Ron Smith’s cover depicts Dredd with a lawgiver in each hand between two blocks – though this is nothing like Bolland’s “blocks under arrest” cover, with images of various perps and crimina activities emblazoned on the buildings like crime posters. Lucky earthlets would have found this copy in their newsagents on 4th May 1981, with a cover date of 9th May 1981.
The inner front cover has a trail for the next prog, or rather the free Buck Rogers sticker album which will come with it – if you’re in the UK or Eire. There’s also another ad for the Aaaaaaargh! exhibition.
On to the comics with Strontium Dog: Portrait of a Mutant Part 9 by Alan Grant and Ezquerra. This is just wonderful – the Mutant Army assault on the flying palace of Upminster begins, and this episode takes us around the huge construction, to the barracks, the royal bedchambers, Upminster House and the Ministry of Mutations – setting up the different locations so that we can follow some of those generals and their divisions as they carry out their individual assignations. Clacton Fuzz (confusingly leading the Fenmen – the Fens being in North Norfolk, with the whole of Suffolk and half of Essex between them and Clacton’s origin place of the Tendring Peninsula) takes control of the laser defence control and spooker planes (we don’t see what the latter are). Middenface takes the barracks while Evans the Fist captures King Clarkie the Second. The Torso from Newcastle attacks the houses of Parliament as Johnny Alpha goes after Nelson Bunker Kreelman in the Ministry of Mutations and headquarters of the Kreelers. Upon Nelson’s orders, the T-Weapons are broken out – a new kind of weapon which Johnny hasn’t seen before. I shan’t say any more as they’re presented as a mystery, as their targets disappear…
Heading to the first half of the prog, Malcoml Shaw and Redondo’s Return to Armageddon. Just as the battle begins in Strontium Dog, so Amtrak free the humans and the battle against the devilish Cromos begins. Despite not having weapons, the freed captives overwhelm the Cromos while Amtrak uses his magic sword to freeze the undead. Somewhere between the Triad and Amtrak, a bunch of swords and shields magically appear in the hands of the humans. Meanwhile we find out that Sanctuary isn’t such a safe place, as while it isn’t as Hellish as the rest of Earth, it’s occupied by Havoc, Snake-Bite and that other lackey whose name I can’t remember (and let’s face it – is less memorable all round).
After a couple of pages of competitions and adverts, the Nerve Centre Tharg is taken to task for the mass murder of thrill-suckers (though under intergalactic law they count as a menace), the Earthlet/Terran debate rages on and the last reader points out that Deputy Chief Judge Pepper had to functioning legs, when in earier appearances Pepper only had the one. Tharg explains that as a tutor, having an artificial leg was fine, but as Deputy Chief Judge this was replaced with a more realistic cybernetic leg.
Judge Dredd: The Mega-Rackets Crime File: 2 The Perp Runners by T.B. Grover and Ron Smith. Perp running is to transport wanted criminals off -planet. In this story, Dredd has his sights set on Slick Ike Kolorado. Dredd picks out a likely cover disguise in the form of ‘Icepick’ Brown and uses face change surgery to fake an escape from Mega-Pen 54. On the pretence of having recovered some money hidden by Brown before being incarcerated, Dredd pays the perp-runners to escort him from the city to a waiting spaceship out in the Cursed Earth. Once space-bourne, Dredd manages to send a message to Mega-City One Control though is caught in the process, and the MC1 ships can’t keep up with the perp-runners ship – which is essentially a big engine with some cabins attached. The perps being run don’t fare any better than Dredd though, as they’re sold to alien slavers. There are going to be further shades of the Atlantic triangular slave trade in the second part of this story, but more about that next prog! Of more interest right now is the appearance of the Munce Inc tankers that took the disguised Dredd and other runaway perps out of the city (munce smelling so bad that judges rarely check the the tankers closely). This is the very same Munce Inc who feature prominently in the much more recent Lawless series running in today’s Judge Dredd Megazine. More on that in about five years time! That’s five years of blog posts, not five years of publications!
Tharg’s Future-Shocks: Ernesto Hornetz Must Die! by G. Rice and Mike White. Another over-populated Earth in the far future story, this one deals with the dissatisfaction of ennui of the human race, and how this is being turned against the world president – and it’s an election year. A scientist has worked on the Timetracker Project – allowing the viewer to look back in to the past. Bizarrely the example shown of this is somebody looking like the stereotypical image of Sherlock Holmes (?) To get continued funding to allow him to look further into the past, the professor is told by the president to find the person responsible for civilisation in the first place, and just before the election the professor manages to find a cave-dweller constructing the first wheel. The president immediately orders the professor to find the 30th century descendant of this person and once found, publicises the identity and orders Ernesto Hornetz (for that is the name of the descendant) to be publicly executed. Just as Ernesto is about to die, the professor rushes up and informs everybody present that Ernesto’s ancestor built the first wheel, but it was under the instruction of another person. There’s no shock to find out that the President is the descendant of that other person. It’s a fair Future-Shock, but not shocking.
Speaking of avoiding public execution, Billy the Pup is still on the trail of the rampant wolf to save Gruff’s life in Meltdown Man by Alan Hebden and Belardinelli. Billy manages to lure the renegade wolfman by using a kid as bait. This being Yujee World, a kid is a literal young yujee goat. So, with a freed Gruff, the wolfman is immediately placed in Billy’s custody. As they get to the coast near Appleyard (unfortunately we don’t get a vista like we did with Anville) though before they can get to the city they’re caught by pirates and put on the oars.
Not content with trailing Prog 212 at the front, there’s another next prog half-page ad on the inside back cover showing a preview of Brett Ewins’ Max Normal poster.
Dave Gibbons’ series of Tharg’s Futureworlds may be over, but that doesn’t mean his work isn’t appearing on the back page, with a star pin-up of Nick Stone… Meltdown Man (Liana also appears).
Grailpage: Ron Smith introduces Slick Ike Kolorado in a full-page picture showing the mob boss sipping a drink while chewing munce gum before brought low by Dredd when he’s ordered to peel up some gum he spat on to the street.
Grailquote: Alan Grant, narration: “In the royal bedchamber, King Clarkie the Second makes his first decision of the day – ” King Clarkie the Second: “It’s too cold. I shan’t be getting up today.”
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