Two series went on hold for the 2000AD and Starlord merger – Dan Dare and Robo-Hunter. Dan Dare got a Dave Gibbons cover last prog, this week it’s the turn of Sam Slade, Kidd and B.O. ably brought to the cover by Ian Gibson.
The Nerve Centre is given over to overseas readers, from far-flung places like… the Channel Islands. (Also South Africa, New Zealand, Ghana, Germany, Dar Es Salaam and B.F.P.O. (which could have been on the mainland for all we know).
The dream team of John Howard, Brian Bolland and Tom Frame (other dream teams exist) bring forth The Day the Law Died! as Fergee leads the five judges and judge tutors to his palace. In the same way that the mystery of Verdus was revealed some way into the tale (robots programmed to think humans were superior only worked when SJ-1 was the only robot on Verdus), we finally find out how Cal keeps his reign of terror – his role as head of the SJS meant he compiled the daily crime briefings downloaded directly into the brains of the judge force of Mega-City One. Now they have an inkling of the source of Cal’s power, it’s up to Dredd and Fergee to creep to the Hall of Justice (Grand or otherwise) to use these tapes against him. Tapes! How fast technology can date sci-fi!
After half a page of readers Strontium Dog art is another dream team: T.B. Grover, Ian Gibson and Steve Potter on cover star Robo-Hunter. There’s something of Gollum in B.O. – encountered in a dank subterranean location, unusual speech patterns (speaking in the third person, referring to themselves in plural) as well as playing games with our protagonists. B.O.’s robomarker cheats but Slade takes advantage of a distraction from Boots and Smokin’ Joe to bribe the Robopoly police to take care of the cheating white marker. The upshot is that our team end up far below the headquarters of Big Brain.
An odd photo star pin-up of Tharg next, in black and white, and on the back of part three of the blown-up reprint poster by Mike McMahon.
Also on the back of the centrespread is page one of Dan Dare: Servant of Evil! Part Three: A Plague of Lies! As well as far too many exclamation marks, there’s some overblown narration that could have come from the tackiest of 1970s US superhero comics (and it’s sometimes said that this last run of Dare turns the spacer into a superhero). Trickery from The Mekon and the Treens follows, along with a ship to take Dare and The Mekon to the surface of Lystria. I might be unfair here, but to me the nose of said ship looks a lot like the front of the Battlestar Galactica (which debuted in 1978…)
A legend next. Tharg’s Future-Shocks: A Close Encounter of the Fatal Kind! Written by Alec Trench (R.I.P.) and drawn by Carlos Ezquerra it tells the tale of ‘author’ Alec – the face that launched a thousand motivational posters. Dejected by rejection, he throws himself from a bridge but is ‘rescued’ by aliens. I won’t go into the details but he ends up falling to his death anyway, with one last script fluttering into Tharg’s hands. A suicidal comedy? Pretty dark for what’s still a children’s comic – I wonder how it got past management?
A teaser for a six-part (presumably) series of postergraphs, probably by Bill Le Fevre. As I’ve said before, I like some of Bill’s work, but the Holiday to Mars just hasn’t grabbed me.
Ro-Jaws and Hammer-Stein’s Laugh In! and the sewer droid bemoans the lack of a Ro-busters strip this prog, while Hammer-Stein reveals that the Ro-Busters story to end them all will start next week – and he means it. At least for stories running in the prog until the 21st century (or was Return to Ro-Busters an A.B.C. Warriors story?) Walt Wemembers the first mission of Ro-Jaws and Hammerstein from back in Starlord No 1 while sharing the same page is a teaser of next prog’s cover – Kevin O’Neill’s Ro-Busters cover.
What I think is the last Holiday to Mars futuregraph adorns the back page, showing the Deeson Comet – some sort of spaceport, space station ship that carries people from the moon to Mars. It’s more interesting than some of the preceding installments, but I’m still hoping House of the Future is better.
Grailpage: it’s getting more difficult to pick grailpages, with superlative pages from Bolland, Gibbons and Ezquerra jockeying for first place, but the award goes to Gibson’s first view of the Robopoly board, with white robomarker tripping black robomarker.
Grailquote: I’m not straying too far from the grailpage, with T.B. Grover, B.O.: “Eeeeeek! They’ve ripped him to pieces, B.O.! To pieces!” Robopoly cop: “Sorry, chum. Your marker was, er… resisting arrest.”