2000AD Prog 225: Dark Justice in Mega-City One!

After two weeks of O’Neill Nemesis covers, Bolland is on his second Judge Death cover – this time joined by Judges Fear, Fire and Mortis. It’s good, though very similar to the last page of last week’s episode of Dredd (though with added Death). This prog had a cover date of Saturday 15th August 1981 and would have been on sale on Monday the 10th.

The Nerve Centre tells of an office move – so looks like Kings Reach Tower got shuffled about at some point in early 1981… A reader tells of their visit to the Aaaarrgghhh! comic exhibition where they met Steve Dillon and Burt. Another points out that the Judge Child was not brought to the city and yet the city has not been destroyed. Tharg neglects to point out that the prediction said that this would happen in 2120, and the current year in JD is still 2103… A Krill Tro Thargo ges to somebody who helped out at Tucktonia Comics Day – I wonder what the story behind that was?

Strontium Dog: The Gronk Affair Part 2 by Alan Grant and Ezquerra. Johnny and Wulf arrive on Blas, flying over the Netherglades(es) – a place full of things(es) that bite(s) where no gronks(es) ever goes – I’m paraphrasing the Gronk there, as you can probably tell, and can’t help feeling that this place might be visited before the end of the story… A catcher-craft lands and begins killing Gronks before Wulf and Johnny intervene. One catcher manages to escape (or at least to get to a communicator) and warns the Weerd Brothers that “two guys” have arrived and are wiping them out… Hoping for an explanation of how the Weerds escaped the Hell Planet soon – wasn’t the planet destroyed just after Alpha left?

Nemesis the Warlock by Pat Mills and Kevin O’Neill has the village bigots on Earth’s End capture Nemesis. As they try, and fail, to extract the Blitzspear from Fiend’s Rock, Nemesis staggers to his feet and we get the first proper reveal of the full-length warlock in the pages of the prog (and it’s not dissimilar to that in the 1981 Sci-Fi Special). Nosedrip is dared to punch Nemesis but is too afraid, so the Simon Two Shanks – the butcher – strikes, making a big deal about “how this fist smashed the great Nemesis!” Hawberk the Robot-Smith decides that they should hang the warlock. Widow Grundy leads the villagers to take the warlock’s armour from him – you could say uncovering him (do you think these things may become relevant?) Anyway, they take Nemesis back to their village and hang the naked warlock and nothing happens. On the first day. Or the second day. On the third night a scream comes from the village as “the creature on the gallows swung slowly in the wind”… An atmospheric episode which did a great reveal of Nemesis on the turn of the second page before setting up a few bits of poetic justice.

Next up is the adverts and trailers page – the top half is for the signing of annuals on Saturday the 15th of August 1981 – the same as this prog’s cover date (so I’ll be covering the 2000AD and Judge Dredd annuals before the next prog). At the bottom is a re-run of a Heller model kits advert. Squeezed between these two in a narrow strip is a trailer for Rogue Trooper – actually naming him, along with Nu Earth and giving a date for the series premier – Prog 228.

Ro-Jaws’ 2000AD Film Review this week covers Outland and Clash of the Titans, one page each. Outland is the Sean Connery film originally with an AA certificate, now with a 15 cert. The set up seems quite similar to current thrill Brink in some ways. If I keep on schedule then I’ll be covering Brink in about 2025 or so – be patient! As for Clash of the Titans, Ro-Jaws acknowledges that this film was released in a ‘post-Star Wars’ era, though fails to predict that this will be Harryhausen’s last film before retirement.

Judge Dredd: Judge Death Lives part 2 by T.B. Grover and Brian Bolland. The Dark Judges get to work on the mega-citizen who freed Death – and we get to see their special powers – Judge Fire’s is immediately obvious, though we get told that the touch of Judge Mortis brings decay. As Dredd speeds towards the apartment of the now-dead mega-citizen, the other three DJs apply the dead fluids, allowing Death to possess the body. As he dons his garb of office (Deadworld judge uniform) ‘the shield’ is activated and they start to judge the living of Billy Carter Block. Once the slaughter begins the other residents of the block try to escape, dying in their hundreds against the shield. A fantastic episode which didn’t waste time to get back in to the thick of the action.

Tharg’s Future-Shocks: Seeing is Believing! from Kelvin Gosnell and Colin Wilson. This starts with a typical suburban neighbourhood which is suddenly attacked by space invaders – by which they’re alien spaceships which look like the ships from the 1970s and 1980s space invaders games. The protagonist reacts immediately as this is a usual thing to happen on a Sunday afternoon and breaks out anti-aircraft cannon, until he’s hit. He comes to sat on the sofa while the family watches TV, his wife telling him that they lost a few points that time. You’ve probably guessed that this means they’re all in a computer game and that he has (in modern parlance) re-spawned. Unlike the others, he has difficulty coming to terms with this and tries to escape, passing a tank battle on the way before coming up to a barrier covered in a picture of a landscape. A few landscapes later he is greeted by a huge face which explains that the neighbourhood was destroyed in an explosion when a plane carrying a neutron bomb crashed, that their personality profiles were captured electronically but that this process was expensive and so they’re hired out to computer game designers to test their games. I guess this Shock would have been more difficult to predict in our gaming culture-dominated, post-Matrix world. This isn’t the last time that Colin Wilson will illustrate digitised people in a cyber-world.

Meltdown Man from Alan Hebden and Belardinelli has Leeshar order a million yujees be thrown into the vats to amass enough raw materials for whole armies of super-predators to be produced. He also dismisses Tiger Commander, telling his one-time henchman (henchcat?) to take a long vacation. Tiger Commander is having doubts, which are galvanised when some minks refuse to carry out the orders – fearful of the response from every yujee in the land. Billy leads Stone towards Pole-Axe (and the Cruise missile), who has arranged to meet with Leeshar (who is bringing along half a division of super-predators). Stone manages to get Pole-Axe in his sights (at gunpoint) but when distracted by the arrival of Leeshar’s gunships the polar bear locks himself under a steel-lined trapdoor with the missile. Leeshar arrives, a super-predator grabs Pole-Axe, pinning him so he can’t escape and the polar bear is dropped from a great height by the same gunships that take away the missile. Back at Snow City, Tiger Commander has studied the blueprints of the eugenics complex and worked out how to destroy it. After the sudden deaths of King Seth and Pole-Axe, I’m hoping Tiger Commander’s plan doesn’t involve self-sacrifice – I’ve got a remembered image in my mind of the plan being carried out but can’t remember if the Tiger makes it to the end of the series or not… There’s a nice touch in the first panel where one of the scientists trying to construct a super-predator is having… difficulties… attaching a tentacle, which doesn’t want to go on.

On the back page are four more Mean Arena teams submitted by readers – which just highlights how long it is since that episode where we were promised a match ‘next prog’. Two out of the four look, to me, like they might have been copied from other sources.

Grailpage: I love that pseudo-early Victorian village on Earth’s End, so have to go for Kevin O’Neill’s page showing Nemesis being dragged into the settlement, shown from a high angle looking down. The next page isn’t bad either.

Grailquote: Pat Mills, Earth’s End settler: “The Terminators burn a lot of ’em at the stake!” Other Earth’s End settler: “I dunno… I reckon he might enjoy that!”

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