2000AD Prog 209: “Hey, come back with my baby!” “Push off, creep! You ain’t fit to raise monkeys!” “WAAAGHH!”

Ian Gibson signs his own name on this wraparound cover. A bunch of robots are queuing in line to pick up babies (though one is dropping one on their head). It’s alright though, the text tells us that they’re unemployed robots re-training as Nursery-Bots, using lifelike models of young humes. As you’d expect from Gibson, this could be a cover of a Verdus or other Robo-Hunter story…

We take a break from Ian Gibson’s artwork for The Day they Banned 2000AD! part 2, which has art by Q. Twerk. Emerging from the Mighty One’s own back prog cupboard come a dinosaur (could be Old One Eye, could by Satanus), the God-Droid’s mafia-droids, the Mekon, Na-Rutha, the Starslayer emperor whose name I can’t remember, Shako, Bonjo, Geeks and a few other things which I either can’t identify or are just generic baddies. The answer to this predicament? Tharg brings the 2000AD heroes to life – including the Heroes, from Harlem that is… Making short work of the villains, Tharg heads up in to the atmosphere after the Zragian ship, chasing it to the planet Zrag (it’s a cube, folks) where the Command Module shoots down the Zragian ship. Upon returning to Earth the event that gives this story its name occurs as world leaders ban 2000AD. No fear though, as the citizens of the world rise against the leaders to legalise 2000AD once again (including against Ronald Reagan – an appearance in a third story, I believe). Back on Zrag, the three dictators and the Hag of Zrag face the lash – that’ll make them smart! (pun not mine).

After now familiar 1980 Readers’ Profiles being drip-fed to us over the past year, it’s now time for the 1981 Readers’ Profiles. And (if you like reading readers’ profiles) we’re spoiled this prog with a preliminary batch of eight profiles. Of the eight, three would like replicas of Judge Dredd’s gun (never referred to as the Lawgiver, for some reason) and two would like Judge uniforms. Two want Johnny Alpha outfits. Future war stories are popular among half of them (that’ll explain where Dave Gibbons has been lately). A few people would like 2000AD badges and a few would like T-shits. Age range (when given) are between six and 20.

After a page of the Space Invaders competition and the 2000AD Sci-Fi Special which came out last week…

Abelard Snazz makes the leap from Ro-Jaws’ Robo-Tales to Tharg’s Future-Shocks with The Return of the Two-Storey Brain! by Alan Moore and Mike White. With five minutes of oxygen left (after having been cast out of the spaceship by the humans fleeing from that planet now dominated by robo-cops, robo-crooks and robo-innocent bystanders), Abelard and Edwin get picked up by a passing spaceship, hitch-hiking, if you will… The person who picked them up turns out to be a gambler who lost all his money on a casino planet. Abelard thinks about it for a minute and formulates a plan, involving a tiny time machine made from emergency rations and radio spares, which he hides in Edwin’s chest cavity. Robots should always have a chest cavity. Abelard, Edwin and their rescuer hit the casinos, losing money then using the time machine… Well, you can guess where a time machine would come in handy in a casino. Becoming some of the wealthiest people in the galaxy over the course of the night, Abelard gives Edwin a wodge of cash and tells the robot to have a good time. After much revelling, the pair of gamblers head off, telling the doorman to fetch their ship – but he can’t do that because he’s a doorman, not a valet. Abelard ends up convincing the doorman to toss a coin for it – tails he valets the cruiser, heads Abelard gives him ten credits. When Abelard loses, the doorman offers him double or quits. This happens 200 times until the duo are ruined and the doorman is one of the wealthiest people in the galaxy (with the help of the Acme Probability Scrambler – I’m sure I’ve read a book where a probability device plays an important role). Edwin turns up, though he’s met and fallen for a robot called Jill. Literally fallen, and the time box is broken, though not so broken so that when the gambler who rescued them punches it in rage it transports them back to the instant before they were picked up. Forewarned is forearmed and the gambler speeds on by, leaving four-eyed mutant mastermind to asphyxiate with five minutes of oxygen… The scenes with human characters were well-drawn by Mike White, though the aliens weren’t the best we’ve seen in 2000AD while Edwin looked like a straight copy of Steve Dillon’s original design. Meanwhile, Alan’s script convinces me further that those R.E. Wright stories were from a much earlier stage in his fledgling career, maybe from before anything had been published.

The Nerve Centre takes two pages once again, though one of those is commandeered by Ro-Jaws, who now has an Anti-Thargy NervCent Disruptor Gizmo, and reveals that he programmed the star pin-up of Ro-Jaws the editor last prog.

Judge Dredd: The Mega-Rackets, Crime File: 1 – The Body Sharks have you got that title? We’re in long-title territory for quite a while now – if these are all two-part stories (which I suspect they are) then it’ll be sixteen weeks of delving into the underworld of organised crimes in Mega-City One. T.B. Grover and Colin Wilson takes us to the world of cut-price suspended animation and like the last time when we saw the Big Meg’s rich being blackmailed, this time organised crime has an ulterior motive – though this time they’re using suspended animation to take people as deposits in high interest loan shark deals. Dredd is on the trail of racket boss Remington Ratner but can’t land any charges on the mobster. We’re introduced to citizen Heinz, who has used his wife Hilda as security for a loan to use as a bribe to get a job. Things don’t go to plan and Heinz ends up in debt to the loan sharks with his wife’s life on the line. If only Dredd could get a lead… As with the sugar story from last week’s Sci-Fi Special, Wilson really conveys the weight of the buildings in Mega-City One as the despairing Heinz looks out from a balcony.

Malcolm Shaw and Redondo’s Return to Armageddon has newly-mortal Amtrak besieged by devils, whom Eve calls Cromos. Seeker is aso under attack and unable to help, so Eve picks up the Triad’s Sword and attacks the Cromos devils. Being a magic sword (or highly technologically advanced) it freezes the Cromos instead of slicing them up. The Cromos are easy to defeat though something that poses more of a threat are metallic locusts which eat their way into the ship. About to destroy Seeker, Amtrak uses the magic freezing sword to encase both robot and locusts in ice, just before the ship crashes into a derelict tower block. As if that isn’t enough of a cliffhanger, Amtrak gets his leg trapped just as the locusts start to eat their way through to the engine casings (which will cause the ship to explode). Eve must leave Amtrak to carry on the fight, but Eve doesn’t want to. This would be much more tense if the next prog tag didn’t say: “Unlikely rescue!” – not the first time that any tension has been dissipated by the next prog tag.

Earthlets’ Art Gallery has six pics, which all look original to me. The best drawn and best concept is ‘Drudge Dredd’ – Joe holding a mop and bucket – puntastic!

Alan Hebden and Belardinelli’s Meltdown Man opens with Uncle Leo the yujee gypsy. Before going any further – the word ‘gypsy’ is considered offensive by some Roma – so best not to use it, eh? Leo is a lion yujee driving a caravan when other yujees in his wagon train spot the tyre tracks going over a cliff – the ones left by Stone as he crashed while hypnotised by King Seth. Stone’s still alive and spots Seth slithering away. With Leo the Lionman’s aid, they put the snake in a pot while Stone explains his mission to Leo, and Leo relates how Pole-Axe took control of Leo’s brigands. Rallying to Stone’s cause, Leo starts tracking the polar bear and catgirl towards Sutermunda. Too late! Pole-Axe and his captive are already within the security perimeter of the capital city and Leeshar orders the predators to discipline the bear while Tiger Commander slashes Liana’s bonds so that Leeshar can show her his secret weapon (I think it’s the super-predators, but could be wrong).

In the inside back cover, now settled into the format of the latest updates on Johnny and his Heller model kits (he’s bought a kit of a concorde for Steve’s birthday party), below which is a half-page next prog ad and the bottom of the page is given to a resservation coupon, which you can cut out if you want to ruin your wraparound cover poster by Ian Gibson, which is where we started.

Grailpage: it’s a low-key page and I had to spend some time deciding whether I liked one of the Meltdown Man pages more, but I’ve ended up plumping for the last page of the Dredd tale, due to Citizen Heinz looking down on the city.

Grailquote: Unemployed robot: “Hey, come back with my baby!” Robot Re-Training Centre robot: “Push off, creep! You ain’t fit to raise monkeys!”

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