2000AD and Tornado Prog 164: “Look out, you alien creeps – the LAW is here!”

Ron Smith draws a two-gunned Dredd with a starfield backdrop.

Tharg’s Nerve Centre gives the winners for that ‘exclamation’ competition, though annoyingly doesn’t give the answer – though there were two prizes given, one for those who included Geeks’ alien expressions and one for those who didn’t.

Sam Slade: Robo-Hunter Day of the Droids! from TB Grover and Ian Gibson continues where it left off, Sam Slade facing five robot Sam Slades. Not content with narrating last week’s Judge Dredd in rhyme, John Wagner gives a parody of Blue Suede Shoes, with suitably robotic lyrics. Slade escapes by taking advantages of the distraction caused by an exiting theatre crowd and then taking to the dancefloor where the robo-Slades won’t shoot him. After the dance he escapes to Pre-historia – the land of the Mekosaurs!

Due to an advert for Wall’s ice creams (and lollies) on the back page, Kevin O’Neill’s full colour 7 Wonders of the Galaxy No 3: Dorado “The Head of Hate” appears after the first story in this prog. This could have come straight from the first book of Nemesis the Warlock, showing O’Neill characters in the foreground watching the carving of a despot’s head on an asteroid of gold.

Finlay-Day and Cam Kennedy’s The V.C.s opens with a splash (page). Does Smith leave Ringer to be tortured and killed, or run off to get a message to Star-Troop corps? A bit of both – first he lets the torture act as a distraction while he sends a message to the humans, then he heads back, kidnaps the geek general and rescues Ringer. The dishwasher is actually pleased to see Smith, on account of the hostage general. Smith and the V.C.s don’t stay in the dishwasher’s good books for long, as an escape by the geek general leads to a rather corny encounter from Ringer (who allows the asset to commit suicide) getting the whole lot of them into trouble when they close ranks. Only the general manages to save them from a group execution order as the dishwasher volunteers all of them for further suicide missions.

Before the centre pages are half a page of competition winners and a half-page plug for Battle Picture Weekly Holiday Special.

John Howard and Ron Smith take Judge Dredd: The Judge Child Part 9 to The Planet of the Body-Brokers. This episode probably most famous for introducing the concept of bio-chips, though not a blue-skinned genetically-engineered soldier in sight. The humans are in charge – namely dead humans whose personalities have been downloaded onto tiny biochips at the point of death. The local intelligent race are just called ‘the aliens’. There’s two types – civilised aliens who live in a shanty town and wild aliens who live in wild alien country.

The Mind of Wolfie Smith by Tom Tully and Redondo. Rumbold the shopkeeper turns out to own a pet shop, and his associate is Harry Kramer, also known as The Bogieman. We’ve still no idea what kind of caper Kramer has lined up for Wolfie, but the psychic Smith doesn’t want to accept, so Kramer wheels out his goons. We’re teased that they’re brutish and evil looking compared to Kramer (who has some sort of facial disfigurement). There seems to be a lot of ugly = evil in this story… Redondo shows he’s still got what it takes when depicting psychic teenagers, from his time on Mind Wars.

MACH Zero by Ian Rogan and Mike Dorey. I’m glad they left the initialisations behind when John Probe died, as typing out M.A.C.H. Zero is labourious compared to MACH Zero! Tommy rescues his dad from two soldiers struggling to carry him off, just before Zero comes out of his attack from the effects of compu-puncture hyperpower. A squad of soldiers come across the father and son and in their rush to flee accidentally shoot Tommy. Fortunately Tommy is only shot with a tranquiliser dart. Unfortunately Zero can’t tell the difference between a tranqued Tommy and a dead Tommy. Then the rest of the army turns up…

Grailpage: Three contenders this week – Kevin O’Neill’s ‘wonder’, Ron Smith’s bio-chip page but I’m going to plump for Mike Dorey’s end page of Zero, showing the MACHman surrounded by British Army soldiers on the moor.

Grailquote: I’ve been waiting for a really good next prog tag, and this is the one: “Next Prog: Robo-Flesh Book one” – it’s the ‘book one’ that does it for me.

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