open fire with small missile launchers...
Part 3 - Issue 199, dateline 09 November 2068
An Unexpected Enemy!
Thunderbird 4 sinks to the ocean bed, and as Scott and Virgil ponder on the loss of contact and organising a search of the farm, Gordon is taken prisoner by the frogmen. The sinister dark-glassed leader throws him in a cell with Pedro, who ran because he did not want to be branded a thief - he stole the lobsters from the farm, and the assistant chef bought them out of pity. Through the portal of their undersea prison, they see hundreds of lobsters being set free. But then, as the shell-fish move out of sight, the farm is torn apart by a series of explosions. Before Gordon and Pedro can act, their bell-like prison is ripped clean away, and water starts to flood in...
Part 4 - Issue 200, dateline 16 November 2068
How To Make An Explosive Lobster...
Gordon tells Pedro to take his arm, and when the water pressure equalises they will try and swim for it. But Gordon is knocked out by debris, and it is up to the twelve-year-old boy to save their lives. Surfacing, they are spotted by Thunderbird 1 which has led a rescue launch patrol boat to the area. Gordon explains what has happened, and they obtain some of the lobsters from local fishermen. It is not long before Brains finds that if boiled, the lobsters explode! A simple but deadly injection of high-heat corexine explosive between the joints of their casings, and collectively the lobsters have become a mobile potential charge big enough to destroy every island within a thousand miles! Brains also thinks the plan too perfect to be haphazard, and believes the summer currents will carry them south to the shallow waters of the Benitar Shelf, and the island of Lingor... the legendary atoll of doom...
Part 5 - Issue 201, dateline 23 November 2068
...Where The Wild Men Roam!
Lingor was once a tropical isle like any other in the Pacific, but in August 2010 a natural eruption of carbonated sluge released a radioactive type gases. The population did not die but degenerated into stone age giants with minds of animals. After the creatures started invading other islands, the World Army established Lingor as a penal colony for them, with robots supplying their every need including food. If the Lingorians cook the lobsters, it will blow the island to pieces, spreading the gases over the Americas, animalising the population. With a massive boom net, Thunderbird 2 is able to trawl the lobsters in the hope of exloding them in the mid-Pacific. But the effort is noticed by the submarine of the farm saboteurs nearby, and they put their emergency plan into action...
Part 6 - Issue 202, dateline 30 November 2068
A Fight To The Death!
As Thunderbird 2 starts to pull the lobsters away from the shallows, the sub fires on the main admin block and prison compound on Lingor, freeing the animalised natives. If they get to the net, they will tear the lobsters free. Thunderbird 1 flies low, spraying them with knock-out gas, before turning and firing on the enemy sub. Scott lands, as the enemy leader staggers clear, the only savage to escape the gas grapples with him and both fall into the burning wreckage. The whole gang has been wiped out, and shortly the lobsters are exploded out in mid-ocean. Later on Tracy Island, Jeff finds from World Security that the saboteurs were Bereznik agents, but Tin-Tin interrupts them with dinner - lobster!
TV2000 (Holland) - issues 4 to 6, 1969
Thunderbirds The Comic issues 14 to 16
Some elements of this story bear similarities to the Man From UNCLE strip 'Caribbean Caper' in the ©1966 Lady Penelope annual. In this, THRUSH agents plant radioactive capsules in lobsters and use a large paddle device to create tidals waves which wash them ashore. When boiled, the radioactivity is released, contaminating the Bahamas - which have to be evacuated, leaving it for THRUSH to take over.
Oops - in the very last frame, Scott says 'Scott and I have gone off shellfish... for good!', suggesting a mistake in the script.
The original artwork of the second page of part 4 still exists, and was sold on eBay in April 2006 for £645.
The Classic Thunderbirds Calendar 2004 lists this story as 'The Beast Men of Lingor'.
The Time Machine!
Writer: Scott Goodall.
Artist: Frank Bellamy. 2 pages, colour.
Part 1 - Issue 203, dateline 07 December 2068
Whirlpool Rapids, near Niagara Falls, is the home of Professor Walter Darien and his eight-year-old son Robin. Darien has called on Jeff Tracy, brought here by Scott in Thunderbird 1, as he has perfected a time machine after twenty years of research. Contrary to earlier beliefs, people age when travelling into the future, so Darien has set a limit of ten years and, as Jeff and Scott watch, the time-cone fades into the future. But emerging ten years older in 2078, Darien and Robin find their home a ruin, and the Falls completely dried up. Suddenly, a black-clad arm drags Darien behind some rocks, and he shouts a warning to Robin to tell Jeff Tracy. The teenager tears at the time-cone controls in panic, but this causes the main limpon wiring to fuse - and it is a baby who the Tracys find in the device when it returns to 2068...
Part 2 - Issue 204, dateline 14 December 2068
Jeff And Scott - Into The Future!
Jeff examines the control circuit, which is set to 2062, making Robin only two years old. The only option the Tracys have is to return to 2078 and find out what happened to Darien, and Brains is rushed from Tracy Island to repair the time machine. By midnight, the fault is fixed, and Jeff and Scott journey with the infant Robin ten years into the future. Robin is now eighteen again, and explains what happened. They investigate the rocks where Darien vanished, and find him strapped in a chair. 'You must stop them.' he gasps, 'The waters... the waters!'
Part 3 - Issue 205, dateline 21 December 2068
The Plot To Flood America
Darien has been badly beaten, and lapses into unconsciousness. Jeff tells Robin to take him back to the time-cone and investigating further down the tunnel, he and Scott emerge next to a massive dam. This had only just been proposed to the World Government in 2068, as a plan to irrigate twenty million acres of sterile land north of Lake Ontario, caused by nuclear contamination. They climb the stairs to the top of the dam, and find a network of cordex wires running along it - linked to a series of hidden explosives! A man clad in black is wring up the detonator, and on seeing Jeff and Scott fires a shot. Jeff falls, and Scott hits the man, but as he goes to see his wounded father, the man plunges home one of the three detonators...
Part 4 - Issue 206, dateline 28 December 2068
Call In T'Bird 4!
The plunger detonates part of the dam before Scott can stop the man and pull out the remaining fuse wires. Jeff is okay, and Scott demands an explanantion from the man. He is Lambert, an ex-curator of the Ontario Institute and Archaeological Museum, and three years ago the dam dried up the Falls, putting him out of a job and destroying a scenic wonder of the world. He blames the technocrats for destroying culture but before he can continue, the dam creaks under the damage - it will collapse in a matter of hours. The only course of action is to repair the damaged section underwater in Thunderbird 4, which means dismantling it and bringing to 2078 in the time-cone. With jeff remaining to guard Lambert, Scott gets in the machine but as they prepare to leave, the bank gives way and it pluges into the water...
Part 5 - Issue 207, dateline 04 January 2069
Lost In Time?
Scott tells the professor to get them back to 2068, but the bumpy ride is hammering the time-setting switch. Scott throws open the hatch, and uses a line to secure the time-cone to a nearby rock and get it beached. The time-cone returns to 2068, and Virgil is disptached in Thunderbird 2 to fetch the urgently needed Thunderbird 4. The small sub is by dismantled and the pieces stacked in the time-cone. With only room for Scott and Brains left, the two travel forward in time again. They find Jeff still holding Lambert at gunpoint, but there is now a new threat - an unmanned inspection craft is drifting toward the dam, and will hit it in about thirty minutes. There is no time to re-assemble Thunderbird 4 and plug the hole before it hits...
Part 6 - Issue 208, dateline 11 January 2069
Inches From Destruction!
Scott tells Jeff and Brains to re-assemble Thunderbird 4, while he attempts to swim out to the ship, to board it and try and start the engines. Jeff forces Lambert to help them put Thunderbird 4 back together, as Scott reaches the ship. With inches to spare, he restarts the engines and heads it away from the dam. Three hours later, Thunderbird 4 is rebuilt, to blast off the dam and ram a sealing plate into position to cover the hole. Jeff decides to take Lambert back to 2068, where he will get special treatment to help him live with science.
TV2000 (Holland) - issues 12 to 14, 1969 (as Sabotage In De Toekomst - Sabotage In The Future)
Thunderbirds The Comic issues 27 to 32
Part 1 starts with a most unusual introduction: Featuring Jeff Tracy, head of International Rescue, and his son Scott, in another fantastic space adventure of 2068... the adventure of the time machine...
One has to presume, in the absense of it not being stated, that the Dariens are among those few people who are aware of the Tracys being International Rescue, seeing as Jeff and Scott arrive in Thunderbird 1, and Scott is wearing his uniform.
One also has to wonder... has Walter Darien been working in complete isolation for most of those twenty years? TV Century 21 were using a time machine to bring us Supercar and Burke's Law from the start of 2065, and Fireball XL5 quite famously broke the time barrier later that same year...
While the ten year aging of the Dariens is obvious, it is markedly less so for the Tracys and Brains.
A Visitor On Tracy Island... And Thunderbirds Are Not Go! (aka The Zoo Ship)
Writer: Scott Goodall.
Artist: Frank Bellamy. 2 pages, colour.
Part 1 - Issue 209, dateline 18 January 2069
Tracy Island, remote in the South Seas, is well off the trade routes, and the sighting of a passing ship is a rarity...
Through binoculars, Scott can see the immense ship is dropping anchor and, using the monitor, they see a helicopter approaching. Concealment procedures go into operation to hide International Rescue equipment, and the visitor turns out to be Professor Auldyn Beresford, whose zoo-ship is touring the western hemisphere collecting wildlife. He is searching for a rare Polynesian sand vole, which Tracy Island may be a possible habitat for, and hasty preparations are made for him to stay. But on the zoo-ship Ocean Scientist II itself, tigers get loose and kill a keeper before going on a spree of captivity crazed frenzy. In the struggle, controls are knocked, and the rector runs wild to explode...
Part 2 - Issue 210, dateline 25 January 2069
The noise of the blast, carried away by notherly winds, hardly disturbs the sleeping Tracys. But on the stricken ship, the survivors find the lifeboat systems destroyed and make for the crew rest quarters. The five men seal themselves behind watertight hatches, as the ship slides into the watery depths. Waking withthe early dawn, Jeff finds John is calling and hears about the disaster. Now there is a problem, with the professor staying, and it is agreed Scott will tell him he 'may' have seen the vole, and take him to the far side of the island in search. But as plans are finalised, the professor walks in, 'Operation? Dear me, gentlemen, I hope I haven't butted in on anything private...'
Part 3 - Issue 211, dateline 01 February 2069
Rescue Attempt Foiled?
Jeff breaks the news to the professor, who ponders if International Rescue can help. The Tracys have to act innocently, but offer that they can do nothing in the meantime - except help the professor search for the vole. The ruse works, and Scott takes the professor to the other side of the island. This gives Gordon a chance to launch Thunderbird 4, and examine the sunken ship. Brains surmises it is possible to float the ship by restroing buoyancy to the flodded areas, then Thunderbird 2 can beach her. Cutting a hole for a two-way circulation hose, Gordon examines the interior, only to find one of the escaped specimens is a giant squid...
Part 4 - Issue 212, dateline 08 February 2069
Is It The End For Gordon Tracy?
As the iron-like tentacles smother him, Gordon blows the mouthpiece away and the high pressure air bubbles from it startle the squid. Arms freed, Gordon is able to knife the creature and complete his examination of the sunken ship. Back in Thunderbird 4, he reports to Jeff it is possible to rig a flowplast shield over the stern and pump it dry. Brains and Virgil load the equipment onto Thunderbird 2 and fly out to where Gordon is waiting. It will take about half an hour for the pumping to finish, and Gordon ponders how Scott is managing to keep Professor Beresford out of the way. Scott has taken Beresford to caverns on the south side of Tracy Island to look for the vole, but as they enter one, the professor pulls out a gun...
Part 5 - Issue 213, dateline 15 February 2069
Who Is Professor Beresford?
Some sixth sense makes Scott turn, and he launches himself sideways. The shot misses but the professor clamps iron fingers around Scott's throat... and moments later, one man walks from the cavern. But it is not Beresford - a face mask is pulled away to reveal... the Hood! Meanwhile, two miles off-shore, Gordon is completing the first phase of the rescue of Ocean Scientist II, and tells Brains to stop pumping. The scientist reports to Jeff Tracy, who puts Virgil on standby, but it will take at least half an hour for the next stage. Virgil decides to carry on with circuit checks in the mean time, and is so absorbed in his work he does not see the Hood come up silently behind him. The butt of the gun smashes Virgil into unconsciousness, and the Hood prepares to photograph International Rescue's secrets...
Part 6 - Issue 214, dateline 22 February 2069
After he has stolen International Rescue's secrets, the Hood plans to destroy the whole island. Having almost cleared the flooded sections of the ship, Brains and Gordon are almost ready to call up Thunderbird 2. Jeff calls done to Virgil to launch, disturbing the Hood. In order to buy more time to complete his photographs, the Hood sets Thunderbird 2 to launch automatically, but Alan notices that the pod with the grapnel equipment is still in the reserve pen! Checking the video link, Jeff finds Thunderbird 2 is unmanned and, calling to Alan to get to the bay, rushes out to try and stop the craft launching before it goes out of control. But at the hangar door, he is confronted by the Hood, who fires his gun...
Part 7 - Issue 215, dateline 01 March 2069
T'Bird 2 Crash-down!
Jeff crumples under the impact of the bullet but Alan, seeing the incident, races up behind the Hood and smashes him to the ground. The injured Jeff calls out to shut down the controls of Thunderbird 2 - but it is too late. The massive craft flies off the ramp to smash back into the ground in flames. Despite his wound, Jeff helps Alan get the burning wreckage under control, but they see the Hood has escaped in one of their helijets. As Scott and Virgil also recover from their attacks, Jeff calls a conference - the buoyancy of the zoo-ship has been partially restored but without Thunderbird 2, there is no means of beaching it. Alan takes a hoverpup out to Pod 4, and finds there is trouble on the ship - elephants have broken free, and are battering the bulkhead protecting the crew. Gordon takes a drug-gas gun and prepares to dive to help them...
Part 8 - Issue 216, dateline 08 March 2069
Picking up drug-darts from Thunderbird 4 on the way, Gordon is soon enters the ship through an airlock. Aloud racket brings Gordon to an appalling scene in Main Hold A - elephants, zebras and leopards are going wild. Gordon turns as a leopard leaps at him, and its fangs find his shoulder, but he is saved by Captain Anderson, who was moving his men to the stores chamber after animals broke into their main room. On Tracy Island, Brains and the others are working hard to get Thunderbird 3 ready to winch the ship but the animals have smashed the air apparatus Gordon previously set up. Gordon estimates they only have an hour left, to which Brains responds it will be impossible to have Thunderbird 3 ready in time...
Part 9 - Issue 217, dateline 15 March 2069
Death Tightens Its Grip!
Brains warns Jeff that there is a chance the winch will tear out, but lives are at stake. Jeff tells Gordon he and the crew need to conserve the air for at least two more hours in order to make the necessary modifications. This is not going to be easy, as the loose animals are using up the oxygen, and after dealing with a panicking crewman, they settle back - to wait. There is no time to double stress the winch, and Brains can only hope it will work for the short haul. Alan launches Thunderbird 3 on minimum power, and the spaceship inches up and over the sea, almost impossibly balanced on its tail jets. The products of Brains' genius, the guided grapnels clutch the bows of the sunken ship, and it is inched to shore. Gordon, the crew and the animals have now all been floored, which is probably for the better, as the Tracys now have to play innocent - explaining International Rescue have left the boat on their shore and vanished.
TV2000 (Holland) - issues 16 to 20, 1969
Thunderbirds The Comic issues 28 to 30
In part 2, the noise of the exploding ship makes Scott mutter, 'Missiles... away...' in his sleep. Boy, does he seem to have some pent up issues!
In parts 4 and 5, the question has to be raised... where exactly is Thunderbird 2's undercarriage? It has always been assumed this was part of the pod (witness the Dinky toy version) but here it is moving and taking off without it.
This story would mark the Hood's final appearance in TV21... and he seemingly wins! He just gets away, photographs presumably intact... and International Rescue do not even ponder the consequences of this.
Project City (aka City of Doom)
Writer: 'Spencer Howard' (Scott Goodall)
Artist: Frank Bellamy. 2 pages, colour.
Part 1 - Issue 218, dateline 22 March 2069
For the first time, TV21 photographers have been allowed into Project City, a secret community of scientists working on a top security scheme within the mighty Andes Mountains. This is the first time anyone on Earth has seen into this city project!
Cut off from the outside world for six months at a time, the community prepares for its mid-year supply party to leave. Far above the Amazon, a civil airliner heads south west - among its passengers, returning from a scientific conference in the Caribbean, Jeff Tracy and Brains. But passeger Eduardo Caval is a man with a mission, and hi-jacks the plane for its cargo of thermal plutonium blast devices for the Pan-Universe Mining Corporation - in the wrong hands, a devestating collection of bombs! The airliner lands at an old military airfield in the Andes, and the cargo unloaded. Jeff tries to warn the rebels of the danger but to little heed. Plane, crew and passengers are allowed to leave unharmed, and the captain is eager to put distance between them as the callous men treat the crates with suicidal abandon. And barely five minutes later, there is a massive explosion...
Part 2 - Issue 219, dateline 29 March 2069
On the edge of the blast, the plane is flung around like a toy. But the end of the rebels is not the end of the problem - at the World Government headquarters in Bermuda, the World President is informed of the situation. They cannot risk security by mounting a full-scale rescue operation, so International Rescue are called to send a representative. Scott is despatched in Thunderbird 1, and he meets the President face to face. Fully briefed on the security of the issue, Scott returns to Tracy Island, and a conference called. This will require a lot of their equipment, and seven hundred lives are in the balance...
Part 3 - Issue 220, dateline 05 April 2069
As the people inside Project City ponder on the cause of the communications failure, Thunderbird 1 is approaching the disaster area but the radiation is too high for him to go any closer. Thunderbird 2 is protected better, and proceeds on as Thunderbird 1 lands outside the danger zone. Coming to rest near the remains of the Project City highway, Virgil takes the Mole while Brains follows in the Domo, carrying lead-saturated shields. But as the Mole starts to drill into the concrete door, it is hit by a massive live electrical charge...
Part 4 - Issue 221, dateline 12 April 2069
Domo Making Dramatic Rescue Bid!
Brains drops the lead plates and uses the Domo's grabs to pull the Mole clear. But the track motors have jammed as the charge has magnetised some components. The vehicles are reloaded back into the pod, and flown in Thunderbird 2 outside the radiation zone to Thunderbird 1 for repairs. Meanwhile, preparations for departing Project City continue efficiently. Repairs on the Mole have been completed, but as Scott, Virgil and Brains head back to Thunderbird 1, they are accosted by more soldiers of the revolution...
Part 5 - Issue 222, dateline 19 April 2069
The men are 'soldiers of the revolution', whose fellow rebels were responsible for the atomic blast. Tracy has to bluff that he and the others are just a decontamination squad, in order to protect the security of Project City. Falling to his knees, Scott takes a gamble and pleads for the rebels not to shoot, giving Virgil a chance to act. Both Tracys pull their guns and fire, and the rebels flee. Back in their Thunderbirds, Scott heads for the seaboard to make a report, while Virgil heads back to the radiation zone and unloads the Mole and the Domo. Taking the Mole, Virgil burrows deeper to try and gain access, while Brains remains in the Domo to seal the tunnel from radiation with lead panels. But then he sees more rebels approaching with a tank, and drives the Domo down to warn them off. But Virgil has also encountered trouble, and the Mole is slipping into an underground fire-fissure...
Part 6 - Issue 223, dateline 26 April 2069
Driving out of range, Brains does not hear Virgil's call for help. The rebels open fire on the Domo, and Brains dodges and weaves, and returns fire with a laser cannon. Alone, Virgil slips out of the rear escape hatch of the precariously balanced Mole, and climbs back up the tunnel - only to be be unable to shift the lead plates. Using his gun, he blasts the rocks and clambers out through. Hearing distant fire, he sees the smoke of battle, but below his field of vision, he does not see the Domo hit by a tank shell...
Part 7 - Issue 224, dateline 03 May 2069
Virgil runs towards the Domo, which is now on its side, and is relieved to see Brains crawl from its hatch. Brains had also scored a hit on the tank, putting it out of action, and is surprised to see Virgil. But with the Domo now wrecked, there is no way to rescue the Mole, unless grapples from Thunderbird 2 could do the job. Alan is put on standby in case any other equipment is needed there, and Scott attempts to persuade the World President about contacting Project City, but he refuses. Meanwhile, Thunderbird 2 is using a magno-grapple line to try and pull the Mole back out of its tunnel, but as Brains places it in position, the cable parts...
Part 8 - Issue 225, dateline 10 May 2069
TB3 On Stand-by To Fly Out To Danger Zone
Far below the surface, the freed Mole plunges downwards into the boiling pit of liquid fire, but miraculously Brains was hanging above the break and apart from being battered and bruised is otherwise unharmed. But now, International Rescue have no equipment left, and there are only fourteen hours before Project City open their doors. The only hope now lies in getting a message to them, by sinking a hypersonic audio transmitter through the electrified concrete. Tracy Island is contacted, and Thunderbird 3 is used to transport Pod 2 in its little used cargo bay, for a parachute drop. But as the spaceship flies over the area, the chute fouls in its tail section...
Part 9 - Issue 226, dateline 17 May 2069
TB1 In Race Against Time!
Far below, Brains and Virgil race for shelter as the pod smashes down - the last chance to save the city destroyed. With only seventy-five minutes left before the doors open, Brains thinks hard to come up with a solution - if they cannot stop the doors opening, can they built another door over it? It will take too long to use regular bricks and mortar but emulsified lead and tensile silicone plastic could work. Six 'bombs' containing the mixture are prepared on Tracy Island, which Scott collects in Thunderbird 1. Fifteen minutes... ten... five... with a minute to spare, Thunderbird 1 homes in and fires, and a spreading mass of instant setting lead and silicone blankets the doors. Now to wait for the inner doors to open, and explain...
Issue 219: Radiation Hazard!
Issue 221: Domo In Dramatic Bid To Save Mole
Issue 223: Mole Doomed! Little Hope For Virgil Tracy
Issue 226: Mercy Mission!
TV2000 (Holland) - issues 21 to 28, 1969 (as International Rescue Faalt! - International Rescue Fails)
Thunderbirds The Comic issues 31 to 33
Thunderbirds Collector Edition No.1
The premise of the story seems flawed and paradoxical from the very beginning. While it can be appreciated that the newspaper aspect of TV21 was simply a clever editorial slant, how can the security of Project City be intact if a/ TV21 reporters and photographers are seemingly in there in part 1 before the doors are open, and b/ if a news report has been made, why does security continue to be an issue?
Part 2 ends with the flash 'More News Relayed By M.E.V. Telescan' but this would be more appropriate to the Zero X strip.
In part 3, Virgil relates Brains' analysis of the situation by saying the fall-out 'will be a death trap for weeks'. File under extreme optimism...
At the end of part 6, the Domo is out of Virgil's field of vision, but at the beginning of part 7, he is running towards it, having obviously seen the hit.
In part 3, Thunderbird could not enter the area of the blast because of high radiation levels, but in the final part it does to fire the missiles.
This story is credited to 'Spencer Howard', which was the usual pen-name for editorial staffer Howard Elson, but it is more likely still the work of Scott Goodall.
This strip made the cover of the Dutch TV2000 comic twice, for issues 24 (right - based on a frame in part 5) and 27 in 1969.
Thunderbird 3 heads to rescue Distressed Space Freighter
(aka Chain Reaction)
Writer: 'Spencer Howard' (John W. Jennison?).
Artist: Frank Bellamy. 2 pages, colour.
Part 1 - Issue 227, dateline 24 May 2069
Pan-Space Haulage Incorporated's G.T.765 freight rocket, is on a return trip from Venus to Earth. The computerised control monitors flash an emergency signal, coded Green...
There is a fuel leak, and the outer starboard tank is bone dry, which means the retro-brakes on atmospheric re-entry cannot be used. The crew abandon ship in the nose cone, in the belief the rest of the ship will just burn up, but unbalanced, it hits the atmosphere at too shallow an angle - fifty thousand tons of ship will hit the Earth in one piece! John is already monitoring the situation and warns Tracy Island, and Brains calculates the ship will hit San Francisco on its present course. Thunderbird 3 is launched to intercept it, but with the ship already red hot from re-entry, Alan lines up to destruction missiles - but neither reach their target...
Part 2 - Issue 228, dateline 31 May 2069
World President Orders Immediate Evacuation Of San Francisco...
Alan fires a second salvo but the heat barrier of re-entry around the ship is detonating the missiles before they hit. In a desperate, almost suicidal plan, Alan heads for the freighter in a collision course, and veers off at the last second. The explosive blasts of Thunderbird 3's tail-jets smashes the freighter, and it veers to the west, crashing into the uninhabited Manafu Atoll. But as Alan returns to Tracy Island a hero, the atoll erupts in volcanic fury...
Part 3 - Issue 229, dateline 07 June 2069
The volcanic blast is heard three hundred miles away on Tracy Island, and two hours later a tidal wave hits the shoreline, bursting floodgates in Thunderbird 4's slipway. Brains checks the seismoscopes, and finds the epicentre is Manafu Atoll. While there is no danger to Tracy Island, a chain reaction of volcanic activity could spread to San Francisco. Jeff sends Scott to patrol the area in Thunderbird 1, and he sees the atoll tear itself apart. The next island in the chain is Tapete, whose native untamed tribes believe the gods are wreaking vengeance upon them...
Part 4 - Issue 230, dateline 14 June 2069
TB1 Landing On Island
As Scott approaches Tapete, he sees a fantastic earthquake shake the island from end to end. Brains' references indicate the island is inhabited by natives, and Scott lands to find a village torn apart. Brought up in the South Seas, Scott is familiar with island dialects and calls out - but is hit in the neck by a dart. The natives believe the 'man from the skies' is responsible for the disaster, and as Jeff Tracy informs the World President of the danger, Scott awakes to find himself about to be sacrificed...
Part 5 - Issue 231, dateline 21 June 2069
Intense Tremors Return To Tapete...
Scott cries out but as the sacrificial blade whirls aloft, the tremors start again with redoubled force. Terrified, the indiands flee, leaving Scott ro a worse fate, until the stone he is tied to shatters. Scrambling for the lurching Thunderbird 1, Scott lifts off and calls Thunderbird 2 - the natives will require some special attention. Two hours later, the craft returns with a bomb of knockout gas, which will put the natives to sleep for a few hours while they are relocated. Meanwhile, Brains has come up with a plan to stop the chain reaction, but it is a fifty-ffty chance of suicide for Scott...
Part 6 - Issue 232, dateline 28 June 2069
Scott Makes Great Decision!
For the survival of millions, Scott is willing to risk his life, so Brains outlines the plan. 'Point X' is a volcanic blow-hole east of Tapete, and a nuclear device detonated under the surface will seal off the trouble in a blow-back. The heat could detonate the bomb as it is being placed, but it is still Scott's risk and Thunderbird 4 is prepared. Meanwhile, his brothers are evacuating the drugged Tapete indians to the nearby island of M'Funu, but they had not reckoned with some fishermen being out in canoes and unaffected. The fishing canoes spy the Tracys taking the bodies, and wait for a chance. The task finished, Thunderbird 2 lifts off to rendezvous with Scott in Thunderbird 4 at the bomb-zone, unaware the natives are following in their canoes...
Part 7 - Issue 233, dateline 05 July 2069
Into The Inferno!
Virgil tells Gordon and Alan to go back to the pod, which he drops nearby. Donning a frogman outfit, Scott takes the bomb out, aware the heat could set it off at any time. On the surface though, a new danger looms, as evacuated native islanders in two canoes are closing on the area. They believe the Thunderbirds are 'evil ones' who have moved them from their island, and fire with arrows on the brothers in the pod hatch. Jeff orders them away, and Thunderbird 2 retrieves the pod - Scott will have to take his own chances with Thunderbird 4. But suddenly there is an explosion of gas, and Scott is shot to the surface - right next to the avenging indians...
Part 8 - Issue 234, dateline 12 July 2069
Five Minutes To Detonation!
Recovering his wits, Scott dives again - to be chased by their leader. Scott fights him off, and gets back to Thunderbird 4. In order to save them from the explosion, Scott surfaces and taunts the natives - and a bizarre slow chase ensues as they pursue him while he maintains the lowest speed possible. The blow hole explodes - but the natives are clear enough, and Scott leaves them to ride the massive waves. Diving in Thunderbird 4, Scott sees the volcanic spread has been blocked, and the island natives should be safe now.
Thunderbirds The Comic issues 33 to 37
While this story is credited to 'Spencer Howard', which was usually the pseudonym for Howard Elson, he would have left the disbanded Century 21 Publications company partway through the strip, and did not write - even as a freelance - for the new editorial team.
The idea of a volcanic chain reaction is similar to the Thunderbirds novel 'Ring Of Fire', and one has to ponder if this strip was possibly also written by John Jennison (aka John Theydon).
The Classic Thunderbirds Calendar 2004 lists this story as 'Volcanic Chain Reaction'.
Emergency Signal received by Thunderbird 5 (aka Jungle Adventure)
Writer: Scott Goodall.
Artist: Frank Bellamy. 2 pages, colour.
Part 1 - Issue 235, dateline 19 July 2069
Somewhere in the South American jungle, two men dressed in native indian head dresses struggle to complete a radio set and send out an S.O.S. In space, John Tracy on board Thunderbird 5 picks up the ancient short-wave band signal, before the men are discovered and their set smashed. The sonar trackers give a location in the Amazon jungle, and Gordon and Virgil are despatched in Thunderbird 2 to investigate. A search from the air is futile, so Thunderbird 2 lands, and Gordon takes out Brains' new invention - a jungle buggy with a front-mounted rotary saw for cutting through trees - out. But suddenly the vehicle tips into a hidden pit trap...
Part 2 - Issue 236, dateline 26 July 2069
Gordon is knocked unconscious by the fall. Virgil has to follow on foot, only to be knocked out by a native as he finds the buggy. The two Tracys recover to find themselves prisoners, alongside Blake and Palmer, who explain the indians believe them gods. They built a radio and got off one message before it was discovered and smashed. They are taken to watch the sacrifice of their ship in the fire pits, and are shown the astonishing sight of hundreds of indians hauling the massive Thunderbird 2 on rolled logs. Alerted by the silence from Thunderbird 2, Jeff sends Scott to investiage, and the craft arrives just as Thunderbird 2 teeters on the cliff edge above the furnace...
Part 3 - Issue 237, dateline 02 August 2069
Scott puts Thunderbird 1 into a dive, and scares the indians away, leaving Thunderbird 2 to slide back down the incline out of danger. Gordon makes a break for it in the confusion, and contacts Scott, and they plan to free the others. Scott flies Thunderbird 1 over the village, and distracts the indians with a display of 'fire' by burning his landing exhaust, and using his amplifiers to speak as 'Xehuantepec of the flames! Quetzalotl of the fire!'. Virgil, Blake and Palmer escape and meet up with Gordon at the buggy, but he tells them the fire-pit has erupted - and Thunderbird 2 is right in the path of the lava...
Part 4 - Issue 238, dateline 09 August 2069
Driving the jungle buggy at full speed, they reach Thunderbird 2 just in time, and have to risk a lift-off with trees blocking them and not knowing what damage there is. Fortunately, Thunderbird 2 is a tough machine, and it rises as the lava reaches it. Now there is a new problem - the lava is heading for the indian village! Virgil has to take a second risk, and uses a large scoop to dig a trench that siphons the lava away from the village. The indians are saved, and Thunderbirds 1 and 2 return Blake and Palmer to civilisation.
Issue 237: The Edge Of Destruction! Is This The End Of Thunderbird 2? Tracy Brothers Held Captive!
Thunderbirds The Comic issues 38 to 41
Only Blake is named in part 1, and Palmer is only named in the recaps.
The Classic Thunderbirds Calendar 2004 lists this story as 'The Amazon Fire Pit'.
Danger on the High Seas (aka Danger in the Deep)
Writer: Scott Goodall (?).
Artist: Frank Bellamy. 2 pages, colour.
Part 1 - Issue 239, dateline 16 August 2069
Far beneath the surface of the Pacific, World Navy tactical submarine F 32, top priority on the secret list, cruises on a missile test...
At the controls is Commander Hugh Neilson, and he orders preparations to destroy a radio-controlled target submarine now sighted by the tele-scanner. But when the bow missile port opens, a clinging drift of deep-water weed jams it, and the missile is caught in it to explode while still inside. Primary bulkheads are sealed but the sub sinks to lie helpless on the lip of the Manafu Trench. John picks up the distress signal, and Jeff thinks the Navy have their own rescue services but the President is worried in case the other side is alerted. Lives are at stake however, and Jeff orders Virgil and Gordon in Thunderbird 2 to take Thunderbird 4. But as the small sub is dropped in the area, Gordon ponders if the other side has heard, and if he is in for a fight...
Part 2 - Issue 240, dateline 23 August 2069
Underwater Killers Close In On Gordon
Gordon locates the F32, right on the edge of the trench, and back on Tracy Island the 'Whale' - International Rescue's special bathyscaphe is prepared. Gordon makes contact with Neilson, and is given instructions on how to reach the fused electrical circuits. Leaving Thunderbird 4 in a pressure suit and armed with a 'saltac' - spike and line, trail auto cannon - he prepares to secure the sub so it will not slip any further. But nearby, a Bereznik sub has also found the F32, and three armed frogmen prepare to take care of Gordon...
Part 3 - Issue 241, dateline 30 August 2069
The under-sea sniper fires - and the spear streaks towards Gordon!
Seeing the attackers but with Gordon not having a radio, there is no way to warn him - until a hasty crewman blows number six airtank which is right beside him. The action saves Gordon's life, but tips the stricken submarine into the trench, dragging Gordon with it. The Bereznik sub captain departs, as the mission has come to a sudden and unsatisfactory end. The pressure is crushing Gordon, but fate saves his life when the torn bow catches the trench wall and the line is severed. In a desperate gamble, Gordon fires another line from his harpoon, and manages to hold the F32 to the rock face. Holding the sub long enough for a rescue, Thunderbird 2 returns to Tracy Island and returns within the hour with the 'Whale', International Rescue's self-propelled bathyscaphe. But as Brains pilots it into the depths, he sees a startling sight...
Part 4 - Issue 242, dateline 06 September 2069
A New Danger Of The Deep Threatens The Stricken Submarine!
Gordon is under attack from a massive shark, and a flip of its tail slashes his arm, the blood driving it into a frenzy. With no armament or deep-sea suit, Brains is helpless, and the order comes from Jeff Tracy that the rescue is more important - Gordon has to take his own chances. Manoeuvring the 'Whale' alongside the F32, Brains sends out a flexible tunnel airlock to rescue the crew. Just in time, the lines snap, and the sub plummets into the depths. Exposed for the attack, Gordon can only wait as the shark turns, only to be caught in the wires. 'Whale' and Gordon surface together, both safe.
Issue 240: Devils Of The Deep
Issue 241: Splashdown!
Thunderbirds The Comic issues 42 to 45
Thunderbirds (Dutch Edition) - issues 8-9 (as Gevaar in de Diepte)
The cover image for issue 241 unwittingly shows the top of the sky backdrop for Thunderbird Two (to top right).
The Classic Thunderbirds Calendar 2004 lists this story as 'Subsmash Rescue'.
The artwork for the second page of part 1 is known to still exist in a private collection.
Project City continues the 'what if' style trend by pondering what happens when International Rescue have the upsized equivilant of a really bad day at work where nothing goes right. Of course the high stakes prevent this from being as comical as it might sound, but the normally cool, efficient Tracys seem beset by blunder after mechanical failure after problem.
Chain Reaction is a world threatener, with a rogue freighter hitting a volcano which threatens to set off a series of volcanoes across the sea, with potentially disastrous effect. This, unfortunately, was the last of the great Thunderbirds strips in the original TV21, and it was followed up by two short tales that failed to really go anywhere or do anything. By this time, TV21 and TV Tornado was no longer under the same editorial team - Century 21 Publishing having been shut down at the end of May 1969 - and production was being handled by Martspress. According to the late Keith Watson, who was drawing Joe 90 at the time, and related by Andrew Skilleter recently, the company had problems with scripts, and this shows also in the case of the latter strips for Captain Scarlet and Zero X - what could have been exciting final stories followed by mediocre plots.
For whatever reason, either City Magazines or the new production company could not handle the two titles side by side, and it did not take long in publishing terms for the decision to be taken to merge them.
The Gerry Anderson Complete Comic History would like to thank:
Theo de Klerk
& Paul Winsum
- for their help with this feature.
Version 1.1 - 01.10.06
Any comments or notes about any of the strips, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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