This post has been in ‘drafts’ for nearly three months now, so probably about time I finished it and published…
The Supercover story on prog 20 is ‘The Man Who Stole the Stars!’, which is fitting as when I read this, on the day that his death was announced, it called to mind the late David Bowie’s songs ‘The Man Who Sold the World’ and ‘Starman’ (amongst other space-themed songs).
Over the page, however, we get the first instalment of a large-creature-based strip to replace Flesh with the polar bear Shako! It wastes no time getting into the action, with a CIA plane carrying a top secret capsule crashing, the capsule getting swallowed by the titular polar bear and the plane’s pilot attacking and being clawed by Shako, all within the first two pages. The pace continues, with an average of one death per page by the end of the initial episode. The introduction of a half-Eskimo character rings alarm bells with the not-entirely racially sensitive comic – let’s see how this develops… As an aside, contrary to popular belief, Inuit is not a more acceptable word for Eskimo – that’d be like calling someone English when they’re actually Welsh (in some cases, anyway – unfortunately the only character to identify Buck Dollar’s ethnicity so far is Falmouth, who isn’t exactly reliable in interpersonal relations).
Also with an exclamation mark, Invasion! sees the Mad Dogs leaving London and taking to the highways. Not for the first time, we get an old friend of Savage helping him with a spot of bother with the Volgs, and sacrificing their life in the process. Certainly doesn’t pay to be friends with Bill.
Louis gets more mobile in Harlem Heroes and Artie is unmasked. Good art from Dave Gibbons, as ever, though no stand-out images.
Nerve Centre sees the second Supercover Saga, set in the future world of 1994, where an unemployed man is turned into a black hole which bores through the Earth at the speed of light and disappears into space (though it isn’t made clear exactly what happens to Earth in the process). It’s only an excuse to get Bolland on to the cover though, and the story was probably just thrown together before printing.
Dan Dare gets an advert for his Poster Magazine before leading in to his latest episode where Dare has a run-in with the local person-in-charge, as is his wont. As with Harlem Heroes, good art, but nothing great this week, though there are some nice giant robots in the last panel.
Following Probe’s encounter with Corporal Tanaka last prog, M.A.C.H.1 stays in the Eastern hemisphere, this time protecting the British prime minister on a visit to Tokyo (where the PM is greeted by a riot and assassination attempt). The local head of the Anti-Terrorist Department hasn’t bothered to turn up to protect one of the most important people in the world, visiting his country. After a brief sparring match, this doesn’t seem to be considered much of a problem. 1970s stereotypes make themselves known – it’s Japan, so we get to see two forms of martial art, Mount Fuji and a bullet train.
Max Normal makes his first appearance in Judge Dredd as we see another Mega Crime – old comic selling. Not something that appears too many times in subsequent years, but (micro-film) slugs make their first appearance as well, with each slug containing one issue of 2000AD. Compared to modern storage capacity, they take up quite a bit of space – probably not far off of 1.44Mb floppy disk levels, depending on resolution of the pages scanned.
The back page sees a Tshirt advert. This post has been in draft so long that I can’t remember if this advert has been run before, but conspicuous by their absence are Invasion! (the very first story to appear in the first prog, remember) and Judge Dredd, admittedly only appearing properly in the second prog, but very noticeable as every other story is featured, and Tharg as well.