2000AD and Starlord Prog 109: Flames of Hell!

Carlos Ezquerra’s cover shows our Stront trio in a boat crossing a lake or river of liquid fire. There’s somebody else in the boat with them – I’d guess it’s Fly’s-Eyes, but if it is then he’s donned a hood.

The Nerve Centre points out the lack of Dredd, plus we get reader’s art of Fergee for the second week running (I’m wondering if the previous prog’s was the first reader’s art submitted by a female reader).

Robo-Hunter is heading for a resolution, with Slade getting the idea to use Radio Verdus to transmit a signal that will destroy the circuits of all robots on the planet. Boots is unimpressed by the latest plan (which involves using technology banned on earth as it leads to all cybernetics being damaged). Despite this being the episode where Slade gets the idea of how to ‘solve’ the problem of Verdus, it’s otherwise not exceptional (though the annoying cab-robot is well done).

Tharg’s Future-Shocks: Sacrifice from Alan Hebden and Mike White concerns Benson, a colonist who lives on Tarka III and is trying to convince representatives of Earth tax-payers to continue to invest in his home planet. The end is a bit silly, but it does act as an interesting contrast to The Angry Planet over in Tornado, with the same themes of decisions made by Earthers who can influence the lives of those on an alien planet.

Strontium Dog, Journey to Hell from T. B. Grover and Ezquerra opens with Fly’s-Eyes continuing his recovery from being blown to pieces and dying. A green-skinned preacher comes along and explains what’s going on (they’re in Hell, they can’t die, they’ll remain in torment and finally – look at that sinister castle over there that you didn’t notice earlier – Satan lives there and if you want out then you’ll have to go there). The preacher introduces them to the River Inferno, which must be crossed to reach the Black Citadel – though the first hurdle was a sense of ennui that threatened to stop them even trying to cross the river of fire (admittedly in a wooden boat, which wouldn’t fill you with confidence). Our Johnny manages to overcome this and pushes Wulf into the boat, carries the Gronk in and then they push off. The preacher suggested they link themselves with a chain so that if any of them get out. Not long afterwards the boat sinks below the flame/waves. Putting two and two together I’m going to guess (possibly remember, it’s not like I’ve never read this before – it’s just been a while) that our next view of Johnny will be him crawling up the opposite bank of the river, dragging the others by the chain.

Dan Dare: Attack on Eternium! (not called Servant of Evil anymore because he’s un-brainwashed now). Dare wants to contact the Federation, but that will take too long for Princess Myriad of the Lystrians. As long as everybody does exactly what he says, Dare promises to lead them (as was foretold, apparently). Myriad is handy with a whip – when not using it in warfare she’s holding the handle with the throng wrapped around her arm to her elbow. The main strategy that Dare brings is for everybody to hitch a ride on swamp-beasts to the most weakly-defended gate – Dare to attract the guard’s attention (and their fire) and then for Myriad to use the whip to grab a guard by the throat and knock him off his tower. It doesn’t go well and a force-barrier is activated at the gate.

The Fall and Rise of Ro-Jaws and Hammer-stein Part has a change of artist, with Mike Dorey back on the droids. With Casey disguised as a human, Ro-Jaws, Hammerstein, Ginger and Little Mo go to London to search for the Escape Line with only the clue X27 to go by. Dorey’s best when depicting the grimy side of the city, though there’s a few good vistas of what would be a proto-Brit-Cit. Ro-Jaws has a run-in with a latest Fred 2L Deluxe model robot who he ends up battering. Little Mo manages to find X27 – crossroads 27, which has a traffic-light robot on duty – though this is all being watched by the battered waste robot…

Grailpage: Carlos Ezquerra’s opening centrespread for Jounrey Into Hell! has a few talking heads, our first view of the Black Citadel on the Mount of Skulls, all wrapped up in organic-looking spiky frames.

Grailquote: T.B. Grover, Sam Slade: “Listen, cab. I don’t want to be rude but I’m trying to think. How about a little silence, huh?” Robo-cab: “Sure, pal. I’ll play a little music.”

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