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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr
enik1138 at popapostle dot com
V: City on the Edge "City on the Edge"
V #1 (DC Comics)
Written by Cary Bates
Pencils by Carmine Infantino
Inks by Tony DeZuniga
Cover by Eduardo Barreto
February 1985

A shootout in the Club Creole sends the Resistance members fleeing in different directions.

Story Summary

Donovan, Julie, Tyler, and Chris are celebrating Julie's birthday with a drink at Club Creole. Three men in trench coats walk in and go to the bar. Something about them tips off Donovan that they are not human...and why are they wearing trench coats? He realizes they are Visitors carrying hidden weapons and flips the table over so he and his friends have some cover just as the trio starts firing at them. Our heroes return fire and kill one while the other two escape outside. Chris receives a flesh wound in the shoulder during the shootout.

Once outside, the two Visitor hit men meet a Visitor patrol on a flying platform and lie to explain the firefight, claiming the humans fired first. The patrol begins to shoot up the club from outside and our heroes decide to split up, Tyler and Chris going out the back alley and escaping in the refuse bin of a garbage truck and Donovan and Julie hiding out in the club's speakeasy. Elias moans about the cost of damage to his club.

The troopers are unable to find their quarry and report back to a man named Lorne. But he is not worried and predicts that they will have the one they want within a day.

Meanwhile, Donovan and Julie make their way to the old movie ranch in the Santa Monica mountains which they use as a hangar and repair facility for captured skyfighters. There, Willie and others are prepping a skyfighter for a test flight. Donovan, Julie and Willie are joined on the flight by two new resistance members, Boyce and Hart, for the flight.

On the Santa Monica Freeway, Tyler and Chris are still in the back of the garbage truck. Tyler spots an ambulance not far behind them and the two jump out onto the shoulder to flag down the ambulance. Tyler forces the paramedics inside at gunpoint to treat Chris' injured shoulder.

Bates meets with Lorne and we learn that Lorne is the leader of a squad of rebel Visitor mercenaries who now live on Earth and take on jobs for money. Bates has hired them to kill Tyler, fearful that Tyler will kill him first.

In the ambulance, Tyler drives while the two paramedics patch up Chris in the back. Suddenly they are attacked from above by Visitor troopers wearing jet packs. The four humans manage to bail out of the vehicle near a marina just before the Visitors' laser shots blow it up. While the troopers circle around overhead searching for the bodies, Tyler lets the paramedics hoof it back to their hospital base while he and Chris pick out a fast-looking yacht at the docks. Sneaking aboard, they are caught by a shadowy figure wielding a gun.

Meanwhile, on their test flight, the five other resistance members of our cast find themselves pursued by another skyfighter. The pilot demands the proper response code from them and the vocasimulator Julie attaches to the communications system allows their voices to pass for Visitor and, having a proper response code, they are allowed to proceed unmolested. Suddenly a transducer coil that had been worked on earlier at the ranch goes bad again and their ship begins to lose control. Donovan manages a safe crash-landing near a small town in the countryside. Some of the inhabitants see the crash and rush out to them carrying small, wooden crates. But when our heroes step out of the ship the townspeople run away in mystified terror.



Didja Know?

The cover art for most of the issues of this series was by Eduardo Barreto, one of the best, most dynamic cover designers in the business. He did a number of outstanding covers for V, often incorporating the V logo into the art itself. On this issue's cover, the V is seen as a spray-painted protest symbol over the Visitor propaganda poster.

Most of the issues were written by Cary Bates and he included a lot of pop culture references in his dialog. I'll point them out as we go along.

Didja Notice?

Though the comic book series is based on the weekly TV show, the cover of this issue proclaims the slogan of the V mini-series, "The Visitors Are Our Friends." The slogan was not promoted by the Visitors during the weekly series and, indeed, makes no sense as a slogan at this time in the V chronology, seeing as how the Visitors are actively warring with Earth by now. (The slogan is used one time during the weekly series by a computer-generated image of Nathan Bates being used by Mr. Chaing and the Visitors in an attempt to maintain order in L.A. in "The Betrayal".)

Capturing the actors' likenesses was not a strong point of the artists on this series; the faces are fairly generic on the cover and contents. The characters on the cover are, from left to right, Chris, Donovan, Julie, Kyle, Robin (she looks like a little boy!) and Tyler.
V cast

On page 1, the Hollywood Sign is depicted as sitting too close to the eastern slope of Mount Lee.
Hollywood sign

The text on page 2 reflects the same outdated concept referred to on the cover, i.e. the Visitors profess to be our friends.

Page 2 also comments on how the Visitors are on Earth to take humans as food and steal the planet's water and precious minerals. It has never been stated previously that the Visitors are interested in any of Earth's minerals. It does make some sense though that they would take advantage of rare mineral mining on whatever planet they happen to be occupying on a long-term mission.

Incongruously, spread onto pages 2 and 3, a panel depicts Visitors carrying guns on the streets of L.A. even though part of Bates' agreement with Diana for the open city is that guns are prohibited in the city except for LAPD and Bates' security personnel. There is also a degree of artistic license in the art of the comic series as evidenced by the exterior of the Club Creole on this same panel.
the streets of Los Angeles

On page 2, Donovan seems to refer to Chris as "Andy" for some reason! Perhaps it's meant to be a sarcastic joke about the taciturn duo of Tyler and Chris being the old sit-com characters Amos and Andy? Since Donovan makes two other pop culture references (to actors) on the following two pages as well, it may all be writer Cary Bates' attempt to add some historical pop culture to the story.

On page 4, Donovan has a joking thought about the club's bald bartender as Telly Savalas. Savalas was an actor (mostly in the 1960's-70's) who was recognizable for his shaved head.

On page 5, three Visitors have entered the club wearing trench coats to hide the guns they are carrying to make a hit on Donovan, Julie, Tyler, and Chris. At least that makes sense, that they would need to hide their weapons due to the ban on guns in the city.

Speaking of trench coats, Donovan sees the coated Visitor trio and realizes they must be concealing weapons. Either that or they just saw an old Humphrey Bogart movie! Bogey, of course, was an extremely popular Hollywood film actor and cultural icon in the 1930's-50's and was known for often wearing trench coats in his roles as tough-but-noble characters.

On page 6, during the Visitors attempted hit on them, Donovan makes a comment that it's about time to test their new Teflon-coated ammo. Why? It's already been used successfully numerous times ever since it was introduced in "The Masterpiece". Unless this is an even newer version, but why would they need it? Have the Visitors developed even better armor padding recently?

In conflict with Donovan's statement above about Teflon-coated ammo, he appears to be using a Visitor laser gun instead of a standard Earth pistol! I suppose he could be referring to the other three still using standard pistols. But then that brings up the question I've asked before, why would any of the resistance members carry standard guns at all when they must have a stockpile of captured Visitor weapons?

Speaking of guns, Tyler appears to be using a different model pistol on page 7 than he was on page 6!
Tyler's gun Tyler's other gun

On page 7 we are introduced to a previously unseen form of Visitor technology, a flying platform capable of carrying several troopers (in this case, five). We will see these platforms used throughout the comic book series, though they never appear in the TV series episodes nor in the novels. (The novel The Florida Project does feature a similar technology in the form of silvery flying discs, however.)
Vistior flying platform

Regarding illegal weapons, on page 8 Tyler even makes a comment, "Was there anybody in this room who wasn't carrying an illegal concealed weapon?"

Page 10 reveals that the resistance has returned to using the movie ranch they used in portions of V: The Final Battle as a hangar and repair base for captured skyfighters.

On page 11 we are introduced to two new resistance members named Boyce and Hart. I presume the writer named them after the singers/songwriters Boyce and Hart (Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart) who were also members of the rock-and-roll band the Monkees.

On page 12, Tyler and Chris jump out of the moving garbage truck onto the shoulder of the Santa Monica freeway. The Santa Monica Freeway is the stretch of Interstate 10 that runs east from Santa Monica to where the 10 crosses Interstate 5, whereupon it becomes known as the San Bernardino Freeway.

Page 13 gives the impression that Lydia is in charge of the Visitor fleet as she treats Diana as a subordinate! (In the V-Mail of issue #4, the editors answer this question from a reader, explaining, "Lydia is in charge of security and is considered the number-two officer among the fleet. She does, however, try and make herself an equal with Diana and in matters of security, probably gets the last word." I don't think that really excuses Lydia's commanding tone in the mentioned scene.)

Page 13 also shows that Lydia and Diana are in a mothership in orbit above Earth instead of in the L.A. mothership which was shown over the city on pages 2-3.

On page 14, the exterior of Science Frontiers looks significantly different from that seen on the TV show. It could be argued that this is simply another branch of the main facility, but it's harder to explain how the Science Frontiers symbol has also changed from a UFO-like beacon to a stylized SF. Science Frontiers symbol Science Frontiers branch

Page 14 reveals that Bates has taken out a contract on Ham Tyler in response to Tyler's attempt to kill him in "Dreadnought".

Page 15 reveals that Lorne and his squad are Visitor rebels who seem to have gone AWOL from their military duty and now live on Earth as mercenaries. Bates has hired them to take down Tyler.

On page 16 we are introduced to another previously unseen Visitor technology, high-velocity jet-packs worn by Lorne's squad members to chase down the ambulance carrying Tyler and Chris.

Julie starts out the issue in a pink dress. On page 16 the dress is suddenly green and stays that way for the remainder of the story.

On page 17, when a real Visitor skyfighter starts to follow their captured one and demands the proper response codes, Donovan comments to his companions that if their response doesn't work he may have to "...pull a Luke Skywalker and shoot them down..."

Also on page 17, to fool the pursuing skyfighter, Julie attaches a device called a vocasimulator to the communications panel of their skyfighter and it makes the speaker's voice sound like a reverberating Visitor voice, similar to the devices they wore on their necks in some episodes of the mini-series. It seems that the printed mediums of comics and novels have chosen to continue using the Visitor voice reverberations even though the weekly TV series abandoned it! (In the V-Mail of issue #4, the editors answer this question from a reader, explaining "We suspect budgetry (sic) constraints made the series drop the voice disparity, but we're continuing it with Blatt-Singer's blessing.")

Notes from V-Mail

V-Mail is the letters column of DC's V comic book, featuring reader response and commentary about the published issues. The column's name comes from the American WWII term "Victory Mail", abbreviated V-Mail. Victory Mail was a method of corresponding with U.S. soldiers overseas by having letters written on specially-sized paper which was then censored for security, photographed, and placed on microfilm spools (to conserve space during transport) for shipment overseas where the film images were then blown up and reprinted on paper for the recipient.

This being just the first issue and no letters to publish, this issue's V-Mail column is a text piece by editor Marv Wolfman about how V came to be a comic book.

In the V-Mail of issue #5 a couple of readers take the publishing team to task for depicting Ham Tyler eating some of the restaurant garbage while he and Chris are escaping in the back of the trash truck (depicted in our current issue). Letter writer Sandra K. Fulbright states, "The man has obviously spent enough time in underdeveloped countries like El Salvador and Nicaragua to know what a case botulism or salmonella can do to a person." The editors respond, "OK, OK, we promise never to feed Ham Tyler garbage again!"

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