Prog 72: Introducing… the 180 lb Judge Burger!

Mick McMahon draws the kind of cover featuring Ronald McDonald about to eat a burger containing Judge Dredd that got copyright and trademark lawyers into a tizzy in 1978…

A reader writes in to query why Starlord has the same address as the Command Module – the rest of the Nerve Centre is largely an advert for Starlord. I did notice that ‘2000AD’ has been dropped from Nerve Centre.

MACH Zero has Zero doing the Samson column manoeuvre. The theatre comes down, Zero survives, but Cousin George escapes down a disused tube tunnel. Possibly to keep Zero a sympathetic character and not a cold-blooded murderer, George traps himself in a hiding place which is sealed shut by water pressure, the showman dying helpless as Zero wanders past, searching for him. The last panel of this episode is reminiscent of the story closer where John Probe wandered off into the Florida swamp, though this one has an added curious rabbit watching after Zero.

Last episode the only word Anteater spoke was “Ant!” – this week he graduates to sentences – “Ant know-ant tell!” By the way, before this goes any further – while Anteater may seem to be a racist portrayal of a primitive native, it should be noted that he’s the only one in Ant Wars who ever seems to know what he’s doing… Captain Villa continues with his superior attitude (despite evidence to the contrary, when Anteater leads them to a road that Villa still believes is seven miles away), and makes a new friend who has a similar attitude towards the “dirty jungle indian”. In the best tradition of Flesh and Shako! such an attitude is rewarded by a grizzly death.

Before I know it, MACH Zero and Ant Wars have brought me to the centre pages, and Judge Dredd has entered MacDonald City. Dredd and Spikes escape quite easily (their guards being slow from two many fast food meals) and the two steal a MacDonalds truck and head towards the Land Raider. Or at least try to, a Burger King posse having caused a stampede of oversized cattle they are soon captured again, but this time by the other side in the Burger War. As they are about to be executed under Burger Law, they are rescued by a timely Land-Raider Ex Machina. Dredd lets the lynch mob go, thinking to himself that he will return with an expedition to deal with the Arkansas burger chains – though with the rise of Judge Cal I suspect it will slip his mind… Next prog is “The Coming of Satanus!” – my favourite chapters of the Cursed Earth!

Inferno features a tombstone for John “Giant” Clay with the dates 2150 – 2178 on it, which makes no sense – the championship the Heroes participated in was World Aeroball Championship 2050, and by 2099 Giant is an old man attending the graduation ceremony of his son, Judge Giant. The only information I’ll take from this tombstone is that Giant is currently 28 years old (and the actual year in story should be 2051). Continuity matters! As for the actual story – Giant has been tied up to a cave mouth – he’s wired up to be blown up if he is touched (by his team-mates or by an Inferno ball, for instance). Cue the robotic inferno team the Wolves of Death!

In Dan Dare the hypno-worms are revealed to be the Sleetha and are over-running the ship. Luckily the Space Fortress can be electrified (usually to get rid of hostile micro-organisms, but also works against larger creatures). But, the Fortress is surrounded by the Vrakk. I suspected that the Vrakk weren’t actually all that bad – they attacked because they’d thought the Space Fortress was in league with the Sleetha so once they saw Dare electrocute the worms attacking the ship they send out a peace delegation and make friends. The Legion of the Lost Worlds is not without its casualties though, with Gunnar and Pilot still out of action (and in suspended animation by the looks of it. Or tranquilised).

The next page sees and advert for the 2000AD Sci-Fi Special, out now – so before I read the next prog I’ll have to dig out my copy of the 1978 special (probably after the issue of Star Lord which was also out on the same day).

Special mention should be made of the back page ad – issued by the Department of Transport, the Scottish Development Department and the Welsh Office is ‘Sarah and Time learn the Green Cross code. Why am I mentioning this? Because the artwork is by none other than Dave Gibbons! Apparently Ron Smith also contributes to a later advert – though I don’t know if it will appear in the pages of 2000AD.

Grailpage: to make up for not picking Zero going all Samson at the end of last prog I’m going for Mike Dorey’s last page of MACH Zero, with Cousin George trapped and dying alone, Zero wandering off into the woods and a rabbit looking on.

Grailquote: Gerry Finley-Day, Anteater “Watch! Start fire-water!”

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