2000AD and Tornado Prog 153: “Stomm! It’s Peters… The man who drank the blood of Satanus!”

A Ron Smith focussed prog begins with a cover showing dino-man Rex Peters, along with Dredd wearing his green rain-cloak.

Tharg’s Nerve Centre and an interesting contest has started this prog – guess the name of Tharg’s home planet (hithertoo referred to only as Betelgeuse 6). The clues given are “it contains between 5 and 10 letters and starts with Q”. I’m going to be interested to see how long (if) anybody comes up with Quaxxan out of that. Normally I’d call out famous names that appear in the Nerve Centre, but I have no idea if the John Smith in this prog is the same John Smith who goes on to write Indigo Prime, Tyranny Rex and other Smith-verse stories. Tharg states he received a hundred letters every day – according to McManus’ book, that’s not far off the truth – he makes mention of 400 a week.

Sam Slade: Robo-Hunter – Day of the Droids! part 2 (the episodes aren’t numbered so I’ll stop highlighting that as I’ll probably lose track). This story takes place in 2141 – the same year in which (most of) 2019’s Judge Dredd and Dreddverse stories in 2000AD and the Megazine are set. T.B. Grover and Ian Gibson cover the narrative ground needed to get Sam Slade on the case to discover who replaced the human Councillor Armit with a highly-advanced realistic robot, then it’s back to Slade’s office for a bried comedic interlude featuring human applicants for the assistant robo-hunter ad that Hoagy placed before Slade heads across to Armit’s place. While on his way there, something else has turned up at the Councillor’s residence – the Teeny Meks – the real stars of this story! We get the standard horde, plus a specialist mek with a nose-mounted gun, taking care of the gate.

A ad for the C.I.D. featuring a quiz (which we’ve seen before) shares a page with a letter from Barrie Tomlinson, group editor of IPC children’s comics (including 2000AD) plugging the latest, Speed. It has a Western, a War adventure, a motor cycle stunt story, football, a space adventure, a schoolboy story, “Death Wish” and “The £1,000,000 Challenge” – I suspect the only one of these to have post-Speed fame is Death Wish, which continued and/or was reprinted in the new Eagle. According to this comics list it’ll be gone within the year.

Judge Dredd: Blood of Satanus: Part 2 from Pat Mills and Ron Smith with a shadowy Alien-esque atmospheric opening as Lynsey Peters is killed by the beast which her husband has become. Cyril Ratfinkle names this species Homo-Tyrannosaurus (just before it leaves its nest, goes up to his apartment and kills him). Later… Dredd is called to the nest where the remains have been discovered and Ratfinkle’s boss reveals that the new beast is not stable, and true enough Rex Peters is back in human form as he heads up to his office to try to kill himself. Dredd is called by building security and interrupts Peters mid hanging – the rope isn’t strong enough anyway, and Dredd finds himself wrapped by the beast’s tail, choking…

From the highs of the Blood of Satanus to Captain Klep, also featuring dinosaurs, though that’s the only comparison that can be made. The dinosaurs have predicted that a disaster will befall them, and have made plans to leave Earth. Unfortunately a tyrannosaurus accidentall sits on Klep, he screams and his high-pitched wail blows the dinosaur’s brains, killing them all instantly. Klep hnow has to wait around for fifty million years to get back to 1980…

Ron Smith is back for a third time this prog with part two of Judge Dredd’s Hall of Heroes featuring an Umpty Candy van heist and two more entrants in the gallery: The ABC Warriors and Robo-Hunter.

Fiends of the Eastern Front from Gerry Finlay-Day and Ezquerra has an attack in the rain by Cossack horsemen on the German march. The mystery deepens – actually it doesn’t – we know they’re vampires and any mystery about this is being expelled as more clues come to the fore – it’s atmospheric and well-told though, as King Carlos shows us horses afraid of the contents of the coffin-shaped containers, the Romanians only appearing once night has fallen, a smoke pouring in through the slits of Russian tanks and finally the captured tanks with one of Costanta’s men on each turret. Later on, Hans discovers holy symbols and garlic hung in the trees by the Russians, and the words ‘djavo’ or ‘djavoli’ scrawled – probably meaning ‘fiend’ or ‘devil’.

From one master artist to another, with Alvin Gaunt and Belardinelli’s Black Hawk. Captain Psyko’s soul has been taken by the Soul-Sucker, gradually transforming his body and mind. Half of his face is human, the other monstrous. Guess which profile Belardinelli usually shows when Psyko is ‘on stage’? Nice touches in the backgrounds like the insectoid spacecraft, and an indigenous Silversun snail. The both of them in the same situation, Blackhawk and Psyko form a pact to find the Soulsucker together. The Kur-steed fears the path they take though, heading into a forest of giant fungi. Nobody draws giant mushrooms and toadstools like Belardinelli, as Kur is set loose to head back to the Great Beast’s castle (I’m guessing that’s where ‘home’ is).

We’re spoiled for great art this prog, as Cam Kennedy draws Finlay-Day’s words in The V.C.s. I should also mention Tom Frame’s ‘geek speak’ – an alphabet of symbols interspersed with Latin alphabet ‘Geee’s. As the moon rises, the VCs look up at Phobus Harbour, seeing no signs of life and believing Jupe and all the other star-troopers dead.

Almost the end of the prog, and on the back page 2000AD Top Ten Sci-Fi Movies No 2: Things to Come. I’ve only seen this film once, and that was over a quarter of a century ago, so can’t remember much about it. It has Ralph Richardson as The Boss – the bad guy – who I know mainly from Time Bandits (as the Supreme Being). It may have been made in 1935, but at least one of the actors lived until this century.

Grailpage: other pages in this episode are good, but Ron’s image of the Tyrannosaur-version of Rex Peters trying to hang himself, picked out in the torchlight has lived with me for three and a half decades. Mention the name of this story and this is one of two images that immediately come to mind…

Grailquote: T.B. Grover, Teeny Meks: “Bleep! Bleep!” (etc), Donk! Thud! Whrrrrrr Sproingg! BLAM! “He he he he” Either that or Pat Mills, Judge Dredd: “Get out of here, citizen! Move!” Doorman: “I’m movin’ — I’m movin’!”

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