2000AD and Tornado Prog 154: “Holy Joe Smith! Nine-inch-high robo assassins!” “He he he he he”

An Ian Gibson cover showing Sam Slade and the true stars of the show, the Teeny Meks!

Tharg’s Nerve Centre has a reader pointing out that it’s been 21 weeks since Dan Dare took a break for a while – Tharg replies that Dare will return when a Dan Dare TV series starts… Another reader asks for a Dredd Ezquerra strip – Tharg replies that the original strip will appear in next year’s Dredd Annual and a final Earthlet composes a Coca-Cola parody (like the Starlord and 2000AD ones we’ve had on covers or in adverts) dedicated to Mac Mac.

Sam Slade: Robo-Hunter The Day of the Droids from TB Grover and Ian Gibson opens with the Teeny Meks shooting the robot Councillor. Whoever made the disguised robot made it well though, as Armit manages to elude the Teeny Meks – unfortunately the tiny assassins come with various attachments, including little arms to climb stairs, chainsaws to cut through doors and the one with the nose gun that allowed them entry to the gate in the first place. Armit calls Slade, but the robo-hunter is delayed by a march of the robo-revolutionaries. He gets there just in time to hear Armit get shot, before running into the room surrounded by Teeny Meks. The future doesn’t look bright for our Sam.

Ro-Jaws’ Robo-Round-Up collects together the android-themed reader’s art that’s been sent in lately. One looks like a trace of Ro-Jaws, the others appear a little more original.

Judge Dredd: Blood of Satanus from Pat Mills and Ron Smith. I should have said something about my suspicion that Dredd would get out of his strangled-by-a-dinosaur-tail predicament by using his boot knife as that’s exactly what happens. Dino-Rex escapes but qhickly turns back into human-Rex as Dredd gives chase. On his way up to a roof, Dredd catches a burglar at four in the morning, then uses his own blood to draw the homo-tyrnannosaurus out. Unfortunately dino-Rex goes for the burglar, not Dredd. This story wraps up really quickly – one shot, Rex falls off the fire escape, splats on the ground and dies as Dredd descends to have last words with him. Next prog: Nothing! A Dredd-less week, but news of a new Judge Dredd epic in Prog 156.

As if inspired by last prog’s Sci-Fi film, 2000AD and Tornado proudly present Things to Come – namely: The Stainless Steel Rat Saves the World; Tharg the Mighty – This is your Life (next prog, so that’s what we’re getting instead of Dredd); the search for The Judge Child; Wolfie Smith; a feature on The Black Hole and Captain Klep: The Riddle of the 5 BANG! 6 Dead Taxi Drivers!

Time for the third part of the four-part Judge Dredd Hall of Heroes poster from Ron Smith – this one has a bumper crop of ‘heroes’: Shako; Dan Dare; Bill Savage; M.A.C.H.1 and Old One Eye!

Fiends of the Eastern Front has a Rumanian, Sergeant Gorgo, get shot between the eyes and the sniper get taken out by a bat (the innocent-minded Hans thinks that somebody must have used a dum-dum when they examine the body of the sniper). At dawn the chateau that the Germans and Rumanians have captured comes under fire from Russian dive-bombers and during the fight our protagonist sees Constanta asleep in his coffin. All the troops are later mobilised to the north – a thousand miles north in the Arctic winter, where the sun never sets… Luckily, the Rumanians are on the same side as the Germans… Gerry Finlay-Day and Carlos Ezquerra brought us this episode, as they have every episode.

Black Hawk: Warrior in Search of his Soul! from Alvin Gaunt and Belardinelli has the Nubian believe he is back in the Roman arena – hosted by the Emperor Nero, egged on by a cameo from Rome-based artist Belardinelli himself. As Blackhawk is caught by a retiarius (a gladiator with a net) Nero gives the command to kill Blackhawk. “But then – ZOG!” and also “Nero, him been killed by Zog. Nor Ursa chop-chop Roman dogs!” Why this happens is not explained, because Ursa and Zog have not arrived on the scene, though Blackhawk realises it is all a dream and briefly comes around, but then he sees Egyptian heiroglyphs of Sebek, who comes to life, trying to convince Blackhawk to worship, and die for, the crocodile god. Upon rejecting the god everything disappears and Blackhawk is once again in the fungi forest, though this time a ghostly shape sits before him, welcoming him to the Garden of the Dream-Weaver. As a footnote, in the same what that all Flesh dinosaurs by Belardinelli have teeth, Sebek has extra crocodile heads (and teeth) in place of hands. I did double-check a few pictures of genuine heiroglyphs and this seems to be purely a Belardinelli flourish.

The V.C.s by Gerry Finlay-Day and (this week) Gary Leach. There’s the usual friction between Smith and the rest of the crew – Smith is concerned that Earth is the next target for the Geeks and even though all of the crew think their homes may be next on the hitlist, Smith isn’t exactly diplomatic about what he thinks of Earth’s position in relation to the colonies. They eventually get the order to go to Earth orbit (the V.C.s’s ship’s official name is S.T. Cruiser 44) and Smith gets to make a phone-home call to his family. Dad Smith seems ignorant and rude to be honest. After the call, Loon notices something on the moon and further investigation finds a Geek missile launcher. They vape the geeks but two missiles head for Earth. Next prog: Holocaust!

2000AD Top 10 Sci-Fi Movies No 3: The Thing! As these are being run in release date order I’m going to guess at what some of the future ones are going to be. I’d say Alien at number 10, but that’s probably a bit adult for 2000AD at the time (even if the novelisation got reviewed) so the last one will probably be Star Wars. As for this one – it’s the 1951 as John Carpenter’s version is currently in production!

Grailpage: I thought this was going to be easy. Remember I said there were two images that came to mind if the story Blood of Satanus was mentioned? One was last in last prog, the other is in this one – Ron Smith’s Dredd standing on the rooftop, cutting his arm so that the blood will draw out Rex Peters. Only problem is that this prog also contains Garry Leach’s view of Transatlantic City – the only good landscape image we’ve had of Earth in the V.C. universe. Joint grailpage it is then! To make matters worse, the pic of Slade coming up against the robots protest while on his way to the councillor’s mansion is also great, particularly the (unmentioned in the text) appearance of Hoagy at the back of the robo-hunter-van, notebook in hand. I’ll stop at the two grailpages though!

Grailquote: TB Grover, burglar: “Oh – er, hello, judge! Just doing a spot of window-cleaning!” Dredd: “At four o’clock in the morning?” Burglar: “I’m on overtime!” Dredd (thought): “I’ll come back for him later. Petty burglars and beast-men – they’re both equal in the eyes of the law.” Later in the same episode, Rex Peters: “You may have taken my life… But – you saved my soul!” Dredd: “Just routine, citizen.”

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