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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

UFO: A Near Thing UFO
"A Near Thing"
Countdown #50, January 29, 1972
Writer: Unknown
Art: Jon Davis


The aliens infiltrate Moonbase and bring an invasion force to Earth.


Read the Technodelic story summary at the Internet Archive




I've placed this story after the end of the TV series since it features the new Earth ship, the Space Scout, able to maneuver in and out of "deep space" fairly quickly, indicating more sophisticated engine technology than exhibited in the series, and because the aliens here are depicted as able to speak English to communicate with the humans.




This is a 6-page, self-contained story in Countdown #50, January 29, 1972.




SHADO introduces a new Space Scout ship for patrolling space beyond Earth's orbit. But some other stories do suggest long range probes already in existence, such as Deep Space Probe 87 (also referred to as Watchdog) in "Reflections in the Water" and the Venus Probe in "The Cat With Ten Lives". The Space Scout seen here seems more sophisticated than the probes in those earlier episodes.

Space Scout


Notice in the image above that, as in "The Force Field", Moonbase appears impossibly enormous on the surface of the Moon!


Once again, Foster is referred to as a major instead of a colonel.


Notice on page 1, panel 3 of the story that the lovely, young Moonbase lieutenant has her hand on Colonel Foster's shoulder as she remarks that he sounds apprehensive about the Space Scout mission. Seems a bit inappropriate for a subordinate to be touching a Colonel, but then Foster always was a ladies man. Maybe the two have been seeing each other off duty.


Foster remarks that the Space Scout is actually a Pentagon program, not SHADO. The Pentagon is the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defense.


On page 2 of the story, the aliens use never-before-seen jetpacks to maneuver during a spacewalk from a UFO to the Space Scout.


The interior of the Command Sphere looks quite a bit different than that seen in the TV episodes. Possibly, at this point in time, after the end of the single season of the TV series, SHADO has expanded Moonbase into underground chambers, with an additional "nerve center" or "control room" as it is referred to here. There also appears to be a separate landing/launch pad for the Space Scout from that which is used for the Lunar Module in past stories.


The communications monitor on Straker's desk, seen in panel 10 of page 3 of the story, is different from the style seen in episodes of the TV series.


After Foster crash lands the Space Scout in the ocean, page 6 states he's in the medic bay at SHADO HQ just 30 minutes later! That's a pretty fast rescue and delivery from the middle of the ocean to the London area! 




Why does Straker feel the need to blame the Pentagon's Space Scout mission for the alien attack? Couldn't the aliens just as easily have hijacked another Earth probe to infiltrate Moonbase? It's never explained why Straker and Foster thought the deep space scout craft to monitor for UFOs was such a bad idea. Wouldn't Straker be pleased about additional space monitoring? Maybe Straker is the egotistical control-freak General Henderson has been claiming!


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