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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

"Hardest of the Hard" Part 1
Buckaroo Banzai: Hardest of the Hard #1
Story: Mac Rauch
Pencils: Shawn Van Briesen
Inks: Mark Stegbauer
Covers: David Easterly (A), J. Anthony Kosar (B)


A young woman is slowly transformed into a fighting animal and crosses paths with Buckaroo Banzai.


Story Summary


In New York City, a beautiful and tough young woman known as Lady G. is down on her luck and falls in with an operation that is transforming fighters into half-animal soldiers for the Deathheads of the World Crime League. Over the course of months, this woman becomes a partially cat-like being.


After her heart is replaced with that of a baboon, she decides to escape. She manages to make it away from the garbage barge that is the hidden headquarters of the operation, into the polluted river. Exhausted and almost drowned, she is eventually pulled out by a group of Buckaroo's people who are trying to locate the WCL operation.


Back at the Institute, Buckaroo promises to use his medical skills to help her become human again. In turn, she tells him about the garbage barge and a strike is planned.


Reno goes undercover as someone who is interested in joining and being augmented. He gets a meeting with the head doctor, Dr. Longfeller, on the barge and, as the strike begins outside, Reno jumps Longfeller. But Longfeller's semi-human bodyguard grabs Reno and he is captured.




Didja Notice?


The story opens in the Big Apple. The Big Apple is the nickname of New York City popularized by sports writer John J. Fitz Gerald in the New York Morning Telegraph in the 1920s.


On page 2, panel 1, we see the logos of both LG Corp. and Toys "Я" Us on the New York City street.


On page 13, Pecos remarks on the sky-high coliform and toxin count in the section of the river she, Reno, and Perfect Tommy are on. Coliform is a bacteria found in the feces of warm-blooded animals and is therefore used as an indicator of fecal pollution in the environment.


On page 15, panel 1, it appears there may be weapons placements on the roofs of the buildings of the Banzai Institute in New Jersey.


On page 15, Buckaroo seems to suggest that Dr. Harry Longfeller is actually Hanoi Xan (although it turns out in "Hardest of the Hard" Part 2 that Dr. Longfeller is just an android).


    Also on page 15, we learn that Lady G's actual name is Grace and she is from Monmouth, Illinois. Buckaroo remarks that Monmouth was the birthplace of Wyatt Earp. Earp was a well-known lawman in a number of frontier towns of the American Old West of the 1870s and '80s and he was, if fact, born in Monmouth.

   In "Return of the Screw" Part 1, Lady G is referred to more fully as Lady Gillette (a name originally used for a razor marketed towards women by Gillette, introduced in 1963).


When Reno's undercover ruse is discovered by Dr. Longfeller on the last page of the issue, the villain refers to him as "the Reno Kid." Reno is not generally known as "the Reno Kid" (though there is a Seminole Kid), but there is also the text story "Mysterium", which is said to be by the Reno Kid (presumably Reno) as told to Earl Mac Rauch.


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