Prog 35: All Earthmen must die! Take no prisoners!

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The cover shows three spaceships of an old-fashioned flying saucer design shooting at some floating space wreckage with said Earthman clutching on.  It doesn’t grab me, and could have appeared on any sci-fi comic for about thirty years previously.

Despite the mention of Aberdeen last prog, Bill is in Fort William – precisely the opposite direction from Loch Ness (the last ‘real’ place we saw Bill – unless there really is a MacGregor Mansion in Scotland)?  Some Resistance members are being hung in the Fort, but it’s (relatively) alright as there are some new recruits waiting.  But there’s trouble – the recruits come from two factions – woodmen and oilmen – you can tell which are which because they’re either carrying axes and wearing lumberjack shirts, or carrying huge adjustable spanners and wearing whatever roustabouts wear.  Savage points out that the common enemy is the Volgs and that just the leaders of the two factions should fight it out between them the following morning at dawn.  As the contest is about to begin some Volgs turn up on a tip-off, taking both the woodman and oilman bosses prisoner to be executed the following day.  Savage seems entirely unsurprised when Silk tells him what happened, both factions learn to work together to attack Fort William garrison and it doesn’t surprise me in the slightest when Silk finds the note from Savage that tipped the Volgs off in the first place (apparently when Savage does this he’s uniting Resistance factions and not being a collaborator, like the previous episode).  It is entertaining, but you definitely need to switch your brain down a gear to read it.

Dredd catches Judge Gibson, aka Mutie the Pig, and reveals how he implausably felt the laser sight of Gibson’s rifle and a managed to identify Gibson from his silhouette across the street while laying face down and pretending to be dead.  Despite all the nitpicking, I do actually enjoy these stories, honest!  This is where we found out Dredd’s Academy nick-name (Old Stoney Face) and see the showdown in the Academy of Law street reconstruction when Gibson invokes Cadet’s Rights.  Cadet’s Rights was, as the narration box tells us, the method by which young judges settle arguments – though it’s not clear what would have happened if Gibson had won – it’s my guess that he’d still have been sent to Titan for twenty, except Dredd would be dead.  At the end there’s one of those Walter cut-outs that permeated a previous prog for a competition, this does not bode well for making it through this prog without more interruptions.

Shako!  I think they were attempting to go for an ending similar to Old One Eye’s in Flesh, but it doesn’t work out like that.  Buck Dollar gets dressed in his native clothing (remember, he’s half-eskimo) and arms himself with a traditional harpoon.  This doesn’t quite kill the bear, so after a bit of rigmarole he resorts to a bazooka.  Like his Eskimo fore-fathers would have…  Erm…  And with no risk of damaging this capsule that can kill half the people in the North American continent (which is why they haven’t just been using bullets all along, remember?)  No Walters jumped out at me, so maybe we’re safe for the rest of the prog.

Dan Dare and co are trapped on a muddy island in the middle of an ambulatory jungle that’s actively trying to kill them.  Bolland and Gibbons are continuing to team up on the centre pages, with Gibbons handling art chores alone for the rest.  All seems lost until Dare comes up with a plan – he and one other, each armed with one of their two remaining grenades, are to attack the largest of the monster trees with covering fire from the other crew.  The rules of narration dictate that the first grenade fails, and because the other spacers have been giving Haley a hard time over almost killing the monkey, the same rules of narration dictate that he must give up his life making sure the grenade explodes right next to the monster tree boss.  The centre page is the best of the prog so far, Gibbons and Bolland setting the scene with the spacers on the island surrounded on all sides.

The Supercover Saga is standard Future-Shock fare, where the twist is that even though the protagonist dies, the salvage he was working on when attacked will explode with all the force of a bomb.  It could have been a marginally interesting Future-Shock, but it tries to pack too much in to a few paragraphs.

M.A.C.H.1 is pretty cringeworthy.  The organisation behind a solar energy station 300 feet from the summit of Everest turn out to be the Tibetan Army.  One member of which begins a sentence with ‘Aah!’ (think of it in a ‘comedy’ accent).  Not as bad as some of Probe’s previous run-ins with foreigners, but does not bode well (no further Walters, by the way, so I think we’re safe).  Probe ends up with nothing to defend himself and the remaining members of Halloran’s expedition but the frozen corpse of Halloran’s grandfather, which he uses as a club.  Odd, but nice to see some John Cooper in the prog (Probe looks a bit like Johnny Red in some pics, largely due to the goggles).

Actual Future-Shock Ultimate Warriors – not sure, but this looks a little like Jim Baikie on art duties to me, but maybe that’s because the designs are similar to a story he did in the USA about half a decade later called Electric Warrior.  Shows what I know – the signature is one ‘M. Canos’.  The story is about a war which has been going on for all of recorded  history on the ice planet of Lexor.  There’s some very Jack Kirby touches to the warriors (possibly Fourth World, though I’m not an expert on mainstream USA comics).  Ross is an odd choice of name for a warrior king.  If Kirby is an influence, then I guess that Peron, the ultimate warrior of  the title, is inspired by Cyclops…

After Kevin O’Neill’s Galactic Groats and Ian Gibson’s Law-Giver* starscans from previous weeks I was looking forward to this prog’s back page.  It’s an advert.  Better luck next week, but at least it’s something to look forward to now!

Addendum – both sides of the back page were adverts, one for Treborland / Trebor Sweets and the other for Matchbox.  The Matchbox ad features a tiny picture of the toy that will later become the Land Raider!  More in the post for Prog 38**!

* with much better flavour text than some other features we’d had in the prevous 33 progs

* once I write it.

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