Prog 38: Killer rock!

Did I mention that I think Trev Goring can do great, atmospheric artwork that induces feelings of tension and distrust? Unfortunately this cover is not well-suited to such a style. The space snake creature is a fine enough design though the spaceship is a sphere with legs. Colour does nothing for this image (trying to imagine it in black and white makes it better). p.s. Trev is still active and attending conventions, though I don’t know what his current style is.

Inferno – Don Wepner (manager of the Wolves) has mysteriously changed his name to Charlie Vance. Nobody comments on this. Mr. Chubb and Mr. Torso may be ready to threaten and kill in order to throw a match for gambling purposes, but they do it personally – no hiring other people to do their threatening from these two. Not sure if Mr. Torso is a robot or cyborg, though judging by the fluidity of Wepner/Vance’s name and the droid / cyborg status of the Gargoyles from Harlem Heroes, I wouldn’t be surprised if we never find out. Some nice artwork from Belardinelli, but the final page showing a hallucination really plays to his strengths, and the next prog box “as what he sees, goes weird and hazy, watch the cave man going crazy” promises much more of the same.

Facing this great page is another, but for entirely different reasons. Probably the funniest page in Judge Dredd, if not 2000AD to date, Dredd and Giant burst through the door of a child’s bedroom and proceed to twist of his head, his aghast mother watching on. This episode is also good for other reasons – it shows the fear with which judges, and particularly Dredd are held by regular mega-citizens (even the rich ones living in luxury strato-scrapers). Over the page is a great shot of a perp scaling the outside wall with the cities yawning down below.

Invasion! The Volgs continue the hunt for Prince John, ably assisted by a racist charicature in the form of Gypsy Jake (yes, that’s how he refers to himself while thinking). I love Mike Dorey’s artwork, and his dirty, grounded depictions of near contemporary* guerilla fighting contrast perfectly with the cleaner, more futuristic images put before our eyes for the other strips (except M.A.C.H.1, which is similarly contemporary/day-after-tomorrow). More contrasts in the actual story – Silk is largely a yes-man, but the presence of the naïve and trusting Prince John allows someone who Savage might patronise, but wouldn’t disrespect. So we’ve got the cynical and uncivil fighter Savage, the civil and widely-skilled fighter Silk and the civil, trusting but not good at anything-much (certainly not that we’ve seen so far) John. The last page of this strip is half-sized, due to an advert for the merger of Action and Battle comics – I was buying the next version along Battle Action Force at the time I started reading 2000AD.

Pilot’s skills help take care of one of the Starslayer cruisers but to no avail, as the Space Fortress is badly damaged. Some tactical use of available astral bodies and the smoke caused by the damage enable Dare to take care of the other cruiser. They use the charts stolen last prog to locate a suitable world to make planetfall while they repair their ship – it’s a mining world and Dare, Hitman and Bear go undercover to make contact with the slaves and attempt to create the first slave uprising the Starslayers’ Empire has ever seen (how would they know this? They’ve had minimal contact with the Starslayers so far, and no contact at all with those who would rebel). Some great art moving the story along but nothing in the prog to match Belardinelli’s hallucination so far.

The Supercover Saga reveals it’s the Space Serpent of Sagros on the cover. I wasted my time trying to imagine it in black and white – as with previous covers, there’s a thumbnail version of the cover in the Nerve Centre. It does look better, but that spaceship still brings the image down. The story is nothing to write home about – a mysterious sculpture of the serpent turns out not to be a scultpure at all. That’s it – I can’t imagine anybody who could read this would have been surprised by it. A previous prog had an advert from Halfords for derailleur gears (for a bike). This prog has a Halfords advert for a speedo, available for most bikes including a special version for a chopper. How long will this go on? Is this a secret build-your-own-bike partwork?

M.A.C.H.1 dispenses with the dilemma between an Eastern European police bullet and a long fall and shows the two Machpeople mid-fall from a viaduct into a family dinner. A quick 100 miles later sees the two at the place that Tanya the secret agent was reborn as Tanya the Machwoman. By the end we’ve encountered a Machdog, Doctor Horowitz (Tanya Machwoman’s creator) and a family of little Machchildren – so next prog promises lots of adults punching children. Erm… Should have mentioned last time it appeared, non-2000AD comic artist Frank Langford has provided the illustrations for some Airfix adverts, but they’re reproduced so small that they barely do him justice.

Tharg’s Future-Shocks: Robot Repairs Part Two has Daryl go to Zak’s aid with a circuit deactivator, taking care of the self-repairing robot by panel two. I’d thought the inventor professor was going to be a robot (we all knew Daryl and Zak were, right?) The last panel of Zak and Daryl looks to me like a portrait. I’ve found a picture of Brett Ewins from the mid-eighties, and this could be him on the left (Zak), but I’ve not managed to find a picture of Brendan.

The penultimate page of the prog features an advert for Matchbox. I’ve not been commenting on many adverts lately as they’re usually for stamps (or cycle parts), but this one features a large scale picture of the Adventure 2000 Raider Command (K-2001) which featured in tiny version in Prog 35. I’ll probably be linking to Dredd Alert again when I get to part two of The Cursed Earth.

The ultimate page has the Eagle cut-away diagram that Dan Dare promised two progs ago, illustrated by ‘Beeton’, apparently – not a name I’m familiar with. When things like this come along I wonder at what stage they were drawn – did Beeton design the Space Fortress and the Eagle craft, with their designs passed on to Dave Gibbons, or did Dave design it, with Beeton making sense of it and adding the pseudo-technical stuff?

* by near contemporary – 22 years in the future at the time of publication and 20 years in the past as I write this…

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