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#68 (Marvel Comics #8)
'WAVE GOODBYE TO THE U.S.A.'
by Dan Abnett

Featuring: James, I.Q., Tracy, Gordo, Captain Plank, Goldfinger, Odd Job.

Synopsis: In the middle of the Caribbean sea, a brand new island suddenly emerges from the water. In a helicopter above, Walker D. Plank congratulates Goldfinger on his invention - the tectonic mass displacer. They land on the new island and explain their scheme to the assembled pirates and S.C.U.M. agents; formerly rivals, they're now collaborating so that Goldfinger can raise a Spanish treasure armada from the seabed by creating a mini-continent with his machine, while doing so will cause a tidal wave that will flood the U.S.A.'s eastern seaboard, allowing Plank to loot the country's riches.

They prepare to transport the displacer to Crossbone's Island, the activation point. Meanwhile, on a nearby private island belonging to Felix Leiter, it's sun, sea, sand and soft drinks for James, I.Q., Tracy and Gordo, as they enjoy a beach break. While James and Tracy watch Gordo surf, I.Q. fiddles with his telescope. Suddenly he spots a fleet of helicopters buzzing around nearby Crossbone's Island, which Felix has told them is deserted.

They take a boat to Crossbone's, where they climb up the volcanic cone, to discover a large hi-tech mechanical structure in the lake at the top, which I.Q. immediately recognises as a 'huge mass driver machine'. Soon they're captured by Odd Job and Plank's pirate stooge, Blunderbus, who tie them to the machine. Plank and Goldfinger arrive, telling them that when the machine's activated, the lagoon will flood and drown them.

The villains retreat to Plank's submarine to celebrate. As the machine begins to rumble, a group of sharks approaches, compounding their problems - but James gets one of the sharks to bite through his ropes, allowing him to free the others and get to their speedboat. While I.Q. and Tracy get on board, James and Gordo decide to ride the wave as the lagoon floods, then head for Plank's submarine.

Inside, they head for the pulse generator control room, narrowly avoiding Odd Job and Blunderbus who are preparing for invasion of America. James sets to work disabling the machine. Soon, Plank and Goldfinger discover that the disruption sequence has been reversed, and the new land begins to disappear back into the ocean. James and Gordo head for the helicopter room and escape on a chopper, while Plank and Goldfinger blame each other for the failure, each believing that they have been double-crossed.

Goldfinger reveals he's had his men secure mines to the hull of the sub in case Plank betrayed him, and he activates them just as Blunderbus reveals that intruders caused the failure. While James and Gordo pick up I.Q. and Tracy from the boat, the crooks' submarine sinks to the ocean floor. Back on the beach, the gang watches contentedly as a distress flare rises up from the ocean, and decide they've done quite enough surfing for one day.


Review: A particularly impressive edition of the comic series both in terms of writing and artwork, this story would have worked wonderfully on TV. The fragile truce between poisonous Plank and grandstanding Goldfinger is entertaining throughout - particularly as it begins to collapse under the weight of mutual treachery - and the immense scale of their (admittedly shaky) scheme would have looked good in animation. The story fuses some elements, including the lead villains, from the TV episodes Never Give a Villain a Fair Shake and Cruise to Oblivion, but in a grander setting and without unnecessary Trevor/seasickness subplots to endure. Odd Job (silent once more) is rendered fairly unnecessary here, his chief henchman role usurped largely by the one-hit wonder Blunderbus, Plank's fearsome first mate in this story. Meanwhile, there's a nice dynamic between James and his friends, the isolated island setting allowing their personalities to shine through a little more than they sometimes do at Warfield when surrounded by constraining influences such as Mr Milbanks and Trevor. Perhaps to fill the gap created by the absence of the latter, there's another hint of some minor tension between James and I.Q., and the latter being rather impatient with James's intellectual defecit, as in the earlier comic, The Gilt Complex. When berated by James for spending too much time with his telescope and not enough time relaxing, he scoffs at James for preferring to 'sizzle in the sun'. But I.Q. has the last laugh as, by becoming embroiled in another S.C.U.M. plot, James has effectively taken his own 'work' on holiday, too.

Highs: The scene at the start, in which the crooks outline their scheme for the benefit of their S.C.U.M. accomplices, is hilarious and pure James Bond Jr (see 'Lines to Remember').

Lows:
That the workings of Goldfinger's mass displacement machine aren't exactly steeped in science is a fairly gross understatement. Doesn't remotely detract from the fun, though.

Lines to Remember: Plank, to the assembled pirates and S.C.U.M. agents: 'For our part, raising the continent will cause a tidal wave that will drown the U.S.A., leaving it and its riches at our mercy. What do you think of that?' S.C.U.M. Agent 1: 'Jolly good!' S.C.U.M. Agent 2: 'Great!' Pirate: 'Terrific idea!' They all clap good-naturedly. Goldfinger: 'And of course, there will be triple-time bonuses for you all.' Everyone whoops and cheers.

Gadgets & Gizmos: I.Q.'s devices are relatively benign this week - his only contribution is a telescope, so he can enjoy the stars away from the lights of civilisation. Nothing so anodyne for Goldfinger, meanwhile, whose delightfully vague tectonic mass displacer can apparently raise entire new continents at the expense of existing ones.

S.C.U.M. on the Surface:
It's strongly implied that, while the rag-tag pirate bunch are Plank's men, the jolly polite uniformed S.C.U.M. agents are Goldfinger's. Nevertheless, Plank has been established as a member of S.C.U.M. on several prior occasions, so quite why the pair claim always to have been rivals is unclear. Perhaps, given the frequency of these uneasy partnerships in later stories, it's more helpful to consider S.C.U.M. as a loose members' association as opposed to a direct employer. Or perhaps we're reading far, far too much into it. 

Loco Parenthesis: Since James and his friends are already on holiday, there's no opportunity for dereliction of duty by Coach Mitchell, who doesn't appear in this story.

Blunders & Bloopers: The word 'tectonic' is misspelled as 'techtonic' here, twice.

Notes:
Phoebe is completely absent from this story - as is Trevor, for the third consecutive comic. 

We've heard of C.I.A. safe-houses, but 'safe-islands'?

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