2000AD and Starlord Prog 126: Savage was his name! Savage was his battle with the killer flood that engulfed Britain! EXCITING NEWS INSIDE!

This cover is fully painted and shows Savage and Bamber with a montage of scenes. For those experienced in reading children’s comics from the 1970s and 1980s (can’t speak for other decades) the most important part of the cover is the writing at the bottom. “Exciting news inside!” can mean only one thing in IPC-speak – next week is going to be a merger!

The Nerve Centre confirms that 2000AD & Starlord will be no more and 2000AD & Tornado shall be formed, with three Tornado characters being turned into 2000AD worthy of the prog. The only story which is really going to change will be Blackhawk, but more of that next week. Reader contributions-wise, one letter gives Tharg another chance to plug forthcoming story A Day in the Life of the Mighty Tharg. My favourite contribution this week is a photo of a Ro-Jaws model (complete with barrel bin).

Judge Dredd: The Guinea Pig Who Changed the Law (the story as printed doesn’t have a title, but I’m sure I’ve seen it called that somewhere – probably Barney). John’s Howard and Cooper re-introduce us to the world of scientific experimentation on animals, but instead of apes we get cats and guinea pigs this time.

In the last prog of 2000AD & Starlord, Tharg presents a page of reader’s art themed along 2000 A.D. Heroes + + + Starlord Heroes. Wonder if we’ll get the same thing in the last prog of 2000AD & Tornado? Out of five pictures, three are direct copies from published work, to the extent that you can tell who drew the original pictures (Ian Gibson, Bellardinelli and King Carlos). The remaiming pictures are more original – one of the Gronk and another more abstract picture from future professional comic artist Shaky Kane.

Disaster 1990 from Finlay-Day and Alan Willow has the DUK-W duo heading west and as Savage sleeps, Bamber pays a visit to the zoo. There’s a distinctive dome in the first panel, but nothing I recognise, and I’m not sure there are any zoos in West London. Closest I can find is the Windsor Safari Park, so let’s go with that. It’s better to read this story than have it described to you, so I’ll just say: alligators; piranha; electrocution.

Next up: half a page of Readers’ Profiles before we get to the centre pages. No names I recognise, though it’s a good day for Adrian Kelly – he got his name in the prog and today is the last episode of his least favourite story. Quickly onwards.

Pat Mills and Mike McMahon bring the second part of The A.B.C. Warriors‘s Captain Blackblood recruitment story. Quite a bit here about how ABC Warriors are built to kill, to take pride and pleasure in combat action. This is good mythos building, though I’m not sure it’s really going to be capitalised on in the original run of ABC Warriors. Great scripting and artwork all around.

Kelvin Gosnell and Redondo bring us the last episode of Project Overkill this prog. The super-intelligent computer is obviously evil as it reveals its plan to destroy humanity, starting by detonating all major nuclear power stations within the hour. Just in case we didn’t get that this was evil, Number 1 also reveals the only way to stop it, and how Kenny is not ready to make the ultimate sacrifice to do it (as it involves getting a lethal radiation dose). I have a feeling this series was cut a bit short to make way for the merger next prog as it’s all over pretty quickly (Kenny gets the lethal radiation dose, shoots up the computer’s memory room, find his passengers, flies them out, then takes a sleep he never awakes from as his co-pilot takes them home). I did like the early episodes and the general concept, but think there’s something lacking in the latter part of the series – and I don’t think this is just because of the likely shortening due to 2000AD & Starlord becoming 2000AD & Tornado. Possibly because of adverts on the sides of buses lately, this could almost act as a prequel to the Terminator armageddon…

Dan Dare: no story title (I hate ongoing series which don’t give the individual stories a title). Tom Tully and Dave Gibbons bring the story that began as Servant of Evil to a close. Dare and Sondar are “taking a break for a while” – they don’t even make it to the bottom of their last page in the prog – it’s cut to a half-page. An inglorious end to the leading feature in the launch prog. What’s in the actual story? Morag is dragged along by Dare as they escape on the super-ship they stole from SASA earlier. In the rushed last episode she gives a half-page origin story, one frame before the last we’ll ever see of her. Dare, Sondar and Morag fly off into deep space to hunt down the Mekon to prove Dare and Sondar’s innocence. Thirty-nine years later they still haven’t found him.

The inside back cover trails the first prog of 2000AD & Starlord and previews the Dave Gibbons cover – Tharg, Big E, Wolfie and Blackhawk. Captain Klep is also going to be coming over, but he doesn’t make the cover. That suits me fine. I’d say more, but it really belongs on tomorrow’s blog post on the last issue of Tornado, so lets leave it at that (if you’re interested, the back cover proper is something to do with a Spaceman’s Wall Calendar to do with Jif dessert toppings). I’ll have to see if I can dig out a 2000AD & Tornado logo…

Grailpage: You may expect me to pick one of the McMahon ABC Warriors pages – perhaps the one with Joe Pineapples aiming at Blackblood – possibly the iconic image of Joe until Simon Bisley came on the scenes around eight years later (though the centre pages showing the ABC Warriors battling the Straw Dogs is gloriously colourful). Or perhaps the last ever Dan Dare story in the pages of the prog, Dave Gibbons’ famous half-page of Dare and Sondar “taking a break for a while”. No, I’m picking John Cooper’s talking cat calling Dredd both a “bozo” and “fuzzbuzz”.

Grailquote: John Howard, Cat: “Well, well – if it ain’t the great Judge Dredd! You’re just the bozo I’m looking for, fuzzbuzz!” Dredd: “A talking cat… now I’ve seen everything!” Cat: “Don’t blame me, pal! I never asked to talk. Give you humans a lab and some test tubes and you’ll do anything!”

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