2000AD and Tornado Prog 174: The race is on to attend the… 2000AD Galactic Olympics "Can't wait to see the laser slalom contest!"

An unexpected appearance by a Terminator outrider on the travel tube on this Kevin O’Neill cover. Being an inveterate fan of Nemesis the Warlock – have I told you how Nemesis Book III was probably the main reason I’m still reading 2000AD to this day, when all other comics I was reading at the time have fallen away? Admittedly most other comics in the early 1980s no longer exist to this day, but still… Lucky I didn’t buy this prog because of the cover, as that’s the only appearance of the world of Termight!

Tharg’s Nerve Centre has an uncredited (reader’s?) picture of ‘Tharg the jogger’, plus a complaint from an Earthlette (sic – the Earthlet/Earthlette controversy hasn’t happened yet) that there are no heroines in the prog – which is a bit of a strange letter seeing as we’ve had Anderson and Hershey taking prominent roles in recent stories. Though Tharg points out Morag in Dan Dare and Angelina in the Stainless Steel Rat (I’d hesitate to call Angelina a heroine from what we’ve seen of her so far).

Speaking of Angelina – she finally makes an appearance in the time-loop universe that is dooming The Stainless Steel Rat to non-existence in the story by Harry Harrison, adapted by Kelvin Gosnell and Ezquerra. The only explanation for her appearance is that, from her point of view, it was Jim who winked out of existence, not her and the boys. This story has been alright so far, but Angelina’s presence escalates it a level. When Jim muddles through, sometimes coming up with plans – usually on the fly – Angelina always acts capably. On Coypu’s instructions, the pair head off 20,000 years into the future where they find that Earth (or at least the part of it they arrive in) is swamps, forests and no cities. Where there’s an Angelina there’s a scene where she uses her looks and frame to lure in thugs before taking them down. I’d say Stainless Steel Rat without Angelina (either as antagonist or protagonist) is like Robo-Hunter without Hoagy and Stoagy (other than Verdus, which worked without them).

You wait ages for an advert for the Sci-Fi Special and now they’re running them every week!

The Mind of Wolfie Smith by Tom Tully and Redondo. As predicted, Kramer’s powers let him know that a) Kramer isn’t at the pet shop and b) there’s still some bad vibrations in the area. Wolfie has no problem using multiple powers in quick succession – psychic exertion only tires him when the plot demands! He projects an image of himself as a decoy to lure out the thugs, turns a key and throws a bolt on the other side of a locked door and reads the pet shop owner Albert Rumbold’s mind to find that Kramer has gone to Southsea and the Ocean Queen… I had written that Ocean Queen was a boat, but thinking about it, it could be a trick and end up a pub or something?

The V.C.s continues from Finley-Day and Richardson as the new commander and Smith lead the fleet towards the geek battlefleet – though they’re not able to warn their fleet as the geeks are monitoring what they’re doing. Instead, they move off without saying anything (arousing suspicions in their own fleet), hyperjump into the geek fleet and Smith pretends to be a geek pretending to be him, allowing the human command ship to approach the geek flagship. Got that? Also, Smith is suffering the effects from travelling through hyperspace while wounded and is on the verge of blacking out before being able to carry out any more of the plan.

Judge Dredd: The Judge Child Part 19: Salesman! Galactic convention forces the judges to pick up a hitchhiker from a refuge station on a stretch of the spaceways. The hitchhiker is a rather pushy travelling salesman, who is pretty put out that the judges don’t want to buy anything from or sell anything to him and takes matters into his own hands. By ‘taking matters into his own hands’ I mean throws down space warp devices which shrink the judges (and Hershey’s lawmaster) and puts them in his hand carried case. It’s an odd place for this interlude – just after the story really got going with the search leading to Xanadu and inklings of the true nature of Owen Krysler, we get another diversion which possibly would have fit better in the earlier parts of the space section of the mega-epic. The entire epic is split into three sections – the Cursed Earth / Texas City bit at the beginning, the search through space and the Xanadu bit – and the space part has two types of story – those actually relevant to the epic and random encounters.

Taunting my earlier guess that Judgement Day was something to do with the prog 178 jump-on prog, Tharg shows a few pages from the forthcoming Judge Dredd annual – released on Thursday! There’s three from the full colour McMahon Dredd’s, a Casanovas Max Normal, a Ewins and/or McCarthy (?) Walter and Kevin O’Neill’s S.H.O.K. More in two days, after I’ve covered the 2000AD Annual (which I’ll assume gets released on the same day, along with Starlord and Tornado, which I’ll cover in three and four days). This is all assuming I can cover them on my usual ‘one publication per day’ schedule. Due to a three different issues of varying seriousness I’ve completely lost my lead time in the last week and am writing these a day or two before publication now.

Sam Slade: Robo-Hunter Day of the Droids! by TB Grover and Ian Gibson. Sam comes out of the fake cake shooting – the God-Droid may have a dodgy pump but it still isn’t enough to take him out though his three mob droid henchmen are a different story. Throwing the dud bomb in a pigskin, Slade finally gets the thing to explode by shooting at it while it’s lodged in the God-Droid’s open pump hatch (following that open-heart / open-pump surgery in previous progs). A few panels later, Slade comes around to see the remains of the God-Droid in front of him. Maybe I should have mentioned earlier, but the God-Droid is huge compared to the regular mob-droids. About big enough to fit a human inside… My first progs were while The Slaying of Slade were running, and it was probably about five years until I read any of these earlier stories… With the God-Droid out of the picture, it’s time for the mayor’s ceremony – as with Verdus, things don’t quite go according to plan. The city may be grateful, but they show this by offering a paltry reward for killing the God-Droid and banning robo-hunters from the city as a reward to the AAU. Slade catches the zoom tube to Brit-Cit (nothing to do with the Judge Dredd versions of zoom tubes and Brit-Cit).

Nearly at the end of the prog and the next prog ad is giving nothing away on what will replace Robo-Hunter (my guess is on a Future-Shock or Robo-Tale – unless the V.C.s last episode is extra length). Below all this is a Prog 178 trailer, with a close up of Tiger Commander’s eyes by Belardinelli!

Pan dimension Video present The 20000AD Galactic Olympics pull-out booklet. It looks like the pictures for this have been provided by a cartoonist called Steve Maher, and it looks a bit out of place in the pages of 2000AD. I think 2000AD’s general lack of a house style means that those comic artists who do follow a house style (whether from DC Thompson, IPC humour titles, Marvel or wherever else) stand out like sore thumbs. As well as the cover and intro to the booklet, futuristic and spacey sports covered in this instalment are the laser slalom contest and the cyborg ‘n’ robot marathon. The marathon is the more interesting, as it shows Ro-Busters may have looked like if it had run in one of IPC humour comics instead – there are cartoon versions heavily influenced by C3PO and R2D2 in the foreground, but behind them is a vending robot (think Walter) and a droid with large teeth (Ro-Jaws)!

Grailpage: I love everything about the centrespread from Ron Smith this week – from the space station beacon to the hydroponic farm for self-sufficiency, to Rinus Limpopop Guintz introduction to the three remaining judges.

Grailquote: Harry Harrison / Kelvin Gosnell, Angelina: “Are you going to play mud pies all day, or do we go in search of He or Him or whoever?”

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