2000AD Prog 215: Meet Mega-City One’s Contract Killers!

This is an excellent cover by Brian Bolland, featuring to contract killers targetting half of a couple in a window on the block opposite – from body language it looks like they’re mid-argument, so no prices for guessing who took out the contract! The block in question is Rolf Harris Block – that hasn’t aged well – let’s hope there’s no Jimmy Saville or Gary Glitter blocks on their way… Oh yes, and this prog has a cover date of 6 June 1981 and would have been on sale on the Monday the 1st of June. In hospital at this time would have been Pope John-Paul II and Ronald Reagan, both recovering from attempted assassination attempts. I’m sure showing an assassination attempt on the cover isn’t intentional…

Strontium Dog: Portrait of a Mutant Part 13 by Alan Grant and Ezquerra. Johnny brushes aside Duckbill’s allegation that he’s Kreelman’s son by saying that his only father was a strontium shower. Reacting to a question from the Torso from Newcastle, Johnny demonstrates a T-Weapon by disappearing the speaker’s chair. All over the country, the armadillo-like Tankettos are equipped with T-Weapons and the secret of their temporal nature is now out. Over night the Kreelers take back control of New Britain. From the map studied in Upminster it looks like there are Kreeler bases in or near London (the city itself is now the Greater London Crater), Southampton, Bristol, Birmingham, somewhere in the East Midlands, one in Edinburgh and a few further north in Scotland – possibly Oban and Ullapool. Evans the Fist thinks that having control of Upminster (and thus King Clarkie the Second, the Prime Minister and the rest of the government and members of parliament) gives them the advantage and they threaten to destroy the floating city with all hands aboard. They reckon without Nelson Bunker Kreelman, who probably wants any other senior leaders dead anyway, so that he can take absolute control. They’re essentially trying to beat Hitler by threatening to kill President von Hindenberg and Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1933. Further than daring the Mutant Army to destroy Upminster, he also lays down his own ultimatum – a hundred mutant prisoners will be killed every hour on the hour if they don’t surrender – starting now!

The Clash of the Titans half-page trailer strip continues. If you got British children’s comics in the early eighties you’d be familiar with these kinds of adverts – there’ll be some later for Roar, Willow and Dungeons & Dragons. It’s a very sparse telling of events in the film. Perseus now has a Pegasus, but no mechanical owl.

Tharg’s Future-Shocks: Blooming Cold by Kelvin Gosnell and Garry Leach sees the return of Joe Black, P.E.S.T. operative. Joe has discovered a plant on a planet on the Galactic Rim which attaches itself to the head and eats common cold germs. Sensing a chance to make some money (which he wouldn’t get if he’d taken it back to the Planetary Exploration and Survey Trust) he instead foolishly takes it to a chemical giant in Earth orbit. As you’d expect, the last thing they want is a cure for the common cold – they make too much money treating it. Revealing that they already have two cold cures in their vaults and that the inventors were killed, Joe has only a brain probe to look forward to, so that they can find out where the planet was discovered and blow up the planet. Fortunately for Joe, one of his guards has a slight cold and hasn’t been told what the plant is, so when it latches itself to him Joe manages to use the diversion to escape. Shot at as he escapes the chemical giant’s complex, the hundreds of plants within fall down to Earth, their petals acting like parachutes. I like that Joe Black takes a philosophical approach – it would have been nice to be stinking rich, but at least the cold cure plants are now on Earth, will be curing colds for free all over the planet within a few years and the chemical company will go out of business. Due to association with Alan Moore, Abelard Snazz’s stories got reprinted, but Joe Black will also be a welcome semi-regular fixture throughout the 200s.

Time for that Free Competition! to win a colour print of Dave Gibbon’s Tharg’s Futureworlds poster. As well as the tokens, entrants also need to unscramble some letters into names of 2000AD characters. To my shame I can only get two out of the four, and I feel that the second two should be relatively easy – how many characters have their been in the last 200 progs? And they’re probably going to be the more recent ones as well. The letters are: 1. AAMRTK (Amtrak); 2. GRUFF (they’re not even in a different order to the name!); 3. RLAKNMEE; 4. ERSSHUIRKUTLL.

The editorial pages continue with a two-page Nerve Centre. Tharg puts out a second call for Mean Arena Street Football team designs. One reader mentions their house-teams at school are named after planets – which bear no relation to the colours of the planets in question – Mars is yellow while Jupiter is green (the letter was asking for the name of Tharg’s home planet – the answer is, of course, Quaxxann). Another reader requests a companion comic for fantasy stories. Rather than point out fantasy elements of Meltdown Man and Return to Armageddon, Tharg teases a new series featuring sword and sorcery elements – in seven weeks’ time we’re going to get Nemesis (though Tharg doesn’t say the name here). Oh, and another reader requests more Styx. Tharg replies that Alan Grant has been programmed with Stront stories for some time to come, but that idea will be put to the script droid. We’re going to have to wait three years for more Styx!

On the assumption that the cover is directly related to the cover, it’s Grover Cleveland Block and the couple aren’t arguing. Judge Dredd: the Mega-Rackets Crime File: 4 The Blitz Agencies by T.B. Grover and Ron Smith. The story concerns two citizens who can’t face life in the Mega-City any longer – things are bad and they’re getting worse as teh Housing Committee are about to move them to an even worse block than the one they’re already in (the one they’re in looking a bit like the run-down tenement building in Bladerunner). After failing to kill themselves, they withdraw their life savings and Teddington arranges a meeting with a blitz agency representative called Charlie. It’s not commented upon, but Charlie has scaly skin (not in the sense that he needs skin cream, more scaly like a lizard) and is wearing some kind of safari suit. Plus kneepads and shin-length boots – but they’re both wearing kneepads and shin-length boots. While I’m commenting on fashion – Reeta is wearing a loose catsuit with a licorice allsorts motif… Two letters arrive – one telling them that there was an error and they’re actually being moved to a block in a ritzy new development and the other telling Teddington that he’s got a new job (remember, the unemployment rate in the Big Meg is in the 90%s). Momentarily forgetting they put a contract out on their own lives they are sharply reminded when a sniper takes out Teddington (to be fair, he probably doesn’t have time to remember before he dies) – the next bullet misses Reeta as she’s knocked out of the way by Teddington’s corpse. She calls the judges, suddenly realising she does want to live after all. Judge Dredd tells Reeta that she faces fifteen years in iso for conspiracy in a blitz agency murder – unless she co-operates (he doesn’t actually say the sentence will be quashed…) The first attempt comes straight away – Dredd shoots one but can’t capture the other, due to the emotion-sensitive implanted bomb (as seen in the previous Mob Blitzers story way back in Prog 130). When Reeta finds out she’s going to spend the rest of her life at risk from the blitzers she demands Dredd lock her up for her fifteen years.

Malcolm Shaw and Redondo’s Return to Armageddon has the Destroyer set a test for Amtrak to show that his soul has truly been corrupted (meanwhile Snake-bite is being attacked by his own snakes for plotting to leave the planet on their ship). The hell’s angel rescues Eve from the crevasse where she’s about to fall. Eve is a tad confused – by the hell’s angel rescuing her, by the hell’s angel calling Amtrak master, by Amtrak putting the time-belt on her, by being forced to her knees and by Amtrak chopping off her head. But she’s wearing the time belt which was placed around her waist three panels earlier, so there’s not a whole lot of suspense there…

Alan Hebden and Belardinelli show us they yeti/wampa we’ll find out is called Slagheap in this week’s Meltdown Man. King Seth gets chucked into an abyss by Slagheap though not before giving Stone the information he needs to capture the psychic yujee. Looking for an illusion, Stone notices that Slagheap’s tracks in the snow don’t match up with his position and finds that the yujee has the ability to cast his image a few feet away from his real location. Having subjugated Slagheap, Stone heads down the abyss to retrieve Seth, who is pretty much just a comedy character now, having been de-fanged (pun intended) of any threat long ago. While he’s down there, predators turn up and capture the lionman, leaving Slagheap to snivel in his cowardice. Stone sees something in the snivelling Slagheap though, as he’s formulating a plan to get in to Snow City…

Robin Smith presents a back page Star Pin-up in the form of Tharg the Welder! The Editor Strikes Back! (very vaguely in the layout of the Empire Strikes Back logo). This acts as a sequel poster to Kev O’Neill’s Ro-Jaws the Editor poster from a few months back, though without all the sight gags in the background.

Grailpage: Ron Smith’s opening to the Blitz Agencies has it all – a dingy block, two mega-citizens in overly dramatic poses, some kind of public meeting area with crystal plant things in a variety of colours and Charlie, the lizardman agency rep – and everybody is wearing a variety of clothes you’d only see in Mega-City One!

Grailquote: Alan Grant, Nelson Bunker Kreelman: “If these scum wish to destroy Upminster, let them – I’m sure I’m perfectly capable of running the country alone! I’ll see that your deaths are avenged!” King Clarkie the Second: “The rotter! He’d just let his own king die!” Leroy Wedgwood Bunn: “I knew I should never have given him the Ministry!”

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