2000AD and Starlord Prog 116: Gotta Slice My Way Free – or be Trapped in Hell for ever!

Carlos provides another cover from Hell (featuring Johnny Alpha in the Wailing Swamp).

The Nerve Centre – Tharg announces that Ro-Jaws and Hammer-Stein’s Laugh In is back this week (just one week after they appeared in the Sci-Fi special). He also announces that the A.B.C. Warriors will be starting in prog 119. I thought one of the letters was going to be a short story, though it turned out to be a set-up for a joke based on an adage – the punchline goes “A bad tool always blames his workman!” – I’ll leave you to work out the lead-up in a story about robots and their operators…

Judge Dredd: Vienna ‘John Howard’ pens a follow-up to Pat Mills’ Return of Rico from two years earlier, with pen and ink by Ian Gibson. I may be wrong, but I think next prog has the first named block, but for this week an address is given as 19230 Sigma Street, District 892 (the highest sector number I recall is 305). Vienna is Rico’s daughter. It’s not entirely clear at this point how he managed to acquire a sub-ten year old daughter while on Titan for twenty years. I don’t remember the story (though must have read it), but apparently about twenty or thirty years later this will be addressed. To contrast with the end of the Strontium Dog story where Alpha was told by his sister not to have any further contact with his niece Marci, Mrs Pasternak wants Dredd to see more of Vienna though Dredd asks Pasternak to help get Vienna to stop loving him. In an alternative universe somewhere there’s a film version of these two comic characters where, mid-fight, one of them mentions their blonde-haired niece, leading to a halt to the fight. Next prog: Cityblock*1

After a quick ad for the 2000AD Sci-Fi Special, the prog slides in to the latest installment of Rick Random. The first person to be ‘killed’ turns out to still be alive, but not for logn once Random’s on the case. No explanation for how this was done or – more importantly – why is revealed, but it says it’s continuing, so if we’re lucky they won’t notice.

Strontium Dog, Journey Into Hell carries on with Alpha making the decision to send Fly’s-Eyes back to Earth (or at least a certain Doghouse in orbit around said planet). After the City of Hate comes the Wailing Swamp, as featured on the cover. Don the space-trucker gets pulled under by Flash Harry, who was trapped in the swamp but escaped by swapping places. Alpha won’t settle for this and jumps in to get Don out. They’re not out of the woods yet (well, swamp) as a giant snake-monster thing rears its head in the last panel.

Dan Dare: The Guardian of the Crystal. No giant snakes with Dan Dare – just a genetically engineered cyborg – which he spends almost all of the episode fighting (and is no closer to vanquishing at the end than he was at the beginning). The only plot progression is that the Mekon and Hagnar have burrowed through to the crystal chamber. Next prog: The Triumph of Evil!?

Tharg’s Future-Shocks: Colin’s Dream from Chris Stevens (who they?) and Belardinelli. It’s good to see Belardinelli drawing a weird creature again. The dream of the title is about Colin Ross pretending he’s Terran commander, beheading a giant vaguely insectoid alien. The shock is that it’s the 25th century, human-alien marriages are common and his dream was a fantasy where he’s killing his wife.

Not only…
Ro-Jaws and Hammer-Stein’s Laugh In! has a curious letter from ‘Hume Rustin Gauntlett’ about two imposters roaming around the South of England, pretending to be RJ and HS. I’m sure there’s some sort of in-joke here, but that’s all that’s written.
…but also…
Walt Wemembers different scenes from books one and two of Flesh.

Dave Gibbons provides a star pin-up of Tyranno-Mek on the back cover, in JCB yellow.

Grailpage: even though I don’t like the story, and the artstyle myself, while competent, is a generation or two before my time, I’m liking the page of Rick Random by Ron Turner where Rick takes control of a gun on the Columbia.

Grailquote: John Howard, Judge Dredd: “I intend to see less of my niece. You must help her to stop loving me!” Mrs Pasternak: “Really! I always knew you were a cold one – but this! You’ve no heart at all, Joe Dredd! You-you’re just a soulless machine!

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