Prog 43: Dial M for Monster

John Higgins’ first work for 2000AD, I believe. Yet again, one of the true greats of 2000AD art, though at a very early stage in their artistic development.

Judge Dredd is sworn in as Judge-Marshal of Luna-1, then goes off on a tour of the territories. He is unimpressed with the way that the Luna-1 Justice Department has been dealing with (illegal) drinking and use of firearms in town. As he deals with the customers of a saloon (though if alcohol is illegal, I’m not sure exactly what the saloon shouldbe selling) an equally illegal robo-slinger (robot gunman) heads into town, looking to blow Dredd off the face of the moon. Nice robot horse from McMaho and a great Dredd pose during the showdown. The Dredd characterisation as being a strict upholder of the law is in place, though after mentioning it once he seems to turn a blind eye to Deputy Tex’s cowardice in the field.

Invasion and Bill Savage is still in the circus. This episode ends in pretty much the same state as the previous one, with the entire plot just being a plot diversion that goes nowhere. Nessie hides the unconscious prince under her table which she dresses up in a forturne-teller’s tent.

Supercover Saga number 25: Dial M for Monster – the last one! Once again, the text doesn’t add a whole lot to the image. There are odd covers in the future which will be generally sci-fi but nothing to do with a particularly story inside – thost future covers will stand on their own and wisely not have a text story tied to them. Sharing the same page is another three or four panels for Bonjo. Still in China, still encountering stereotypes.

Dan Dare goes it alone while the Space Fort heads off, chased by Starslayer cruisers. Dare uses a nifty Assault Suit (“more space ship than suit”) to land on the planet where he attempts to make contact with the local slave race, the Grawls who are all armed with (heavy, difficult to handle) laser swords and energy shields. Before he can do this he gets spotted by a Starslayer patrol. Surrounded, the power pack on his gun finished and on the verge of being overwhelmed he calls out to the Grawl to “watch a real fighter’s death” – one of the Grawl throws him a laser-sword, which he catches, activates and swings, instantly killing four Starslayers. This was the heavy, difficult to handle laser sword. Only difficult to handle if you’re not a Grawl or Dan Dare, apparnetly. The revolt of the gladiators has begun.

M.A.C.H.1 goes up a level in my estimation, with implausible mission of the day giving way to the introduction of MACH Zero. Ramon Sola handles art duties, with a much more fluid style for MACH One than we’re used to. Zero was hinted at in a previous story (as another MACH experiment) but now we actually meet him, and he’s given a name and family. Well, the name’s Zero, but it’s better than nothing. At around the time Probe finds out about the existence of Zero from stolen papers, Sharpe is forced to visit Zero by the new financial controller, trying to account for a budget hole of half a million a year. The sight of Sharpe stirs Zero to escape so that he can kill the person who made him the way he is. p.s. in case you’re wondering – roughly the top third of the Hilton Park Lane hotel (the distinctive three-pronged building opening this episode) would afford a view of Buckinham Palace gardens.

Inferno and the Harlem Hellcats first game gets off to a bad start. I’m not sure how much tension we’re meant to feel though, seeing as this is exactly the same as happened with the Washington Wolves game, and with Harlem Heroes games in those pre-Inferno days.

There are some very talented art droids in this prog – though there aren’t any really outstanding pages, so by default my grail page of this prog will be the one with Dredd waiting for a drop of sweat to fall before he draws against the robo-slinger.

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