2000AD Prog 186: “Get Ugly!” Revolting new craze sweeps Mega-City One!

Otto Sump’s back, and that means Ron Smith is too, in a cover heralding the beginning of the ugly craze! p.s. this story is amongst those covered on the Mega-City Book Club.

Strontium Dog: The Schicklgruber Grab Part 5 by Alan Grant and Ezquerra. As Stix starts firing, Alpha hits the Time Ejector (like the ejector seat in a car) which is designed to immediate transports them to a safe place, in this case up the time stream to the 23rd century (they’re home time is a year in the 2180s – probably 2181). The world is not in a good place – Comet Custer was spotted two years ago and is due to collide with Earth in 18 hours time. Interesting definition of ‘safe place’ for the time ejector there. Seeing as the local populace is giving up hope (or dancing in the face of death), the path is clear to take the penthouse suite at the local swanky hotel. Johnny broods, but also waits, while Sternhammer plays cards with the Gronk and Hitler. Johnny doesn’t have to wait long as the dervish dogs arrive, along with Cynthia (the dogs don’t last very long). Interestingly, Cynthia uses the electronux against Wulf – the first (and only?) time we’ve seen somebody other than Johnny use the device.

The Green Cross code advert by Ron Smith is run again – seeing as it’s making multiple appearances, I’ll mention it a little – I like the black cat, though it could do with a decent meal – it’s skin and bones! And the kid has amber eyes – no pupils. He should get that seen to.

The Mean Arena from Tom Tully and John Richardson continues Tallon’s flashback to his last match in the US (and actually his last full match – he’s only played the second half of the Slayer’s match since). Not a lot I can say about it, it’s a bunch of people maiming each other in a death sport. Tallon gets himself in the way of the sniper’s single shot, and looks set to lose his life and the match for his team (obviously we know he survived, but the entire world thought he was dead after this game).

The Nerve Centre has one letter pointing out that alpha particles can be stopped by a something as thick as a piece of paper, so wouldn’t be able to penetrate thick walls (Tharg claims that alpha particles have ‘evolved’), another theorises that Dredd is a cyborg, based on a few quotes from THe Judge Child (pretty sure that I picked both of the quotes as grailquotes!) and another slags off a reader, saying their picture could have been drawn by a two year old baby. Tharg suggests that the letter-writer get a two year old baby to help them draw as the 20 pictures they’ve submitted weren’t good enough to be published.

Dash Decent Chapter 8: The Jaws of Justice! There’s an ongoing gag that Dale Ardent is being subjected to various death threats by Pong’s sidekick Slug, but Pong has to keep telling him to wait. Dale is completely disinterested – in the latest predicament she has fallen asleep. Meanwhile Zellamy (with Dash’s skeleton in a sack) gains entry to Bone City and is presented before the prince, who has engineered the theft of the leg to bring Dash to the city so that he can aid the prince in taking his position as rightful heir to Pongo (mirroring Prince Barin in the film). I might be wrong, but I think I spotted a statue of snoopy in the dog’s city…

Judge Dredd: Otto Sump’s Ugly Clinic by T.B. Grover and Ron Smith. I’ve subjected myself to a number of Head and Shoulders adverts across different decades and counties and none match up with the Sump Dandruff Shampoo (not Anti-Dandruff Shampoo) in this prog. While Dredd was gallivanting around the galaxy, Otto Sump has used his Sob Story millions to acquire a chain of beauty clinics. Things do not go well, until a fashion queen is (unintentionally) made ugly by Sump. A beautiful woman who was at a party that the fashion queen attended, jealous of the attention they got, goes to Sump to be intentionally made ugly by him. Things snowball from there. We’ve had Mega-City crazes before, but I think this is the one that firmly establishes them as a part of Mega-City life. Brilliantly told from the opening talking billboard through the background story, the spread of Sump ugly products and ending up with bomb attacks on ugly clinics (which is where Dredd is going to get involved – it’ll be a protection racket, as I recall). The high-points are the products, and their slogans “Scum – roll-on-odorant” and “Flabbon – for use as part of your uncontrolled diet”.

Malcolm Shaw and Redondo’s Return to Armageddon opens on the ice planet. Atlanta Watts, the captain of Prairie Drifter (the starship with a cargo of religious colonists) orders Selous to bring a few of the bodies aboard – including that of the two-metre tall devilish creature. The moment the wailers see the devil’s face they protest, but are escorted away by security, proclaiming that evil does not die. True enough, living cells are discovered in the liver of the devil which Doctor Craven wants to use to clone the creature (using the wailers very own cloning machine – intended for use on the planet the colonists are travelling to). The Craven’s assistant objects but is killed by the when he threatens to go to Captain Watts. The deaths have begun…

After two half-page adverts for the Judge Dredd and 2000AD annuals, it’s on to Alan Hebden and Belardinelli’s Meltdown Man as the gunships approach the mine entrance leading to the eyrie. As I said when I covered 178, I had that prog (and the following prog) and a few further along in the run of this story, but was missing the ones in between. As such I knew about Kineta from the first few episodes but it was a long time until I actually read the progs where they appeared. So I was a bit disappointed that they lasted an episode or two before being killed in a collision with a gunship. Jack Potter, lettering droid, calls Stone ‘Strong’ – I bet there’ll be a letter about that. Takka the Mongoose is also killed, though seeing as Stone/Strong ends the episode being hypnotised by Seth into shooting himself, I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes a reappearance next prog, just in time to sacrifice himself for Stone. One of the minks is named, ‘Grease Nose’ though it’s just before he’s killed. To the best of my knowledge, this is the one and only time we find out what a mink’s name is. Back in the city the yujee’s are revolting (or at least uprising) probably as a result of how the humans are randomly killing them out of fear that they’ll rise up against them (it’s a circular logic kind of thing).

Grailpage: There’s some strong contenders from Ron Smith’s ugly pages, but Massimo Belardinelli’s back page (meaning it’s in colour – though the colour doesn’t add anything) shows the yujee’s crossing the bridge to the human city, boiling oil raining down and the shanty town in flames behind them. This is a panel that plays to all of Belardinelli’s strengths – natrual forms from rocks, boulders and water, dynamism from the flames and weird creatures shown through the yujee’s. This kind of panel is why Meltdown Man is one of my favourite stories from one of my favourite artists.

Grailquote: Angus, Prince Rolfred: “I am the rightful heir to Pongo…” Dog: “Yeah! The heir of the dogs!”

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