Colin Wilson took over as artist on last prog’s Rogue and also provides this week’s cover as the blue boy accuses one of the assembled Souther generals of being a Nort spy – but which one?
The Nerve Centre has a letter from an earthlet who claims to have been reading since Prog 1, but wishes to know what ‘Spundig vur Thrigg’ means. As Tharg points out, they should know by now (it’s not like Tharg doesn’t include a Betelgeusian lexicon in every jumping-on prog) – though still prints a few run-down of a few words and phrases anyway. Another reader bemoans the Earthlet vs Terran debate, but muddies the waters by claiming the title Solarian (in the same way Tharg is a Betelgeusian, not a Quaxxanian).
Rogue Trooper by Gerry Finley-Day and Colin Wilson. Wilson opens this with a fantastic shot of a Souther launch site that could have come out of a European graphic album (where they know how to treat comic art). Rogue easily sneaks aboard a shuttle headed for Buzzard-Three, one of the Millicom satellites which watches Nu-Earth. Everything seems to be going swimmingly – he confronts the generals, the generals point out that Rogue and the biochips are technical deserters, but they don’t seem to hold that against them – particularly when Rogue reveals that the Quartz Zone Massacre was as a result of a tip-off from one of the generals in that room. But wait a minute – narratives don’t tend to play out like this, do they? Stories revolve around conflict, and everybody’s being far too friendly – oh, wait a minute – an outgoing signal from the command room has been detected and a Nort missile is now headed towards the Buzzard-Three. That’s more like it!
The Double-Decker Dome: An Abelard Snazz Story, written by (of course) Alan Moore and illustrated by Mike White, who’s getting quite a bit of work in the prog lately. For the second time, a Snazz story starts with the genius being rescued from deep space – this time he’s been frozen for two thousand years and Edwin is but a misshapen lump or iron, just about capable of repeating the barely-recognisable mantra of “you are a genius”. Who has rescued Snazz this time? A race of pessimistic Farbians who take their cue from Eeyore the depressed donkey or Marvin the android, always willing to look on the dark side of life, and not in the Gothic sense. Though after their recap of the history of their peoples, you can’t blame them, having encountered the various planet, civilisation and culture-destroying creatures that we’ve met throughout Alan Moore’s Future-Shocks over the past year, it’s no surprise they expect the worst. This time they have three problems facing them (and it has to be said, these are likely to destroy them once and for all): a weed which kills all other plants; an energy crisis and last but not least, a black hole. All is fine though, as Snazz is there, and bears a startling resemblance to their god – and if he can’t come up with a solution then he shall be thrown to the piranha-dogs. Knowing Snazz, he’ll probably come up with a solution, but there shall be a fatal flaw and he’ll end up being thrown to the piranha-dogs anyway – next prog…
Towards 2000: Back from the Nuclear Edge? Space Wars II. Those titles and sub-heading should probably be in a different order, but they’re scattered around the pages of this article.
Judge Dredd: Block Mania Part Two by T.B. Grover and Mike McMahon. The second half of McMahon’s Block Mania episodes opens with another great splash image, this one of Dredd’s team: two hover-gunship things (not H-Wagons), nine Lawmasters and thirteen judges to ride/pilot them (you can tell I’m thinking this would make a great scenario for the Judge Dredd Miniatures Game (currently winding down dispatching of orders due to covid-19, but hopefully starting up again soon), can’t you)? They get called Pat-Wagons later in the page… Reinforcements are not available to deal with the rapidly escalated situation of six blocks at war with each other and so Dredd has to handle them virtually single-handed (with the help of some Stumm Gas and a cannon from an upturned pat-wagon). Called to report to the Chief Judge with top priority, Griffin reveals that block wars have broken out across the northern sectors – the city is facing a crisis. Though apparently Mike McMahon did not fancy drawing a crisis involving thousands more blockers fighting each other, but let’s see who gets brought in to replace him next prog (yes, I know most of you probably already know).
Tharg’s Future-Shocks: A Little Problem by Steve Moore and J. Johnson. An alien arrives on Earth from another planet or dimension and tries to make a new life for himself here. He doesn’t get the most friendly of receptions though does seem pretty good at getting jobs without being any good at them (he’s just not very good at keeping them – at least three in one week). Rejected by the jobcentre (or whoever handled giving people dole money in the early eighties) as well as his employers, landlady, homeless people, those in the library (where he does lots of studying – wonder if that will come in handy later) and then a bunch of skinheads he ends up declaring war on the planet Earth and he does it in full accordance with the law (that’s where the reading came in). With nobody wanting to take responsibility it gets kicked around and then upstairs, eventually ending up before the Security Council. He gives the members of the Security Council a chance to surrender (Earth doesn’t take that chance), then takes out a Newton’s Cradle. Setting it in motion, black waves emanate from it, shaking the whole building and seeming to grow in size (he isn’t actually – it’s the planet that’s shrinking). The story ends with Earth reduced to another ball on the Cradle. The story is fair enough but comes a bit soon after after the dimensional twist of the previous prog’s Future-Shock (both stories also had fanzine-style artwork which looks rather like ‘first professional appearance’).
The Mean Arena by Tom Tully and Eric Bradbury is back on art. The visitor to Tallon’s luxury apartment block turns out to be that robot surgeon (which inexplicable grows in size and shape once the hat and trenchcoat come off). There’s a few pages of fighting while the human doctor taunts Tallon through the robot before Tallon gets hit by a hypodermic. All seems lost until a figure appears through Tallon’s blurred vision. The last frame is a traditional Tom Tully special as a mysterious figure watches a screen from the shadows, our attention focused on their villainous hand ripping the armrest of the chair. Oh, by the way, that Talon’s rescuer is a ten year old boy (or at least appears to be).
Grailpage: loving that opening page of Rogue Trooper, the one with the shuttle launch site from Colin Wilson – nice use of letratone too.
Grailquote: Alan Moore, Edwin: “You are a genius!” Two thousand years later: “…arrr… geni… ouu… arrrr… geni…” That’s sycophancy for you!