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Corriere dei Piccoli / Corrierino 1993 #17
('Un' Invenzione Troppo Pericolosa')
by Antonio Orecchia

Featuring: James, IQ, Tracy, GordoTrevor, Coach Mitchell, Dr Derange, Skullcap.

Synopsis: A helicopter approaches a meteorological observatory high in the Italian Alps, in the Aosta Valley region. It's snowing, unusually for April, but one of those aboard the helicopter suggests this is not a natural occurrence. Descending on ropes from the chopper are Skullcap and a SCUM henchman, who quickly overpower the security guards at the observatory. They are soon joined by their boss, Dr Derange, who proceeds indoors to take a hostage - Professor Lacour. The price of his freedom, says Derange, will be Lacour's discovery, and instructions for its use. However, somebody unseen has overheard this conversation, and makes a quick escape in a car. Dr Derange orders Skullcap to bring them back.

Meanwhile, nearby, Coach Mitchell is driving IQ, James, Tracy, Gordo and Trevor towards the ski resort of Cervinia, in the Warfield Van. IQ regales the group with details of his latest inventions which will augment their week in the snow. But at that point, Mitchell is distracted by volatile driving from cars coming in the opposite direction. Passing them first is the car of the person who escaped from the observatory, with Skullcap and the SCUM agent in pursuit in another vehicle. IQ recognises Skullcap, and James asks Coach Mitchell to stop the van - they'll have to postpone their skiing for now. James launches from the roof of the van on IQ's turbo-engine bobsleigh in pursuit of the vehicles, while Trevor, who thinks James is just showing off, says he could've done much better!

James takes a shortcut and ends up in front of Skullcap's car, ramming it off the road where it crashes into a nearby tree. James then goes to help the woman driving the other car, who introduces herself as Sheila, the secretary of Professor Lacour. She explains that Lacour has created an invention that will be very important for humanity and was about to announce it on television. His 'Mutometeo' device is able to modify the climate of any area on the planet. James realises that the world is in trouble if this technology falls into the wrong hands, and he and Sheila head to the observatory on the bobsleigh. Meanwhile, Lacour is refusing to tell Derange how to operate the Mutometeo, saying it should be used only for good - whereas Derange wants to turn Europe into a desert.

Lacour tells Derange that in any case, his invention isn't yet perfected - but Derange doesn't believe him, given the unusual snowstorm that's raging around the facility. The SCUM agent who has been guarding the weather centre warns Derange and Skullcap of intruders outside - Derange sees from the window that it is James, as well as Lacour's secretary. Derange seems pleased at this development, as a chance to eliminate Bond once and for all, and sends Skullcap and the guard to greet them. Outside, the crooks immediately open fire; James tells Sheila to take shelter in some trees, while he lures the crooks away from the facility on his skis.

Pursuing on skis themselves, the villains lob an explosive device at James, which misses, but opens up a chasm in the snow ahead of him. However, IQ's extendable ski poles save the day, allowing James to vault over the hole, and distracting the crooks so they end up toppling into it themselves. James reconvenes with Sheila, while Derange, who's been watching from the weather centre, is furious - but says it isn't over yet. He calls his helicopter pilot, telling him to come and collect him. But Lacour has used the Mutometeo to whip up a blizzard outside, making it impossible for the chopper to land.

Undeterred, Derange takes Lacour at gunpoint, along with the Mutometeo device, and commandeers James's bobsleigh to make his getaway. Happily, he hasn't reckoned with the turbocharged engine on the bobsleigh, and when he attempts to operate it it flies out of control, smashing straight into a tree. While Lacour is unhurt, the Mutometeo is destroyed in the crash, meaning that the blizzard clears and Derange is able to escape via the helicopter. Lacour declares it's best that the technology was destroyed, as evidently humanity is not ready for his discovery. The downside is that the improved weather puts paid to the Warfielders' skiing plans - however, Gordo is undeterred, as the retractable wheels on the bobsleigh mean he can turbo around on the grass instead.

Review: Much like the first original strip for Corriere dei Piccoli, this story features strong resemblances to an episode from the TV series - in this case, Weather or Not, which also features Dr Derange and Skullcap embroiled in a scheme to take control of technology that can manipulate the weather. Once again, though, the similarities really end there, and this is an altogether different take on the plot device, with an atmospheric Alpine setting which generates some effective (and, given the subject matter, apt) action sequences. Dr Derange is on fun, fine form, his pleasure at wreaking mayhem palpable as in all his best episodes, and especially on learning James has turned up so he can finally eliminate him. The detail around the weather control aspect feels more pedestrian, particularly given it's previously-trodden ground, and there isn't much elaboration on what Derange would do with the Mutometeo and why, other than his suggestion of turning Europe into a desert, because... well, because he's evil, we suppose. It's good to get a small but amusing cameo from Trevor here, though - 'Tsk ... the usual exhibitionism' was the closest translation for his snarky thought-bubble, as James launches himself from the roof of the van on a bobsleigh.

Highs: IQ's gadgets actually make perfect sense within the context of the episode (i.e. a skiing holiday), which is far from the case for his convenient inventions in many other instalments.

Not a major gripe, but there are two separate occasions on which the villains' vehicles are sent crashing into trees, which perhaps could have been mixed up with an alternative dispatch method. On a related note, if IQ's bobsleigh is so turbocharged, how did Skullcap - who was involved in a fairly serious car crash in which the vehicle looked badly damaged - make it back to the weather station before James and Sheila?

Gadgets & Gizmos:
IQ has made some tweaks to the Warfielders' bobsleigh -a turbo engine and retractable wheels to enable its use even when there's no snow - while his modified ski poles are ultra-flexible, with stretch functionality and integrated crampons.

SCUM on the Surface:
In addition to Skullcap, there is at least one uniformed agent on the ground doing Derange's bidding today. Possibly more than one given they're often fairly indistinguishable...

Loco Parenthesis:
Coach Mitchell doesn't even bat an eyelid when James interrupts the journey to the ski resort to launch himself off the top of the Warfield van on a turbo-powered bobsleigh in pursuit of international criminals.

Dr Derange is in a fetching red and neon pink variant of his usual attire, which would remain his design of choice throughout this run.

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