2000AD Prog 249: Your gateway to the future! Menace of the Dream-Weavers! Thrill-power peaks in… Rogue Trooper

Dave Gibbons is back on the cover with Rogue against the Dreamweavers – are we going to get a giant snake on Nu-Earth?

The Nerve Centre lets us know that the next 2000AD annual will contain some Harlem Heroes reprint.

Ace Trucking Co. Lugjack Part Six by Grant Grover and Belardinelli. Ace and G-B-H lie in wait and witness the lugjackers make their latest delivery of stolen ships to Honest Eeki, following the truck transporter to Big Warty (the trucker nickname for the uninhabited planet Y-7-Y, mentioned in the Space Trucker’s dictionary). Ace is all for going down to the planet with G-B-H and having the two of them try to take on the entire pirate base, but appears to get talked out of it by ship’s computer Ghost. Probably about time to mention one of the unsung characters in this series – the hair of G-B-H, which often has a life of its own (and a clear space helmet to accommodate it all). This comes up as G-B-H suits up to hitch up the iceberg from the first episode which was abandoned when they were first attacked by the pirates. Ace reveals his grand plan – to tow it back to Big Warty and drop it on the pirate base! Ghost is not convinced that this plan is going to work…

Design a Team for… The Mean Arena is a page of reader-submitted teams which won’t be appearing in the story pages…

…which is not next, as we switch to Nemesis the Warlock Book II by Pat Mills and Jesus Redondo. Not a lot to say about this one – the aerial fight between Nemesis and the Terminators continues – Nemesis is impervious to the fire from the firedrakes – did this come up in Book One? Redondo’s artwork is fantastic, the one small criticism is that it’s very much in the shadow of the previous book – the main Terminator whom Nemesis fights has a helmet looking like Torquemada while the sinischal in command of Termight forces looks a lot like Behell. Anyway, that’s a very minor niggle – the sinischal commits suicide rather than be captured though the rest of the Terminators give up their arms. Nemesis addresses them, Purity attempts to appeal to their better natures (they don’t have one) and the prison ships of Arachnos arrive. They’re giant alien spiders, who fly around in giant alien spider-shaped spaceships.

Tharg’s Future-Shocks: The Beastly Beliefs of Benjamin Blint by Alan Moore and Eric Bradbury. This starts old-school as somebody goes to their psychiatrist. Their heads are in shadow, so if you’ve read a load of Future-Shocks you already have a good idea how it’s going to end up in the last panel. In the next panel, however, we see a human being and an tentacle-fingered, bug-eyed alien looking at each other on a dark street. The narrative tells how the patient sees ugly aliens, and following encounters follow the same format – a human and an alien starting at each other while the psychiatrist convinces the patient that such creatures cannot be real and are mere hallucinations. Of course, the last panel shows the psychiatrist and the patient and they are *Shock!* the bug-eyed, tentacle-fingered aliens. But you could probably guess that, unless this was your first Future-Shock.

Judge Dredd: Apocalypse War Part Five by T.B. Grover and Carlos Ezquerra. There’s a few tell-tale features of a Wagner script (or possibly of a Grant Grover Combine script – it wasn’t always clear which were written by who in the earlier days of their writing partnership). One of them is a song – we got one from Ace Garp earlier this prog (I didn’t mention it – it only took up one panel) and we get the Apocalypso starting this episode. Not everybody in the South sectors has been affected by the urge to fight – snaking through the block maniacs is a conga line of mega-citizens singing a song of destruction (before getting hit by an East-Meg missile). All this is while Judge Joe Dredd is on the vid to Supreme Judge Josef Bulgarin. Bulgarin offers unconditional surrender. Dredd… well, you can guess, can’t you? Time for the TADs to be launched – Total Annihilation Devices – missiles powerful enough to destroy East-Meg One twice over – that’s each missile – there’s twenty five of them. Also time for the East-Meggers ace up their sleeve – the Apocalypse Warp is activated – sheathing the city in a force field (or dome, because it’s been a while since we saw a domed future city). That last panel shows the TADs disappearing… Next prog: Earth Shatter!

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

Now it’s time for this week’s episode of The Mean Arena by Tom Tully and Mike White We get a rare map of the game area. From mention of the Forbury Lion, it looks like the game is played around the north of Reading town centre, from Victoria Park (roughly where the Invaders’ goal is) to the Maiwand Lion in Forbury Gardens (the Slayers’ goal) and the Abbey Ruins. I don’t know about you, but I find this kind of thing interesting – a projection into the future of an existing location. We’re one or five years away from the time depicted (depending on whether you take the 2021 date from the early episodes or the 2025 date from the current stories) and there’s already a few changes but also a few bits of accurate prediction (that mobile/pad-looking device), even though this is far from a future-gazing story. As in an earlier story, there’s a hold-out in this arena – somebody who is exercising their right to stay, and can defend their home with lethal force. I wonder if this is for verisimilitude, or whether it will be relevant in the match? Oh, and the match still hasn’t begun but everything is in place and blast off is next prog. Another little detail – having survived the ‘black ace’ trial three times (once in flashback in the USA, twice in the present), Tallon can now wear the silver helmet – though when your nickname is “the Shadow” that’s a bit of a handicap, isn’t it?

Convention Guide – a Tharg’s head brings a guide to forthcoming conventions, telling earthlets they can find back progs at the events listed. One of the events was close to where I used to live (not at the same time), but the venue – a Victorian building with character – has been knocked down for boxy flats. Anyway, this block isn’t about architectural preferences – another of the events is the London Comic Mart which runs to this day. Back in 1982 it was at Central Hall, Westminster – when I visited that building for an unrelated reason last decade I think it was being held on the same day. These days it’s at the National Hotel near Russell Square. Both of these venues used to be on my route home from work (before I moved to my present home). Bored of my life story? Back to the sci-fi stories…

Rogue Trooper: Menace of the Dream-Weavers Part 1 by Gerry Finley-Day and Dave Gibbons. Before this goes any further, I have to mention Dreamweaver, as made famous (to me) by Spacespinner 2000. To keep myself fresh for this blog I won’t be listening to that episode until after I’ve scheduled this post – but I have no doubt it has a clip from the same video I just posted! We got giant spiders on the planet of Garuda in Nemesis the Warlock – we have even giant-er spiders on Nu-Earth in Rogue Trooper. The snake on the cover and the spider on the first page are both hallucinations brought on by a Nort psycho-gas hallucinoid – though quite how it works is a trifle unclear, as everybody (even Rogue) shares hallucinations of the same things, plus most of the Southers have lost any reasoning capacity, even when they know what they’re seeing are not really there. So some sort of hallucination, projection, hypnosis thing. If the snake and spider don’t scare the troops out then flower maidens tempt them to take off their protection (so to speak). Down to the last Souther – the now familiar ‘kid’ archetype – and now Rogue turns up. Prediction time – though when I say prediction I mean half-remembered time – I think this ends up with the kid turning on Rogue when he sees him as a monster, or something.

Competition Results, and Tharg gives the answers to the Prog 230 Lawmaster competition. The only name that jumped out was David Mitchell of London – but the comedian of the same name would have been five years old at the time, and lived in either Salisbury or Oxford. Next week has the exciting news that we’ll get a Star Pin-Up of Torquemada’s family, but first…

…this week’s Star Pin-Up is of Nemesis the Warlock by Kevin O’Neill, naked but for a red cloak and spitting fire, or maybe alien slime stuff. Nemesis is wearing only a red cloak – I don’t know what Kevin was wearing when he drew this picture.

Grailpage: I was tempted by Carlos Ezquerra’s first view of the TADs, but two pages later I’m fascinated by the three pictures of East-Meg One as all non-strategic power is switched off and the city falls in to darkness. Then on the same page we get the Apocalypse Warp being activated and the Soviet megalopolis being enveloped by a crackling force field. It’s all good.

Grailquote: for cheesiness – Gerry Finley-Day, hallucinatory woman on a float of flowers: “Ah, that is good. Now you can breathe this lovely air…” Souther: “Air? No! Chem clouds… Poison. *AARRGGKK!*” other Souther: “*choke* Angel?”

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