2000AD Prog 217: Universal Havoc! It’s the Platinum Horde’s last stand!

I thought it was an image from Block Mania at first, but no, this is a different group of marauders on Mick McMahon’s latest cover.

Strontium Dog: Portrait of a Mutant Part 15 by Alan Grant and Ezquerra. Johnny’s sister Ruth manages to sneak a blaster to her brother, but Johnny decides not to use it, as the gains the Mutant Army made will be lost if they blast their way out. Meanwhile in the New British Parliament, Kreelman calls for extermination camps to be set up and every mutant in New Britain to be wiped out. The news makes it way down to the cells as the Kreeler guards taunt their prisoners – this is all Johnny needs to use the blaster. By the way, the extreme ‘final solution’ passed by three votes, so almost half of the politicians in parliament had a shred of humanity about them. Shame about the rest!

Nerve Centre. The latest plug for the Judge Dredd Annual 1982 reveals there will be a feature by one Harley Norton doing a Lawmaster road test. An earthlet asks what 2000AD will be called in the year 2000. Tharg tells them to be patient as the situation is 19 years away. It’s now 20 years away, in the other direction. One of the pictures was drawn by William Hague, though probably not the politician.

Tharg’s Future-Shocks: The Last Rumble of the Platinum Horde! by Alan Moore and John Higgins. This story starts on the planet Karbong, home of the Karbongian Empire. The Karbongi are ruthless and vicious, which explains their rich and powerful empire which rules supreme across the known universe. They have a quandary. They live to kill, burn and pillage, but find there is no-one left to conquer. The King of the Karbongi comes up with an idea – to assemble the most gore-crazed warriors and assemble them in to the Platinum Horde of the title. The legacy the Empire will leave the universe is this horde, being set to head out in a straight line and destroy everything in their path. They do this for hundreds, then thousands of years. After a billion years they’re starting to wear out – their ships are suffering from metal fatigue and they can no longer reproduce. They resolve to go out in a blaze of glory. When they come across one more civilisation they find it used to be a big empire but grew old and weak through inactivity. You may well be able to guess how this ends. I can’t, because the ending of this tale has lived with me for the last thirty-something years, but I still like the reveal (the last empire they hit was their homeworld, because the universe is circular).

Robin Smith provides a one-page advert beseeching Earthlets to place a reservation for 2000AD at their local newsagent – and to rope in a friend too.

Judge Dredd: The Mega-Rackets Crime File: 5 The Psycos part 2 by T.B. Grover and Barry Mitchell. Squeers retaliates – he can’t touch Dredd directly because judges are trained to resist psychic attack, but he can attack citizens around Dredd. After a hover transporter crashes next to Dredd he orders a full brain search of Squeers. This involves pitting a psi-judge against Squeers, rotating them every fifteen minutes for twelve hours. Upon release they still haven’t broken him, but he has the same to look forward to the next day. His boss sends a message to Squeers – lay off the judge, it’s bringing undue attention to Third Eye Insurance. Squeers uses the insurance salesmen who took him home from the interrogation to go after Dredd, but they don’t last long, crashing in to the dockside waters. Dredd summons Squeers’ boss to the waterfront and the next day Squeers himself is fished out of the waters… As with previous stories, this one has a small victory, but the organised crime gangs still survive.

Return to Armageddon from Malcolm Shaw and Redondo. Will it be the last episode? Will Eve strike the merged Destroyer/Amtrak? Last question first – she does, and ice forms around the gestalt entity (it looks like the Destroyer, but with an Amtrak head on the side). The crystal which I think I forgot to mention but has been hovering above all this time comes down and a door opens. They get aboard as Shadow is killed by one of Snake-bite’s snakes. The snake slithers aboard the ship as it heads for the Crystals of Eternity. They arrive to find the Triads alive and in physical form. Amtrak’s life is saved and he is released from the ice as the Destroyer has himself been destroyed. The Triads discuss events – less than one hundred planets have been destroyed and Matrix, one of the Triads has achieved the lowest score ever… The answer to the first question? Nope, this isn’t the last episode, but the next will be – though now that everything has been reveaed as a game I can’t imagine how it can be stretched over the usual four pages (I still remember what the last panel consists of though).

Meltdown Man by Alan Hebden and Belardinelli has the bombardment continue until Stone leaps from the sinking yacht with the snake in a bag, King Seth. As if to make up for his ineffectiveness of late, he hypnotises Stone to offer himself up to Leeshar. Slagheap manages to cast his psychic powers to protect Stone and project his image to the side, causing Tiger Commander to miss him. Seth breaks the ice under Slagheaps feet, allowing Leeshar to see Stone’s true position though Stone, now free from Seth’s influence can defend himself. Seth apparently gets run over by Leeshar’s ice yacht – if so, it’s a bit of a low-key ending for the snake, who’s been with us for over half a year. Slagheap’s death by drowning is less ambiguous as Leeshar and Tiger Commander corner Stone next to the ice hole.

More adverts, the most important of which reveals that the Mean Arena is back next prog, and meaner than ever! Is this the fourth story vaunted by Tharg? I’m assuming it means new stories, but you never know…

Not content with the front cover, Mike McMahon aso provides Buggo the Brave and Uglika at the end of the prog (along with their child).

Grailpage: Mick McMahon wins it with the cover featuring the Platinum Horde of the Karbongi rushing in to battle with interesting clothes and interesting weapons – they wouldn’t look entirely out of place in either the afore-mentioned Block Mania episodes (except for the swords) or, much later, Slaine (except for the guns).

Grailquote: T.B. Grover, Judge Dredd: “I’ll never be happy til the last psyco has been wiped out and the city is free from their bloodsucking protection rackets – and even then I doubt it.”

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