2000AD and Tornado Prog 172: “Anything to report, Lopez?”

Brian Bolland takes Judge Lopez on a trip with this cover. I can only presume that in those pre-desktop computer days, Bolland had to draw the stretched versions of Hershey and Dredd by hand – and (of course) a great job he did as well. This prog would have gone on sale on Monday 4th August 1980 (with a cover date of Saturday 9th August).

Tharg’s Nerve Centre has a very Star Wars feel this prog, with a reader’s picture of ‘Tharg Skywalker’ on the back of a taun-taun, and news of ‘Tharg Strikes Back’ a story about the back story of the recent industrial dispute – we’ll have to wait until prog 181 though. Speaking of the industrial dispute, this lead to a lack of 2000AD on the shelves of newsagents, resulting in a flurry of letters, identified by Tharg as ‘Thrill-Power Starvation’ (first time it was named as such, I believe, and also known as ‘nothrillpoweritus’). In my first year of being a Squaxx there was another industrial dispute, leading to my reading and re-reading the first episode of The Ballad of Halo Jones many times before the second one came out.

The Stainless Steel Rat by Harry Harrison, adapted by Kelvin Gosnell and Carlos Ezquerra. I’ve just noticed that the last few episodes have featured Carlos’ first name as well as surname – it’s about time. The cliffhanger from last prog is dismissed in the first page as the holder of the flintlock / blunderbuss reveals he is a French noble opposed to Napoleon (who is ‘aided’ by He). This allows Carlos to get on with showing Count D’Hesion’s men take over a gunboat, scenes which could have come from Battle. Slippery Jim gets a second chance to cross London Bridge into Fort London, this time with the distraction of D’Hesion’s squad firing shells at the bridge. Disguised as a soldier, Jim sneaks through the soldiers watching the fireworks at the river, ready to take an arsenal of Special Corps weapons to He. I’ve felt that some of the contemporary episodes of this story weren’t so interesting, but it’s hotting up – now it just needs Angelina to come back from non-existence to provide a foil to Jim.

There’s a couple of adverts for the Valiant Summer Special (with what looks like a Bolland cover) and the Action Holiday Special. Weird that there still haven’t been any for the Sci-Fi Special, even though we had 10-week and 3-week teasers for it…

The Mind of Wolfie Smith by Tom Tully and Redondo. Kramer has threatened to blow Wolfie’s head off with the neck-bomb, but instead of doing this monologues, giving Wolfie the idea to use teleportation to extricate himself from the situation. Just in case this takes too long, Kramer also gives him an additional bit of time by starting a countdown.

The next page has birthday competition winners (didn’t recognise any names) and another teaser advert for the 2000AD and Judge Dredd annuals. With a particular message for earthlets not to trust their friends or relatives to buy the first Judge Dredd annual at the last moment in case it sells out first – pester power at its finest!

We’re not quite at the centrespread yet – there’s a page of Alien Design winners (all pictures). Nothing exceptional, but at least that usually means it hasn’t been copied from elsewhere. This faces off against two more adverts for the Speed Summer Special and the Shoot! Extra Special.

Judge Dredd: The Judge Child Part 17: The Jigsaw Man. The episode that gave some people nightmares – haunting them through out their childhood (and some of their adulthood). Not me, but people Iv’e met through 2000AD gatherings in recent years! John Howard and Brian Bolland bring out the horrific illness affecting Prosser. The crew of the Justice One may have just been to a world that was under the thrall of a necromancer for 10,000 years, but the world of Ab makes even less sense than ‘it’s magic’. Dredd convinces (well, orders) Lopez to take a drop of the Oracle Spice, because he’s “the most unstable member of this crew” and “most receptive to information from the Oracle Spice” (and not because of the moustache which Dredd doesn’t like). Following a lead from a rhyme which Lopez gives before falling in to a coma, it doesn’t take long for Dredd to get on Prosser’s trail, though this is fortunate as Prosser doesn’t have long to live – even less time than he would have as he mistakenly took a mercy drug which hurries his death up from about forty days to less than an hour. Bolland must have had great fun depicting the bizarre and fantastic world of Ab, most of the strangenesses of which are shown on the centrespread, buildings shaped like teacups, sandwiches, umbrellas and a Monty Pythonesque foot.

Finley-Day and Richardson continue on The V.C.s as the geek’s disguised as V.C.s approach the human fleet. Smith comes around, having been knocked unconscious and left for dead. Not expecting him to be alive, he catches the geeks off their guard and he finds the ship has docked with the command ship and all the personnel en route have been killed. Until he comes across Jupe and Ringer in the sick bay bunks. Wanting to make a frontal assault, Jupe talks him around into being a bit more sneaky – if they knock out the lights then the geeks will be as blind as Jupe is. At stake is the entire human battle fleet. Personally I like Richardson’s art style – I prefer Cam Kennedy’s space scenes, but they’re equal when it comes to characters running around a spaceship.

Sam Slade: Robo-Hunter Day of the Droids! from TB Grover and Ian Gibson is an extended american football game, with robots and mobsters (well, robots and robot-mobsters). The episode really gets going when we cut to the God-Droid talking about the state of the war with his lieutenants – it’s not going well for him, so he calls for his number one hit squad. It’s going worse for him – they’ve joined the Amalgamated Androids Union (Mob Branch). As if this isn’t enough, it gets even worse when his blood pressure goes through the roof and he has a pump attack. Outside, Slade catches the ball, which must contain a dud bomb with all the hits it’s taken so far without going off (at least six while hitting most of the steps on a staircase, plus a few more violent knocks in the scuffle). But… Slade gets into the building with the possibly dud bomb-ball.

The next prog ad has a preview of a second Bolland Dredd cover in a row, plus news of the next Star Pin-Up (of Angelina, who’s only appeared in a panel or two of the current story) and Ro-Jaws has finally seen the Empire Strikes Back, and will be giving a review.

Dredd looms over Mega-City One in a back page poster by Mike McMahon.

Grailpage: Brian Bolland’s introduction to Prosser, the Jigsaw Disease and the topsy-turvy world of Ab is an excellent introduction to the latest story-chapter of The Judge Child. This is the kind of page you’d put up somewhere that you have to wait around so that you can always look for extra details (near the kettle while it’s boiling, or on the back of the toilet door)!

Grailquote: John Howard, Judge Hershey: “No telling what the proper dose is. Even this much could kill you!” Judge Lopez: “You know how to say all the right things, Hershey!”

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