2000AD Prog 247: Read by Aliens Across the Galaxy! “It’s buzzin’ beakboys, G-B-H! Pummel gurney or we’re skavy gravy!” Translation: The Ace Trucking Co. are in big trouble this prog!

With a cover line like that you know it’s going to be Belardinelli on art duties, as G-B-H takes centre-stage on the cover.

The most notable thing about the Nerve Centre is how so many things are contributed that there’s a Nerve Centre Extra at the back of the prog. Having said that, none of the letters are actually that interesting (sorry, letter-writers).

Ace Trucking Co. Lugjack Part 4 by Grant Grover and Belardinelli. As on the cover, G-B-H takes the spotlight as he fends off the skavy’s, until they get scared off (but only temporarily). Then it’s Feek’s turn as he cobbles together a space-going vessel from the wreckage of the skavy’s previous victims (calling it a spaceship is stretching credibility). Free of the planet they of course get discovered by the Yellow Snork – flagship of the Yellow Line and Jago Kain. Jago may be unscrupulous but even he wouldn’t ignore a trucker in peril. The crew of the missing Speedo Ghost are deposited on the desert planet which Garp had been making for before being lugjacked. Next prog: Mugs, lugs and ughbugs. I know what ughbugs are, but can’t imagine how they can help Garp get Speedo Ghost back (unless it’s a red herring and they have nothing to do with SG’s recovery).

The Mean Arena by Tom Tully and Mike White starts with an introduction to some new weapons / pieces of equipment, as it looks like the ‘future sport’ and ‘future war’ stories have gotten a little mixed up. I spoke too soon – Tallon says “I reckon this ‘ole game’ of ours is becoming more like a WAR!”. I’m not saying that Tully doesn’t keep re-writing the same stories, but remember that aeroball team made up of mutant/alien/cyborg-style freaks? And that inferno team, also made up of mutant/alien/cyborg-style freaks? Now it’s street football’s turn, as we get our first glimpse of the Oxford Invaders – think ‘space invaders’.

Thunderbirds Are Still Go! is a two-page text feature by Ro-Jaws (with help from art robot Kevin O’Neill) inspired by the latest popular re-runs of the the TV series. Gerry Anderson was almost certainly working on Terrahawks at the time this was published (it’s not mentioned in the article though). Gerry Anderson also wrote a message for 2000AD readers (it’s not very in-depth).

Tharg’s Future-Shocks: Salad Days by Alan Moore and John Higgins. This one isn’t exactly subtle. Firstly, it’s called Salad Days, secondly one of the two focus characters (both in the military) mentions how he’s recently gone vegetarian. Then the narrative goes on to describe how the aliens they’re about to make first contact with have described themselves as humanitarian. It’s like a Twilight Zone episode – a very specific episode…

Judge Dredd: Apocalypse War Part Three by T.B. Grover and Carlos Ezquerra. Phase Three is revealed – creating an artificial tidal wave to smash through the Atlantic Wall of Mega-City One! After the initial scenes of destruction, an H-Wagon carrying Dredd and Chief Judge Griffin surveys the ruins (without any escort) when it’s caught up in the blast from a solitary East-Meg missile. Crash landing the only survivors are the named characters, which includes a judge-pilot. Even if I hadn’t read this before, I wouldn’t favour the pilot’s chances of survival, as the trio (Griffin unconscious) encounter the local block maniacs.

2000AD has made the digital edition of the Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files Vol.5 free for download, to help Squaxx get through social isolation as a result of Covid-19.

Nemesis the Warlock Book Two by Pat Mills and Jesus Redondo. We saw young Torquemada last episode, but now he really returns (and we find out the dark secrets of the exosyst that were alluded to towards the end of Book One). And vestal vampires, for that matter – who all dress like bellydancers and do aerobics. I want to know what Sister Alvit did to merit punishment for a week! For those too young or not inured to British TV game shows, Give Us a Clue (words uttered by one of the vampires) is a reference to a show based around charades, which is what Alvit has to do to get the message across that Torquemada is in need of nourishment. And nourishment he gets, though it costs one of the vestal vampires her life as she’s converted to neutrons. I’ll admit I’m not a fan of Redondo’s depiction of Torquemada himself, but I love everything else about the art in this episode. Mind Wars is still his magnum opus, but this comes a close second.

Rogue Trooper by Gerry Finley-Day and Colin Wilson. Helm and Bagman continue their cyberspace adventure as Rogue deals with incoming fire. It’s still not clear where the fire is coming from – gun emplacements? Roving robots? One thing is clear though – the biochipped G.I.s in the computer are naked luminous beings. I’ve got a feeling this isn’t cyber people in a virtual reality world – they’re supposed to be actual little energy sprites running around in the physical core of the computer. As the two bio-chip sprites get close to the CPU, the outside computer definitely does start to move as a machine gun goes after Rogue. Back inside and the biochips are facing a new threat – four bioforms (like ghosty-monster things made from energy).

Time for the Nerve Centre Extra and Matthew Smith from Bristol has written a poem and drawn a picture of Tharg the Breakfast. Can it be that Matthew Smith, now known as CyberMatt? Hmm, I’m sure I’ve heard him say what his first prog was, and that it was after mine – so I figure this is a different Matthew. Just followed one of the links from his wikipedia article, where he says he’s been reading since 1985. Oh, and that other Matt Smith, the one who’s more famous in the world at large? He won’t be born until later in this year – in fact he’s due to be conceived some time later in January, so it’s not him either.

The back page has the first part of a two-part ‘laser plane’ poster. The cutaway nature of this half gives away the Bill le Fevre origin of the picture.

Grailpage: King Carlos draws a tidal wave engulfing East Sectors of Mega-City One in a stunning centrefold which shows Ron Smith doesn’t have the monopoly on destruction!

Grailquote: Grant Grover, G-B-H: “Just how you get us into these situations, Ace, I’ll never know!” Ace: “Ditto to that, good buddy!”

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