2000AD Prog 220: “No surrender!” Portrait of a Mutant nears its chill-powered climax-inside!

From the trailer at the end of last week’s prog, I thought this would be the last episode of Portrait of a Mutant – the tagline this week instead suggests it’s nearly over, but not quite – maybe it’s just the flashback that’s going to finish, and then we’ll scoot ahead in to the present? Whatever the case may be, this prog we get a Carlos cover showing Johnny surrounded by a war montage.

Strontium Dog: Portrait of a Mutant Part 18 by Alan Grant and Ezquerra. Yep – so briefy, this episode zooms through the final stages of the guerilla war by the Mutant Army in two half-page panels and a further half-page montage, similar to the cover. Then the war is wrapped up by Prime Minister Leroy Wedgewood Bunn and King Clarkie the Second when they summon Nelson Bunker Kreelman and confront him with a few truths, as supplied by Johnny’s sister Ruth (who then emigrates with Nigel, as we saw in the pages of Starlord a few years earlier). The PM meets with the mutant generals at Stonehenge to introduce the status quo we know: the extermination camps are closed; the Kreelers are disbanded; mutant ghettos are established in cities and the four generals are exiled from the planet. Blackmailed with his family secrets, Kreelman resigns while many mutants leave the planet with their former generals. The generals themselves are among those skilled fighters who join the newly formed Search/Destroy Agency. Looks like that’s it for the flashback. There’s one particular scene which highlights how the words and pictures in comics can work in synergy. The words say that the Kreelers are replaced by a new government peacekeeping force while the pictures show that both forces comprise the exact same people, just in different uniforms. I can’t imagine it’d be much more fun to be a mutant encountering the new peacekeeping force than the old Kreelers.

The Mean Arena by Tom Tully and Steve Dillon. The Jensen Clan establish their credentials by taking out a few training droids, while Tallon internal monologues about High Noon (again) and how he’s going to put on his symbol of authority – the Slayer body armour. Tallon draws first blood by taking out Max Jensen with a limpet-mine attached to a street-ball. Max is pretty stupid, and now Max is pretty dead. Helpfully, Tallon has set up the score-board to count how many people he’s going to kill. The score according to Kosi-Fex now stands at Talon… 1 Jensens… 0.

1981 Readers Profiles – another four, though this time one of the earthlets profiled is one Warren Ellis of Benfleet, Essex. 13-year-old Warren was interested in model assembly kits, a Judge Dredd fan club and a Judge Dredd uniform. Other than Judge Dredd (by inference) there’s no record of what stories or types of story young Warren liked.

The Nerve Centre has a plug for the forthcoming Judge Death Lives in Prog 224, plus a full-fledged advert for the first Titan edition of Judge Dredd (His Greatest Adventures), available from Forbidden Planet in Denmark Street.

Judge Dredd: The Mega-Rackets Crime File: 7 The Stookie Glanders by T.B. Grover and Ian Gibson. We start this story at West Gate South. I’m not sure how many gates there are supposed to be between the Cursed Earth and Mega-City one, but if they’re based only on the cardinal directions then there’s not going to be many… Anyway, an alien makes a run for it away from a truck that’s just entering the city – the species of alien alerts the gate judges that there’s something untoward about the truck. Dredd stops the truck but kills the driver, so there’s no leads there. We get history lesson on the Stookie (for that is what species the alien was) and how it’s gland can reverse aging in humans. Following the banning of stookie gland products in Mega-City One after it was discovered that they were a sentient species, racketeers set up Cursed Earth factory farms. During the decontam procedure, a city councillor ‘accidentally’ knocks a temperature control, boiling the stookie before he can speak to the judges. Despite this, a map is found tattooed on to the dead stookie’s body and an attack begins on the factory farm in the Cursed Earth. It’s obvious that the councillor is crooked. I know how his sub-story is going to end up, though I think it’s more through remembering from previous times I read this story than through deduction.

Meltdown Man by Alan Hebden and Belardinelli has Stone retrieve his machine gun and take out the super-yujee before it can kill Liana. Stone, the-still-un-named rhino yujee, Liana, T-Bone and Louis escape the complex via a drainage system – though not before seeing a storage warehouse for thousands of super-yujees who are being activated by Leeshar. Belardinelli has a great time depicting various super-yujees from before their design was standardised.

Tharg’s Future-Shocks: Hen-Pecked Henry by Steve Moore and Jose Casanovas – is this the first time Casanovas has been credited with his given name as we as surname? Distractingly, the lead character in this Shock is called Henry Higgins – there’s nothing Pygmalion (or even My Fair Lady)-like about this tale though. The sheen has gone from Henry and Matilda’s marriage, but rather than try to work at their relationship, Henry instead spends time in the spare room spending money on components to create electro-relativistic quantum-oscillator (portal to another world) which he uses to escape his marriage. Straight away he encounters Melissa and they marry. He soon finds out people age faster in this dimension and by the time she’s 48 (the same age Matilda was when he ran out on her) their marriage has achieved pretty much the same state his previous marriage had. He pulls the same trick, locking himself in a makeshift workshop and skipping away to a new dimension. Even faster than previously, he encounters Marina, establishes that there are the right number of days in a year but completely fails to notice the sun rising and climbing half-way up the sky in the time it takes to have a brief conversation. Within two years (it’s never actually stated how old Henry is) his new new wife has reached the age of 48. Rather than look at the common factor in all his failed relationships (i.e. himself) Henry bemoans his situation. In case you hadn’t picked up on it, this tale is a little misogynistic… You know, having just watched a video of Rex Harrison playing the film version of Henry Higgins, maybe they do have something in common after all…

Grailpage: for the juxtaposition between words and images, Carlos’s page containing the Kreelers becoming peacekeepers has to win it this prog.

Grailquote: Alan Hebden, Nick Stone: “By the beards of my ancestors… thousands of super-yujees! Must be part of Leeshar’s production line. Incredible!” Leeshar: “I tought you’d appreciate it, Stone! But they’re not production lines… They’re storage warehouses!”

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