2000AD Prog 221: “Your racket’s over, creeps – judge this!” Down on the farm with J.D.

Gibson signs this cover with his own name (no Emberton in sight – actually, I didn’t check that last prog’s Dredd story was Emberton or Gibson – flicking forward I see this week’s episode is credited to Emberton… Dredd bursts through a door on a butcher’s hook as he tackles the stookie glanders…

Strontium Dog: Portrait of a Mutant – conclusion by Alan Grant and Ezquerra. There’s one more page of flashback as Johnny Alpha, Ruth and Nelson Bunker Kreelman all attend the funeral of Diane Kreelman. Johnny regrets not having killed Kreelman when he had the chance while NBK promises that he’ll regain power, no matter what it takes. Flashing forward back in to the present, it turns out this meant corruption as Johnny, Wulf and the Gronk prepare to attack Kreelman’s stronghold on the planet Stavros. Scaring off Kreelman’s mercenaries, Johnny goes into the fort alone. Wulf and the Gronk have a cup of strong tea while they wait. Johnny makes short work of NBK, though instead of killing him (or even just taking him in to custody) detonates a time trap, leaving his father to beg for his life for all eternity. As I’ve said in previous posts, I was introduced to many of the characters in this story by a subsequent story, Outlaw. That one acts as a sequel to this one, and I think other than the main three Strontium Dog leads, the other characters won’t reappear at all until that one (I may be wrong, but we’ll see). Anyway, the point of that rambling is that if Johnny had straight out executed NBK – the anti-mutant version of Hitler – instead of leaving him alive but in a time trap because “death would give you an easy way out” then none of that story would happen.

The Mean Arena by Tom Tully and Steve Dillon. This carries on as an impromptu death match in the Slayers’ arena. There’s not much to comment on, the storytelling is good, the art is good as Tallon takes out two more Jensens, though things take a turn when Matt is distracted by what looks like a flying camera (Mega-City One spy-in-the-sky style). I’m not remembering what this is but guessing a reporter is about to appear on the scene, unless Local Annie didn’t skip out on Tallon after all and is in a control room monitoring the situation?

The next page has two adverts, the lower one for Tiger and Speed but the top of the page is devoted to Time Bandits! I love this film! The poster shows the troll galleon atop the giants head (which we only see the top of) as he wades towards the Fortress of Ultimate Darkness. Unfortunately I didn’t see this film at the time it was released (though have seen it at the cinema since).

A full-page ad on the next page for The Palladium Cellars which I’ve never heard of but appears to be either an off-shoot of or contender against Madame Tussaud’s.

A one-pager for the Nerve Centre this week. Tharg plugs Nemesis – starting next week! Time to dig out that link to Mega-City Book Club which covered it!

Judge Dredd: The Mega-Rackets Crime File: 7 The Stookie Glanders part 2 – T.B. Grover’s script is brought to life by Ian Gibson who shows that Ron Smith doesn’t have the monopoly on Dredd wielding two lawgivers at once (alright, alright, the one in the left hand is a very lawgiver-looking rifle). Dredd’s judicial squad deals with the stookers in short order. A nice touch is that one of Dredd’s older colleagues recognises some of the stookers from his early years on the streets – and yet they don’t seem to have aged much. The theme of stookers being users themselves allows Dredd to follow a lead by checking out the computer records and confirming that the Councillor who ‘accidentally’ killed the stookie in decontam last prog is twice the age he looks. This is enough to pay a mid-night visit to Councillor Rudd’s apartment, discovering a stash of stookie pills and sentencing Rudd to a minimum of one year in the iso-cubes. A few days later Dredd visits the cubes to see that Rudd has aged forty years in the intervening time. Looks like Dredd’s activities are having an effect as next prog is “Mob Wars!”

Meltdown Man by Alan Hebden and Belardinelli. Leeshar unleashes (unleeshars?) the super-predators on the general yujee populace. He also takes two of them as additional bodyguards, to the chagrin of the now sidelined Tiger Commander. After a few episodes off, we get to see Gruff again, just as Stone’s gunship is passing overhead – but Stone isn’t interested in pirates. Coincidence time – the rhino yujee with Stone points out that his brother (the black sheep of the family) is one of the pirates, Horn-Nose. They see Billy the Pup get chucked overboard for sass and when Stone sees shark fins (normal sharks, no yujee-ness about them) he puts down the rope ladder. Billy informs Stone that Gruff is on the ship and they follow to a pirate cove. Too late they spot that the cove is surrounded by super-yujees.

Tharg’s Future-Shocks: ‘ang About! by Kelvin Gosnell and Eric Bradbury. This is a good one, and the perfect story for Bradbury’s down-to-earth style of art. A scientist has been found murdered, after an investigation (and a few deaths in the police station) the police detective finds a cassette tape recorded by the scientist before his death. They discovered an alien race appeared on Earth about half a century previously. It looked like a household object yet was not produced in any factory and there was no record of it being invented. There’s also a major clue in the title of the story, framed by a wire-coathanger (which would probably have been ignored by anybody reading it for the first time). There’s not massive amounts of stories where wire coathangers are aliens invading the Earth, but this is one of them!

That’s the end of the content pages – there’s a next prog box (featuring Brother Behell) sharing a page with an advert for Shoot!

The back cover has a full colour advert for Clash of the Titans. In the old days a colour ad on the back would lead to an extra colour page within the prog – no more.

Grailpage: Belardinelli’s shark being deprived of a snack in the form of Billy the Pup harks back to Flesh Book II!

Grailquote: I’m tempted to pick Nelson Bunker Kreeman’s ‘final words’ but maybe I’ll get another chance… Meanwhile – Alan Grant, Wulf Sternhammer: “Ve haf der brew-up, Gronk. Johnny vill not be long.” Gronk: “Make it very strong, Mr Wulf! All this excitements is bad for my poor heartses!” Also, T.B. Grover, stookie glander: “Don’t gut him! It’s Bill!” – actually there’s a few good lines from this week’s Dredd, so let’s just stick with that Strontium Dog one!

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