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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

UFO: Terror in the Tank UFO
"Terror in the Tank"
Countdown #56, March 11, 1972
Writer: Unknown
Art: Brian Lewis


After flying into inclement weather on Earth, an alien takes refuge in the London Zoo.


Read the Technodelic story summary at the Internet Archive




This is a 6-page, self-contained story in Countdown #56, March 11, 1972.




Page 1, panel 1 of the story appears to show the silhouettes of Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster in the pouring rain of England.


In panel 5 of page 1 of the story, a woman manning a scanning console at SHADO HQ appears to be wearing the same wig the women on Moonbase wear even though on the TV series, it's only the Moonbase women who wear them as part of their uniform.


As a UFO detection over London is lost in the bad weather on page 1, Straker puts the SHADO Mobile units on permanent standby. "Permanent" seems a bit extreme!


On page 2 of the story, the alien determines he must find shelter from the weather after landing his UFO and leaves to go walking through the pouring rain. It makes a bit of sense that he might have to land to avoid damage to his craft in the inclement weather, but why leave the UFO to seek shelter? Isn't it shelter enough? Is he simply afraid of being captured by SHADO if he stays with the craft, as opposed to the effects of the rain?


On page 2, panel 3 of the story, the word "then" in the narrative box should be "the".


Colonel Foster is again referred to as "Major" in this story.


The UFO has landed within the confines of the London Zoo.


On page 3 of the story, Foster grills the security guards of the zoo in front of his SHADO Mobile and even describes the damaged helmet found there as belonging to an alien. What happened to SHADO being a secret organization from the public?


This story implies that the aliens can only breathe in a liquid environment. But we've been given no real evidence that's true and, in fact, a number of stories have depicted the aliens surviving in the air, though only a short time in Earth air (for example, "A Question of Priorities"). In "Identified", it is implied that the liquid-breathing suits worn by the aliens are intended to ameliorate the effects of G-forces on the human body while travelling at extremely high speeds in space. In this story, the alien is found alive and breathing, after losing his helmet, in a water-filled aquarium at the zoo.


The large, predatory feline that kills the alien on page 6 appears to be a cheetah, judging by the simple black spots on its fur, as opposed to the rosette-type spots on similar big cats such as the leopard and jaguar.


The story seems to imply that if a non-alien touches a UFO, the craft will explode. This occurs when the attacking cheetah unknowingly sets off the self-destruction of the ship.


On page 6 of the story, a SHADO agent remarks that maybe the big cat that killed the alien had it's eye caught by the red color of the spacesuit. This is probably a reference to the concept of a bull charging at a matador's red cape. 


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