Prog 39: Get it through your thick skull, Earthman… we don’t have pointed ears!

Looks like Ewins and McCarthy again with a fairly eye-catching cover, probably their best yet. Off the top of my head it’ll be a few years until they become truly excellent artists, so I’ll shut up about it for the time being.

Judge Dredd: The Ape Gang makes their first appearance. The first time I read this story was in reprint. The last half-page had been missed off, which basically meant it was five-page lead-up with no punchline (the apes couldn’t be put in a human prison but the last words of the version I’d initially been familiar with were “I’m going to put you where you belong… behind bars” leaving out the bit where they get put in the Mega-City Zoo and have a tea party). Fantastic artwork from McMahon here, iconic pictures of Don Uggie Apelino, Fast Eek and Joe Bananas, also a good piccy of an chimpanzee being experimented on, reminiscent of Rico’s first portrait shot. There is one panel which looks incongruous to me – when the judges drive into the ape’s warehouse it doesn’t quite seem like a McMahon image to me – more like someone trying to emulate his style. I may be imagining it (it’s the panel before “It’s da heat! Whack ’em out!”, another iconic image).

Invasion makes it to Dundee, and a pair of old dears, the Misses Jeannie and Janet McDonald. They used to run a bed and breakfast but stopped with the invasion, though as they turn our free Resistance fighters away (well, two fighters and freeloader) they recognise the Prince, loyal royalists that they are. In typical Invasion timing, a Volg patrol picks that moment to turn up and demand billeting. They get killed, but not before sending a message about “those women”. The three escape (but not the women) so Savage comes up with a plan to get out of the city disguised as women, to get the Misses McDonald off the hook. A pretty fun episode.

Tharg reveals his chewing gums in an answer to a reader’s letter – I should remember to keep an eye on who’s sending these letters and drawings – I know there are a few famous names that will appear – famous both in and outside the pages of 2000AD. Supercover Saga is a straightforward story of an artist growing to hate his creation, going mad but with a twist that maybe he wasn’t really mad after all.

Dan Dare and co infiltrate the slave-mines on Minian. Bear rescues some slaves who get trapped under a landslide, though the slaves get killed by the Starslayers for being injured, but at least it wins the gratitude of the slaves left alive. Their spirit is broken and so they will not take an active role in helping Dare liberate them, though at least point Dare in the right direction to get much-needed resources to repair the Space Fortress. He gets spotted and word gets back to the Dark Lord on the dark planet Starslay. You read that correctly – the Dark Lord of the Starslayer Empire calls himself the Dark Lord, and the planet he lives on is not only dark, but it’s also called Starslay. Their energy whips are called Slaystraps also. Thankfully the art is better than the naming! We’ve got a proper credit card now, by the way, though there’s no Bolland to be seen (on the page or in the credit card) – Gerry Finley-Day writes the words while Dave Gibbons draws the pictures and lays the words on the paper for us.

Machman and Machwoman meet Hyper-kiddies, initially reluctant to hit children but getting over that and using them as missiles to throw at the evil doctor. As an aside, most if not all doctors and professors so far seen have been evil scientists, except for that one in the last Future-Shock, who got murdered for creating a self-repairing robot. There’s a lesson in there somewhere… As well as hitting scientists with children, Probe ends up hitting the children with a strengthened titanium chain – called it! Now, about my other prediction. Yep, Tanya dies. Probe gets upset with Sharpe and the wider story promises to develop a little further. Frankly, I’m bored of the ‘normal’ episodes, so thankful when the wider political plot moves forward.

Inferno – Belardinelli’s art does not disappoint, with a Rochdale Rockets bikeman grabbing the ball from the dead hand of a Washington Wolf, enguled in flames – what an opening image! I was hoping for some great hallucinations, but all we get is multiple balls heading for the Washington caveman. A later illustration also stands out – in the second half of the game said caveman is laughing maniacally, the sound effects almost certainly drawn by Belardinelli rather than written by lettering droid Bill Nuttall. Giant manages to figure out that the salt gum was poisoned by Charlie Vance, though at that exact moment, Vance is planting bribe money in the Heroes’ lockers. Massimo himself makes a cameo as a member of the crowd.

No star scan this week – just the advert for Treborland.

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