Prog 40: Secret of the microverse

O’Neill draws the Secret of the Microverse, which immediately brings to mind Fantastic Voyage – wonder what the twist is going to be? There’s a few good creature designs in there but the cover is a bit busy for me.

Part one of the Mega City 5000. We meet Spike Harvey Rotten (though he’s subtly different to the Spikes we’ll meet in The Cursed Earth – but Dredd has to go to the moon and back before that). Bill Ward does the biker gangs pretty well, but his judges just don’t look right (even in those days when the look hadn’t quite got established yet). There’s also an errant word balloon where Zoot appears to speak Spikes’ line.

Trev Goring draws his first story in the Galaxy’s Greatest – and this Future-Shock pretty proves what I’ve said about his covers – he’s a great artist when it comes to atmosphere and tension, but not so good on out-and-out sci-fi. There’s nothing really wrong with the first and last panels (first shows a spaceship, last shows a Pterodactix Cosmotis) just all the panels in between are better. We get two twists for the price of one – the first is predictable (asteroid is actually an egg) the second slightly less so – the hatched giant creature thinks the spaceship is its mother.

Mike Dorey is back to show us the further travels of Savage, Silk and John. The Royal Navy tries to get the prince back, but they forget that Volgs have spy planes. This is a return to the episodes where most people are useless and only Savage seems to have a clue what’s going on. Not a fan of that type of story, week in, week out, but at least we get Dorey’s leering Savage. He has to be the least ‘heroic’ of the early line-up of 2000AD.

Tharg’s Nerve Centre is a double-spread this week, with a half-page dedicated to a taxi ride to the sea for children, in a taxi festooned with 2000AD characters. The Supercover Saga seems a little longer than usual, we get another Frank Hampson Airfix ad, plus the cycle speedo and stamp ads that are almost a fixture. As I thought, the Secret of the Microverse is Fantastic Voyage, pretty much – a team of doctors are miniaturised in order to cure the scientist who invented the process, though they do so without any nurses or other observer on the outside, so as well as three doctors dying fighting mutated corpuscles (acceptable casualties?) everybody else also dies in the cold congealed artery of the scientist, who died while the doctors were chucking radiation blasts around inside him.

Dan Dare has returned to the ship while Bear stays with the slaves, ready to be hypnotised by the Shining Star – the secret of how the Starslayers have managed to keep twelve worlds subjugated. The Space Fort is used as a standing fort while the engineers work on getting it fixed – nice idea though it only takes five panels for Spanners to fix the ship to fly again.

John Probe accepts a mission given to him by anonymous telegram, tells nobody where he’s going and it just gets even more implausible from there on. He ends up in space in an outmoded form of transport with both the CIA and Sharpe out to get him. A nonsensical tale, though at least it propels the antagaonism between Sharpe and Probe up a level.

Inferno carries on from last prog – though we don’t get to follow Moody Bloo’s rampage around the stadium, disappoingly. We also don’t get to see any more Belardinelli hallucinations, which is a missed opportunity. Grail page for the prog is the opener, with two bikes exploding in a pile up while another bike screeches to a halt in the foreground. Charlie gets exposed as a cheat and a murderer, though is killed trying to escape. The police discover the planted money in the Wolves’ dressing room, but despite knowing that Giant uncovered the drugged gum they still accuse the former Heroes’ of colluding with Charlie Vance. Betteridge’s law of headlines states that “any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered with the word ‘no'”. This is perfectly illustrated by the last four sentences in this episode: “An advance payment, maybe…?”, “…am I right, Giant?”, “Is this part of the pay-off for helping Charlie Vance to destroy the Washington Wolves?” and “Is this the end of the line for the Heroes?”

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