2000AD Prog 214: In the newsagents: “Skud gen gehr!” “Idiot! I asked for 2000 AD – not 2000 elbow scratchers!” The English/Phlondrutian Phrasebook

Brendan McCarthy puts in a cover which could be a blown-up panel from this week’s Future-Shock (though in better resolution than if that had happened).

Strontium Dog: Portrait of a Mutant Part 12 by Alan Grant and Ezquerra. Kreeman having escaped, Johnny walks back along corridors and halls strewn with those who died to get him there. Hiss and Cuss Weerd are not impressed by this turn of events. Meanwhile it is revealed that the T-Weapons are Time Weapons (in case we hadn’t guessed already – seeing as just about every Strontium Dog story features a time jump, time bomb, time drogue or similar device – and this flashback story hasn’t had any yet). Nelson B Kreelman has escaped to a pre-set destination – Kreelerbase South-West. The Mutant Army accept the begruding surrender of King Clarkie the Second at the Upminster Houses of Parliament as Studs Boyce interrupts the gathering with news of NBK’s reappearance and rallying of the Kreelers. The question of how Kreelman escaped is raised, to which Duckbill Higgs provides the answer (as he sees it) – Alpha let him go (supposition) because he’s Kreelman’s son (true – as he heard as this was the mutant present when General Armz spoke his last words). Looks like the jig is up for Johnny!

Another ad for that birthday Buster, beneath which is a half-page comic strip trailer for the new Clash of the Titans film. It wasn’t the first film I saw at the cinema, but I’m pretty sure it was one of the early ones. Either that or I may have seen it the first time it was televised. Anyway, I have a soft spot for the mechanical owl whose name I can’t remember but hope will appear in a later installment of this comic strip trailer.

In the Nerve Centre Tharg plugs the week’s Future-Shock (starting on the next page) and prints a reader’s letter pointing out a continuity slip-up, courtesy of Brett Ewins.

Tharg’s Future-Shocks: The English/Phondrutian Phrasebook by Alan Moore and Brendan McCarthy. This is a change from the normal story. Every page is shown, like the cover, in the form of panels ni a Vocosonics Transliterator, i.e. a Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy-style handheld electronic guidebook. You’ve no doubt seen or heard sketches based around translations, usually revolving around unusual sights while on holiday, cultural differences and the old reliable – a really long alien / foreign phrase which translates into a single, usually short, word in English (in this case “Moo-plah-di-duda-klom-trat fim-plix stub-lu-ll di-breeg orp!” means “Taxi!”). Another standard of this kind of comedy also appears – cultural misunderstandings result in an arrest during which the father of the family demands to see the British consul. This is called back when they find that the prisoner hanging next to them is the British consul. So, nothing particularly original, though it is executed well.

At the top of the next page is a competition to win a colour print of the Tharg’s Futureworlds poster from a few months earlier. This is another token cut out contest, and if you’re foolish enough to actually do this then you’ll ruin the first page of…

For the first time, the second part of a Judge Dredd: The Mega-Rackets story has a different artist to the first part, as ‘Emberton’ takes over from Ron Smith on part 2 of T.B. Grover’s Crime Files: 3: The Umpty Baggers. Dredd also suspects that Judge Cheyney is the informant and when the factory is discovered abandoned uses the situation to entrap the head of the umpty squad. Knocking Cheyney out cold, Dredd waits either for his hunch to be wrong and for Cheyney to have him on an assault charge, or for the Jongs to turn up. Guess which one happens? A nice touch is what seems like a throw-away narrative element (the factory is hidden behind some swivelling mirrors) turns out to be of use in the denouement, as Dredd uses them to reflect the Jong’s torches back on them, temporarily blinding them and giving him the edge (like he didn’t have the edge in the first place). Emberton / Gibson’s Dredd has evolved into pretty much his standard Dredd for the future, the shoulder eagle in particular looking much like it did when I first started reading the progs. Except for one thing… I don’t know how long I’ll have to wait for that thing, but I’ll be sure to mention it the moment I notice it!

Return to Armageddon from Malcolm Shaw and Redondo. The Destroyer starts off by paraphrasing J. Robert Oppenheimer’s quote from the Bhagavad Gita “I am death – the destroyer of worlds” – which I probably also quoted during the Pirates of the Black Atlantic story when the block named after Oppenheimer got nuked. Then he cuts the link Amtrak had to the Triad. Then he kills many members of the human army with a rain of fire. Eve and Seeker aren’t affected, but the Destroyer opens up the Earth under their feet so they fall to their (presumed) deaths. Finally, Amtrak begs at the destroyer’s feet to be allowed to join the devilish figure – as if this wasn’t an obvious deception, the next prog tag says… “Deception!” – they’re really got to learn how to keep a spoiler!

Over in Meltdown Man there’s no danger of either melting or burning as we take a trip to Snow Lake. This is a great episode to show how ruthless Leeshar is. What starts as an innocent ice yachting race turns nasty when Leeshar fees that Tiger Commander is winning, and uses his snip gun to break the ice in front of the feline yujee. As T-Bone turns up, Leeshar stokes the animosity between the bull-yujee and the Commander and arranges an arm wrestle between the two. T-Boen looks set to win, until Leeshar bets against the Tiger Commander, spurring the predator on to win. Liana escapes while the attention is all focused on the contest. Meanwhile Stone and Louis the Lionman wake up in the cave of Slagheap – which can best be described as a psychic yeti. Though this was one year after Empire Strikes Back was released, so perhaps a psychic Wampa ice creature would be more accurate… Effectively this episode has the same cliffhanger as last week’s – though at least King Seth is conscious this time.

The back page has another Star Pin-Up, this time Ian Gibson (signing as Gibson) of Robo-Hunter and Associates – Yup! The robo-stogie is looking a little more like what we’re used to, though I think we’re around a year away from Sam’s arrival in Brit-Cit.

Grailpage: even before I turned the page I could picture the scene. If an image stays with you for years then that’s a good indication that it belong in the grailpage section! To_Bone and Tiger Commander face off, Liana and Leeshar looking on.

Grailquote: Alan Moore, prisoner: “Yes, we are a pain sensitive species. Why do you ask?” “Oh, I see. Hellllllllllp!”

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