Star Lord No 19: Mek-Quake kill 99% of all known robots!

I suspect the Lipsmackinthirstquenchinacetastinmotivatingood buzzincooltalkinhighwalkinfastlivinevergivincoolfizzin PEPSI advert must have been shown a lot in the 1970s – not only was there an ad for 2000AD a few months ago but this cover has a strapline of Circuitsmashingpiperippingmetalcrunchingdroidddestroying… MEK-QUAKE!!! It isn’t the only modification to a then-current advertising campaign, with ‘Reaches parts of the galaxy other sci-fi mags cannot reach!’ parodying Heineken (warning, the linked 1978 advert features a rather dated blacked-up actor playing an Australian aborigine).

In Mind Wars it takes until the end of a full two pages for Ardeni Lakam to get naked, this time for a decontamination shower along with Tilman. When it comes time to get dressed Kareela la Borzac – an old enemy of Tilman – appears and burns Ardeni’s clothes. If not for a few interjections from Tilman, the conversation between Kareela and Ardeni would have passed the Bechdel-Wallace Test (the conversation was about clothes). Meanwhile the Jugla Empire are on the lookout for humans on conquered worlds who match the general description of the deceased Arlen Lakam, so that, through surgery, he can be made to look exactly like Ardeni’s dead brother. Meanwhile meanwhile, Ardeni, Tilman and their Lenarthian friends are in a Lenarth prison cell though Ardeni has just been knocked unconscious by poisoned food, provided by Kareela.

In their first appearance, Ro-Jaws and Hammerstein were on their way to be torn apart by Mek-Quake (and subsequently rescued) within two pages. The first time I read about Hammerstein (in the pages of Nemesis Book IV: The Gothic Empire) he was in the process of being ripped apart by Mek-Quake before being rescued – though in that story he had lost the will to live. In this episode of Ro-Busters, however, Hammerstein very much wants to continue living, and we see what a Mark 3A war-droid can do in combat against a bulldozer robot. With their temporary freedom the duo travel to the deserted domed city of Copernicus. I have to also mention the use of the word gunsel – from yiddish, a slang word for the young passive partner in a homosexual relationship, but slipped in to The Maltese Falcon by Hammett in the (correct) belief that his editor would assume it was slang relating to the word ‘gun’, but which has since come to mean ‘a gun-carrying hoodlum’ due to its appearance in said book. After a firefight then end up in the presence of O’Gonsell and Quartz. O’Gonsell threatens to kill their boss and the two disobedient robots save Quartz by telling O’Gonsell he’s welcome to kill Quartz.

Ian Gibson is back on Strontium Dog, and it has to be said that Johnny Alpha doesn’t look dissimilar to Sam Slade in green and yellow clothes in some panels. Sadan tricks Johnny’s niece Marci into leaving the circle of safety and kidnaps her. Johnny and Wulf follow her trail (in a panel with a near-identical repeat of the ‘story so far’ text from the previous page). Worldbuilding-wise we get a few words about the war which killed millions and created mutants like Johnny Alpha. I think it’ll be some time until we find out any more, but for the time being the war has left bomb shelters with lead-lined decontamination chambers. We only find out they’re lead-lined after Sadan has been left trapped alone in one – a little foreshadowing would have been nice! The Gibson-drawn finale sees Alpha’s sister telling the bounty hunter to keep away from his blonde-haired niece to prevent harm coming to her. Compare and contrast with the ending of a certain Dredd story in a year or two, featuring Joe’s blonde-haired niece Vienna.

A Starlord Survival Scan for Pilots next – please let this be the last 3-option quiz in Star Lord! Having said that – perhaps the hapless sub-editor who put this one together was also getting bored of them – see the grailquote section for more details…

Followed by stargrams in which Starlord tells us that there will indeed be a Survival Scan next issue, this time a general quiz for all troopers. Also, Strontium Dog is taking another one-week break, during which we will have ‘Skirmish!’ no doubt a Future-Shock-a-like.

Holocaust rumbles on though gets more interesting when we find out that the aliens aren’t as powerful as they at first appeared – their tractor beam can be broken by blocking the light with smoke, a similar beam locked on to a human aircraft borrows power from the engines of the aircraft, so can be defeated by switching off the engines (and then switching them back on again before the plane crashes). The alien gets given a name by Hunter when the pair meet the president of the United States – J. Edgar. The USA has joined forces with the Russians, Chinese, Japanese and possibly other intelligence agencies to try to capture an alien spaceship in order for Hunter and J Edgar to use it to attack the mothership. In case anyone’s confused, this was eighteen years before Independence Day!

On the last page is a pin-up of Hammerstein and Ro-Jaws – the former wearing his medals (including one with the words ‘Mek Wars’) and Ro-Jaws with a plunger for an arm, instead of the more usual spade.

Grailpage: the opening page of Mind Wars by Redondo, showing the capital city of Lenarth.

Grailquote: Ro-Jaws and Hammerstein’s disinterest in saving their bosses life was funny, but I’m actually going to pick one of the option in the pilot quiz by an anonymous sub-editor who no doubt knew exactly what they were writing when they gave the option: “B) Ram the cruiser right in her arsenal – hoping to eject at the very best moment.”

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