The Barbie Doll Golf Cart

When my daughter Ava was five she wanted me to buy a Barbie-doll sized Golf Cart from the toy store to play with. Ava never played with Barbies, or any dolls that size. She liked tiny little 3 to 5 inch stuffed animal toys like cats dogs penguins lions or giraffes. You get the picture. At first I said no explaining she didn't have any toys that would fit. I asked her if she would rather get another stuffed cute animal -heck she could get three or four more, she said no she wanted the $20 golf cart. I said no. Going to the check-out she kept looking forlornly back at the toy section. I turned to her and said 'do you really want the golf cart?' She nodded. We went back and got it.

The Christmas Present.

My daughter's 20 now. I gave Paper Girls, The Fifth Beatle, and Ghost World among other Graphic Novels for her to read (she has an artistic bent like her father.) In return she on occasion would give me some comics she picked out, usually the bargain-bin box from the comic book store. To her I'm ancient and she thinks maybe these will be a fun nostalgic blast from the past. This time around, for Christmas, she gave me a 10-issue run of The Electric Warrior published in 1986 by DC, written by Doug Moench and illustrated by Jim Baikie.

I'm proud of my daughter but oh my word what a chore to read these 10 comics! Electric Warrior is set in a future you've seen many times before.

The rich elite above and the misshapen lower life forms below a vast city where people go about on air cars and there's a police force consisting of these titular warrior/robots to keep things in line. Amongst the elite are Magistrate Marder, his daughter Quintara who wants to visit the near-naked wilderness people, of whom she has a crush on Derek Two Shadows. Derek himself came from the city's underworld, 'The Zigs' as they call them.

Traditionally the Zigs bind their kid's heads at the age of 5 to make their bodies better capable of squirming in and out of the small tunnels they scurry through collecting their daily food or stimulants. Derek Two Shadows is normal though, he didn't get the head-binding.

Quintara wears ungainly 'future-ish' bulging clothes and tight '80s boots. She also sports a weird Woody Woodpecker black spike thing above an X-men style wrap-around head gear open at top. Derek is a white dude going around in a loin cloth trying to look like an Indian only without the darker skin. Two Zigs, Zeedle and Janda play a part in the comic. Rounding out the field is our title character, a robot sentry named Lek, or 9-03 (I guess you pronounce it 'nine-oh-three') who has a funny chip in his head that makes him have human feelings and rebel.

I won't lie. It was a huge slog to read this, particularly after part 1. Part 1 started out maybe promising a weird tale of hijacking stuff to get this funny drug thing that the Zigs need to cope with their nasty situation.

Happy Trees.

But then we're steered away to the Derek dude who -huh?- just wants to paint pictures in a loincloth out in the wilderness. I wished Doug Moench changed him to Bob Ross! In a loin cloth! That would've been real cool. Apparently Quintara wants to visit Derek to study his tribe. Then the robot/sentry Lek (9-03) falls in love with a hooded old woman named Kinsolving who lives with the Zigs (I guess no bound up head for her). Since he's a robot, I mean made out of unmoving metal on his face, it seems very strange and hard to visualize his true feelings for the woman, they seem to sprout out of the blue.

I felt sorry for the artist.

On the whole, what started out maybe a bit twisted and interesting smoothed out to a very dull boring soap opera of smooth quickie-drawn costumes and props. There's such a lack of style an an anemic, bloodless approach to building this world from the artistic standpoint I wonder if maybe Doug Moench back then either could've whittled this down by 60% and given his artist a break. There is no story. Just a lot of prancing around. The Electric Warrior -the ten issues I read- suffer from the writer getting his way all the time with no limits on his scope.

Getting past the boring story just a moment it was in a minor way a bit interesting to see how they perceived high tech in 1986. Yes, there's frequent mentions of a 'net' or wireless network of computer data, but all the hardware, the computers, the robots, have to voluntarily switch on to establish a newly formed 'net' each time they need one. The visual panels are housed in large boxy monitor screens like you'd have computers back in their day.

It's a shame and I can't blame the era for a lack of good Science Fiction. 1986 isn't too far from Planet of the Apes, or The Andromeda Strain, or Star Wars for that matter (although lots of people view Star Wars as fantasy). Heck, even Steam Punk was there on the horizon with The League of Gentlemen or William Gibson's The Difference Engine. Orson Wells once said a movie studio is 'the greatest toy train set anyone could play with.' Same holds true with comics.

Weeks later back when my daughter Ava was five I heard her happily playing in her room, putting voices to her stuffed animals. She had heaped them all onto the golf cart and was giving them a ride to school. She had a plan with the golf cart and it wasn't Barbie or golf. I wished Doug Moench back then maybe had a better plan with the toys he had to play with.

Next Tuesday:

Charlie Stickney's White Ash universe continues with a side story Glarien!

Tim Larsen

12 Woodwardia Ave

Felton CA 95018