Second prog (still called ‘programme’ – the shortened version hasn’t been seen yet).
The covers of the first progs aren’t that interesting, as they have to accommodate the cover-mounted promotional gifts. It also looks like what remains of the space available has been cut and pasted from various sources (may be wrong, but the screaming woman on this cover doesn’t look like Belardinelli’s work to me).
Invasion! features a little more background to the Volgan invasion, with a splash page of British battle group being wiped out, and a few panels showing the execution of some members of parliament, which just seems like a repeat of Lady Shirley Brown’s execution the week before. Wasn’t it things like this that got Action banned/defanged? Despite an IPC ban on artist’s identities surviving on to the printed page (Belardinelli notwithstanding), I spotted Blasco’s signature on page 2.
Flesh next, and we get a splash page of the Fleshdozer – pay attention, we’ll see it again before Book 1 is out. Nothing leaps out at me here, but then I’m waiting for Old One Eye to make her first appearance.
M.A.C.H.1 sees a new artist on the second part of the introductory story – Ian Kennedy’s linework will be recognisable to those of a similar age to me who read his Dan Dare in the relaunched Eagle a few years after this prog came out.
Speaking of which – edgy Dan Dare shows up on the following pages, and seems to go out of his way to show he isn’t the sixties Dan Dare – not that I’ve read any, but I’m pretty sure the Air Force officer-style Dare wouldn’t have been so kill-crazy as the Bowie-inspired version.
The Nerve Centre makes its first appearance after Dare (remember the previous week was Meet Tharg!) after which we launch into the first post-crash training session with the Harlem Heroes. Conrad King is introduced and at the end is described as a forty-year veteran. Does that mean Aeroball was introduced as a sport at least prior to 2010? Continuity buffs demand to know! We also meet Zach in the Sky-Slums of Harlem. I don’t think we see this area before, which is a bit of a shame as it’s a nice link to Mega-City One style ghettos. At the end of this episode we get a Futuregraph (i.e. starscan) from Kevin O’Neill, who managed to sneak his signature onto the page – wasn’t it his job to white-out such things? We get a cut-away of the XJ9 power pack, and matching helmet and power belt.
Finally we round off the prog with the Toughest Lawman of Them All – yep, you guessed it, Judge Dredd’s heavily pasted first episode – most of which is by Mike McMahon but at least one panel is Carlos Ezquerra’s work. This episode lays the groundwork for many of the elements that feature in the next thirty-eight years (to date) worth of stories, though sometimes under different names – Judge Dredd is at Justice H.Q. talking to the Grand Judge about crime in Section Six. Nowadays he’d be at the Grand Hall of Justice talking to the Chief Judge about Sector 6. Strangely this is the second prog in which we see a character called Whitey (the previous prog had Savage told about the deaths of his family by a neighbour by that name).