2000AD and Star Lord Prog 89: Don’t die *sob* dear Judge Dwedd – please don’t die! Murder in Mega-City One!

Mike McMahon leads us to believe that Dredd is dead with Walter crying over his body (again – McMahon already showed us Dredd’s funeral once, about a year earlier – Walter was there as well).

In the Nerve Centre we get told the Future Shock will be archaeological in nature, that the Preying Mantis cutaway begins this prog and that there’s a futuregraph of the Lawmaster.

Judge Dredd: The Day the Law Died! begins, letting us know that Clarence Goodman has been Chief Judge for 43 years and that he has monthly rejuvenation treatments, just before he gets stabbed to death. Judge Cal’s SJS try to block Dredd from seeing the Chief Judge in the moments before he dies, getting a clue pressed into his hand in Goodman’s last moments. Away from Judge Cal’s SJS (they’re always referred to in this way – I wonder if the SJS was actually set up by Cal?) and Dredd sees the clue is an SJS button, ripped off in the struggle. Before he can do anything about it, he’s shot through the head by Judge Quincy. Quincy reports the success to Cal (not knowing Dredd wasn’t killed in the assassination attempt) but Cal spots the button missing and orders Quincy to undress, performing all his duties from that point onward in his underwear. Cal got a new haircut, so doesn’t look like Pat Mills any more.

Ro-Busters sees Hammerstein’s War Memoirs continue in Baptism of Fire! but takes an interlude as Ro-Jaws talks about another member of the squad of robots, X27? who will become much more prominent at least two stories later (Ro-Jaws has to have his chance to tell his memoirs first). Mike Dorey’s handling the art duties, and his grimy art style suits the war story, as it did when he worked on the earlier Volgan Invasion stories. I’m trying not to get distracted in my prog slog by reading up on the background, but I’d be interested to find out how these war memoirs tie in with the work Pat Mills did on Battle, particularly Charlie’s War – which started in January 1979, two months after this story was published… The sarge realises that Hammerstein is one of the robots that he hates so much, though is interrupted in his attempt to kill the war droid when a Volgan army rumbles past, taking advantage of a snow storm to get into position to massacre the enemy. Despite his hatred of robots, the sarage orders Hammerstein to record what he sees, then kill the sarge and get back to home territory to report on the army.

In Flesh Book 2, Big Hungry attacks one of the two-man submarines from Atlantic Base. Captain Svenson whips Carver in revenge for an earlier altercation between the pair but is talked around by Carver under the promise that Carver can make Svenson rich, in return for the use of Svenson’s sub, Thor’s Hammer. The sub is then called to aid a trawler in distress, being attacked by Big Hungry – Svenson is about to aid the distressed trawler, though Claw presents a dilemma – save the crew of the sub, or take advantage of Big Hungry’s distraction and go to the island of the nothosaur and collect the gold?

The Preying Mantis cutaway is next and shows us the inner workings of the Command Module. I don’t know who illustrates these, but we do get a few more over the course of the next few years (past those in the next few progs). It reflects some of the themes in the main strip – Quartz has various valuables (not sure how safe it is to store them on a craft that frequents disaster zones around the world), and disaster victims are processed as commodities and categorised by class (meaning wealth).

Trev Goring returns on Tharg’s Future-Shocks: Child’s Play. I caught a glimpse of a child walking away from some building bricks in the shape of Stonehenge, so I’m guessing thousands of years pass, the bricks fall into disrepair and it turns out that the child’s building bricks are Stonehenge. Let’s see… yep. Nice half-page last panel of the ruined Stonehenge, by the way.

Strontium Dog, Galaxy Killers. I was wrong – Wulf’s deathblow is interrupted by the sarge’s superior (Major Mox) not wanting to waste Johnny’s life, when both were obviously good fighters. After a montage and a confrontation between Sergeant Kark and the Gronk, my prediction from last prog comes true as the Wolrog of Rog makes the announcement that the force it to mobilise against the Sandorian Nations. More than a billion soldiers are mustered and the first conflict resulsts in the complete destruction of a Sandrorian recon squadron. Not only do Alpha and Sternhammer need to make a break for it, but Johnny has also taken on the task of stopping the Wolrogs from destroying the galaxy.

Ro-Jaws and Hammerstein’s Laugh-In is pretty dark this prog – the robotic member of staff gets sent to Mek-Quake’s Grotto, despite protestations “B-but I o-only made a s-small mistake!” and is killed. The caption underneath the strip cartoon asks for reader’s to inform on other robots who make mistakes so that they, too, can be killed by Mek-Quake (!)

On the back page is Judge Dredd’s Lawmaster, drawn by an uncredited artist. There’s lots of technical description of the various elements of the picture, which I’m guessing would be really interesting if you know a lot about motorbikes and cars. Even though the base picture is more accomplished than the Pretying Mantis cutaway earlier, I feel the text is less accessible.

Grailpage: Mike Dorey, Ro-Busters – the page where Hammerstein obeys the sarge’s order to kill him to prevent the Volgs from capturing and torturing him.

Grailquote: Pat Mills, Hammerstein: “I’m afraid you’re wasting your time strangling me, sarge, and you need a special spanner to unscrew my head!”

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