Mad George makes the cover, or Fighting Mad George as the strapline has it in this word balloon festooned offering by Mike McMahon.
Following last prog’s exciting news regarding The V.C.s, Tharg’s Nerve Centre this week really ups the thrill-power limits with news that Woman’s Realm has details on how to order a Gronk pattern.
Judge Dredd: Night of the Bloodbeast from John Howard and Gary Leach is going to make settling on a grailpage difficult as I already have an idea of what the centrespread is going to be, but Leach is putting in the best work of his career (up to this point) on this story. This makes a great addendum to The Day the Law Died and also makes for a better take on a traditional horror film than the waxwork story a few months ago, this tells the tale of a mutated Klegg who was left behind when the alien mercenaries fled the city (only to meet a hail of missiles). The couple that Urk (for that is the Klegg’s name) was billeted with choose to keep him to make money once feelings towards Klegg’s aren’t so fresh. Unfortunately for everybody involved, they don’t have enough money to feed the Klegg, and Urk breaks free, going on a killing rampage and ending up at a fancy dress party (giving Leach an excuse to draw lots of costumes). Next prog, the Great Plasteen Disaster!
Alvin Gaunt and Belardinelli next, introducing Captain Psyko and his pirate crew attacking the stadium ship that Black Hawk is on. Thankfully the narrative doesn’t start on the second-person it usually has, instead opting for third-person omniscient as it talks about how the pirate captain can be both the nicest boss a space-pirate could have and also the meanest maniac who ever tortured a Gronk. Two pages after the next prog tag mentioning plasteen, Psyko mentions the same substance, and groats a little later (doesn’t say whether they’re galactic groats though). So continuity and stealth crossovers are a thing in this episode. The Director and the gladiators put up a fierce fight, but eventually Blackhawk goes down. Psyko isn’t the master as you might expect, as Blackhawk gets subjected to the Soul-Sucker – a Belardinelli creation a bit like earthworms arranged in an octopoid pattern and looking better than I make it sound. If you came at this story having already read later annuals and specials, you’ll recognise one panel especially in this episode – the one with Captain Psyko slashing at Blackhawk… While all this is going on, Ursa has gone off to fetch Zog.
An early Star Wars pop cultural reference in an advert for toy police cars on the next page (“may the force be with you” – police force, get it?)
The A.B.C. Warriors opens with a 2000 A.D. postergraph – so you have to turn the prog around to see Mad George in all his glory – ABC warriors controlling each of his limbs. I think the last time we had a ‘turn around’ centrespread was the Dan Dare in London of 2177 (or whatever year it was) way back at the beginning of the second story. The next one I can think of will also feature a huge robot – one even bigger than George – though the story will also feature a cameo from Hammerstein… Those reading this blog in order know my pet hate of stories that start in the middle of the action, then flashback. There are exceptions – a few of my favourite films use this technique and I appreciate them the more for it – but I’ve not liked any of the uses in 2000AD yet. This one has the afore-mentioned poster, complete with narration boxes explaining what’s going on (each Warrior is controlling one of the sub-brains) and then goes into two thirds of a page flashback explaining exactly the same thing but in comic panels. Coming so soon after the pre-centre pages Flesh file which led into Golgotha’s first appearance, I’d have preferred the comic pages to be where the toy police car advert had been, then carry on with the story. Anyway – the attack on Biol Corporation is a success and George is happy to have finally been of some use. So happy in fact, that the colossus doesn’t want to go back to being Mad George, and wants to be left behind to be destroyed. In a completely unrelated note, Mongrol isn’t sounding very Mongrol-like this episode – coming out with the rather verbose line: “Engine room here… V9000 engine constant at 830 R.V. optimum pressure!”
From Night of the Bloodbeast in this prog’s Jude Dredd to Night of the Carnivore with The Mind of Wolfie Smith by T Tully and Vañó. Tara goes up stairs. Wolfie goes up the stairs, but the Guardian of the Wendigore makes the steps crumble, but Wolfie has a premonition and manages to grab on to the brickwork. Then the Guardian uses telekinesis to chuck bits of masonry at Smith. It’s a so-so episode – all the elements are in place and at least it has a different cliffhanger than the previous two episodes.
Disaster 1990! from G Finlay-Day and M White – the penultimate episode I believe. The trio of leaders of the Greater London Legion executes the rebel leaders (other than Savage). Savage is about to be killed in a creative and elaborate way – and we know what happens when villains do that! Squire Archer turns good and comes to the rescue just in the nick of time, getting his boys to drag Savage out of a cement-filled Duck (don’t ask). All is set for the finale, between Wormwood Scrub convicts led by Razor, Martin and the Doctor against the pennine farmers led by Archer and Savage.
Grailpage: it has to be Mike McMahon’s centre page postergraph of the pale green George among the red rocks of Mars, crewed by Hammerstein, Joe Pinapples, Happy Shrapnel, Mongrol, Deadlock and sssss Captain Blackblood. It’s a shame we can’t see the Mess in the engine room…
Grailquote: it’s a bit silly, but Tom Tully, Julian Rowse: “I want this on film!” Wolfie Smith: “Blimey, I-I’ve made it at last! I’m gonne be a film star..!” “…but if ole clay face has his way it’ll be me last part!”