2000AD Prog 195: Return to Armageddon

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2000AD Prog 195 cover, art by Ian Gibson

The Redondo / Gibson connections continue as the latter provides a cover for the former’s series, and it looks like the Destroyer is going to be making his presence felt on a new planet this week.

Strontium Dog: The Bad Boys Bust Part Two by Alan Grant and Ezquerra. This is the page which got 2000AD into trouble from a local town council, due to the naked marshal being prepared for cooking, and then his skull and bones in the next panel as Johnny and Wulf find the Bad Boys’ campsite the following morning. They almost catch up, just as the Bad Boys attack a train. The Bad Boys do a little bit of uninterrupted pilfering of valuables and stealing of (living, sentient) food before our duo attack. Wulf’s mork (first time they’ve been named) gets hit, leaving Johnny to board the train as Bubo speeds ahead “plenty quicky”. Wulf and Johnny are separated and as Johnny catches on to the train, Bubo has the bounty hunter in his sights… Next prog: “End of the line!”

Alan Hebden and Belardinelli open us Rocky the crocodilian yujee and Smallfry the monkey yujee running from the meta-plague infected catgirl in this week’s Meltdown Man. Funnily enough, Nick Stone thinks “end of the line” when he breaks his leg and falls – twice in one prog! Liana (her hair now down to her knees) is trapped by some wild yujees in their village and looks set to starve to death in a pit when Stone turns up. His broken leg having healed before his eyes, he works out that the meta-plague is actually a metabolic plague, and that if food intake can match energy expenditure then he and Liana will be able to survive. At snip gun-point, he orders the wild yujee villagers to bring as much food as he and Liana (who has eaten her clothes) can eat. By the time the meta-plague burns itself out the pair of them have hair down to their ankles. Liana is given clothes by Missy, the wise woman of the village – though I can’t actually imagine Missy wearing the armless, tight top, miniskirt and ankle boots that Liana shows up in. Other than earning the support of the wild yujees by showing them a cure for the meta-plague, Stone and Liana now have a different appearance – once Smallfry barbers Stone, he has a tidy beard, and Missy cuts Liana’s hair to the waist – hiding her cat ears which were visible when she had a pixie cut.

Return to Armageddon from Malcolm Shaw and Redondo has the triad give the fair-haired twin a few gifts – a time belt allowing him to travel back ten seconds in time, a name (Amtrak), the ability to shield his thoughts from the Destroyer and a quest – find Atlanta Watts as he knows where the Stones of Eternity are (though he doesn’t know what they are). Braun informs the Destroyer that the triad is conspiring with Amtrak and so the Destroyer rewards Braun by allowing the flames to finally consume him, ending his torment. The Destroyer turns the triad to stone and she crumbles, preventing any living cells being used to resurrect her as he had been. Meanwhile Amtrak is escaping in a ship – the Destroyer doesn’t kill him for some reason, instead turning him in to the melty-faced man who I was more familiar with when I first read episodes of this story. As well as first encountering Amtrak in his melty-faced form, I also first encountered the name Amtrak in this story – apparently it’s also the name of a train company in North America?

Judge Dredd: The Fink Part Three by T.B. Grover and Mick McMahon opens with Hershey wondering why the Fink doesn’t kill her. Meanwhile Fink Angel is remembering back to his youth as the narrative recounts the birth of junior (and thus the death of Ma Angel), the machine-ification of Mean Angel and Fink’s self-imposed exile from the Angel family as his body degrades from radiation exposure. Most important of all, we’re shown the initial meeting of Fink Angel and Ratty. The flashback takes us right up to the beginning of Part One as Fink heads for the (domed) Mega-City One then cuts to the present as Fink emerges from the sewers with Hershey. Next prog: The Body Factory! (and you know what that means – the premier of Resyk).

Dash Decent Chapter 17: A Decent Burial? by Angus and O’Neill. Dale’s underwear gets skimpier as she shoots King Tucky. Zellamy gnashes through the elastic and twanks the two of them, with Dash landing in postbox parodying the TARDIS (which appears in the background when the postbox dematerialises).

Nerve Centre has a reader say that Judge Lopez should have volunteered to take the Oracle Spice as he was most responsive, and that they don’t want to hear any more about it. Tharg totally ignores this and specifically asks for further comment! Not for the first time, another reader asks for stories starring Tharg – despite claims they read every prog they’ve obviously not paid attention to the ten or so Tharg stories we’ve had so far! Reader’s art includes something that looks like the saucer section of the Millennium Falcon, repeated and without any of the bits that make it more interesting… Oh, and Tharg introduced the Nerve Centre by saying that Mean Arena wasn’t running (again) and that an extra Dredd story would take its place. We’ve not come across it yet, so it must be over the page. Wonder which one it is?

Judge Dredd – the extra, bonus story! It’s Knock on the Door by T.B. Grover and Ian Gibson – sorry, ‘Emberton’. Considering this is a last minute addition, it’s a very interesting strip. Dredd and Turpin carry out a crime swoop on a citizen – the title is based on the standard procedure of judges to knock, not to use the bell. The citizen escapes through the window and runs. At this point they don’t have him on anything so can’t shoot (compare and contrast with that Citiblock story). Luckily for the two judges, the citizen – whose name is never revealed – stumbles across a ‘walk don’t run’ sign, letting the judges get him on a running charge, if nothing else. After a full crime blitz the judges find a few overdue library slugs, but ‘nothing worth smacking him with’ so the two judges drop the charges. This seems uncharacteristic to me, but more on that later. Turpin stays behind to ask ‘one or two more questions’. Unfortunately for the citizen, these involve torture and result in a confession of running a numbers racket. Fortunately for Dredd, the senior judge had ordered immediate spy-in-the-sky surveillance, which caught every one of the thirty-five punches that Turpin threw (this’ll be why Dredd let him go from the minor charges). This leads to the charges against the citizen being dropped and Turpin being arrested. We get the second appearance by Judge McGruder as she sends Turpin off to Titan. As Dredd leads the citizen to freedom, he puts a friendly arm on the citizen’s shoulder and asks if he did run that numbers racket… As the closing narration says: “A confession obtained by torture is illegal… A confession obtained by deceit will stand up in any Mega-City court of law.”

The next prog box misses out Mean Arena – I wonder if it’ll be back next week? Tharg obviously doesn’t want to take any chances!

Complimenting the Blitzspear pin-up from a few progs ago, Kevin O’Neill keeps Comic Rock / Nemesis the Warlock prominent with ‘Official Gondola’ – Torque atop his gondola, explosions destroying vehicles on the tube in the background. The little sparks from the ‘rudder’ make me think that O’Neill might be working on what will become the Gothic Empire by this point. I had thought there was (narrative) mention of the sparks from the cabbie’s whip in the first few pages, but I’ve just had a flick through and couldn’t find any (though they are depicted pictorally).

Grailpage: Mike McMahon’s opening pages of The Fink – the titular character brooding while Hershey hangs upside down before a flashback to the Angel home in the Cursed Earth and baby Junior.

Grailquote: Alan Grant, Bubo: “You no shovel Bubo – Bubo shovel you!”

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