‘Bollo’ makes his first of many appearances this issue, depicting Commander Monday’s last flight. Bollo is, of course, Brian Bolland and while he has been responsible for many memorable comics (including that panel) he’s just as well known for his many covers across British and American comics.
Over the page, Eric Bradbury is back, showing us Savage, Silk and Professor Frost’s flight across Dartmoor. The Volgs didn’t waste any time – invade a country, mistreat dogs in experiments and let them loose to attack escaping prisoners. The dogs looked pretty old to me though, so the experiments must have started pretty quickly. You can say what you like about the Volgs, but they’re punctual when it comes to cruelty. This is a pretty good story, shame the seven pages were split over two progs though.
Flesh next, and we get shown around the Trans-Time Base by the big-headed Controller. There are some rangers inside giant robot suits, though it’s a real shame they didn’t get someone like O’Neill to design them. The highlight of this episode is the last page and a bit, where we are introduced to the massing armies of dinosaurs, including furry Tyrannosaurs from the North. I’m not sure if these were an invention of Mills or Kelvin Gosnell, but furry Tyrannosaurs made an appearance many years later in Mills’ Dinosty.
Speaking of Mills and Flesh, next up is the rules to the Flesh card game that’s been taking the back cover for the previous four weeks. Some day I might get print-outs of the cards (sure I’ve seen scans online somewhere – either Barney or BoardGameGeek) and see how it plays in practice. I’ve dismissed it in the past when I read the rules, but this time when I read them through I suspecting it may not be that far from a very basic, stripped-down predecessor to Coup, The Resistance or Love Letter.
After the rules comes the Rule of Law. Dredd gives the Chief Judge (still called the Grand Judge) and a group of others who might be the Council of Five an ultimatum to destroy all hi-grade robots. They refuse and Dredd hands in his badge. I’m sure that’s a one-off and he’d never quit his job again. Next panel we take to the airwaves where a doctor had rebuilt Call-Me-Kenneth with a new body and an improved head unit. Not entirely sure what possible reason there could be to do this, other than to explain why the robot in the previous episode looks nothing like the one in this week’s prog. Anyway, a clumsy nurse drops a soldering lance in CMK’s circuits, reactivating him and becoming one of the first casualties. As this is live on air, CMK’s message goes out to all the droids within hearing distance of a vid-screen. A robot called Graham chucks his masters out of a two-mile high apartment. I’m sure one of the Daily Dredds from five years later makes a chop party out of a two kilometre tall building… On the next page is a mass of Clark Kent-a-like androids and a cityscape of robot revolt before Dredd returns in Mega-City One’s hour of need. Ron Turner didn’t bring much to Dredd, unfortunately, but his episode did include the words ‘Hall of Justice’ on Justice HQ.
The Dan Dare centre-spread features Tachyon globes which take matter into another universe as Monday drags the Biogs to their joint doom in the heart of the sun. Along with the torpedoes from the previous Dare episode this is the first mention of alternative universes in 2000AD. Dare makes his escape in Monday’s wake and promptly gets court-martialled at SASA HQ. Dare is philosophical though, content that Monday will get all of the glory for the sacrifice he made while ‘Call Me Patrick’, whose silhouette would not be entirely dissimilar to Mills, lurks in the background. Also lurking in the shadows is the Mekon, who makes his entrance in the next story, or ‘Dan Dare Saga 2’ as the blurb says.
Though I’ve read it before, I didn’t remember the next story, where John Probe has to deliver a military expert across Europe in twelve hours from East to West. In a plot that prefigures that of the Cursed Earth (bad weather means that they cannot take to the air), Probe and his passenger have to go by road, at a cruising speed of 125mph. After a number of ho-hum M.A.C.H.1 stories, I actually quite liked this one, and not just because I’d somehow forgotten about it.
The 2000 A.D. Nerve Centre sees Tharg telling us about those talking watchs and pocket TV sets that we’ll be getting in the next five years (from 1977)…
Other than the last eight Flesh cards, Harlem Heroes rounds off this prog. Artie Grube snatches a jetpack from the Montezuma pit, makes another attempt at Giant’s life, fails and then escapes. The Heroes engage in some distinctly unheroic behaviour against the Mashers, but its all within the rules of the game, so all the casualties are alright, apparently. Once they win it, Giant flies up to a camera and makes his attitude towards the saboteur absolutely clear (little knowing that he’s actually playing into the hands of his tormentor).