2000AD Prog 251: The Great Mush Rush WARNING! This prog contains a record amount of thrill-power! Handle with care!

Why didn’t Meltdown Man get this many Belardinelli covers (not that those provided by other art droids weren’t great, but…) Having said that – as with that B-Hive-K scan, this one is bodged from interior panels…

The Nerve Centre has letters from an earthlet who thinks Space Truckers lingo is somehow an insult to Citizen’s Band radio (instead of being an affectionate homage). Another is upset that all of Dredd’s friends seem to end up dying. Don’t get too attached to Chief Judge Griffin is all I can say. And another inattentive earthlet thinks that Nu Earth is our Earth in the future, despite (as Tharg points out) what has been said in the story itself…

Ace Trucking Co. The Great Mush Rush Part 1 by Grant Grover and Belardinelli. Mush is post, so this story is about acquiring a contract to delivery post to a star system. It’s a long contract and pays a lot. So Ace tires to bribe the postal official to get the contract. As do the other 39 truckers on planet. After the trial, and fine, it is decided to hold a mail race (or ‘mush rush’) as all of the truckers were as dishonest as each other. The truckers aren’t keen on this and decide to fight it out amongst themselves (ending up back in the dock, for the second time in ten minutes). After paying a further fine, the race is on!

The Mean Arena by A Ridgway and Mike White. Who is A Ridgway? What happened to Tom Tully? I bet Tharg won’t be saying anything about it! The tourist guide to Reading continues as Tallon heads down Broad Street, gets a skimmer thrown at him from Chain Street and gets accosted by a lariat-man (player with a lasso) but uses the rope against them, exposing one of the other Invaders as the droid on the team. While dealing with the droid, the Invader ball-carrier gets to Forbury Gardens (I gave in and downloaded a tourist map – it really helps) and manages to score the first goal. Kevin O’Connor (that sorts announcer who aso sings songs) makes an appearance, and Kosi-Flex, the sportswear company run by a billionaire are both mentioned. I can only remember who one of the members of the consortium are, but these two have to be prime candidates as well. During half-time (though it’s only about half an hour into a four-hour game, and mention was also made about this being the day session, so who knows how long this game lasts) – during a pause in the game, Tallon reveals he got a rogue call which distracted him. Tom Tully may be gone, but this episode still ends in a Tully Special – a mysterious seated figure watches a screen, all we can see of them is their hand as they vow that this debut match in Reading will see the Slayers’ run out of their new home.

Tharg’s Future-Shocks: All of Them Were Empty by Alan Moore and Paul Neary. Those two are becoming quite a fixture, tough I don’t think they’ll go on to do any work together other than this rash of Future-Shocks. I have a feeling I may have first read this story about the same time I saw the film Maximum Overdrive, which has a scene where sentient vehicles demand that humans fill them up with petrol, in exchange for their lives. Which is about the same premise as this Shock. So anyway, the two are always linked in my mind.

Judge Dredd: Apocalypse War Part 7 by T.B. Grover and Carlos Ezquerra opens with another full centrespread montage of coming events as the Soviet invasion of Mega-City One begins. We’ve got Strato-Vs (H-Wagons), Rad-Sweepers (tanks) and Sentenoids (robots) in that montage, and that’s what this episode introduces us to, in that order (well, we saw Strato-Vs earlier). Remember them well, as we’ll see a lot more of them for the rest of this story… Kazan lands on the invasion front, gives Izaaks a metaphor about cutting off the head of a chicken just as Karpov MF7 Sentenoids breach the upper levels of Dredd’s command bunker. Next prog: Operation Chickenhead!

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.

Nemesis the Warlock Book II by Pat Mills and Jesus Redondo. The viewpoint switches as we follow a long-term resident of the arachon’s prison. Brother Baruda is not content to forget Termight’s crusade of hatred against the rest of the galaxy (though most of his fellow prisoner’s are enjoying bathing in the lake and running through the trees, semi-naked in the breeze. Brother Baruda is joined by four initially un-named Terminators as they attempt to escape. It has to be said that the Terminators tend to only gain names at the point that they’re about to die though Baruda and one other manage to survive to the end of the episode, the others picked off by both civilised and wild spiders as the last two encounter the spectral visage of Torquemada.

Rogue Trooper by Gerry Finley-Day and Colin Wilson. This is an interesting one as Rogue overhears mention of a Nort interrogator called The Buzzard. His last run-in with the Traitor-General (the term finally gets used) being on the Buzzard-Three seems too much of a coincidence and Rogue arranges to get caught disguised in a chem-suit by the Norts. Wilson puts in some great images, though the star of teh show is the reveal on the last page of the Glasshouse-G camp – a transparent domed prison. On his way there a fellow Souther has deveoped a dislike for Rogue, as the Souther that Rogue is disguised a has surrendered with full ammo. Helm and Bagman have been left behind while Gunnar is being quite so he can pretend to be a normal gun as part of Rogue’s disguise. In the last panel we find out (through a thought bubble) that the Buzzard is indeed the Traitor-General…

My copy of this prog has a hole in the back page where the original owner cut out three tokens to send off for a Colgate / Stanley Gibbons stamp album. Stamp adverts have been a stalwart of 2000AD since the early progs, but how far can they get through the eighties?

Grailpage: Jesus Redondo – the page of Nemesis where the Terminators are running through the dark forest, avoiding wild spiders’ trip-threads as one attacks Brother Stephen from below, trapdoor spider-style. the page ends with spi-gliders using webs to paraglide after the Terminators on the wind currents.

Grailquote: TB Grover, Judge Domer: “Only yesterday I was pulling in perpas on these streets… Now there aren’t any perps. There aren’t even any streets.”

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