Prog 106 has an Ian Gibson cover of Slade and company getting stuck in to the war on the robot planet, with speech balloons.
In the Nerve Centre, Tharg makes an attempt to increase readership, concentrating specifically on getting more girls to read the Galaxy’s Greatest. Meanwhile there’s mention of “a Starlord complete story” over the next few months – I don’t recall this ever occurring, apart from the story commemorating 40 years since the launch of the sister comic. In other news, a suggestion from a reader to use cornflake boxes to store progs (good) and decorate it by cutting out your favourite picture from the comic (bad).
In The Day the Law Died!, Cal gazes out over Mega-City One, Grampus by his side, the city encircled by the one-mile high wall. Liking the worldbuilding, as I do, here’s the following… It’s not quite a ‘named block’ but Labour Block K19 (note British English spelling) contains slaves working to maintain the wall. The city trains last ran on time 170 years earlier – were the 1920s particularly good for railway punctuality in New York? Fergee’s address is 18 City Bottom Row, District 437 (WJ2) 17/8 673(9). No mention of sectors. Meanwhile in the story, strip-searches mean strip-searches in the Mega-City – and all done publically (though I’m not sure this is just something under Chief Judge Cal). The resistance consists of Dredd, Giant, Griffin, Pepper and Kelso, who between them prove that the briefing tapes contain subliminal messages brainwashing the judges to “obey Cal”. A the same time, Chief Judge Cal is suffering worsening visions of the old Chief Judges, taunting him (the old Chief Judges at this time would be Fargo, Solomon and Goodman). Walter falls into old habits and so is the first to find that Cal has a plan as he brings the CJ his breakfast one morning. The plan is to execute the entire city the following day, including all citizens and all judges.
Robo-Hunter opens with a horizontally-split page of the two robot armies marching to war. There follows action, laughs, parodies of first world war generals leading from the rear (and sometimes on the retreat) and jokes about “that is not a war wagon – THAT is a war wagon!” The robot designs are pretty uniformly great, whether the loyal 1st army or the anti-sim/hume 2nd – though some of the robots in the 2nd look uncomfortably like gollywogs (now-dated adverts for Robertson’s jam have appeared in the prog previously).
Over in Sharpsville, Johnny and Wulf are still chasing Fly’s-Eyes Wagner. Wagner knows when the odds are against him, shoots his father dead (revealing the reason for his revenge – his father wouldn’t pay for the operation to remove his mutation) and turns a dimension warp on himself to escape. Johnny chases him through the warp, telling Wulf to stay on Earth (which Wulf promptly obeys). This may seem irrelevant, but when the Muppter’s Treasure Island came out I saw an interview with the makers (Jim or Brian Henson, probably) who raised the question of what happens when a major character dies. In typical drama the reaction of those around would be sombre, reflecting. However, if a room full of muppets finds themselves in a room with a dead body they act like muppets. So the Gronk finds himself alone in a room with the dead body of Wagner’s father, panics and jumps through the dimension gate too, in the 20 seconds before it closes. Dimension warps have not yet been masters, and we’re told only a madman would use one while only a brave man or a fool would follow them. Wagner must be the madman, Johnny and Wulf the brave men and The Gronk the finest court fool we could hope for! These three episodes have just been a prelude – now the trio of happy cucumbers (and we the readers) get their first view of the landscape of Hell.
Dan Dare: Servant of Evil has Thraxians recognise Dare, his shouted name triggering a flash of memories from the last voyage of the Space Fort. After a bit of running around (well, they’re in boats, but you get the idea) Krinnj the Treen dies in the machinery of a filtering plant that mashes up swamp water, or something, and it looks like the same fate is awaiting Dare as he is caught in the current, while the Mekon looks on. The Mekon thought monologues about how Dare should “perhaps” die and the next prog says “The Decision” so I’m going to guess that he’s going to save Dare’s life using his hover chair for some tenuous plot reason.
The Robo-creep who you just know will betray the others given half a chance reads from the Book of Robots in The Fall and Rise of Ro-Jaws and Hammer-stein Part Four: Hunted! “Humans are good and kind. Put your trust in humans and they will never let you down!” to which Ro-Jaws replies: “Knickers!” – fast becoming his catchphrase. The intelligent grade one (must be the reverse of the Verdus class system then) responds “…but the robot who is rude and answers humans back will be thrown into the smelter!” If I was doing thrills of the week (or month, year or other publication) then this one would get the prize (I think I have my work cut out for me with grailpages and grailquotes, so I’m not going to add to my workload of choices). Everything is great from the afore-mentioned opening conversation between creep-robot and Ro-Jaws, Little Mo’s blanket fixation, Hammerstein coming into his own and showing what a Mark III war droid can do, the PD troopers following their oil scent, the subtle mention that Casey wouldn’t have that scent, Ro-Jaws joy in using pig manure to cover their scent and finally X27? regaining his memory and trailing next prog’s Genesis of the Robots. I know that Terra-Meks is (rightly) considered a classic, but I still like the Fall & Rise of Ro-Jaws and Hammerstein more.
Closing the prog is an O’Neill star pin-up of Ro-Jaws in green with red teeth – the red teeth don’t quite look right, though if rendered in a more modern colouring style, with weathering and chips in the paintwork maybe it would look more industrial…
Grailpage: we’re spoilt for choice! Both Ron Smith’s first and last pages of this week’s Dredd are strong contenders – the city from Cal to the wall, and the five resistance judges (and Fergee) approaching the Hall of Justice under cover of night. So too is Ian Gibson’s pictures of the first salvoes of the war on Verdus, and the war wagon that closes the episode. The one I’ll pick, which shares the same detailed vistas that you could look at for ages, is the closing page of Journey to Hell by Carlos Ezquerra, showing the steps down to the gates of Hell.
Grailquote: Robo-Hunter and Ro-Busters are both packed full of great dialogue but I’ll go for Pat Mills, Hammer-Stein: “…now we have to survive in a world where humans hate us… with no identity papers… no hide-out… no oil…” Little Mo: “And no blanket.”