2000AD Prog 212: “Death to the Norms!” The Mutant Army is on the march – inside!

The Mutant Army marches (more like charges) into battle on this Ezquerra cover – though I’m not sure how as they’ve been attacking the hovering city of Upminster in the story (though the other half of the Army are meant to be attacking Kreeler bases, so maybe we’ll pay a flying (sorry!) visit to the ground troops inside.

Strontium Dog: Portrait of a Mutant Part 10 by Alan Grant and Ezquerra. The T-Weapons are in use by the Kreelers and we’ve still not been told what they are – though there’s something familiar about the way victims keep disappearing… The mutants are un-nerved but are galvanised into action after a speech by General Armz with Crabtree making a suicide run (guess what Crabtree’s head looks like?) As predicted from the cover image, we cut to a montage of attacks across the country as mutants are freed from concentration camps and Kreeler bases fall. Back at the Ministry of Mutations Armz is mortally wounded but in the seconds before he dies manages to reiterate the mission to kill Kreelman – though also reveals that he knew for a long time that Kreelman is Alpha’s father. Unfortunately there’s a duck-billed mutant in the foreground while this conversation is going on, and it looks like that may be relevant later…

Tharg’s Future-Shocks: Long Live the Queen! by Kelvin Gosnell and Eric Bradbury. A time tourist, Carlyle, travels from the 25th century to the 16th, courtesy of Trans-Time Holidays Inc (which I think technically makes this in the same world as Flesh, Judge Dredd and ABC Warriors). His plan is to use his knowledge and technology from nearly a millennia later to gain a respectable position in Elizabethan England and gain the confidence of the queen. It’s strongly implied that he wants to marry the queen and start a dynasty with her. Things seem to be going well until the Queen’s Spymaster discover the time traveller’s secret stash of 25th century technology. Presenting the evidence to the Queen, Carlyle tries to shoot the spymaster with a blaster, but it appears to jam. This is the time for the shock, and it wasn’t something I predicted – a voice informs Carlyle that the blaster won’t work as the two are held in a time-stasis field. But who is the other person? Queen Elizabeth herself! She too, came to the 16th century as a time tourist but fell in love with the period. Unlike Carlyle, she was happy to act only as a lady-in-waiting – her motivation was not money or power. The year before Carlyle had arrived, the real Elizabeth had died from smallpox. Knowing that history had recorded her as surviving, the lady-in-waiting used face change technology to take her place (fortunately she was alone with the queen when Elizabeth died). The new Elizabeth is now serving history – sacrificing the 200 year lifespan she could have had in the 25th century to live instead to seventy. That’s not the only sacrifice, as Elizabeth switches off the time stasis, allowing Carlyle to be taken away by the spymaster for execution. This was a good one – I have a feeling that Eric Bradbury will draw another story featuring a time traveller going to Elizabethan England and taking the place of a historical figure, but if so it won’t be for another 100 progs. By the way – Bradbury’s artwork is perfect for the dark Elizabethan London.

Nerve Centre Nerve Centre Nerve Centre Nerve Centre (I have no idea why it was written four times, each time in diminishing size – maybe a bodger got their hands on some letraset). One reader points out that a full-length serial featuring Nemesis and Torquemada was promised 25 issues earlier – Tharg uses the letter to plug the Sci-Fi Special and promises the serial will appear soon (it’ll be along in ten weeks) and that it’s only one part of a programme of hyper-thrills – with some of the other stuff coming up, believe it!

Judge Dredd: The Mega-Rackets Crime File: 2 The Perp-Runners (part 2) despite the title, this episode doesn’t feature any perp running, instead concentrating on a sideline that the perp runners indulge in on their way back to Earth. They stop off on an alien planet, put out some adverts and pick up some alien tourists who are led to believe they will be treated as gods on Earth. What actually happens is that on the way they’re cast out of the airlocks to die. This is called chump-dumping. Foolishly they put the ‘chumps’ in the same hangar as Dredd, along with two guards. Dredd manages to panic the aliens by telling them the truth and in the confusion manages to get a gun from one of the guards, shooting himself free of his chains. Out-numbered, Dredd is trapped in the Life Support Systems room. Jettisoning the ship’s oxygen tanks, they now have three hours to hail the Justice Department vessel chasing them, or suffocate. They choose to go to the isolation cubes. Back on Earth, Dredd visits Slick Ike once more, taking us back to the opening scene of the story last prog. This time, Dredd admits they can’t pin the perp-running operation on Kolorado, but points out that the perps sold into slavery are on their way back to Earth, and the secret of what has happened to all the perps he’s run is now out… A good episode, though the introduction to chump-dumping used the cheap trick of having cute dolphin-like aliens, which are then murdered in cold blood. Cheap, but effective (and illogical – there’s no reason the aliens couldn’t be taken back to Earth and sold to Cursed Earth slavers).

After another page telling us about the Buck Rogers stickers and the Sci-Fi Special, it’s on to…

…Malcolm Shaw and Redondo’s Return to Armageddon. Havoc, Snake-bite and Shadow (the third, less memorable member) don’t seem to have aged a whole lot in the time that Amtrak was being reconstructed by the Triad – certainly not thirty years’ worth. Though maybe the Destroyer’s power is keeping them youthful? Yes, that must be it. They send the Hell’s Angels out against Amtrak and the humans – these being large humanoid bats rather than people on motorcycles… They snatch Amtrak, but he tells Eve not to worry, instead close their flanks, lock shields and then follow the crystal star (which he then calls in to being). The locked shields emit a blinding light which disorients the bat-like hell’s angels, allowing the humans to slaughter them all – except for the one which is carrying Amtrak to ‘Sanctuary’.

Speaking of arming a slave race to prepare for an uprising, Alan Hebden and Belardinelli’s Meltdown Man is next. I’m not looking for these links, honest, but there are some progs where the themes seem to cross stories… T-Bone takes centre-stage as he leaves the idyllic city of Fragrance (where even the yujees look to have nice accommodation, instead of the ramshackle shanty towns they have everywhere else) to the less savoury city of Lonetown, one day away. A decidedly dodgy ape messes things up for T-Bone, by knocking the cart the bull has been using to smuggle weapons in. After a chase, the ape comes to T-Bone’s aid by bringing some ammunition to him. It’s all a ruse though, as the ape hands T-Bone to predators, to be transported to Snow City to join Liana and Leeshar. This is a good episode with a great opening showing two panels of Fragrance – the first and, I’m pretty sure, last time we’ll see this coastal city. We also get had a similar visit to Lonetown – which I don’t recall making another appearance.

On the back page, Brett Ewins gives us a piccy of Max Nomral: Mega-City One’s Pinstripe Freak! – with three of the usual Mega-City One citizens with punk hairstyles, facepaint and… interesting… clothing (only one of which wears kneepads).

Grailpage: As you can probably guess by now, I love Belardinelli’s artwork, and when he gets the chance to include a splash panel it really shines – so that’s why I’m picking the page with the city of Fragrance, as well as a smaller pic of Lonetown.

Grailquote: Kelvin Gosnell, Queen Elizabeth (kinda): “I am loved as no other ruler ever will be loved. I will be known as the greatest monarch of all time. To serve a loving people and die at the age of seventy, even when I know I could survive to 200, is a small price to pay… Goodbye, Thomas…”

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