You can’t go wrong with a Kevin O’Neill cover featuring Nemesis slicing his way through a squad of Terminators in front of a fiery background.
Ro-Jaws’ Nerve Centre. As you can tell, it’s a take-over week as the mouthy sewer droid introduces the prog.
Rogue Trooper by Gerry Finley-Day and Dave Gibbons. If we give titles t un-named episodes based on the biggest letters on the first page then this episode is called “It’s a Glass Zone!” (I suspect that received wisdom is that it’s simply “Glass Zone” though). With episode three it’s time to find out what motivates Rogue as the lone infantryman dreams of the Quartz Zone Massacre. Hinted at, but now we see the Kashans slaughtering the GIs on their first drop to Nu-Earth, starting with Gunnar. Something tells me the next few episodes will show us how Helm and Bagman got chipped. There’s also a hint of friction between the chips and Rogue, but only a hint. Next prog: Clash in Doomsday Valley! – I think that’s the one in a former battlefield littered with giant future-tanks. I should point out that as well as the prog I also picked up a copy of the Titan edition of these stories so I’m more familiar with them than some of the later episodes.
Something else I have the Titan edition of is Nemesis the Warlock Book I (not labelled by book yet) by Pat Mills and Kevin O’Neill. As mentioned last prog – this is a straight run from now on – no vignettes, no side-quests, just fighting, magic and spiritual possession until the end of the Book. Bits I like: Nemesis tells Grobbendonk not to drink the blood of dead Terminators – the response: “Oh, shuggles!” and a call-back later on when Nem tells Grobbendonk to come along – the response this time? “Slurp! Sloop!” This episode is bookended by two images – the first, the Temple of Terminus and the last the assembled chapters of the Terminators: the Inquisition; New Druids; Dervishes; Outriders; Assassins; Dark Brethren and Berzerkers (roleplaying game authors take note).
Tharg’s Future-Shocks: Giant Leap by Kelvin Gosnell and Jesus Redondo (given his full name in the credit card). It’s a bit confusing calling them credit cards – I’ll call them Compu-73E Credit Cards from now on, so you don’t think I’m talking about magnetic bank payment cards. A slower-than-light starship leaves the Solar System headed for Barnard’s Star. The crew are held in suspended animation for the century-long trip (for those who care, the sus-an pods look more than a little like those in Alien, except there’s three of them and the occupants are entirely naked – they don’t get white underwear). Once awakened in the early 23rd century, the crew prepare to be the first to set foot on an extra-solar planet. But Shock! they’re greeted by a delegation of humans! It is quickly explained to them that a faster than light drive was invented a decade after they left Jovian orbit, but that it could only operate within a star’s gravity well and so they couldn’t intercept the Daedelus. The destination of the Daedulus ends up being home to an eighty-year-old Earth colony by the time the crew arrived. What I particularly like about this story is that it doesn’t just stop at the point where the pioneers get beaten to the punch by later travellers, but the Colonel who led the mission looks to the future, eager to use the new technology to get further out.
Judge Dredd: Diary of a Mad Citizen Pt 2. by T.B. Grover and Colin Wilson. After a successful first day, Dobey’s new regime of shooting everybody who gets on his nerves becomes a bit of a liability on the second day, as he shoots both his cab driver (when the driver can’t “take me to Judge Dredd”, the computerised cab, the cab company headquarters, the passengers of a bus and the bus itself. Though on the other hand, al these murders to attract the attention of Judge Dredd, though the ‘showdown’ lasts all of two panels. Day three begins in a “roob cube” under medical supervision. A subtle touch has the Robodoc matter-of-factly telling Dredd: “Worst case of Future Shock I’ve seen for days.” Next prog: “Beware the Gila Munja!”
Strontium Dog: The Kid Knee Caper Part 3 by Alan Grant and Ezquerra. For two pages we get sown the Mutator killing Odgood the Okay and taking his place as ruler of a dozen worlds. Then there’s a slight interruption…
There’s danger on every Road… author unknown, but the art’s by Ron Smith – I’m hoping we’ll get some of his artwork on a non-advert comic page soon – next I can think of will be during Block Mania. Oh, this is an public service announcement for the Green Cross Code, by the way. No GCC Man, but then he was probably busy filming Return of the Jedi…
Back to the Stront. Johnny, Wulf, Kid Knee and the Gronk get to the washroom where Odgood has been killed, but too late (well, obviously, because Odgood is already dead – but more than that, the Mutator in Odgood form has already left on the shuttle to the stateship Benefax). Not one to give up easily, Alpha borrows a sports shuttle (with a promise from Wulf to pay when they get back) and dock with the Benefax – their mission, to kill the fake Odgood as he will changes back in to the Mutator on death. The threat-level isn’t very high as Odgood’s race aren’t very threatening – it doesn’t seem like they’ll present any problems for the S/D agents (not even Kid Knee, though the Mutator himself may be a different kettle of fish).
Competition time – the prizes are uninspiring electronic toys while the contest is to match items with a numbered pic of a Lawmaster. This is a full-page comp followed by another full-page competition, though this one’s an advertisement for an Action Man Electronic Command Centre (looks like some sort of bunker). Even non-winners (“you can’t lose”, so we’ll not call them losers) gets an embroidered identity badge. This is paid for as the price of entry is a toy shop receipt and a name from any Action Man pack. I don’t remember the packaging for early eighties Action Man, so I’m going to guess it’s like the names from Star Wars toys which you had to cut out to send off for limited edition figures. Don’t remember anything about receipts though, from toy shops or elsewhere. No doubt I’ll see an ad for the one time I took part in one of those offers, in about two or three years time.
Tharg the Mighty presents… Things to Come. I miss the Things to Come – wonder what they’d look like today? Probably no free gift of Bubbly Bubble Gum, as Squaxx of the time had to look forward to in Prog 232. Ace Trucking Co will also debut, and there’ll be A Space Trucker’s Dictionary. I’d somehow forgotten about the Trucker Jargon – I’ve no doubt it’ll come back to me, but shall I need to refer to the dictionary?
Towards 2000: The History of the Space Shuttle. This one is mainly about the space race background of the shuttle project, but I said quite a bit about the shuttle last prog, so time for…
…the Grailpage: Kevin O’Neill’s pic of the seven orders of Terminators as Nemesis waits to carry out his plan.
Grailquote: Pat Mills, Brother Gogol: “What is to become of me? I have aided a fiend from hell! I am wretched! I am undone!” Nemesis: “You’re disgusting!”