Prog 65: Wuuuuuuuurgh! Zero is Back!

MACH Zero returns, in a dynamic, eye-catching cover – no subtlety here!

Inside, Tharg informs us that there was a Frognum Gruelis (April Fool’s) joke in prog 58 – I completely missed the announcement in that prog that Dredd would be removed from 2000AD…

Dare is still on the ice planet with the joker, Wise, who continues to tell jokes, even as crewmen are dying around them (then again, Dare’s not much better, with the line “With that heavy gear draggin’ ’em down, they don’t stand a chance! Now we’re down to two!” – even before they’ve been dragged down into the icy waters)! So, the crew stand around not doing a whole lot while they get picked off and then dragged on an ice floe towards a huge ice pyramid. There’s a whole lot of ice, though the next prog tag promises us tentacles… of doom!

Dare’s not the only one leading their crew on a hostile world. Death Planet Part 4: Stampede! Commander Lorna Varn feels inadequate due to being an ace space woman but out of her depth on a hostile planet. Her face still doesn’t betray any emotion until close to the end of the episode where she gets angry at the leader of the colonists (presumably trained to survive on a hostile planet) and points a gun at Cory as “this planet is only big enough for one leader”. To be honest, based on the evidence in this episode, Cory should be leader – she was the commander when they were in space, but now they’re on a planet and need to survive then shouldn’t the person in command be the leader of those who travelled to colonise a planet? I can stand to be corrected…

Inferno has Gruber hurling a white hot ball at Clay’s head. One of the Philadelphia Flyers (whose name appears to be ‘Wagner’) saves Clay’s life, though the ball rebounds and takes out Hale Eegle instead – no more Evel Knievel parody in the prog from now on… Who will replace Eegle? Will it be Louis? Marvin? Or somebody we’ve not seen before (or if we have it was as a background figure when the focus was on that robot cheerleader)? You guessed it, it’s the chick (in the words of the announcer).

In Judge Dredd, The Cursed Earth Chapter Five: The Mutie Mountains Pat Mills has some fun with USA landmarks – though it does mean the landmark in question has to be transported to the Appalachians, otherwise it wouldn’t have been on Dredd’s route across the Cursed Earth. Also making an appearance, or rather re-appearance, is the Brotherhood of Darkness from way back in Prog 4. I’ve somehow never noticed that the mutants from the third published Dredd story are the same as the ones from The Cursed Earth – it’s only taken me around a quarter of a century to realise it! Their leader is played for laughs, making me wonder why the muties would follow Brother Morgar.

A few adverts next – War Picture Library Holiday Special (192 pages of fighting men at war), a half-page vertical swimwear advert with slightly more readable text than a horizontal half-page ad that had run previously with the other half of the page taken up with previews of the MACH Zero story, starting on the facing page (must have not been able to get enough advertisers to fill the space).

So, one prog after MACH 1 dies, MACH Zero (previously believed dead) returns. Did I say there was no Evel Knieval parody in the prog from now on? Steve McManus and Ramon Sola bring in Cousin George (in the same V-shaped jump-suit that Evel and Eegle wore). Cousin George is not a sympathetic character though – he (and his new manager) are going to be the antagonists of Zero’s solo outing.

Grailpage: It’s got to be the Mount Rushmore National Monument centrespread (including President Carter and Brother Morgar) by Brian Bolland.

Grailquote: this isn’t a particularly good quote, but it certainly stands out (I’ve preserved the emboldening and italicising from the original)… Tom Tully, the Inferno announcer: “…and we hear that the Harlem substitute is Cindy Lamont! A chick, no less!”

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