2000AD and Tornado Prog 155: Join the V.C.s… Vape a space-invader today!

This prog we have a Cam Kennedy V.C.s cover, showing the star-troopers and V.C.s in hand-to-hand combat while spacewalking.

Tharg’s Nerve Centre starts off with another plug for the Judge Child Quest (Judge Dredd won’t be appearing in this prog though) and a trail for a special competition next prog. Reader’s contributions include a call from Robert Nott to join Comic Fandom (yes, it was capitalised in the letter).

Sam Slade: Robo-Hunter: Day of the Droids! TB Grover and Ian Gibson continues fighting the Teeny-Meks as the robut simulacrum councillor burns in the wardrobe. The viewpoint switches for a panel to the control room of the Teeny Meks (we’d seen ‘camera eye views’ previously, but not the room it was all controlled from). To eliminate Slade, some of the Teeny Meks spring teeth, becoming mini-vampires – while others set the rest of the mansion on fire. Outside, Hoagy is chatting to an ice cream vendor robot (by which means the Teeny Meks had arrived). Slade decides that standing around fighting robots in the middle of a burning mansion is a bad career move and jumps out of the window into the fountain. What can best be described as space-babe policewomen interview Slade while a space-babe paramedic tends to his burns. The interview isn’t going brilliantly, but gets worse when another robot Councillor Armit turns up and accuses Slade of burning down his mansion… Hoagy is first to give evidence at the trial. Robot Armit is next. By the time Slade appears in the dock, accusations of the councillor being a robot don’t go down well with the judge. The judge is wearing traditional British judge garb (including the wig) which I gather is one of those bizarre traditions which isn’t used in other countries (at this point Slade is still in North America). On his way to prison, Slade asks himself “What next?” Next prog: “Fifty painful places to put an electro-prod!”

Tharg the Might: This is your Life by Ezquerra. It doesn’t have a writer because it really happened and isn’t fiction, right? Eamon Android presents Tharg with the red book and, at the Robo TV Studio, begins to recount Tharg’s life. While this goes on, a parody of Rico Dredd’s appearance in Prog 30 arrives at the studio, turning out to be Zorgon the Zapper (from that Wanted poster prog cover not so long ago). As his face appears on screen, the screen breaks and the real Zorgon breaks through. Tharg makes quick work of him, though not quick enough to save all of his droids and the studio. While they’re being repaired, Tharg drags Zorgon off to assist in producing the week’s prog.

Before the centre pages we get a two-page feature on The Black Hole (due to be released just before the next prog came out), written by Richard Burton. Sorry, I mean written by Ro-Jaws and assisted by Research Robot Richard Burton. After a brief synopsis and review, the second half of the feature is given over to reporting on the British launch party. I presume Burt attended, either that or all the quotes are culled from the press kit.

The centre pages and Ro-Jaws is back (joined by Hammerstein) in the final part of Judge Dredd’s Hall of Heroes. Other heroes detailed are The Visible Man, The Stainless Steel Rat, Strontium Dog, MACH Zero and finally Judge Dredd himself.

Captain Klep has the titular character wait out the millions of years since the extinction of the dinosaurs to contemporary times, becoming various characters from history along the way (Genghis Klep, Leonardo da Klep, Christopher Columoklep, Admiral Lord Horatio Klep and Elvis Klep – his beard growing longer and longer with each figure. Each personage is shown in a two-panel joke until it’s time to start that story which was trailed last prog – The Case of the Five BANG! Six Dead Taxi Drivers – starting next week.

Fiends of the Eastern Front Part 4, from Gerry Finlay-Day and Ezquerra. In the land of forever night (well, six months of the year, anyway) Hans and Karl bemoan their position at the end of the Earth. Suddenly they are set upon by Russian ski troops though as reinforcements arrive they ski away, too fast to be chased, by humans. Wolves, however, seem to have no problems chasing them through the snow (not the only time we’ll see a wolf attack in a snowy wilderness in 2000AD though it’ll be about seven years until the next one). One straggling ski troop is about to be set upon by a wolf but Hans can’t bear to see the slaughter and uses the fallen troops skis to form the sign of the cross (these vampires are very much from the Hammer school of vampirism). Hans watches the wolf transform into Sergeant Gorgo before his eyes as Captain Constanta arrives, warning him not to interfere again. The only thing that has saved him is that they are allies (this was mentioned in a previous episode). Just for good measure Hans thought bubble also mentions how he is safe only because they are allies. It’s certainly lucky that counties don’t switch allegiances during the course of wars, isn’t it? Next prog: The Luck of the Devil!

Black Hawk and Alvin Gaunt really gives Belardinelli’s imagination a chance to shine, as the Dreamweaver sends Blackhawk into a nightmare. Battak’s nightmare, to be exact. Battak’s people, the Baskiri, live in cuboid hives on the planet Zio. Battak dreams himself the Hive-Master of the planet and from his throne sends Blackhawk off to feed the larvae. Just about every part of that sentence resulted in another fantastic picture from Belardinelli.

The V.C.s by Gerry Finlay-Day and Gary Leach for the second time in a row. This is the last episode that was featured in the Titan Books collected edition, so the episodes after this will be relatively new to me (in that I’ve read them before but not as many times as I’d read all the stories in the first collection). I hope I mentioned that the ship computer, Brother, has had lots of flowery elements on his word balloons before now, because as he delivers the bad news that a missile has hit Transatlantic City – completely destroying it and killing twenty million people – Aldrich Mk II has illustrated the balloon with funerary crosses. As Smith grieves the deaths of his family and everybody he knew, Ringer gloats over his loss. Jupe breaks up the ensuing fight with the news that other worlds throughout the system have also been hit, including his own Gannymede, with two million dead.

2000AD Top Ten Sci-Fi Movies No 4: The Day the Earth Stood Still. In the picture is Klaatu, Gort and the woman who Klaatu befriended (not named in the text, but presumably played by Patricia Neal, who is named, along with Michael Rennie – who was ill the day the Earth stood still and we found out where we stood). Unlike The Thing, this was not being remade at the time this prog was published. Also unlike The Thing, the eventual remake was not arguably as good as the original…

Grailpage: Gary Leach’s destruction of Transatlantic City is great, but so is Belardinelli’s picture of Battak’s imaginary throne in the hive-structure. Quite understates on its own, but promises some of the things to come from the Belardinelli droid.

Grailquote: TB Grover, Hoagy: “Cute little fellas. Gee, wish Sam could’ve seen them – he’d love them!” Sam Slade: “Blasted metal maniacs! Get off!”

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