Ezquerra finally gets his first cover, though probably not in a manner he appreciated. The pic of Call-Me-Kenneth appears to have been taken from a panel in the story, and the Dredd has been taken from somewhere else and reversed (the plain shoulder pad and chain are on the wrong side, for a start). I can’t decide if the replacement legs for CMK were provided by Kev O’Neill or not. I’m making the assumption that any art editing and bodging not done by O’Neill are Jan Shepheard’s work. We get a circular background and a speech bubble on this cover.
An art style I definitely recognise over the page, and Eric Bradbury’s first work for the Galaxy’s Greatest, with a 3-page Invasion! (and first multi-parter since The Resistance the 5-part introduction). It’s a strange combination of concentration camp imagery meets The Hound of the Baskervilles and I’m in two minds whether it works or not.
Flesh next, and the final part of what was my introduction to the Cretaceous when it was reprinted in a long-ago Sci-Fi Special. Reagan leads (many of) the passengers and rangers to safety at the base, repeating (again) his warning about a final reckoning between man and dinosaurs. Of course, nobody is going to listen, even though the next prog trailer says: “Siege of the Trans-Time Base”. Old One Eye gets her first heart attack, but she’s ignoring medical advice and ploughs on regardless.
A one-page reader-submitted page next, with presumably re-drawn designs, including one ‘future car’ called the Satan Bug – am I misremembering or does that get used in Ro-Busters a few years later? Either that or the Satan Dart.
Harlem Heroes continues Gruber’s attack, which results in one not immediately fatal casualty in the form of Benny Gray, Giant’s aeroball opponent, plus a gash on Giant’s forehead. Gruber repositions himself in the crowd and is actually noticed by all the spectators around him as he takes a shot this time. The game up, we get the Heroes chasing Gruber as a cliffhanger.
The Nerve Centre features a ‘Big Screen prize winner’ letter cautioning humanity against destroying the ozone layer. I remember a similar article in another comic (either Eagle or Spike) on similar lines, though climate change naysayers would have you believe we thought we were heading for an ice age. A quick search reveals the idea that 1970s scientists all thought we were on the verge of freezing to death was mostly a media invention, and actually 80 – 90% of scientific papers published in the decade were predicting global warming.
A magnificent double-page spread of the Battle of Jupiter over the page, though some of the scaling seems a little off to me (one of the Biogs looks like it’s emerging from behind Jupiter, which would make it a few times larger than the size of the Earth). Anyway, nitpicking aside we get a pretty hasty space battle – pretty sure more pages would be devoted to such things these days. An acid slime attack on the Odyssey and the remaining crewmen taking to some dodgy-looking Kamikaze-craft in the last few pages, neatly separating Dare (and everybody else) from Commander Monday. Everything is set up for the first death of a major character in 2000AD, and we’re only ten progs in!
M.A.C.H.1 has another pretty standard outing, though there’s a hint of Probe’s disatisfaction with having to share his head with the humourless Series Six computer imprinted on his skull, and in a discussion with his colleague Moxan, Sharpe shows his true colours in how little he cares for Probe’s well-being. I’m glad of that tension, as the body of the stories are getting samey.
Dredd sees Call-Me-Kenneth burst on to the scene in the very first panel. As mentioned above, one of the panels from this story gets doctored to appear on the cover. One of the changes is the ‘Call Me Kenneth’ writing on the robot’s chest. I suspect that the robot in this story was not originally intended to be CMK, which would explain why the cyber-surgeon in the next prog gives the rebellious robot a new body casing (there’s no sign of this in the book Judge Dredd: the Mega History though). But I’m getting ahead of myself.
CMK starts off by stealing oil and killing policemen (that’s right, police, not judges). Most, if not all, latter stories which feature flashbacks to pre-2100 Mega-City One ignore this dual system of law enforcement, but I think it’d be nice to have a story set during the six months that Dredd goes to the moon, exploring how that system worked, and how it ended.
The second page sees Walter’s first (pre-rhotacist) appearance. In the same panel a fellow judge thinks that Dredd is like a robot. Also in the same panel, other judges in the canteen are resting without their helmets on, except for Dredd. Called into action from his lunch, CMK is the first interesting opponent that Dredd has faced so far.
This is Carlos’ last appearance in 2000AD until the merger with Starlord, and his last work on Dredd until the Apocalypse War, and the last page is squashed up for a factfile on Tharg and an advert for stamps. Turns out the Rosette of Sirius is actually made from implanted sapphires, and that Tharg’s skin starts off pastel green but darkens until its time for his next skin shedding. We find out Tharg’s favourite food is PVC (found on Earth in the form of plastic cups).