Another Bolland cover here, though I don’t find his distinctive style coming through in this recreation of the M.A.C.H.1 splash page. Not sure what Tharg told Brian to draw, but the presence of a ship and a conventional jet plane instead of the Blackbird that features in the story suggest either a breakdown of communication or script changes after the commission.
A one-off Invasion! story illustrated by Carlos Pino sees a few resistance groups come together to take out a Volgan supply convoy. Meanwhile the Volgs have cracked the resistance radio codes, and instead of using their own military or secret service to make use of them, they hire a bounty hunter instead. Four out of six of his speech bubbles in this story contain the word ‘sport’, so he must be Australian (like no Australian I’ve ever met). The story itself is largely an excuse to get the bounty hunter – “Name o’ Quarry” – to hurtle to his death in a stone quarry. One pun isn’t enough for Savage who declares that “the only bounty I want is a better Britain” . Pretty lightweight, and I’m just waiting for Savage to start travelling around the country and pick up young incognito royals.
In Flesh it looks pretty grim for humanity. Three more episodes and it appears that Reagan is dead or dying from spider venom, the controller is also dying and Old One Eye is triumphant. I remember the last few pages of the story, and we have a time transporter accident to look forwards to, but I can’t remember what happens in between. At least that final confrontation between man and dinosaur has finally come about, after being trailed since Prog 1!
In Harlem Heroes we see Zack Harper take to the skies with a jet-board, looking rather like a smaller though bulkier version of the power board that Chopper will use in seven or eight years time. Outside of training, we’re introduced to Gorgon’s Gargoyles, who are described as androids. I’m a bit confused by this as they appear to be cyborgs. Either way, Artie Gruber, disguised as the Gargoyle’s squad leader kills and replaces the ‘android’ and is all set to make the game uncomfortable for Giant.
We get a second Dan Dare centrespread in portrait orientation next – I don’t remember there being another one until the Torque-Armada spread in 1983, and I’m pretty sure there won’t be any more after that. The three surviving Titan I.C. crew members are taken to the palace of the Two of Verath where the Mekon uses an alien (The Blob) to confirm Dare’s identity. Some nice alien artwork from Belardinelli, and the second (and last?) image of the original, pre-accident Dare to appear in 2000AD.
In the Nerve Centre we get a strangely prescient reader’s drawing of a Fishdozer. Despite the Fleshdozer-sounding name, it has nothing to do with Flesh Book One (or the sea-bound Flesh Book Two), instead purporting to be from the year 2007 and intended for supplying cities like Mega-City One with seafood. In the letters we get a blood-thirsty calling for a sub-editor to be punished (perhaps that should be oil-thirsty?)
M.A.C.H.1 is next, and Probe is on loan to the U.S. as had been hinted at in the weapons testing episode. An interesting concept of an electron lance which can disrupt Probe’s computer’s circuits is completely lost amidst a mad scientist who dresses in a cloak and complains that the Americans called him crazy while gesticulating wildly in front of a mirror (in a submarine sea base modelled after the Capitol building, for no particular reason). Chekhov’s mirror has a use here though, as it’s eventually used to kill the mad scientist, after which Probe (and I quote) wipes out “this nest of slant-eyed vipers”. Barney reckons John Wagner was responsible for this story – puts any recent controversy regarding the Stix Fix (originally trailered as the Jing Jong Job) to shame!
Onward to another Wagner script and Ron Turner returns for art duties as Dredd heads for Weather Control to instigate the first electric storm in Mega-City One since 2012 (remember that one?) While he’s not insulting Walter and his other robotic allies, he runs computer wiring through the servo-robot to override the Weather Control computer which is stopping him from carrying out illegal instructions. Eventually he manages it, the Heavy Metal Kids turn on one another and Call Me Kenneth is knocked away from the scene of the battle. Dredd has an Earl Reagan moment as he vows in the last panel that “There still is a final showdown to come!” I’m happy though, as I know that showdown will be illustrated by Ian Gibson, but I’m getting ahead of myself…
- for Chekhov’s mirror, read Chekhov’s gun.