2000AD Prog 192: “Splundig vur ho, ho, ho!”

Carlos is back (again) with a wraparound cover. I was trying to find a thumbnail of the entire cover but couldn’t find one (not one in colour, anyway) though did come across the interesting tidbit – this is the first time a Carlos Dredd was published since 1977! Albeit as part of a montage also including Nick Stone, Jim diGriz, Wulf, Johnny and Tharg.

Strontium Dog: The Doc Quince Case Part 3 by Alan Grant and Carlos Ezquerra (with lettering droid L.J. Silver). If you’ll remember, L.J. Silver was the pseudonym which Carlos used when he illustrated the last episode of Rick Random – in that case he would have used it to avoid putting his name to work he wasn’t happy with. In this episode Doc Quince and Princess Rubella are taken to the planet M-Skel where Johnny and Wulf see some of the foibles of the ruler, King Kel. Turns out that Quince’s ‘treason’ was falling in love with the princess and taking her away from her confinement in a tower of the castle. The foible lined up for Quince is to place him in a large stone pot and drop a rock on him from a great height… Johnny’s defence is that M-Skel is affiliated with the Galactic Crime Commission and so they are legal bounties – though has to remind King Kel that the execution can only take place after a trial. Tomorrow morning, Judge Kel (yes, King Kel wearing a different hat) decides upon a sentence within three sentences (all appearing in one word balloon). Johnny’s had enough and tells Wulf to fetch the princess, while he stops the execution.

Annual distribution must have been really terrible, for the mail ordering has spread from the Judge Dredd Annual to the 2000AD Annual.

Tom Tully and John Richardson next in The Mean Arena. Tallon sets up some pretty obvious pre-match riling of Jaws Jensen (like in boxing films where the contestants hold a press conference and it gets raucous – I have no idea or interest whether this happens in real life). The art seems a bit better this episode, though the design of Rollo Hartie leaves a lot to be desired – he’s like a cut-rate Davros. Mike Slater is not at all happy with Tallon’s ongoing crusade – on the other hand if it wasn’t for the vengeful player then the Slayers would have ceased to exist. Also, Rollo is going to throw money at his team so that they represent their sponsor better. Having already read Harlem Heroes (evil global broadcaster kills sportsmen to make the game more interesting and increase viewing figures) and Inferno (gambling consortium kills sportsmen to make bets more interesting and increase profits) I can’t help but notice a blimp-like hovering craft with ‘Crusader TV: Brings you Street Football live!” in the background. It’s already a near certainty that the boorish TV presenter will be in on any conspiracy, so presumably so will Crusader TV? Cut to Southampton and the preparations for the next match. Did I mention in the early episodes that Street Football is played in sections of a city which have been cleared of people and cordoned off? Well, I am now – except in Southampton two people refuse to move – newsagents Alf and Edie Bussel (Alf holding a shotgun – or shooter as Bill would say). It’s an old-fashioned newsagent with jars of sweets on the shelves, like they used to have in the early eighties. You can still find sweetshops today which have jarred sweets, but they’ll be more likely artisanal sweetshops – not general newsagents. One of those things which would have seemed natural when first published but belies the age of the story in the present day (like old-fashioned telephones or televisions in supposedly futuristic settings).

Dash Decent Chapter 14: The Mind Mangler! Angus and O’Neill bring out the usual corny jokes and sight gags, this time introducing Pongo’s version of the Hawkmen, in this case the Pullet Men, led by King Tucky (a chicken with a Brian Blessed-like beard, if a large anthropomorphic chicken can be said to have a beard). Zellamy is brainwashed (using Flash soap, naturally) while Dash and Dale are stripped (to their underwear – though I suspect Dash’s pants were bodged on at a late stage) and will be forced into a death duel – next prog. The voting coupon makes an appearance, on a sandwich board carried by a desperate Dash.

The next page also has a voting coupon, this time in the more traditional bottom right corner of the Nerve Centre. Tharg reveals a traditional greeting on Betelgeuse at this time of the year (christmas) – Wesolych swait bozego narodzenia. Apparantely they speak Polish on Quaxxan! (with accents, Merry Christmas is Wesołych Świąt). One reader points out that a high-ranking Squaxx dek Thargo called upon the Mighty One for help, but not long before the same person (Thatcher) had ordered the execution of MACH Zero.

After a couple of weeks away (what with the Yujee World map and the attempt to get the kids to buy three other comics last week), Judge Dredd is back on the centre pages – T.B. Grover and Ron Smith presenting Loonie’s Moon! – which we’ve had trailed in the next prog box twice… The opening spread satirises advertising as Moonray Displays Inc charge one million creds per second to laser project messages (but mostly commercials) onto the surface of the moon, as visible from Mega-City One. It’s not entirely clear how this affects life in Luna-One… Just one of many groups unhappy at this are the Loonies – a Luna-worshipping sect based on the Moonies (or the ancient Djimite moon worshippers, as the text says – I can’t find any reference to real-world Djimite moon worshipers). A couple are concerned for their son, who has joined the Loonies. After navigating their way through Justice Department, Dredd is put on their case though only manages to establish that the Great Loon is suspicious, even if he isn’t actually lying. The thing he’s concealing is that the missing person (along with a bunch of other Loonies) have gone to Moonray Tower to carry out a massacre. You may think that these images are projected on to the moon by a high-tech computer. Following on from out-dated technology in the future, it’s actually a really powerful overhead projector, and it starts projecting the massacre as bodies fly through the projection room. Dredd finds the missing person, but only identifies him after shooting him dead…

Meltdown Man from Alan Hebden and Belardinelli. Leeshar and Tiger Commander head back to Sutermunda, ready to take King Seth to task for hiding the fact of Stone’s survival. Forewarned is forearmed (ironic seeing as Seth doesn’t have any arms) and by the time they get there he has hypnotised all of the predators who had been guarding him. Seth is in the yujee city, slaughtering his way through anybody who gets in his way, though the net is closing in on him (he’s not exactly being subtle, killing ‘pork chops’ as he kills pig yujee children… Just in the nick of time, T-Bone arrives and before he manages to visit the temporary vats to meet with fellow Vatmen, Seth has hypnotised him to carry the snake around, without realising it.

Return to Armageddon by Malcolm Shaw and Redondo. The starbooters head to the space pirate planet of Sanctuary, a swampy world where Havoc and the kids are greeted by Braun. I say greeted in the sense that Braun leads a coup against Havoc, though when his men try to grab Havoc, their eyes start to burn (not with soreness but with smoke and flames). Not being too bright, Braun continues his coup and tries to shoot Havoc – big mistake – he is consumed by flames, though doesn’t die. With no way to either kill him or dowse the flames, Havoc orders the next best thing – just take him somewhere he can’t be seen or heard. We finally meet the old woman they’ve been referring to – a huge old alien (?) of the Triad who she reveals fought against the Destroyer, who has now started a new incarnation. The starbooters don’t care though, as the old woman prophecises that Havoc, Snake-Bite and Shadow will get fat and rich, conquering and ruling planets due to the Destroyer. Oh, and the Destroyer is the dark-haired one. The blonde-haired baby is a normal human. For some reason Havoc thinks it would be a great idea to speed up the growth of the baby/babies to see what they look like fully grown.

We’re still in the period after the progs I’d bought to get early Nemesis stories but before progs which were more recent when I started buying back progs, but there’s a new feature which survived into my first year or two with the galaxy’s greatest comic: The Mighty Tharg presents Things to Come in 81. So, what’s coming up? Prog 200 – predictable, seeing as this is Prog 192. Dan Dare – the TV series which didn’t happen, not a new comic series. Nemesis – the full-length series! Judge Death, a 5-part thriller (Judge Death Lives). Finally, Project X. I have no idea what this is going to be. I think the Games Workshop Judge Dredd boardgame came out in 1981, though don’t know if that would count as a 2000AD Project.

Grailpage: I’ve said how much I like the shiny black metal (?) futuristic structures that rise above the more primitive buildings in Yujee World and this episode of Meltdown Man has a fantastic monorail station framing the rest of the page. It’s one of those images where if anybody other than Belardinelli had tried to depict the shapes involved it wouldn’t work, but under Massimo’s masterful hand it paints a picture of an alien (!) world.

Grailquote: T.B. Grover, Judge Dredd: “There are enough loonies in this city already, without somebody manufacturing them!”

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