Another prog, another classic Brian Bolland cover – this one celebrating multiple Eagle Award wins.
Tharg’s Nerve Centre (is this the first time it’s been called that?) has the first mention of an upcoming Robo-Hunter story next year (this prog is published in October 1979).
Judge Dredd: The Invisible Man from John Howard and Ron Smith. It’s a great set-up (I know how it ends so know what the twist is, and even that there is a twist) with artwork from Ron Smith that makes the Aftermath Square feel like a busy and large public space. John Wagner includes a few digs at modern art as a twisted coat hanger gets stolen, seemingly by an invisible man. An attempt to catch the perp in the act backfires as not only does he escape but he threatens repercussions.
Alvin Gaunt is joined once again by Belardinelli on Black Hawk. The titular character – on the verge of death last prog – to his surprise awakes. Breaking out of the mending vat the Director explains all. Here’s the answer to my confusing memory – Battak’s wings are going to be healed… one day (in time for the prog I owned that features the character flying). Blackhawk is unimpressed by the mending vat – its unnatural processes have trapped him in the Arena, where even death is no escape from the gladiatorial contests. In training the after-effects and distraction of the vats lead to his showing fear, which also leads to Ursa sustaining an injury. At that moment a local arrives with a challenge – the Goool who has the opposite of a petrifying gaze – a test drone melts into a pool of slime – a pool of Goool, if you will. The Director prepares to pay a forfeit as Blackhawk accepts the challenge. His reasoning is that he must regain his bravery, and if he does not, at least he will die permanently, as the mending vat cannot resurrect a pool of slime.
Flesh File next. I’m familiar with this format, because a similar page appeared a year or two after I first started buying 2000AD. With art culled from Flesh Book I and the Satanus episodes of The Cursed Earth, Carlos Ezquerra provides a few new frames. Presumably Pat Mills reminds us of Old One Eye and Satanus, before introducing us to Golgotha, grandson of the Hag Queen and son of Satanus the Unchained (as ever, Uncle Pat likes to give characters grandiose titles).
Did I say Carlos Ezquerra provided a few new panels? For Pat Mills and ‘L.J. Silver’ are bringing this prog’s The A.B.C. Warriors story to us. I think this pen-name for Carlos means he was unsatisfied with the art for this story, though I can’t imagine why, because his armoured tyrannosaurs are great! Speaking of which, the son of the owner of a fleet of at least a hundred cybo-whales uses a herd of tyrannosaurs to hunt filing clerks and typists from his father’s company. This is a secret, though it’s on an outcrop in the sand seas called Damnation Island, which is linked to the mainland by the Bridge of Screams, so I’m not sure how much of a secret it is. When Golgotha gets upset at another tyrannosaur stealing his kill, he loses his rider (Mike Molasses – no idea if the name is meant to mean anything, or is just a comedy name) and leads the herd (should that be pack?). Golgotha leads the pack to the mainland and the secret is out. Hammerstein and Deadlock take Mike away to send him on ‘the great journey’ (guess which of the two robots did that bit) which doesn’t go down too well with Molasses senior. Luckily for the millionaire/billionaire, there’s a robot predisposed to treachery already in the Meknificent Seven.
The Mind of Wolfie Smith from Tom Tully and Vañó has the young psychic facing a gang of angry stuntmen. In this instance, Wolfie is saved by the intervention of ancient evil possessing him, leading to injuries to the stuntmen (the possession also physically changes Wolfie’s face). Looks like Wolfie had better leave the scene, though at that moment Julian the director marvels at how creepy the latest costume is. The face of which, of course, looks like the demonic visage which Wolfie took on while possessed. Next prog: Nothing! This is for one of two reasons – problems getting the art in on time or something else that’s going to take the spot instead. If the thing that takes over is a Future-Shock then it’s probably art issues.
Disaster 1990! has Finlay-Day and Carlos Pino showing Bill’s confrontation with the squire. Last issue we were told that the residents of the high and dry land were going to kill any strangers, either before or after they landed. The squire’s sons act in accordance to this teaser, though the squire himself seems more friendly… Actually, he is friendly enough, though strongly isolationist. It’s the sons who cause all the trouble, smashing up the Duck and forcing Professor (Steve) Bamber and Bill Savage to jump off a cliff into the water. I think this is the first time we’ve seen Bamber’s other name – I’d assumed Bamber was his first name. It does make their initials SB and BS (though I seem to remember Bill’s full name is William Alfred Savage – his middle name may have been reported differently in different stories).
Almost at the end of the prog and we have a new feature Down in the Drains… with Ro-Jaws. This has three letters – all to, and about, Tharg – you can probably imagine how Ro-Jaws answers them, all at Tharg’s expense. The other half of this page is a ‘next prog’ teaser – the same as this one, but for two exceptions – a Ro-Jaws’ film feature and Tharg’s Future-Shocks – so probably an art issue?
Grailpage: I keep forgetting to consider covers as grailpages, but there’s little contest with this prog – the profile of Dredd from Brian Bolland, lawgiver pointing upwards and the Eagle in the background.
Grailquote: Pat Mills, narration: “These were rich pickings – and soon the rich had been fully picked…”