2000AD is in the dozens now, Dare’s second saga is beginning and both front and back covers are given over to the spacer. The front is illustrated by Mike Western, with a ship by Belardinelli bodged in a few times.Before we get to the new story though, we see Savage going on a tube journey to deal with a death camp set up by the Volgans in New Cross. Presumably London Underground already defended their roundel trademark, as the LU logo is lozenge-shaped here. Savage warns Lil to move her Eel ‘n’ Pie stall the next night. I’m sure if a warning had been given to a civilian by a militarily-trained person that would have been a bad move, but this is Bill, so it’s fine, and there are no ill consequences. The usual LU roundel is reinstated by the time the Mad Dogs have taken over Whitechapel station, leaving Savage free to drive a train full of explosives to the liquidation camp.
On to the third day of the siege in Flesh, and the narrative (full of foreboding) is at odds with Claw Carver and the Controller’s dialogue, who are carrying on as if there weren’t massed ranks of tyrannosaurs outside the Trans-Time Base. Speaking of which, through force of numbers the dinosaurs break through the laser fence finally leading the Controller to heed the warnings. His first action makes matters worse though, taking rangers off of the fleshdozers and spurring the giant spiders which live under the complex to go hunting for fresh food now their usual supply of blood has dried up.
Harlem Heroes, and Giant has figured out who the cyborg that attacked him is, recognising Artie Gruber’s voice. The Heroes need to concentrate on the next game though, and head off to the Museum of Sport to view the spiel on their next opponents The Flying Scotsmen. Via the medium of Tri-D we find out there was a Scottish oil boom in the 1980s and that Scotland gained independence some time before 2050.
In the Nerve Centre we get a little info on the (correctly spelled this time) Dictators of Zrag – they’ve made an attempt to invade the Scottish Highlands, and they have revolting habits.
On to the centre pages and Dan Dare begins ‘Saga 2’ in a portrait-shaped centre spread. I can only think of two other times we get one of those, one in Dan Dare and another in Nemesis the Warlock Book III. Britain has been turned into a green belt, with pollution, tower blocks and slums having been removed and what remains being turned into a tourist attraction (primarily, it seems, for beings from other worlds). No mention of all the poor people who lived in those tower blocks and slums… Dare wonders about his next move, wanting to investigate who sent the Biogs towards Earth, but with little prospect of getting a job and leaving the planet again. Luckily, in the very next panel he meets Rok, essentially a space-dog from the planet Wolf-4. Rok goes from wanting to eat Dare to giving him a job once he finds out the spacer’s name. Finally, in the closing pages of Saga 1, episode 1, we get to meet the Mekon and he gets to meet the Two of Verath. The facing page has an ad for IPC stable-mate Tiger, which was one pence cheaper than 2000AD at the time (there are no prices given for the price on Mercury).
M.A.C.H.1 sees a big-mouthed five-star general showing off the latest US weapon, the Laser Hound tank. After demonstrating its firepower it transpires it has been taken over by enemy agents, but Probe’s computer had already worked out the tank’s weakness was that it needed to home in on metal, so Probe strips off as the tank is being driven towards the West German border (because when you’re testing a top secret advanced weapon and want to show it off to your allies who control the Western half of Europe plus North America, you want to make sure you do it next to the border of your enemies in the East where it can be viewed and stolen with ease). The laser targeting is sensitive enough to home in on a zip on a track suit, but despite having computer circuits printed on to his skull, Probe manages to close the distance where he kills two of the enemy agents and forces the third to be his chauffeur. The general, now suitably chastised, suggests that the United States borrow Probe at some point in the future. Not having read the following episodes for many years, I can’t remember any future stories will revolve around this, but it won’t be too long before I find out.
Almost rounding off the prog, the Robot Wars continue and McMahon’s artwork is allowing his style to shine through a lot more now (initially he had been ordered to emulate Ezquerra’s style, but I suspect deadlines and having to churn out pages meant he didn’t have time to disguise his own style). The Heavy Metal Kids make a reappearance (coincidentally as I write this they’ve just made their first appearance for years in this week’s prog – possibly since Robot Wars was first published). HMK are indestructible, unless you drop them a mile, which Dredd proceeds to do. Collapsing through exhaustion, Dredd is taken back to his apartment by the police as he hasn’t rested or eaten for seven days. Pretty sure that’s past the limits of human endurance, but once he gets back Judge Jack lets slip that the judges now know where CMK’s headquarters is, leading Dredd to jump out of bed and declare his intention to take on the robot leader alone.
On the back cover we get the front page of the Martian Mirror (published by the Interstellar Publishing Corporation – now we know what IPC stands for), featuring an advert for 3000A.D. (lead story MACH 10, in the Samson pushing-apart-the-pillars pose).