2000AD and Starlord Prog 115: Race for the Crystal of Life!

Dave Gibbon’s providing a very yellow cover for Dan Dare and the Mekon, looking pretty superheroic (Dare, not the Mekon).

The Nerve Centre gives Tharg a chance to plug the latest Sci-Fi Special and you know what that means – it’s going to be a few days until my next prog, as I’ll have not only a Tornado to read, but also the special. The £10 winner for an art submission is Kevin Hopgood – later to become an art droid! (his picture is of Johnny and Wulf). Tharg reassures a reader that characters in 2000AD will never bow to commercialisation. I must have imaged those Judge Dredd candy cigarettes and Sugar Puffs then! He also shows great modesty by proclaiming that Thargians are superior to almost every other race in the universe. The Nerve Centre ends with a Thargflash! The ABC Warriors are coming! (and Ro-Busters hasn’t even ended yet).

Judge Dredd The DNA Man comes to a conclusion, with Walter coming to Dredd’s aid, through judicious use of hot beverages. The professor and Dennis make for the Northways Bridge, leading out of Dredd’s jurisdiction (presumably to Canada, though what lies beyond Mega-City One’s northern border isn’t specified). A pretty vending woman (ice cream/cigarette vending-style, with magician’s assistant get-up) attracts Dennis’ attention, leading to a classic horror image of Dennis holding the prone woman, Frankenstein and even a full moon partially obcured by clouds in the background. The scientist makes it over the border but Dennis doesn’t, though when vendor comes around her cries of ‘Ugly’ stir Dennis to cast off the judges holding him and pull his creator to his death. Next prog: Kidnap! Which doesn’t narrow it down, as Exo-Men had a kidnapping, and so did the DNA Man.

Facing the last page of Dredd is a full-page ad for the film version of Battlestar Galactica, which (in my opinion) has heavily influenced a few designs in the past few months of comics…

Rick Random: Riddle of the Astral Assassin. Lots of characters, only a few of which are distinguishable from the others. We find out the two humans were arrested just to keep them out of the way, while Garon Aldo (the growly guy) gets killed. The remaining human is apparently fitted up for size (found unconscious with what may be the murder weapon next to him). Cardan the space wizard arrives on the scene at the end of the episode to reveal he knows who did it. Though I’m sure we’re only three episodes down out of five, so presumably we’re going to be kept waiting. Next prog: The living dead! So maybe one of the people who have been killed already is the murderer? The obvious choice would be the one whose head has been disintegrated.

Strontium Dog, Journey Into Hell introduces the Weerd Brothers – three new Strontium Dogs, and they have the remaining four tickets out of Hell. You’d think this episode would be about Alpha and Wulf getting those tickets from them, and the first couple of pages are. The rest of the episode is about Mr Sun and Mr Moon delaying them. Cliffhanger – they all get to the warp station, but only Alpha still has a ticket. We know he’s too honourable to leave without Wulf, even if the alternative is to remain in Hell, but it’s still a great episode.

Dan Dare: Attack on Eternium (it doesn’t actually have a title any more, just bannered ‘Dan Dare’). The Thraxians are drilling their way down to the Inner Grotto which holds the Crysal of Life. The Lystrians try to halt the drill and almost succeed but for Hagnar and the Mekon. Meanwhile Dare goes a few steps further underground and meets The Guardian of the Grotto. He has an entourage, Sondar and Exior (who may as well be called Exposition). It’s inoffensive, though if only Dave Gibbons could be put on something else.

The Fall and Rise of Ro-Jaws and Hammer-stein Part 13. The last part – not just of this story but of Ro-Busters (except for a couple of stories in annuals). A great splash page of the latest threat to the transformed freighter, which is quickly dispatched by the droids on the ground. The main focus of this story is how the Heroes Dozen are going to get out of their predicament. The Satan Dart is their means of escape, though it’s not clear exactly how many of them make it – Gottlieb, Doc, Ro-Jaws and Hammerstein definitely, but I think the other remaining one gets ‘zooked’. Ro-Jaws and Hammerstein are last seen heading off into the sunset (sunrise?) following directions to a safe house – Hammerstein to recover from his wounds and the both to get false documents. Thanks to Space Spinner 2000 I now know the song they sing is based on a real-world song – Side by Side – only took me thirty five / forty years to find that out!

Grailpage: No preamble, it’s McMahon’s opening image of the Angels of Death about to attack the Black Butterfly. It’s a great design for a fighter craft and we only get to see them for a couple of panels before they get destroyed!

Grailquote: T.B. Grover, Fly’s-Eyes: “Gimme your spare ticket an’ I’ll help you!” Hiss Weerd: “Since when have the Weerd Brothers needed help?” Fly’s-Eyes: “Aaagh!”

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