2000AD & Starlord Prog 119: Bill Savage is back in ‘Disaster 1990’! Hammer-Stein returns as the ABC Warrior!

The cover is taken from the James Bond: Moonraker film poster, with a few 2000AD-specific things pasted around the rest.

Tharg’s Nerve Centre features a short reader’s story (punchline the human race wiped itself out) and a picture by future art droid Adrian Salmon!

Judge Dredd: A Tale from Walter’s Scwapbook (not actually titled, but the next prog tag last week was along those lines) from John Howard and Ron Smith is an entertaining one-shot story. While Walter stories can get tiresome, the interplay between Walter and Dredd is much more entertaining, with Walter interrupting Dredd as the ‘hyper-cop’ attempts to break a bank robbery. Highlights are Dredd being forced to eat some soup in the middle of the Lawmaster blasting through to the bank and Walter defending Dredd from hostile crowds after Dredd arrests the robot for striking a human.

I’ll briefly mention the competition – it’s for some corgi toy sets (similar to – but not as memorable as – the land raider series) and consists of following lines between six pictures of 2000AD characters. I only mention because – hooray – they haven’t littered pictures through the prog this time. For the record, Judge Dredd’s line goes to Ro-Jaws, Dan Dare’s to Walter and Tharg’s to Hammerstein.

Bill Savage is back in Invasion prequel Disaster 1990 from Gerry Finley-Day and Carlos Pino. Some people don’t like this, I do. In a disaster worthy of Ro-Busters a nuclear-powered super-tanker passing through the new North Pole trade route hits a nuclear-missile armed sub and between the two of them set off a huge nuclear explosion. Savage isn’t Savage unless he’s fighting someone, so the narrative cuts to some bikers making trouble for Bill because his lorry is parked in ‘their spot’. The ensuing fight is interrupted by the news report of the nuclear explosion and imminent flooding. Everybody else heads for high ground while Savage heads for Southwark to make sure his mum is alright. He doesn’t get there in time though and is forced to seek refuge at least higher than the fifteenth floor of a building near the Houses of Parliament. Bill predicts that this isn’t “the end” but “the beginning of the fight for survival” – good job as well, as it’s only the first episode. next prog: Battle at the Imperial War Museum (in the vicinity of the view of London in the last few panels – let’s see how geography holds up).

Filling in the last page before the centrespread is an article on Moonraker, ending in a ‘dossier’ claiming that Bond doesn’t use disguises – I know he’s used a disguise at least once (though the dossier claims it’s from an unnamed foreign power, so obviously their files are incorrect).

Hammerstein’s back! And while Bill Savage is preparing to fight floods, the The A.B.C. Warriors are taking care of Volgs! A brilliant, assured start – two new named characters, six or seven new bits of technology, anti-authoritarianism and a sinister promise of worse to come.

Project Overkill also begins this prog, from Kelvin Gosnell and Ian Gibson. The hero is Kenny Harris, an airline pilot whose plane’s engines are struck in a suspicious storm. A black clad helmeted figure leads a squad to take the passengers away in buses, “work on the plane” and make sure that Harris knows the name “Project Overkill”. The black-clad leader reports back to what seems like a computerised voice on the other end of a radio. I clearly remember this episode as this was one of the earlier back progs I had at the time, but other than a switch in artists by the end I can’t remember what happens next. Probably for the best, it means it’s like I’m reading it for the first time.

Dan Dare continues, starting with a flash-forward scene, which doesn’t fill me with hope. As I mentioned in the last prog’s post, I think this story would have finished suitably at that point. Not only would it have made this prog a full jumping-on prog but the story ends better there. Anyway, Dare and Sondar head back to Earth, with a promise from Princess Myriad that they should consider Lystria their second home. There’s something about hyperspace taking a few seconds to return to the solar system, the entire journey since the Space Fort left Earth only took Dare a few months (in space time) but back on Earth two years have passed, conveniently making the year now 2179 – exactly two centuries into the future, as published. The episode ends with Dare and Sondar on the run, accused of a host of crimes, including helping the Mekon steal the crystal, and apparently accused by Myriad herself.

The cut-out-and-keep Book of Robots begins, though doesn’t get off to the best of starts by trotting out that photo of the Hammerstein model again (admittedly it is a good model). The ‘micro-data prog’ is designed to be read once completed, which doesn’t lend itself so well to weekly installments – for instance, the second half-page starts half-way through a sentence and the back page of the 2000AD and Starlord prog has the front and back pages of the Book of Robots prog, essentially revealing a punchline before the middle of the metaphorical joke has been told. Good artwork provided by Brian Bolland though.

Grailpage: I would be very tempted to pick Ron Smith’s page of Judge Dredd eating soup while waiting for the Lawmaster to blast through the bank wall, but it’s in the same prog as Kevin O’Neill’s virtual battlefield, replete with non-standard narrative box from Pete Knight.

Grailquote: Pat Mills, Happy Shrapnel: “Hold it, Sarge! I smell something!” Rookie: “It’s your boots, Happy! We told you to take the feet out before you put them on!”

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