2000AD and Tornado Prog 143: The Stainless Steel Rat continues his galactic hunt for the ultimate war-machine!

Slippery Jim takes to the cover (along with that Mk 10 war droid disguised as an M 3 robot). King Carlos does the honours.

In the Tharg’s Nerve Centre an Earthlet’s Latin teacher criticises Deadlock’s grasp of the dead language…

Judge Dredd: The Black Plague! Part IV by John Howard and Ron Smith begins with the spiders swarming over the West Mutieland Wall. If you want to show aircraft, call for Ian Kennedy, if you want to destroy large swathes of Mega-City One, Ron Smith’s the art droid to call in. In this episode, the spiders prove proof against poison and so, from a line of defence at the Mega-Circular (like the North and South Circulars surrounding London), Dredd orders a fresh wave of high explosive and incendiary to burn the sector down, reasoning that the only way they could have escaped outside the walls was by burrowing underground. This is of course correct. In the morning, Henry Ford is ready to go home. He’ll be back, at least one more time.

One rare colour inside page later (because the promoters of Star Trek the Motion Picture are paying for it, for their advert). The fourth episode of V.C.s and the second part of the third story continues from Gerry Finlay-Day and Cam Kennedy. Smith acquits himself (though forgets to check the day’s radio transmission code, so can’t just radio Jupe and Hen-Sho once he’s on Pluto). He’s learning though, and at least he has two friends now. Well, comrades, anyway. Next prog: Ro-Jaws – there’s definitely been some scheduling issues here – Mick McMahon on the first episode, Gary Leach on the second, Cam Kennedy on the third and fourth and now a one-week gap?

Captain Klep by art droid (and I think art editor at the time) Robin Smith. It’s been written by somebody too, but there’s no clue who. Though this episode doesn’t look to have been signed by Smith, so someone else may have been filling in this time (he’s been signing his other episodes). The strip itself is the ‘humourous’ story of Klep learning to be a viscount.

Ro-Jaws’ Film Report on Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Ro-Jaws (and Richard Burton) don’t appear to have seen the film yet, so they’re reporting from the press release – including facts like 700 uniforms being made for the film, and the director, Robert Wise, also directed The Day the Earth Stood Still.

Part Four of The Stainless Steel Rat by Kelvin Gosnell (adapted from Harry Harrison’s book) and Carlos Ezquerra shows Jim diGriz and the world president of the planet Cittanovo arriving at the space yards just as the secret battleship is taking off (and shooting all the police surrounding). Mention is made of Pepe and a wife (or girlfriend) and when Jim gets to see a picture of the people who built and then stole the ‘mining ship’ I realise who the girlfriend must be – Angelina! The Corps have no leads, the battleship can destroy anything that goes up against it, has access to hyperspace and enough fuel to last five years. There’s nothing else for it – Jim is going to have to act as bait to bring Pepe out. This ship itself is a little reminiscent of the Rog ships from The Galaxy Killers crossed with the Tantive IV from A New Hope.

The Mind of Wolfie Smith by Tom Tully and Vañó. As the Wendigore erupts from its ancient tomb, Tara pleads with Wolfie to escape with her, but the psychic teen insists on facing up to the ancient creature. After catching up to it, Wolfie taunts the Wendigore, leading it to chase him…

Alvin Gaunt’s Black Hawk has a change of artist again, with Ramon Sola returning. Unlike with the previous time Sola took over art duties, this one doesn’t have any dinosaurs (or dinosaur-like creatures) for the art droid to draw, and is the weaker for it. This episode concentrates on Ursa and Zog in a cavern, where the meet some neanderthal / troglodytes. In the trog versus Zog fight, Zog appears to have been killed… Next prog: Epitaph? (I wouldn’t have thought so).

A Nerve Centre Extra is given over to Alien Design winners, one of which looks very like a Giger design… In fact, I think I have the picture (a photo of the actor from the Alien film) that this may have been traced from.

Starlord’s Guide to the Galaxy squeezes the aliens in now, and this is definitely recycling art from the source stories for Baskiri (Battak’s race), the Smiling Chukwalla (uses the Belardinelli rendition), Wolrog and Tweak (using the pic by Brian Bolland where Tweak is striding towards the viewer). On the back page, and the middle pages of the mini-guide, is an Alien I.D. Parade, showing a Droon (from Timequake), Seg, Bgu Tribesman (Rok, from Dan Dare) and a Sneekle.

Grailpage: Carlos Ezquerra’s centrespread, showing the battleship taking off while eliminating ground forces is a great opening to an episode.

Grailquote: John Howard, Judge: “I don’t understand it, Judge Dredd! We burnt ’em all out in the Cursed Earth!” Judge Dredd: “Looks like we missed a few!”

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