While there’s one or two that jump out, I’m not a big fan of montage covers, and this one has been bodged from a number of sources. I recognise the picture of John Probe with skull-imprinted circuits from the first prog and no doubt I could go back through the other progs up to this point and locate the other pictures. Tharg is sporting a red mohican while his Rosette of Sirius is white – at some point this colour scheme will swap. Oh, and ‘programme’ has been shortened to ‘prog’ on this cover – it’s about time!
Invasion! sees a message from Canada, with a bearded King Charles III sending a message from Canada. Savage manages to keep his general disregard for those who have been trained by the military under check (though a thought bubble reveals how he really thinks).
With Flesh the giant spiders make their move and Carver leaves Reagan to die. The pacing of this story isn’t too good, as we see him trapped in a bunk room with the spiders, seemingly destined for certain death. On the next page we find out how he survived and by the end of that page he’s reunited with the rest of the group. No such thing as a cliffhanger in early 2000AD, it seems. There’s also no real progression, as by the end we are still left with dinosaurs outside the defence line and spiders under the base, deprived of food from the blood overflow.
On to Harlem Heroes, and the fight, sorry, match between the Heroes and the Flying Scotsmen begins after a bit of antagonistic behaviour from Slim. We, and the Heroes, find out how tough the Scots are, mostly in the form of the martial arts aspect of aeroball.
In the Nerve Centre we find out that Tharg’s favourite sport is Solar hang-gliding in orbit beneath a mile-wide sail.
In Dare the Mekon wins over the Two of Verath with a plan to make the pirates rich and then take over the Federation (though it was an Empire last week – I’m not going to look the two terms up in a dictionary, but aren’t they different things?) Belardinelli gets to do what he’s best at, illustrating unusual alien life-forms, before we get to explore the merchant ship that D.D. has signed up to. Pretty soon he comes to the conclusion that the Titan 1C is a rustbucket and before the episode is out he’s proved right as the ship breaks the light barrier and begins to break apart in the process.
M.A.C.H.1 and 2000AD gets its first airship. We’re actually given a date for the story – I think this is the first time. Probe’s adventure here is taking place in 1988 – eleven years into the comic’s future. This is our first view of Redondo’s work in the prog. There’s a little bit of human/computer disagreement, and some good pics of airships flying over famous New York landmarks, but a fairly nondescript episode other than those.
On to Dredd and Walter has developed his trademark lisp. Or that’s what Dredd says. He’s wrong. Consider the sentence: “Walter is a good robot.” If Walter had a lisp he’d say: “Walter ith a good robot.” Instead, he says: “Walter is a good wobot.” The term is derhotacization, not lisp. Anyway Dredd draughts Walter to be his guide into robot-held territory where the two meet some robo-dogs and a couple of giant robots. About a year and a half later Sam Slade will try the same trick, and I have a feeling the deception lasts about as long. Suffice to say, Walter is put to work on the assembly line while Dredd is to be turned into a living robot.
The prog is rounded off with more robots, this time in a readergraph (reader-submitted designs). In the background we see a Sub-Editor Mark IV trudging off to his doom in the fission smelters, as Mek-Quake obviously hadn’t been hired to dispose of unwanted droids yet.