This Kevin O’Neill cover purports to be from the Martian edition of 2000AD so shows Earth as the enemy (though there’s nothing in the actual image to suggest which spaceship is from Earth and which from Mars).
In case there’s any doubt about who provided the cover art, Tharg’s Nerve Centre has an artist credit – something we haven’t had before, and I don’t think we’ll have again. Well, we get them now, but it’s definitely going to be a few decades until it’s a regular thing. Following a request from Earthlet Steve Smith (no comment about his namesake from The V.C.s) Tharg presents a £5 prize to the first Earthlet to write in to tell him how many “OH!”s, “AGH!”s and other exclamations appear in this prog. Only on the comic pages, so doesn’t include the Nerve Centre.
Last prog, Sam Slade: Robo-Hunter got beaten up by the wardens in prison – that’s got to be promising for the exclamation count, right? Let’s see, in TB Grover and Ian Gibson’s latest episode of Day of the Droids! It starts darkly, with the first “Aaaah!” coming from a prisoner who gets beaten to death. With Hoagy on board, Slade puts his plan into action, activating a havoc-causing repaired robot (which says “Bzzzzzz – Haaieeee!” By the end of the episode, there have been three exclamations altogether, plus Slade is in control of a Heavy Metal Kid-size demolition robot (which happens to have faulty brakes). Goodbye Warder! (The robot captain got stamped on – disappointingly without an exclamation).
2000AD Top Ten Sci-fi Movies No 6: THEM! I’ve not read this yet, but I predict that Ant Wars (and maybe Empire of the Ants) will get a mention by the end of the article. Yep – didn’t even make it to the end of the first paragraph though Empire doesn’t get mentioned at all…
The V.C.s from Finlay-Day and Cam Kennedy starts with what promises to be a massacre as the Earth forces shoot blindly at the Geek battle line, the Geeks protected by the light of two blinding suns behind them. Things change once another ship throws itself in the path of a Geek missile – not just protecting the troop carrier behind it but producing debris which blocks some of the sunlight. The tides of battle turned, the Geek flagship routs for (what we assume is) the Geek homeworld. The landscape below is deserted though, apart from buildings on a large lake. The battle-troopers land, but find the buildings are a ghost city, until the ‘lake’ slides back revealing thousands of Geek troops. Back to an impending massacre…
Ro-Jaws introduces another of his Robo-Tales with The Revolt of the Tick Tock Monkey-Bomb! Last seen in a Mick McMahon ABC Warriors story, this is the tale of a Volgan monkey-bomb which was accidentally installed with a higher function brain instead of the basic primary-logic circuit. It sees no future in attaching itself to an enemy soldier and exploding so formulates a plan. This story was written by Gary Rice and drawn by Dave Gibbons (but lettered by Tony Jacob – guess Gibbons didn’t need the double-pay packet this week). The monkey-bomb attaches itself to a soldier (presumably USA). It forces the soldier to carry it to a Mobile Android Servicing Headquarters to put together a new body, more befitting of its more intelligent brain. Unfortunately before we can see a Mongrol-like creation, it self-destructs due to a remote detonation system activated by the Volgan bomber. There remains only one way to get a monkey off your back “the hard way!”
Judge Dredd: The Judge Child Part 2 from John Howard and Ron Smith. Opens with a flash-forward panel then rewinds to Dredd entering Neutron Flats. Dredd finds out that Owen Krysler was sold to Filmore Faro, who has made a fortune by selling preserved junk from the previous century to collectors for a fortune. Dredd gets himself sold as a slave to get close to Faro, followed by his lawmaster (on auto-pilot and controlled by the bike computer). Smith’s art is well-suited to the oddball inhabitants of the Cursed Earth (as much as the oddball inhabitants of the Mega-City) and he draws thousands of slaves dragging a huge sculpture of Faro’s head as well as anybody could.
Gerry Finlay-Day is back, with Ezquerra on Fiends of the Eastern Front Part 6. The Germans are retreating, and Hans’ company is being followed by bats. Despite three or four years of fighting alongside the vampires, Hans is the only one who noticed they were supernatural, and now they’re allied with the Russians, the German unit’s days are numbered. Even Karl doesn’t believe Hans, just warning him that the others think he’s made. While the duo are on guard duty outside a deserted barn, the rest are slaughtered within. Karl brings in some garlic, humouring Hans, though the two find themselves surrounded by giant bats. Impaling one on a bayonet, it turns into its humanoid form. The two make a circle with the garlic, surrounded by the nine remaining vampires until sunlight and the vampires fade away. Cringu the servant arrives with Russians while the pair of Germans quickliy depart. After the four-year-long set-up, the rest of this story promises to move fast for its remaining episodes.
Part 2 of that cut out and collect tokens to win a toy gun or that book I reviewed yesterday, followed by…
Black Hawk featuring Ursa and Zog – the sub line revealing who the break-out characters are in this story (they should never have left the hawk back in Rome). Ursa and Zog have finished fixing the door to the Great Beast’s castle – the one destroyed by Kur as the beast broke out. Just at that moment, Kur breaks in… One of the BBs is now called Bat-Face (at least when Ursa speaks to him). Alvin Gaunt and Belardinelli take Ursa, Zog and the Kur-beast to the edge of the mushroom forest where Zog has a taste of fungus and starts hallucinating. Ursa shrinks to Zog’s size and becomes a dancing teddy-bear (in Zog’s mind). Ursa finds the skeleton of Captain Psyko and knows they’re on the right trail (well, Ursa’s on the right trail, Zog is still zonked out and burbling).
Captain Klep is acceptable, has about three jokes in it, depending on your definition of joke. Every time the amount of dead taxi drivers is mentions, it goes up by one, this is kept consistent, which I appreciate. There’s also a seeming diversion for the sake of a punchline, featuring a villain with a distracting name (Rupert Hitler) – will this be relevant or is it throwaway filler? There’s only four episodes in this story, and this is the second… It’s not the worst one-page humour strip to appear in 2000AD (bonjo and some episodes of Walter would take that ‘honour’) but it’s far from the best either. We’re relatively close to a parody of one of my favourite 1980s sci-fi films so I may be baised in my anticipation of that.
Grailpage: I didn’t think I’d pick this one, but the page where Zog bites some fungi, spits it out then starts hallucinating, with Ursa becoming a Zog-sized dancing teddy bear next to a dazed Zog wins this prog’s grailpage.
Grailquote: This one has a bit of a set-up, John Howard, First Brother (of the Brotherhood of Trash): “A bike without a rider!” Second Brother: “Halt! Heck, that sounds dumb! How do ya threaten a machine?” Brother one: “Maybe we oughta speak to it in bike… phut, phut, phut! That means stop!” Brother two: “Yearh! Ha, ha! Vroom vroom! That means Scram or we open fire!” Lawmaster: BLAM BAM Bike computer: “That means drop dead. Thank you.” I love the smart comments made by Lawmasters, which was prevalent when I started reading 2000AD, but isn’t so common nowadays.
Damn! Forgot to keep track of the exclamations!