It’s a great cover by Ron Smith, of Dredd arresting a ship – just a shame it’s the first one back on the letterpress after the luxurious litho printing we’d been getting.
I think this prog must have been published around the time of the 1979 General Election, for there is reader’s art of a Vote Tharg poster in the Nerve Centre.
Over in there’s a more-or-less untitled Judge Dredd story (which we’ll call The Battle of the Black Atlantic part 1, by association with the cover tag line). The first instance of a use of Mega-City One Criminal Code Section 59(D) – also known as a crime blitz. John Howard and cover artist Smith show the team of judges tearing apart a mega-citizen’s apartment, examining every facet of his life. Dredd is suspicious when nothing illegal is found and orders surveillance. We’re also shown our first “spy-in-the-sky” hover cameras. The cameras surveil scientist Reginald Sweet for weeks, based on a hunch, until he meets a unknown man in a burger bar. Once cornered, Sweet quickly caves in, revealing that he’d been selling laser defence secrets to East-Meg 1. Dredd cuffs Sweet to an impromptu holding post and gives chase to the unknown man. Smith draws a fantastic panel of Dredd cutting through lanes of traffic in pursuit – think the opening scenes from the 2012 Dredd film. The suspect escapes through a crack in the East Wall (why is there a crack in it? There’s not been any wall-shattering events within the last year, have there? Though perhaps the Black Atlantic wall pre-dates Cal’s wall surrounding the rest of the Big Meg). Another great panel shows Dredd commandeering a Customs boat. Dredd tries the new respirator – first we’ve heard of it, no sign of how it’s any different to the one that protected Dredd from the Zyclon gas before the Robot Wars. In a classic moment, Dredd follows the agent to an East-Meg anti-pollution ship and arrests the entire ship. The East-Meg judge aboard is not impressed, and orders the commander to plough through Dredd’s boat, full speed ahead.
Ro-Jaws Presents Reader’s Photos has four photos sent in by readers. Two are models of Hammerstein, one is a lego spaceship and the fourth a doctored photo of a protest by Walter’s sole fan, demanding his return.
Over in Black Hawk from Alvin Gaunt (who may be Tully and Alan Grant, rather than just Grant as I said last week) and Belardinelli. The narrative starts in the second person – as the first 2000AD episode did – that one was to Blackhawk, this one is to the primordial beast that Blackhawk is gladitorialising against. I can’t place my finger on just what it is, but Massimo’s art on this is so much more vibrant than what he was putting in just weeks earlier on The Angry Planet (though the art on that had its moments). After a few failures, Blackhawk finds the creature’s weakness (the head and chest are well protected but the guts are much softer) and is tricked into executing the beast by the Director. As he shows too much disobedience, The Tork is put on Blackhawk’s head – which is similar to the torc in Monkey. Just as an aside, Monkey was first shown in the West in 1979, the same year this story was published… Blackhawk takes a break next week but is back in two weeks – I assume because Massimo hasn’t had a rest since wrapping up The Angry Planet and then drawing the repurposed Blackhawk, so he needs some catch-up time?
The A.B.C. Warriors has Pat Mills and a fully credited Brendan McCarthy concluding the two-part Steelhorn / The Mess recruitment story – almost every story in the original ABC Warriors is a two-parter, usually with the same artist responsible for both parts (except for that Deadlock story). The lead character is looking very Swamp Thing-like before he gets messy on the manager of the demob camp. Going on a rampage, Hammerstein also discovers the truth about the camp and quickly comes across The Mess, who slithers up Hammerstein’s recently-fired gun barrel to keep warm. Back at base The Mess is put in a vacuum flask and makes friends with Mongrol, the only one who can understand him. The still-unnamed human officer who has assembled them is about to brief them but Deadlock announces that their enemy (as revealed by the cards) is The Devil. I’ve just noticed they get called ‘the cards’ but never the ‘tarot cards’ – I guess using the word tarot may have caused problems between editorial and management… If you don’t know already, we’ll find out what is meant by ‘the devil’ next week.
From a psychic robot to a couple of psychic humans in Tully and Gibson’s The Mind of Wolfie Smith. We see the (psychically projected) face of the antagonist in the opening panel and by the end find out where he lives (we could have guessed that from only knowing having one location to go on last episode) and his name – Matthew Hobb – so another story ends with a psychic investigating a devilish enemy.
Finley-Day and Pino continue Disaster 1990 and Slick Sam isn’t safe from the lynch mob yet – Bill has to save his life again (this time by shooting the rope being used to hang him). Bill and Bamber come up with a tenuous plan to get the DUKW up to 60 miles per hour by doing a circuit of the collapsing stadium, before ‘flying’ through the air on to mattresses and cardboard boxes on a nearby roof (which is a lot closer than it was last episode). Sam tricks them into doing the jump without them, making the DUKW just light enough to make the jump. I guess an opportunist turning over a new leaf so that he can save the lives of those who just tried to kill him (twice) is more plausible than the ‘jumping over a whirlpool’ thing.
The inside back cover, and that means another four readers’ profiles. The average reader has a range between 9 and 30 years old and a median of 14.25. Starblazer must have just launched, as it was in low numbers when I started reading 2000AD and two of the four also read it.
At the back is Captain Klep, looking to have the same creative team as on Tornado. Clep is protesting outside an army base when a dog runs onto the firing range. Klep saves the dog from being hit by a missile though drops the bomb when saluting a general. Clep is worried that Tharg will pay a visit for not being funny…
Grailpage: I’m tempted by a few of the Ron Smith panels, but am going to Brendan McCarthy’s opening for ABC Warriors, with The Mess singing the hat and coat he wears while waiting outside the manager’s office before erupting in a hot mess. Apparently ‘hot mess ‘means something else these days, but I’m sticking with the phrase.
Grailquote: Pat Mills, fireman: “The Mess is climbing into the sink… it’s escaping down the plug-hole! Ge down there after it, men!” Second fireman: “What? Down the plug-hole, sir?”