2000AD Prog 216: The synthetti men are out to get you!

Another prog, another iconic cover from Brian Bolland. There’s not many comics where a spaghetti (sorry, synthetti) monster is going to emerge from a plate, reaching out for you!

Strontium Dog: Portrait of a Mutant Part 14 by Alan Grant and Ezquerra. Despite their threat to explode Upminster with everybody inside, when faced with a real mass murderer, the mutant generals have no option but to surrender, though they make sure to do so to King Clarkie the Second and the Government of New Britain – not to Kreelman. In response the prime minister whom Kreelman would have seen dead promises to do what he can for mutants while the King resolves to set up a Royal Commission on Mutant Rights. What can’t be avoided is for the mutant generals to be charged at a court presided over by Kreelman. He, of course, finds them all guilty and sentences them to death. Later that night he informs his wife that he saw their son, and then sentenced him to death. She doesn’t take it well, and enlists her daughter’s help to smuggle a gun to Johnny. Another great episode, resolving the ultimatum without any padding and moving on to scenes showing the mutant generals in captivity awaiting their sentence to be carried out.

Time for adverts – Battle Action takes the top of the page (with free sweets) while the bottom of the page shows the third part of the Clash of the Titans comic trailer. Perseus kills a two-headed wolf-dog but doesn’t encounter any mechanical owls. If you think that Bubo the owl is pretty much the only thing I can remember about this film, you’d be right.

Tharg’s Future-Shocks: The Man Who Was Too Clever by Peter Milligan (2000AD debut?) and Brett Ewins. Sammy Molloy is on the run from the police after a bank raid. He’s utterly ruthless, not giving a second thought to killing people just to buy a few seconds diversion. While on the expressway (monorail train) he spots a headline in a newspaper about a controversial new rapid cloning technique. At gunpoint, he forces the scientist involved to make a clone of Molloy. Once done to his satisfaction, Molloy ushers the clone out on the streets to get caught by the police and give the ‘real’ Molloy the freedom to escape with his ill-gotten gains. The scientist tries to give a warning, but as is the way of things (in short stories, at least) Molloy shoots him out-of-hand. Giving the clone about three hours to get caught he slips out of the laboratory, only to encounter the clone. What the scientist was trying to say was that the clone had the same skills at avoiding the police that he did, and leaves the body to be found by the police, allowing the clone to live the life of luxury with the bank takings, free from pursuit. It’s a neat tale, and harking back to the earlier one-offs. I’m liking the mix of connected Shocks with one-offs.

Next is a full-page ad for ‘Comics Day at Tucktonia’. I’d never heard of Tucktonia until it appeared in a previous prog, about a year earlier. This one features the opportunity to meet the editors of 2000AD, Tiger, Battle (Battle Action, surely) and Roy of the Rovers.

A one-page Nerve Centre this week, featuring Tharg the Flanned (victim of the Phantom Flan Flinger). I’m tending to post these blogs for a run of progs, then (after I’ve scheduled them) listen to the Space Spinner 2000 episode to see what Conrad and Fox made of the progs in question. I’m wondering if such a specific early 1980s British pop cultural reference is going to get mentioned! In the Thargnote, TMO harks back to Thrill-Power Unleashed in Prog 178 and teases four new series starting soon – Mega-Thrill-Power is on its way. I can work out what three of these series are – Nemesis the Warlock, Rogue Trooper and Ace Garp. I’m wondering what the last one is. A reader claims not to have seen any photographs of Tharg – either a new reader or not very observant, though it gives Tharg the chance to plug both the 1981 Sci-Fi Special and the forthcoming 2000AD Annual 1982. The last letter concerns the pronounciation of Cursed Earth. Tharg comes down on the Curse-Ed side.

Judge Dredd: the Mega-Rackets Crime File: 5 The Psycos! by T.GB. Grover and Barry Mitchell, whose work we haven’t seen for ages. In fact, this is the last of a handfull of stories he’ll contribute to 2000AD (and Tornado – he did a few Lawless Touches). This one introduces psychic abilities to the criminal underworld of Mega-City One, using psykers to predict the outcome of jobs, detect informants but mainly to put pressure on unwilling ‘customers’ who won’t buy insurance policies from the mobs. Dredd knows that Rex Squeers is a top psyker for Third Eye Insurance, but can’t prove anything, so turns on the pressure. This is like the sustained hate campaign he waged against Otto Sump, but this one actually deserves it. Knowing that Squeers has a hot temper, the Dredd hopes the repeated searches and public humilations will make the psychic perp careless. It looks to be working…

Return to Armageddon from Malcolm Shaw and Redondo starts with Amtrak predictably using the time belt to return Eve’s head to her body. With the extra time that the deception has bought, Amtrak comes up with a Plan B, to somehow become part of the Destroyer again (for the Destroyer expelled all good into the form of Amtrak to heighten his power). How to do this? Through force of will! What does that mean? It means giving the Destroyer a big hug the next time Amtrak sees him. And then have Eve strike with the sword before the Destroyer recovers… I’m thinking this series only has one or two episodes left.

Meltdown Man from Alan Hebden and Belardinelli. Ever since Gruff got nabbed by the pirates and I spotted one of the rhino yujees I’ve been wondering how long it would be until another rhino yujee turns up. The first panel of this week’s episode is when, having to put up with being in the cell between an arguing T-Bone and Pole-Axe. During a temporary haitus in the arguing the Leeshar turns up with his new captive, Louis the lionman. On the other side of the ice lake, Stone hijacks a yacht though Tiger Commander is one step ahead, and following his advice Leeshar has a catapult ready to fire fireballs at Stone and Seth. Slagheap, too afraid to get aboard the yacht prepares to project his powers half-way across the lake – the furthest he’s ever projected them before. Next prog: Deception! Wasn’t that the next prog tag for Return to Armageddon the other week?

There’s two whole pages of adverts before the end of the prog – one a spot-the-difference competition to win a trip to Cape Kennedy if you can count how many differences there are between the two pictures (I count thirteen). To check I’ll need to go to the office of Anglo Bellamy Ltd, Halifax, after 31st December 1981. Hope it’s not too late. Oh, after the competition and the rules there’s half a page left for next prog’s trailer.

On the back page is our very first glimpse of one of the new series starting soon – it has the word WAR written in huge letters in the background, is by Dave Gibbons and features a character with blue skin.

Grailpage: it has to be Bolland’s cover – so good it inspired a cosplay!

Grailquote: Alan Grant, Diana Kreelman (on being told that Nelson saw Johnny alive earlier that day: “This is wonderful news! Did you… Did you speak to him?” NBK: “I did a damn sight more than speak to him, my dear – I sentenced the traitorous little mutie to death! You look a little pale, my dear. Have you been taking your pills?”

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