2000AD and Star Lord Prog 87: Dinosaurs rule in Flesh Book 2

Massimo introduces us to Big Hungry – a huge nothosaur – on the cover. This is going to be our Old One Eye of Flesh Book II!

We usually get one less story for a jumping-on / merger prog, to allow for introductory pages, though this continues into this week. Tharg trails the returns of Dan Dare and Robo-Hunter, though not when they’ll be coming back. We do get told that there’s a forthcoming series of cut-aways featuring the Preying Mantis (or is that a series, the first of which will be the Preying Mantis – though as the ship splits up into sections it could be either). Mention is made of a Dan Dare novel by Angus P Allan which was released in May 1977, but it’s entirely unrelated to the 2000AD version of the character, so I’ll pretend it doesn’t exist.

Judge Dredd: Outlaw gets the proper Dredd logo (last prog’s episode got generic lettering) while Bolland shares art duties with Gibbons. Bolland does the pencils while Gibbons does the inking, very closely so that at times it’s difficult to tell whether Bolland has inked his own pencils. I think I remember reading somewhere that the pair were sharing a flat at the time. Dredd comes to the conclusion that he is, in fact, innocent, so escapes in order to clear his name. Cal’s megalomania comes to the fore, and in case we were in any doubt following his unjudicial behaviour the previous prog, we get to see his private quarters – filled with images of himself, plus a portrait of Hitler (the same go-to in case we hadn’t realised Call-Me-Kenneth was the bad guy). The portraits of Cal also look rather like Pat Mills, which did not go down well…

Speaking of Pat – Ro-Jaws has taken to the judge’s bench with aplomb, complete with judge’s (well, woman’s) wig and gown. Instead of law books and bible, the judge’s bench has a copies of R.U.R. by Capek (the book that coined the word ‘robot’) and a book by Isaac Asimov (presumably I, Robot, as it contains the three laws of robotics, which are referenced later – though in the world of Ro-Busters the first law is to tell the truth, instead of not injuring a human being or, through inaction, allowing a human being to come to harm. In this version the second law is that a robot must protect its owners. This is all an excuse to use the robots to reveal the dirty secrets of their owners, which takes the decision about which one should die nowhere, as they’re all as bad as ever. The only thing that resolves this dilemma is when Mike Morgan’s robot Harold is bullied into lying to prevent Mike from harming his step-son. Remember we’d already been told that Mike was rotten to the core, as he has a pencil moustache 🙂 (don’t mention Max Normal). After giving false testimony, Harold is forced to reveal his lies by little master by removing his shirt and showing the damage that Mike has done to him. Losing his temper, Mike is about to attack his step-son one more time until Harold kills him in defence. Hammerstein ruminates in the final panel how the the story now has a happy ending, with Harold acting as a surrogate father to Tim. The background touches make the last panel, with a low-key Mek-Quake shovelling rubble in silhouette and the chastised survivors slinking off, their secrets revealed to the others… Though for me the best thing is the next prog tag: Hammer-stein’s War Memoirs!

Massimo Belardinelli shows us the time shuttle speeding out of a Triassic sky, lightning flashing across the turbulent stormclouds as it crashes through a rough sea. The occupant is ‘Claw’ Carver though as he was the only person to leave the Cretaceous base in a damaged time shuttle, we could probably have guessed that. Upon crash landing, he hides the stolen gold in a cave, kills the baby nothosaurs he finds there then gets rescued by a Trans-Time ship. In case you thought it was a bit of a coincidence that he’s found so quickly – of all the times and places he could have landed – he spent months in the time shuttle before zeroing in on the Trans-Time base. He asks to borrow a time shuttle to return to the 23rd century, but is told he will need to do a standard six-month tour of duty and then pay to get up to the 23rd. There’s no charity in Trans-Time! Meanwhile, Big Hungry returns to his cave and finds his young that Carver butchered. Our antagonist now has a motive to hunt down Carver (though perhaps Carver is the antagonist and Big Hungry the protagonist?)

A page of editorial next, with the voting coupon joined with some ‘reviews’ of the merged comic from various publications through the solar system, including one asking what 2000AD will be called in the year 2000…

Strontium Dog: Galaxy Killers episode two sees Johnny Alpha, Wulf Sternhammer and the Gronk drafted into a Walrog Empire battalion, to fight against their mortal enemies, the Sandorian Nations. Before they do this, however, Johnny sets a time bomb to get rid of all their equipment, to stop the Walrogs getting ahold of it. If I had to boil down the essential elements of Strontium Dog, off the top of my head I’d say Johnny’s strontium vision, his relationship with Wulf and the gadgets he uses – so getting rid of one of those elements seems a strange way to begin his career in the galaxy’s greatest comic. The episode ends with the Wolrog fleet assembling around the artificial planet of Rog, fifty miles across and filled with slave factories creating over 1,000 battlecraft, each two miles long.

Ro-Jaws and Hammer-Stein’s Laugh-In! The pair are joined by Walter who reprints a portion of the back page of Prog 3 but misses out the interesting bit of the starscan, where Carlos Ezquerra shows off the Mega-Cityscape. One of the reader’s letters comliments the spoof newspaper cover by Kevin O’Neill from Prog 78, and Ro-Jaws responds with a preview of the next prog’s cover – a spoof film poster by Kevin O’Neill.

Grailpage: Belardinelli takes it again, with Carver’s time shuttle crashing through the Triassic waves, fire blazing behind it.

Grailquote: John Howard, Judge 1: “We’re looking for Dredd.” Citizen: “In my bag?” Judge 2: “Anywhere!” (for avoidance of doubt, the bag in question is a handbag filled with knitting).

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