2000AD and Starlord Prog 97: We take… a giant step for comic-kind every week!

A generic picture of a giant robot striding through a ruined cityscape, a couple cowering behind a pile of rubble. With a bit of luck there won’t be a hastily-subbed story to explain what’s going on.

Over the page… For a moment I thought there was, but it’s alright, it’s the first of the reader-submitted short stories – which promises to be Future-Shock-tastic (what else can you do with 250 words?) As with the last post, I’m writing this on a bank holiday Sunday in the garden, so the title of the short story appeals to me – A Hot Summer’s Day – the story in question is a variant on the ‘question of scale’ style Shock.

On to the thrills – The Hounds of Klegg! take to the streets in The Day the Law Died! and they have Judge Dredd’s taste. Considering how much happened last prog (exodus, halted, wall ordered, finished, Klegghounds appear) not much actually happens this prog – the hounds basically run through the city and find Dredd, the episode ending with Dredd’s arm in the maw of the hound. Not that I’m complaining, it just leapt out at me while writing the synopsis.

Chris Stevens must have been given a brief to write Angel as if it was a MACH One story – in Chapter 3 – The Fall! we get a computer dialogue box giving instructions and even a Thargnote ripped from the pages of the former series beseeching readers not to do stupid things like jump out of high-rise windows, or let 2000AD “fall into the hands of a ‘dum-dum’!” Harry nearly gets blown up, he jumps out of a window, his computer guides him down without injury, he ignores an order not to go back in to the burning building to save a child, then jumps out of a plane wearing a parachute, but the parachute has been sabotaged so he finds himself falling trapped in a faulty parachute and so on to…

John Richardson writes and draws Tharg’s Future-Shocks: “Dear Mum”. An immortal has been exiled for commiting murder – in fact, being the first murderer since everlasting life was discovered. Everything about the first page suggests it’s a two-page shock, so let’s see if I can guess the potential shocks. The alien sun emits deadly radiation which the exile has to hide from. Because of this he hides at night. After 5,000 years he has made himself comfortable, building a ‘dwelling of stone’ – a castle. A started Future-Shock would be content with the alien planet being Earth – I think that’s a given. How about the exile being… Dracula! Let’s see… Yep – well, maybe not Dracula, but he’s got vampire teeth, is going to “nip down to the village for a bite to eat!” and there are bats in the background. p.s. often when an artist writes a story they illustrated the story suffers in order to create some visual set-pieces – I’m pleased to say that Richardson does not fall in to this trap.

Next up – part two of the three-part FleshFile booklet. Descriptions are given for: Cygnognathus; Giant Plant-Eaters; Bone-Headed Dinosaurs; Giant Scorpions; Stegosaurus and Ichthyosaur, plus a corporate poster from Trans-Time about not wasting their money by getting yourself killed. Belardinelli provides illustrations of Tyrannosaurus Rex, Allosaurus, Nothosaur and Pteranodon. If I do use these in an RPG campaign, I’ll be sure to back up the ‘research’ by checking current thinking – I’d not heard of Stegosaurus’ curling up in a ball with protruding spikes before – like a giant hedgehog!

On to Flesh Book II! The episode suffers from not having the prime centrespread for story pages, but Belardinelli does his best with the four pages allotted to him, showing Carver’s ruthless takeover of Atlantis base, Grose’s cowardice and ending with Peters walking the plank, Big Hungry below.

Ro-busters: Ro-Jaws’ Memoirs: “Happy Ever After (Sort of)” Mr π still has it in for Ro-Jaws and convinces Annabel’s parents to send her off to boarding school so that the sewer droid can be sent off to Murphy – a slave-driving builder – in the hope that Annie will forget all about him while she’s away. This hope is to no avail, though that doesn’t help Ro-Jaws, who gets maltreated and also encounters old friend Ginger, who is being treated even worse. Finally he sees what looks like Ginger’s leg sticking out of a robo-knackers’ lorry (spoiler – it is). This is too much for Ro-Jaws, who falls in shock and is punished by Murphy. Annie got the truth out of her parents, and managed to arrive on the scene and buy Ro-Jaws back. So ends the memoirs – with Miss Marilyn in tears and Hammer-stein dismissive. Next Prog:- The Terra-Meks! (I thought they were due in Prog 99?)

There’s a few adverts, one a quiz about the police, paid for by the Home Office – the answer to question 1: “Can a bloodstain be identified as coming from a particular person?” has the answer “No, unlike finger-prints, blood has no unique characteristics.” I’m going to take a wild stab in the dark and guess that DNA analysis advancements have changed the answer to that question in the intervening forty-one years.

Almost rounding off the prog is the Laugh-In! followed by a trailer for the Terra-Meks, along with a hidden silhouette and a few quotes from the upcoming story.

Finally rounding off the prog is Part II of the Holiday to Mars! showing a cut-away of a Cloudliner to take the (British) family across the Atlantic to Kenney Space Shuttle Port.

Grailpage: Massimo Bellardinelli, Flesh Book II, page 1 – featuring the Atlantis base production line, and a Nothosaur attack on a hunter-killer sub.

Grailquote: John Howard, Judge-Tutor Griffin: “Thank goodness we have a leader like you.” Judge-Tutor Pepper: “I take some of the credit for that, by dor! I taught him his “Advanced Leadership”.” Griffin: “You taught Cal too, Judge Pepper!”

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