Dave Gibbons provides this prog’s cover – the first time he has drawn Inferno (even though the story features characters he designed for Harlem Heroes).
The Nerve Centre prints the the top stories, as voted for by readers. In first place is Judge Dredd, 2nd is Dan Dare, 3rd Inferno, 4th MACH 1, 5th Future Shocks, 6th Walter the Wobot and 7th Colony Earth. I may dispute Dan Dare and Inferno, and the odd Future Shock is better than others, but I can’t dispute the rest of that list.
MACH Zero starts with The Three. Steve McManus taps into mythology with Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil to create the leaders of London’s tramps and vagrants. There’s a real Victorian feel to this episode – in fact, other than Cousin George’s stunt costume and a few low-cut dresses later on in the episode it could almost entirely be set in the 19th century. CG continues to deceive Zero while Gimpy looks to be in serious trouble outside a theatre.
Dan Dare fights off more Vrakk (the aliens from the previous prog) and here’s the tale of the puritan colonists whose ancestors were kidnapped by aliens centuries earlier. Obadiah Crowe, leader of the puritans, has a staff which catches sunlight in an odd way, and Crowe asks whether Dare and his crew can see the colony of New Haven in an equally odd way – so there’s probably some illusion or hypnosis going on there…
Walter the Wobot ends with Ygor attempting to commit suicide as he cannot face life as a cuddly toy while Doc Frankenheim tries to push Walter out of the window, though accidentally leaps to his own death. Ygor gets discovered by a girl child and the story ends with the words “The vewy, vewy end!” – combined with the 6th place ranking of the story in the Nerve Centre, I’d believe it!
Chapter 8 of The Cursed Earth: The Sleeper Awakes! sees Judge Dredd talking around Snap, Crackle and Pop (the medical robots), save the life of President Robert L Booth, gives a history lesson to the hillbillies and commutes Smooth Booth’s sentence from 100 years suspended animation to a life of hard labour. A possible incosistency is that Fort Knox was hit by a fusion bomb in the Atomic Wars, but Booth was also sentenced to suspended animation – surely this would have been after the Wars ended? Maybe the bomb hit during those Germ Wars we don’t know anything else about…
Death Planet Part Seven: The Lady in Black – the colonists are in a snow storm while Herschal gets discovered by one of those squirrel-like creatures. Another squirrel-like creature jumps up on to Varn’s steed and begins communicating with her – turns out they can pass on messages between people in their presence across long distances. Henceforth to be known as squirrel-radios unless the story gives them a different name. Elsewhere, the mysterious enemy of Lorna Varn captures a child to act as a lure but other than that the ‘lady in black’ is as much a mystery as she was last week.
Lastly, Inferno sees the Clay/Gruber fight. Things come to a head, with the episode taken up with a back and forth fight between the two (though there is a bit of a continuity error, with Clay smashing off Gruber’s disguise then Belardinelli showing the disguise back in place on the following page). Gruber ends up getting Clay on the ground and dousing the fallen Hellcat with fuel from his jet-pack while the other Hellcat’s watch on but too far away to stop him. Though I notice Louis is not in the line-up of helpless faces, so presuably rescue will come from the psychic cyborg.
Grailpage: the splash page of President Robert L Booth surrounded by hillbillies trying to stake the last president by Mick McMahon.
Grailquote: Grand Council of Judges judge: “What shall his sentence be? America is in ruins… he cannot be allowed to live…” another Grand Council of Judges judge: “But he cannot be allowed to die! We cannot execute the last president of the United States!”