2000AD and Tornado Prog 145: Merry Christmas, Tharg – here’s your present!

Today’s festive cover is from Carlos Ezquerra and promises to tie in to a Tharg story inside (or maybe it won’t, time and pages shall tell).

Tharg’s Nerve Centre’s has reader art, a couple of letters and a puzzle (which contained an acrostic).

     spikes
    moonie
       2066
      2070
     2001
      2071
      walter
       don uggie
      rico
      satanus
    grampus
    booth
 kenneth
   fergee
judge klob
     giant
      tweak

Judge Dredd: Uncle Ump’s Umpty Candy – as with the previous prog, this tale is from John Howard and Mike McMahon. The second page has a much used panel, whether you want a picture of Riot Foam being deployed, or the Riot Squad deploying it. Here’s another ‘craze’ story – the third? We’ve had brain blooms and miracle plastics already. It’s a simple story – a product gains sudden popularity, it has side effects which involve the law and the product is banned. In this case, the innocent person behind the product is also deported (and has their death faked into the bargain). It’s a great tale with a bittersweet ending (I only said that to get the word ‘sweet’ into the sentence).

More reader art – two pictures, half a page. One looks much like a Ron Smith picture (two guns and eerything) though seems more original than a straight tracing. The other is a montage containing such unoriginal copies you can tell who drew the originals (Belardinelli, Ezquerra, Bolland, McMahon and Azpiri) – given half an hour (which I don’t want to spend) I’d be able to identify the exact stories they came from…

The V.C.s, this week by Ian Rogan and Gary Leach. Leach opens this episode with the VC ship in the midst of an ion storm, plus I think we get our first view of Brother, the ship’s computer (inspired by Mother from Alien?) Certain aspects of this story don’t make a whole lot of sense, but it’s enjoyable so it’s funny what you can overlook. Brother has a mouthpiece – a small physical avatar which talks – so far so plausible. The avatar is dressed as a jester. Ummm… Loon (who we find out through exposition spent time in a lunar military jail) is unnerved by the storm and runs off. Smith finds him on a lower level of the ship, naked but for foul-smelling bodypaint. Meanwhile, brother’s circuits have been scrambled and has taken on the personality of a hippie, leaving the ship stranded in space. After an hour of not going anywhere, Smith has the idea to use Loon (still naked and attired in body paint) to convince Brother to re-join the war. As an addendum, Smith creates a new outfit for Brother – a Sergeant Pepper-style hippie to replace the jester.

The Mind of Wolfie Smith next, and I think Vañó’s back – I’ll update once I’ve read past the first page… Nope – I’m wrong, it’s Mike White again – finishing off this story in three pages. The Guardians reveal that he may be in a dead-end, but he’s standing in the middle of three fragments of stone, one from each of those on the surface. Wolfie tricks the Wendigore to go into the stone triangle, gives a quick blast of psychic energy to activate the stones and the ancient evil is trapped forever (or until one of the stones gets moved). Up top, Wolfie completely blows any chance with Tara Lawson on some spurious grounds that he has to move on. Next prog: the Dictators of Zrag (Tharg, not Wolfie).

The Stainless Steel Rat adaptation continues. Since yesterday I’ve read about a third of the source book, so I’m well ahead of where the comic is now. It’s been ages since I read the comic, and I’ve never compared it directly to the book, so I’m wondering how much it’s going to follow. For reference, I’m at the bit in the book where Jim has been busted out of prison by the nobles planning a coup. This episode is very similar to the events in the book. Inskipp keeps the lobotomised (or psycorrected) Pepe around in the canteen, probably to highlight to diGriz that he doesn’t know it all. He pretends to return to his room to drown his sorrows but instead heads to the hangar to steal a ship – and the manner in which he steals the ship is the same, down to the reference to tennis. Once escaped, Jim disables the suicide bomb (self-destruct) just in the nick of time. Kelvin Gosnell knows when to be creative and when to follow the original material, and of course Ezquerra puts in a first-class job. Quite liking the design of the ship that Jim steals – I can imagine other artists drawing this one. The next few episodes promise to contain prositutes and drug taking – so I’m wondering just how this is going to be adapted into a children’s comic…

Captain Klep – this episode definitely illustrated by Robin Smith. Klep wants to improve his image, so goes to a PR firm, who hire thugs to pretend to rob a bank so that Klep can pretend to stop them. Klep, of course, accidentally ‘catches’ the bank manager instead, letting the thugs clean out the strongroom. Next prog: Klep in the House of Lords. We’ve already had parliament lampooned in Robo-Hunter, so I can’t imagine this strip will bring anything worthy to the table.

After two progs out, Belardinelli is back on Black Hawk with Alvin Gaunt. In a turn similar to the tired gladiatorial arena plot, the Great Beast sets Blackhawk and Battak to be hunted. A slave takes them to the starting point of the hunt while Blackhawk beats the slave until he reveals a weakness – something call the Bloodblade. Blackhawk then kills the slave to prevent him revealing to his master that they know the weakness, though the slave is not dead and this is all a ruse (though does that mean the bloodblade would be effective or not?) Battak spots Ursa and Zog, though they look to be under the influence of the Great Beast. All of this is happening in fantastical landscapes from Belardinelli, with the odd (really odd) creature in the foreground or background.

Tharg’s Christmas Tale from Ezquerra (no script droid is credited – so probably the editor). We find out that the Rosette of Sirius can recieve messages from Squaxx dek Thargo, if they concentrate. It’s three pages of filler – hoping the Zrag story next prog is better.

The back cover has a new feature – a postergraph series called Warriors of the Future! No 1 is Starship Troopers (the ones appearing in the V.C.s). This reveals that the most distinctive feature of the troops uniform (the ones affixed to the helmets) are communications and sensory antennae (including a rangefinder for the weapons systems).

Grailpage: Gary Leach – Jupe and Smith heading down to search for Loon, and Loon attacking Smith. Atmospheric and good use of screentone (that’s the non-brand name word for letratone).

Grailquote: John Howard, Uncle Ump: “B-but why? I haven’t committed any crime!” Judge Dredd: “I’m sorry, citizen. Sometimes it is the innocent who must suffer!”

One thought on “2000AD and Tornado Prog 145: Merry Christmas, Tharg – here’s your present!

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