2000AD Prog 245: "Let the apocalypse begin!" Target Mega-City One! Tharg's 1982 calendar – part 1 this prog!

The big news this prog is that King Carlos is back on Dredd, and it starts with the cover! Also, the Apocalypse War.

In the Nerve Centre, Tharg plugs the next series of Robo-Hunter – returning ‘soon’ for a third series.

Ace Trucking Co. by Grant Grover and Belardinelli. The pirates have boarded Speedo Ghost and chase Ace, Feek and G-B-H, who get a little help from Ghost, the ship’s computer and the ship’s scutters scrubbots. It’s a losing battle though, as Ace leads the retreat to the garbage chute. Rather than send pirates down to battle G-B-H, the pirate captain elects instead to simply jettison the garbage pod.

Tharg’s Future-Shocks: A Second Chance! by Alan Moore and José Casanovas (not often he gets his first name credited). This is a two-page rehash of the ‘new start’, “My name’s Adam, what’s yours?” gag (her name’s Mavis).

Halfway to Paradise: An Abelard Snazz Misadventure by Alan Moore and John Cooper. This is much more creative as Alan takes Abelard through the black hole, ending up being processed in much the same way the dead are processed in Beetlejuice (but (six) years before that film was released). Snazz lets slip that his last ‘job’ was as a god and gets relegated to the retirement planet for disinherited gods. Being Abelard Snazz, he can’t be content to live on a planet of gods, and looks for a way to improve the situation. This way is to modernise the gods so that people will believe in them again. The gods use the last of their residual power to transport to a nearby planet (where the women seem to wear Y-fronts over their tights). Ares becomes god of space invaders, Demeter goddess of health food stores and eros the god of popular romantic fiction. Things go swimmingly until an ancient god-worshipping tradition re-emerges – sacrifice! Snazz complains to the gods, but they’re only to happy to see the sacrifices and internecine conflicts from their heyday return. Showing absolutely no loyalty to Snazz for reinstating their position, they drag him off to be chained to a rock for all eternity for being a spoilsport. They do allow him one boon though – they modernise his punishment so that he has to solve a cube (a Rubiks cube) in order to escape a desolate realm. Harking to the Future-Shock format, the view pulls out until we see the cube in question is the size of a city block and the reason he thinks he can’t see it is because he’s sat on the top of it. I think it’s going to be a bit more of a gap until the next Snazz (mis)adventure, which will be the one of the first ones I read.

Heralding both the beginning of The Apocapypse War and the return of Carlos Ezquerra to the character which he created comes A 2000 AD Postergraph on the centrespread featuring a montage of scenes, themes and characters from the forthcoming epic. I have a theory that Carlos was some way in to illustrating the saga by the time he drew this centrespread, due to a small detail on Dredd’s badge (which will get called out in an earthlet’s letter in a few months).

…and when I say ‘forthcoming’ it starts on the very next page. Judge Dredd: The Apocalypse War Part 1 by T.B. Grover and King Carlos. What is there to say about this story? It’s a great start as East-Meg One launches its attack against Mega-City One though some of the timing confuses me – at 3:03 AM missiles are launched from East-Meg silos. While they’re in the air we get Sov spaceships taking out war satellites and Strato-V assault craft taking out Skunks (Solo-operated Concealed Underwater Nuclear Kill-Pods, following on from sea-forts as seen in Pirates of the Black Atlantic). Then we jump to 6:00 PM and Strato-squadrons attacking Mega-City One missile silos in the Cursed Earth. Interestingly a Strato-Vac is downed, but it gets a Twister bomb out first, leading to the first nuclear explosion of the War – wonder when we’ll next see a Twister followed by a nuclear explosion? There’s a quote towards the end of this episode contrasting the Sov and Meg attitudes towards the war (and I first read the quote out of context in 1985, not having the background of Block Mania). Meanwhile, those missiles launched earlier are approaching the city walls – how long have they been airbourne? That confusion aside, this is a great opening episode (or is that opening salvo?) to the latest mega-epic.

Ro-Jaws’ Film of the Year. In reverse order, the sewer droid turned film reviewer favours (in reverse order): Clash of the Titans; Superman II; Flash Gordon and Raiders of the Lost Ark. RJ also teases forthcoming releases Conan the Barbarian, The Dark Crystal, Swamp Thing and Tron – I saw one of these at the cinema, can you guess which one?

Superbean by Qirqx IV and McMahon M. According to Barney, Qirqx IV is John Wagner, meaning the entire prog is written by John Wagner (sometimes with Alan Grant) and Alan Moore. This is a bit weird. If you’re assuming that a tale called Superbean is a parody of Superman but about a sentient green bean instead of a Kryptonian, then you’d be right (but why would you assume that?) I’m not a great fan of mainstream superheroes in the first place, so this parody leaves me cold.

As well as Ro-Jaws films to come, we have 2000AD Things to Come in 82, and we’ve got Robo-Hunter in Brit Cit, the rest of The Apocalpyse War, Prog 250 and 2000AD’s 5th birthday, the 2000AD and Judge Dredd Annuals, the 2000AD Sci-Fi Special, Project XXX and the next book of Nemesis the Warlock (starting next prog, with a montage of Jesus Redondo pics as teaser). No idea what Project XXX is – I think the Judge Dredd boardgame from Games Workshop might come out in 1982, so it could be that… The Eagle Comics colour reprints of Judge Dredd stories might start around this time – I know it was around in 1983 as it was my introduction to some of the JD stories, including the Apoc War.

Tharg’s Guide to the Future: Calendar 1982 – this is a Bolland Judge Dredd – I think the one sold by Titan as a door-sized poster – second part next prog.

Grailpage: I was tempted by Carlos’ postergraph or one of the comic strip pages from the opener for the Apocalypse War, but I’m going to instead go for John Cooper’s final page of Abelard Snazz wondering the ‘puzzle cube’ for him to solve is (while sitting on it).

Grailquote: The first time I read these two quotes juxtaposed was out of context, but it works in or out of context. TB Grover, Judge Vlad: “We must broadcast to the people immediately, inform them of the reason for their sacrifice – ” Supreme Judge Bulgarin: “The people? What have they got to do with it?” Mega-City One Judge: “Looks like war on all fronts, Chief Judge.” Chief Judge Griffin: “I… suppose I’d better inform the citizens…” Judge Dredd: “The citizens? What makes you think they’d be interested?”

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