TRS-80 Computer Whiz Kids
Radio Shack/Archie Comic Publications (1984)
“The Computer Trap”
WRITER: Paul Kupperberg
ARTISTS: Dick Ayers & Chic Stone
EDITORIAL DIRECTION: William Palmer
A few changes from here out. Since this isn’t a DC produced comic the setting moves from Metropolis to Metro City, though from the next issue out the name will changed again to Coastal City. Alec is blond now instead of having brown hair and wears a sweater vest now but Shanna is basically still the same in design. Archie will actually reboot the comic at some point but we’ll get into that when we get there.
Ms. Wilson still has her surprises, a friend who is a reporter, and knows someone high up while being able to run field trips without parent permission slips, so much of the formula still remains. The new reporter friend is Judy Baker of the Metro City News, at least for this issue. Judy has come to teach the sixth grade kids how to use their computers to write news stories before being called away for a hot tip. Terrorist Max Fuzzi wants to grab a tech company big wig (oddly not Radio Shack) to hold for ransom. The tip also brings in the police and detective Jack Shaw, our other new regular for this phase of Alec & Shanna’s stories. The kidnapping goes down at the museum where Ms. Wilson’s class is a witness and a clue by Alec warns the police who their up against. Desperate to get the story first and Judy apparently going to the Lois Lane school of putting yourself in danger for the story, she sneaks in and with no Superman around Alec and Shanna try to bring her out. She of course gets captured but not before using her computer to warn her paper about the phony bomb plot and the escape plan. When the excitement gives the big wig a heart attack, Shaw comes up with a plan to surprise the terrorists but when Fuzzi attempts to escape the kids jump him and knock him out, earning an award and a new story for their school paper.
What they got right: That summary went longer than I thought. Quite a bit happens in this story and for a promo giveaway it’s a solid, complete story. We get introduced to two new supporting cast members, Judy Baker and Detective Shaw. One of the promo segments actually fits into how Judy gets the warning out to her paper plus we see how police and paramedics in this period used computers.
What they got wrong: I kind of breezed through the description of the Scripsit program since obviously I don’t use it and it’s way outdated by now. The software I’m using to write this very article has less steps involved. The trip to the museum has the same kind of computer history stuff, though in it’s defense these came out once a year, during the summer, so this is someone’s first introduction to the characters and it’s a with a new publisher so no Superman, Supergirl, or Wonder Woman here. While some may find it weird that two sixth graders capture the lead bad guy, it’s a comic for kids so kids getting to be the hero is no surprise. I’m disappointed that the COMPUTER Whiz Kids don’t save the say with the computer, though at least we see computers used by the good guys to stop the terrorists and help the heart attack victim.
What I think overall: This was actually a good start to this period of the TRS-80/Tandy Computer Whiz Kids once you get past the “buy me” stuff. Pity that won’t last as this phase goes downhill within a few issues and at one per year that’s even sadder.