Retro Review: Aristocratic X-Traterrestrial Time-Traveling Thieves #1 (August 1986)

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You’ve heard of the mini-series, but were you aware of the short-lived concept of the micro-series?  Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of Aristocratic X-Traterrestrial Time-Traveling Thieves #1 awaits!


Writer: Henry Vogel
Artist: Mark Propst
Letterer:  T.R. Davison
Editor: David Anthony Kraft
Publisher: Comics Interview Publications
Cover Price: $1.75
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $2.00

Previously in Aristocratic X-Traterrestrial Time-Traveling Thieves: “No turtles!  No rodents!  No pachyderms!”, cries the first page of this issue, a text piece explaining how the concept came together.  In the wake of the success of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the black-and-white comics boom of the 80s brought a lot of parody titles (including ‘Power Pachyderms’, which Major Spoilers patrons can check out right now at that fell into a specific pattern.  Adolescent Radioatcive Black-Belt Hamsters?  Pre-Teen Dirty Gene Kung-Fu Kangaroos?  MILDLY MICROWAVED PRE-PUBESCENT KUNG FU GOPHERS?  Heck, there were even Geriatric Gangrene Jujitsu Gerbils, which is both gross and nonsensical.  The titling conventions thus got the wheels moving for the X-Thieves, but rather than a quartet of glowing animals, they consist of one alien and one very hot young woman.

Our story opens with Bianca and Fred delivering on their promise to steal back compromising photos for a client, only to rob him of his valuables.  (When he complains that they said they didn’t rob clients, he gets the gleeful response that their contract is concluded, and he’s no longer a client.)  Rushing off to their next job, they bump into the first of many (perhaps even too many) pop-culture references.

They have been contracted to find and liberate “Earth’s Greatest Treasure”, but first they have to get out of a speeding ticket, a task completed by showing off the morphable nature of their transportation, the “Fredmobile.”  It can also travel in time, allowing them to arrive in the wondrous long-ago year of 1984.

Well, long ago for us.  Two years ago for them.  In any case, it’s worth nothing that Aristocratic X-Traterrestrial Time-Traveling Thieves #1 is remarkable among its peers.  Like so many independent comics of the era, it features a character who is described as beautiful, but Mark Propst is actually able to make Bianca look as lovely as described.  Plus, she has a killer 80s shag hairdo.  Their mission takes them to 387 Park Avenue, the headquarters of Marvel Comics, where they freak out Chris Claremont and steal the treasure with almost no resistance.  While on Earth, though, they decide to see the sights, ending up taking in a movie in Times Square.  An alien policeman (who resembles a multi-limbed Sylvester Stallone, in yet another cultural reference) arrives to take them into custody, sending them on a time-travel adventure.  They steal the Mona Lisa, get captured by aliens in ancient Egypt (after trying to turn the Sphinx into a club with a wet-bar) and we find that Fred’s full name is “Pansafredacopacog.”  One giant robot transformation later…

Ditching the expensive art, Bianca manages to shake their pursuers (who correctly remind their boss that the Mona Lisa is a sketch and not a painting as it was stolen before completion) and escape with Earth’s Greatest Treasure intact, only to get caught by the Galactic Inquisitor…

…who happens to be Fred’s DAD?

Apparently, their client is Jim Shooter, who wanted the original art for ‘Dazzler: The Movie’, marking yet another shot at the House of Ideas.  (Seriously, there are a couple dozen of them in this single 30-page issue.)  Propst’s art is actually quite good throughout the issue, and even without color there are no storytelling or clarity issues to be had.  As for Vogel’s story, it’s pretty much standard-issue 80s B&W stream-of-consciousness nonsense, but the charisma of our title couple helps to overcome any weaknesses in that realm.   Aristocratic X-Traterrestrial Time-Traveling Thieves #1 quickly spawned an ongoing series that ran twelve issues, no mean feat for a Comics Interview title, with some really cute art and a story that gets the job done, earning 3 out of 5 stars overall.  For my money, I’d read Mark Propst drawing pretty girls with shag haircuts all day long AND you can snag your own copy for two bucks or less, so that’s a success in and of itself.


Very 80s

The art is solid, the characters are fun and the story. Well, it doesn't stop, so that's something. It's a likable comic.

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Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.

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