Prog 71: Are YOU Prepared for… Ant Wars!

A giant ant straddles the Earth on this Kev O’Neill cover, hopeless faces staring out of the cloud cover while a boy stands with a bloodied knife – it can only be Ant Wars!

Eating ants is very much a theme of this opening chapter, and the name Anteater will stick (pretty sure the boy on the cover never gets a name other than that). This story is as subtle, and entertaining as Flesh and Shako! We’re going to go on a tour of South America but to begin with we have scientist’s experiments, brutal soldiers and downtrodden natives. Oh, and giant ants, but that’s in the title, so it’s hardly a surprise.

Denys Fisher Toys presents The Outrider – it’s some sort of kneeling skateboard/scooter thing with three wheels, invented by the same guy who invented sticklebricks and spiroscopes!

Belardinelli’s Inferno next. Well, Tom Tully had some hand in it, but it’s Massimo’s art that really elevates this story, whether it’s zombie robot Arties, misty New York nights, exploding Artie’s or Washington Wolves’ Death Bowl, it’s all good! Other stories in 2000AD may unexpectly kill characters, but in Inferno (and Harlem Heroes before it) it’s pretty much expected. This time around it’s Rip Venner’s turn to die without forewarning.

On the next page is something truly horrific – the Bird’s Eye Mousse Shot! If I’m reading correctly it’s some kind of toy launcher, as had been given away in cardboard form on children’s comics for a few decades. Because it’s Bird’s Eye doing this promotion, this one is intended to launch mousse pot lids. That’s where the horror lies. The lids being launched in your direction will either be covered with gooey mousse, or covered in child spit from having licked off the mousse – yuk!

Speaking of food fights – the centrespread shows a scene from the Battle of the Burger Barons by Pat Mills and Mike McMahon. This installment of The Cursed Earth is utterly ridiculous and all the more enjoyable for it – without government the big burger chains grew more powerful until their burger war turned violent, enslaving other townfolk in the region (though still calling them ‘customers’ instead of ‘slaves’). This is, of course, the story that caused problems for IPC and was not aired again until a change in British law allowed use of trademarked material for satirical purposes, allowing Rebellion to republish for the first time in four decades. something Titan, Eagle, IPC, Fleetway and Egmont never achieved! This episode ends with Spikes and Judge Dredd being taken to MacDonalds City, the arches visible in the distance.

The attack by the Brotherhood of the Three begins in MACH Zero, but Cousin George is forewarned (with the caveat that he disposed of Sneaker the Rat before actually being told what the plan was – not that this episode takes any notice of that). The vagrant army has a mythical Victorian feel to it, somewhere between Charles Dickens and Charles Dodgson. Despite Cousin George being prepared, he doesn’t last long against the street, sewer and rooftop divisions of the Vagrant Army, and Zero is freed. The last page has Zero dominating all, recoiling in pain from being shot but with vast reserves of energy and hate. The last dialogue box says “…anything could happen next!” though Zero is looking very Samson-esque and is splayed between two pillars, so I’ve got a pretty good guess what is going to happen next…

Dan Dare in the Garden of Eden facing “A giant worm”. The illusions are gone and the worm formerly known as Crowe attacks Pilot, almost killing him. Dare manages to meet up with the others (well, most of the others have been eaten by worms, but Hitman’s still around) and heads back to the Space Fortress. Which, of course, has been infected with the giant worms.

Grailpage: difficult one this prog – the giant ant hills on the last page of Ferrer’s Ant Wars, Massimo’s Washington Wolves’ Death Bowl are both strong contenders, but it has to be Kev O’Neill’s cover for this one.

Grailquote: In second place:

Jack Adrian, Space Fortress crewman: “Commander! We… we’ve been invaded! The whole ship’s full of snakes!” – in first,

Geoffery Miller (is that a spelling mistake for Geoffrey?), Cousin George: “I can promise you good people real entertainment – a fine sporting, fair fight… ‘cept that we got weapons, and you ain’t!”

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