2000AD and Tornado Prog 151: Death to the Empire! Angelina’s army rides to war in the murderous climax of the Stainless Steel Rat!

Angelina struggles with Jim (well, Jim looks like he’s struggling the most) on this Ezquerra cover, while her vixen aircraft, tanks and mole underground tanks are shown in the background.

Tharg’s Nerve Centre has a reader point out an error in the V.C.s (the line about Pluto rock being frozen gas at minus 2000 degrees – when Absolute Zero is minus 273 degrees) and an Irish earthlet tells a load of Martian jokes (you can guess what form they take). Next prog is a Valad Midax (the Betelgeuse 6 term for ‘jumping on prog’).

Judge Dredd: Judge Death part three – following periodic calls from Steve McManus during the drawing of this strip, Bolland put a toe tag on one of the corpses in the mortuary – only two of which are legible – “Death, J. 2645BL 1st degree burns” and “McManus, S. 2000AD terminal brainstorm”. I’m pleased to say that my copy of this prog has been signed by Steve McManus – I should probably try to get it signed by John Howard (Wagner) and Brian Bolland at some point. If only I could have gotten the hat trick – Jan Shepheard who designed the Dredd logo, and Tom Frame, who put the words on the paper. As for the actual episode – my theory is that the Boing® story was included purely as set up for the end of this story. I have two further theories – firstly that The Judge Child was inpsired by this one OR that this story itself was a set up for the psychic tone of The Judge Child. Anyway, We’re not going to see much of Brian after this as apparently he spent about eight months working on the next Judge Death / Anderson tale (he must have just got a few episodes of Judge Child in first). Anyway – Anderson manages to get a message through to Dredd regarding the miracle plastic, which Dredd understands immediately and both the flippant psychic judge and the monster that dwells within her get trapped together. Until next year.

2000AD Postergraph: Warriors of the Future – No 7: The Rocket Trooper – there must be another back page advert as this is on another internal colour page. Due to the new poster feature starting in next week’s jumping-on prog, I guess this is the last of Bill LeFevre’s designs to get an outing.

Jack Adrian and Redondo’s Timequake concludes this prog. Blocker and Suzi Cho are attacked by the British but ironically enough saved by the Russian massacre of the six hundred. The pair hop back five minutes to the seconds in which Mother Eternal appears then disappears, grab her and head back to the Happy-Daze HQ, though Cho gets grazed by a bullet as they leave the valley of death. Blocker gets stabbed (by a pointy shoe?) but then Mother E gets tricked by shape-changer Cho (because she’s a princess of the 32nd century Haniken Empire – we still don’t know what any of that means). Mother E sets off a self-destruct mechanism and the pair escape, while Mother E sets the controls for the far future – except almost every time her warp has been used it’s malfunctioned and so she ends up in pre-historic London. This might be the end of Timequake altogether – except for the obligatory annuals for the next year or so.

Captain Klep is subjected to scientific experiments to read his mind, analyse how he arrived in the year 8000, and work out how to to send him back. This fails due to the time-honoured ‘can’t find the brain’ joke, though it does discover that Klep arrived through a long dive, and so he is taken into orbit, kicked out of the spacecxraft and takes an even longer dive, presumably to the distant past as the first one took him 6,000 years in to the future.

Mek-Quake’s Puzzle Corner has a ‘match the villain to the hero’ quiz plus a multiple-choice definition quiz – Gondwanaland makes an appearance.

The Stainless Steel Rat by Harry Harrison, adapted by Kelvin Gosnell and Ezquerra. It sticks fairly close to the book, other than the bits where there’s a civil war going on, and Jim and Angelina are underground in the mole. Other than that, many of the same elements are present – Angelina momentarily shows Jim her ‘before’ picture – before she killed many people to get enough money to change her appearance. 2000AD elements appear, such as ‘riot foam’, sprayed by the Special Corps. Jim manages to disarm Angelina, though she’s deadly enough without teh gun. At this point Inskipp appears, ordering an underling to tranq them both. Days later, Angelina has had surgery performed on her and is now much more friendly. As an addendum, a few weeks later they’re married and have stolen Inskipp’s personal flyer…

Gerry Finlay-Day and Cam Kennedy take The V.C.s to New Peking City – a domed city built into the extinct volcano of Olympus Mons on Mars. This vaguely remembered soldiers who fight the V.C.s? They’re none of the ones we’ve see in Bill LeFevre’s series – they’re the local Martial Guard. How bad can a story set in a Chinese space colony (but written in the late 1970s) be? I’ll give you a few clues – “some of those guards knew the old Chinese fighting arts”, ‘”C’mon, chinks. Gonna scare the yeller hell outta you!” Times have definitely changed since this was published… As you can guess from that kind of language, the V.C.s (and other star-troopers) are engaged in a huge, unarmed brawl with the locals. Until, that is, Phobos Harbour is attacked by the geeks. Then more geeks send energy bolts towards New Peking and the city is ‘domed’ the air being sucked out. Next prog: “The death of Mars!”

Black Hawk from Alvin Gaunt and Belardinelli don’t show us the end of the fight with the BBs, but presumably Ursa and Zog manage to prevent the massacre, as they head to the castle of the Great Beast and discover Blackhawk being drained by the Bloodblade. The Beast bids them enter to watch the death of Blackhawk though Zog is spurred to attack the Beast. Ursa joins the fray and while their assaults don’t have much effect, it is enough to distract the Beast, giving Blackhawk a chance to fight the power of the sword. As the beast attacks Blackhawk physically (in a fantastic full-length view by Belardinelli – I still can’t imagine anybody else drawing this creature as effectively), he pierces the Beast’s chest with bloodlade itself. With his last breaths the Beast casts one final spell, hiding the Soulsucker.

Time for a next prog page – and it almost is a full page, apart from a stamp advert sized spot in the corner (given over to adventure holidays for children). The important bit is what’s coming next prog: Sam Slade, Robo-Hunter (in Day of the Droids); that Dredd Hall of Heroes partwork poster; Dredd in Blood of Satanus; a new Top Ten Science Fiction Movies feature and the debut of Fiends of the Eastern Front.

Grailpage: Brian Bolland’s opening page of Anderson carrying Death’s skeleton through a mortuary – not least because my copy of the prog has been signed by Steve McManus (just below where his body lies, dead from ‘terminal brainstorm’).

Grailquote: Kelvin Gosnell, Angelina: “What happened to your poor face, Jim?” Slippery Jim: “Oh… er, a pussy-cat scratched me!”

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