skjam: Skyler Sands as a UNIT soldier (Unit)
[personal profile] skjam posting in [community profile] scans_daily
One of the recurring themes in the early years of 2000 AD was the future sports story. These carried over most of the tropes of regular sports comics, but with more violence and death, because that's what sports were going to be like in the future. I thought you might enjoy a storyline from "The Mean Arena."

It is the year 2025, and the up-and-coming sport is "street footbal". So called because instead of a nice open field, it's played by cordoning off a few city blocks along a street and using the buildings and terrain therein. (Though several teams have remade their hometown strips into more exotic obstacle courses.) Weapons are allowed, though the lethal ones are supposed to be used only on nonliving objects such as "droid" decoys.

The protagonist is Matt Tallon, who went off and did well in the American league, while his brother Paul became a star in Britain. Recently, Paul died during a game, which most write off to the unfortunate accidents that plague the sport. But Matt smells a rat in just how fast Paul went from all-star to a personal and professional tailspin. To investigate, he joins Paul's last team, the struggling Slater's Slayers. Sure enough, it turns out Paul was killed by a small group calling themselves the Hexa Gang, apparently just to see if they could.

At this point in the story, Matt's already disposed of Jaws Jensen (the player who inflicted the injuries that actually killed Paul) and Dr. Simon Jessup (the medic who declared Paul fit to play despite previous injuries.) In his last game, Matt learned that one of the Hexa Gang is a woman....

Sure enough, a new woman comes to town, asking for directions to the Slayers' training complex. The fellow she approached is less than helpful.

By this point in 2000 AD history, the readership was ready for "action girls" and there generally would be one as a supporting character in most series. Problem is, the Slayers already have a female player, Crazy Lil. Naturally, she challenges the newcomer.

(Oh, I should mention that each chapter was only three or four pages, so only one page from each chapter. It's gonna be choppy.)

The two women brawl, interrupted only by Tallon preventing Lil from using an unfair weapon.

Tallon is suspicious of the newcomer, but Brazen is hired. During the next game, Tallon is attacked by a mysterious masked man who controls a graveyard full of attack droids. Getting out of that mess ties up the Slayers, so they lose the game badly. (We never do learn anything about the masked man except that he was part of Hexa Gang--he dies before he can talk.) Brazen mysteriously vanishes during the trouble, reappearing only when the danger is over.

Matt Tallon and his android bodyguard Chip trail Brazen to her apartment some time later, but she's not home, and the telephone is rigged to explode.

As the Slayers approach the playing field, Mother Vlad mind-whammies Tallon.

And she does it again just as play starts.

Mother Vlad's ability to cause hallucinations is never explained in-story, though one character believes she's using microwaves. Somehow.

With Tallon playing at subpar ability, the Vampires are able to score easily. The team's sponsor, Kosi-Flex owner Rollo Hartie is livid and invokes his ability to override the manager.

There's a quick demonstration on a dummy of what the Incisor Gun does (kill), and the longstop is allowed to hide before play restarts.

Tallon manages to elude the longstop for now and get into the scoring dungeon, only to be presented with a choice of routes.

All Tallon's weapons don't have enough juice to get him out, but then a mysterious figure blasts a hole in the wall.

They backtrack towards the start of the dungeon while Brazen explains. She was Paul's girlfriend until Eartha Trent showed up at a party. Eartha quickly brought Paul under her control (possibly she actually does have mind powers?) and he became more and more reckless in his play trying to impress her.

Meanwhile the other Slayers are attempting to find Tallon and/or the Vampire longstop. One of them gets into an altercation with a Vampire player, and kicks him in the chest. The Vampire blows up, killing the Slayer.

Soon, other horrible Vampire deaths cause everyone who has their radios on (not Tallon or Brazen) to realize their suits are rigged to explode if hit in the chest. And for Tallon to score, he must "drive a stake through the goalkeeper's heart"! Finally Brazen moves back into reception range just as the longstop acquires his target.

Tallon gains the goal room and is about to score--

Brazen reasons that Mother Vlad rigged her players' armor before the match just in case this situation came up, and activated the explosives when Tallon played the Black Ace, making it okay to kill him.

The pair decides they'd better confront Mother Vlad quickly, but the Vampire players have realized she did this to them deliberately.

There's a bit of foreshadowing of the next plot I won't spoil, and then the Vampires force Mother Vlad off the tower.

Long story short, the next storyline is Tallon taking down the last two members of the Hexa Gang. It's not nearly as exciting as this one.

Hope you enjoyed this football game!

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