By Massimo Belardinelli

Moonrunners 2

By Massimo Belardinelli

"Across the galactic reaches, huge transporters hauled cargoes to and from the inner worlds... While out on the edge lay hostile territory, solar storms and black galaxies... terrifying gulfs and uncharted voids... a perfect place for Moonrunners... old freighters long past their 'sell-by' date, making their fortunes hauling special cargo... stuff that nobody else would touch, like unstable isotopes or dangerous psychopaths..."

Moonrunners was a 'space opera' (it's a soap opera... in space!) comic strip by Alan McKenzie, Steve Parkhouse and Massimo Belardinelli published in 2000 AD in 1988-9. It first appeared in prog 591 on September 10th 1988, and can be seen as an attempt to fill the 'strong female characters' gap left by the discontinuation of The Ballad of Halo Jones. The strip centres around space-age cargo transport, like Ace Trucking Co. taken seriously.

Tycoon Cara Nash is the owner of a flotilla of 'Moonrunners', clapped-out old space freighters crewed by a motley band of misfits. Cara likes to walk around in a bikini for no apparent reason; Carroll, her teenage daughter, is feisty and independent (i.e. rude). Their best ship is the Spirit of St Louis, manned by square-jawed Captain Flynn, first officer Mr Kempo and psychic helmsman Bunkaru. Together, they must fend off an attempt by the dastardly Mrs Van Hertz to take over their company.

Before setting sail (so to speak) the Moonrunners have a ceremony where they say a prayer to 'the Mother' and vow an oath of fidelity to the Nashes, kissing the Ring of Covenant worn by Cara or Carroll: "I pledge my loyalty to the Lady Cara, and my life to the daughters of the Moon." If a woman is discovered aboard a Moonrunner ship, however, the crew can execute her.

Flynn, Cara and Carroll manage to scupper the takeover bid after an amusing episode that involves Carroll disguising herself as a cabin boy, sneaking aboard the Spirit of St Louis, tripping as she gets out of the shower and falling naked into Flynn's arms. Flynn recoils in horror and thrusts some clothes at Carroll. It was just another bizarre episode in a somewhat incomprehensible series.

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