Sunday, 26 May 2013

Harlem Heroes: 'Berlin Stadium'

I've managed to track down one of the Harlem Heroes strips that previously eluded me, so here it is...

NAME
Harlem Heroes: 'Berlin Stadium'
(according to Wikipedia, this strip is also known as 'The Berlin Blitzkriegs')

FIRST PUBLISHED
2000 A.D. Annual 1978

DATELINE
1st September, 1977 (this date is from Barney)

PAGE COUNT
10

REPRINTS
None.

SYNOPSIS
The Harlem Heroes play a friendly against the Berlin Blitzkriegs.

FIRSTS & LASTS
First and last 10 page strip.

INFORMATION
The score-tank is three hundred feet up. The rules state that spectators are allowed to participate. A power charge involves a player flying through their opponent's ranks at speeds of up to 200 mph.

The Berlin Blitzkriegs play their home games at Berlin Stadium.

The Harlem Heroes play the Berlin Blitzkriegs away in a friendly math. Final score Harlem Heroes 3 air strikes to the Berlin Blitzkriegs 2.

GIANT
He receives a gauntlet punch from Boldt to the chest. Later, he power charges the Blitzkriegs and broke their attack, but was unable to decelerate in time and smashed his leg on the wall of girders. Despite this he subsequently accepts Boldt's death duel challenge and receives a spiked-helmeted head butt to the gut, which smashed his jet pack's speed control and causes him to zoom about uncontrollably. He sheds the jet pack and falls onto Boldt, they fight, Giant scores another air strike and climbs onto the score tank.

SLIM
He receives a gauntlet punch from Boldt to the fist. After Rusty is beaten by a member of the crowd, he flies over, scoops up the aggressor and hangs him by his belt on the score-tank three hundred feet off the ground. The commentator dubs Slim a comedian, before his cargo falls to the ground. Slim later scores an air strike.

LOUIS
He has been concentrating on the Berlin Blitzkriegs tactics and formulates a plan.

OTHER CHARACTERS
RUDI BOLDT
Captain of the Berlin Blitzkriegs. He is nicknamed the Berlin Butcher. He punches Giant in the chest, scores two air strikes and challenges Giant to a Death Duel. He impales himself on the spikes around the score tank as Giant scores.

RUSTY
Harlem Heroes player. Whilst taking the ball down the wing he is hit by a bottle thrown from the crowd and falls to the ground. The crowd move in and beat him up. He is very badly injured.

EARL
Harlem Heroes player.

DEATHS
Three. Rusty crash lands and is beaten by the crowd. Rusty's opponent falls from the score tank when the Blitzkriegs score and is presumably killed. Rudy Boldt is impaled on the score tank spikes.

BEST LINES
Ringleader: "Let-let me go! The rules say that spectators are allowed to participate!"
Slim: "And that's just what you're gonna do, sweetheart! 'Cos you an' me's gonna take a ride-up to those ol' spikes!"

WORST LINES
So many contenders...

Fans: "Booooooo! Hate! Hate!"

Rudi Boldt: "Here they come! Tight disciplined formation to protect me, men. No passing the ball or clever tactics, like the Harlem Heroes, we use only brute force!"
Berlin Blitzkrieg: "Ja, Butcher! It is the secret of we Blitzkrieg's success!"

Rudi Boldt: "Well, black boy, have you got the courage to accept my challenge?"

CATCHPHRASES
The Blitzkrieg fans shout "Sieg Heil!" no less than eight times and "Berlin! Berlin! Uber alles!" once and have started bizarrely spelling out words like "S-C-O-O-P!" and "H-A-T-E!"

CONTINUITY & CROSSOVERS
As with 'The Seattle Sluggers', it's not immediately obvious when this strip is set. Possibly between Parts 8 and 9 on the return trip from Moscow, between Parts 11 and 12 or between Parts 15 and 16.

INFLUENCES & REFERENCES
Unknown.

MISTAKES
The line "Keep going, men - the fool's nerve will crack!" is presumably meant to be said by Rudi Boldt, but the speech bubble appears to be pointing at an unidentified Harlem Hero.

RETROSPECT
None.

NOTES
None.

CREDITS
There are no credits printed in the strip itself and so the following are taken from Barney.

Script: Unknown
Artist: Unknown

REVIEW
This is awful and at ten pages long that's a lot of awful to go around. Aeroball was always dangerous and there were deaths, but it was never so callous before. Despite his new murderous nature, Slim is easily the man of the match here, because he's the only player to show any personality at all. The use of the phrase "black boy" is unfortunate. Harlem Heroes could have been used to deal with racism, but it wasn't really and a one-off extended strip in an annual isn't going to achieve that so this throwaway reference takes on a significance it doesn't deserve. The context of the strip being in an annual is important, because it's standalone nature robs the Harlem Heroes of the context of the main strip. Harlem Heroes without the conspiracy subplot is just aeroball, and aeroball isn't what it used to be.