2000AD Prog 224: Judge Death Lives! in Judge Dredd

After two Nemesis the Warlock covers by Kevi O’Neill it’s time for Brian Bolland to take a turn to make up for the distinct lack of Judge Death during his first three-prog run. There’s not going to be many surprises in the actual story as we see a perp encountering the spirit form of Death as he seeps from Anderson’s Boing® encasement.

Tharg points out that the start of Judge Death Lives and the return of Strontium Dog more than justify the extra one pension which earthlets are going to have to pay for the prog in this week’s Nerve Centre. There’s also something about a forthcoming Dredd story answering some questions from an earthlet about the logistics, politics and/or economics of Mega-City One. I’m not so sure – no stories spring to mind and we won’t have many progs to go between Judge Death Lives and before Block Mania starts.

Strontium Dog: The GronK Affair Part 1 by Alan Grant and Ezquerra. How do you follow up a magnum opus such as Portrait of a Mutant? By concentrating on Gronks, apparently. This starts with a flash-forward to set up the situation – the Gronk has been called to homeworld Blas in the Gallego system as there is an emergency. As the gronks keep themselves to themselves this must truly be an emergency. After the intro we find out what the emergency is – Hiss and Cuss Weerd (last seen in the ‘present day’ left behind by Aplha in Hellworld and in flashback in Portrait of a Mutant) are now renegade Stronts working as fur-trappers for an alien gourmet. Turns out he isn’t averse to eating sentient lifeforms and so the Weerds use him to help set a trap for Alpha (accompanied by a new Brother I don’t think we saw before – an egg-headed mutant named Silent). Slaughtering and skinning hundreds of gronks, we’re left in no doubt who the bad guys are in this story, as they fake a telegram sent to Search/Destroy HQ (the Doghouse) to lure Johnny in.

Nemesis the Warlock by Pat Mills and Kevin O’Neill. Tomas is back and makes the death of the deviant Nemesis the top priority of the Terminators. Nem is baited by a disguised starship ‘known’ to carry the mannar harvest yet protected by only two dervish fighters. The moment he attacks in the blitzspear the starship is revealed as a camouflaged man’o’war and quickly wings the blitzspear, sending it to crash on the planet below. Nosedrip, an ill-regarded lowly villager on the planet of Earth’s End sees it heading towards Fiend’s Rock – an appropriate place for it to crash-land. A posse is raised and rushes to the Rock to discover that Nemesis has been thrown clear of the blitzspear (made from a living metal). For the third time we get a ‘reveal’ of Nemesis – the first was in Olric’s Great Quest – though many earthlets would have missed that one was it was in the relatively expensive Sci-Fi Special – the second was on the un-announced cover to Prog 222. As this is only a shot of the head, we’ll get another next prog, full body.

Tharg includes a mini-plug for a forthcoming annuals signing – more details next prog!

Ro-Jaws’ 2000AD Film Review gives a full page each to Condorman and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Note that’s Raiders of the Lost Ark, not Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. Curiously the words Condorman and Raiders are in virtually the same font… I remember liking Condorman at the time (I don’t think I saw it at the cinema, but I may have seen it the first time it was broadcast on TV) and I know I wouldn’t have seen Indiana Jones until it was shown on TV one christmas. I did not remember that Condorman was played by Michael Crawford, who I’d only have known from Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em. Ro-Jaws reveals that the comic pages shown in Condorman are possibly drawn by a Superman artist – though after ten minutes of research I still haven’t been able to establish who did them. I’d say a few words about Raiders of the Lost Ark, but you’re probably heard of that film. And seen it too.

The next story gets its own custom logo (as wel as the series ogo) as Judge Death Lives in Judge Dredd (part 1). Still encased in Boing® (disappointingly the italics and registered trademark aren’t preserved in this episode, but I’m going to put them in anyway) Anderson is the object of particular interest for one citizen visiting the Justice Department Hall of Heroes. After the doors have closed, the mega-citizen uses a laser cutter to slice through the Boing®, which lets out the smoky form of Judge Death’s spirit. Slicing their way through a few judges following the sharp rise in temperature in the Anderson Annexe, the mega-citizen makes his way back to Billy Carter Block where he discovers his wife or girlfriend’s dead body. Apparently he carried out his task to save her life – though making deals with close-helmeted, decaying skulled or enflamed judges is not often a good indicator of a positive outcome.

Tharg’s Future-Shocks: The Machine! by Kelvin Gosnell and Redondo. I like this one – it’s a tale of increasing computerisation involving a small chemist “thirty miles from London”. The first sign that something strange is happening is when the latest delivery includes disaster supplies – something they’ve never stocked before. While discussing the apparent mistake, the van that brought the supplies crashes outside, as a result of metal fatigue, and the supplies are needed. Shortly afterwards plague vaccine arrives, a day before an virus is announced escaped from a local laboratory. This is followed by suntan lotion, just before a November heatwave. Calling the warehouse, the manager there is just as perplexed as this is happening all over – though he has a theory. What if all the computers have linked up and are using their collective data to predict when the wheel would give way on the van, that the virus had escaped, that the heatwave was on its way? While the chemist cogitates over this theory the latest delivery arrives. It contains gasmasks, decontamination fluid and burn ointment – in short, everything needed to cope with a sneak nuclear attack! The story ends with an airburst above Parliament Square…

Alan Hebden and Belardinelli are back with Meltdown Man. Northway may be aflame, but the dead floating in the water are super-predators. Pulling close to the docks, Stone finds out that desert brigands arrived soon after the super-predators and that the fighting moved along the coast. Catching up with them, Stone is just in time to encounter Caleb the Camelman’s last stand – Gonzales is dead, but his brother Speedy takes revenge – not so much unaffected by the fear-projection powers the super-predators have, as stirred by fear to become (even more of) a frenzied killing machine. Stone has a plan to take out the super-predator production facility at Snow City, though this is thwarted when Pole-Axe turns up and steals the Cruise missile in yet another attempt to make a deal with Leeshar.

Now that Nemesis’ visage is fully out in the open, we get a Star Pin-Up from Kevin O’Neill showing the warlock.

Wonder what happened to the Slayers vs the Penzance Riggers? (There was no Mean Arena this prog).

Grailpage: a bit of an understated one this week (despite the return of Brian Bolland) but I’m going to pick O’Neill’s page of Nemesis showing the blitzspear being hit by the man’o’war. I love the design of the dervish fighters, even though they only ever appear in a couple of panels – one of which is on this page. Something else I like is the village on Earth’s End, which we get our first view of here as well.

Grailquote: Alan Hebden, Caleb the Camelman: “I forgot Speedy descends from the big cats. Fear and terror do not paralyse him… but turn him instead into a frenzied killing machine! So let us follow his example… – and die gloriously!”

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