2000AD Prog 252: “No stinking spider gets the better of me!” Simply light years ahead!

Redondo provides a Brother Baruda cover where he fights an Arachon (in a circular panel).

Tharg answers an earthlet’s question in the Nerve Centre regarding the long-promised return of Dan Dare. The tantalising answer is that Dare will be appearing in a new weekly comic which will (hopefully) be released in the spring of the same year…

Ace Trucking Co. The Great Mush Rush Part 2 by Grant Grover and Belardinelli. The race has begun and we get a map of the race course and I’d be incredibly surprised if we don’t get to visit Krystabel, Og, The Trojies, meteor storms and Peem before the story ends. In fact the very next panel takes us to the meteor storms… One ship down (not one we knew beforehand) and Ace loses some ground (space?) due to investigating a distress beacon. Though he knew it was a con laid by Jago Kain to slow him down, duty dictated that he stop, just on the off-change a trucker’s life was in danger… To make up for greater lead Jago now has, Ace has a plan, and it’s not one the shipmates are going to like. Jago is going around Kookaratch but Ace is going to pilot Speed Ghost through the star, taking the nightlight flight, the hotside trip. Next prog: boil, buddy – BOIL!

A Joe Black Adventure: The Hume Factor! by Kelvin Gosnell and John Higgins. I think we’re getting close to the end of Gosnell’s contributions to the Galaxy’s Greatest and if this one turns out to be his last, at least he goes out on a high! Joe Black gets a bit of lip from his ship’s computer, so you know what kind of ending it could have… They land on an unsurveyed planet where the humans are all – in Joe’s thoughts – yokels – not unlike the inhabitants of Earth’s End in Nemesis the Warlock (though not so mean and nasty). What are mean and nasty are the masters – led by a robot not dissimilar in appearance to Darth Vader (distinctive helmet, long black cloak). Due to a few misunderstandings Joe ends up in the dock, sentenced to execution for blasphemy and assaulting a master (he pushed a robot when it went forward to dismantle his ship). He manages to convince the robot masters to commute his sentence pending the result of a contest between Joe and a master. He fails abysmally at the first two trials, but the third trial, that of endurance, leads the pair of them away from watching eyes as they travel around an assault course. He may not be so good at complex equations, manual dexterity or physical endurance, but humans didn’t get to rule the galaxy through being good at those tasks – they got there by cheating. Getting to the access hatch of the darth droid, Joe finds a generations-old error in the circuits which led to the robots believing themselves superior to their human creators (and forgetting that they were even created by the humans). It’s all a bit Verdus, but none the worse for it. By this time the ship was long dismantled, so when it’s reassembled the ship’s computer has a few improvements – it’s less lippy and more subservient.

Tharg’s Future-Shocks: An American Werewolf in Space! by Alan Moore and Paul Neary. Opening with a great shot of a colony ship heading past the moon on its way out of the solar system, Bayer Lupo is a werewolf looking forward to getting the other two thousand colonists all to himself. Out at Phobos, the moon of Mars, the well-named werewolf gets set to claim his first victim, only to be disappointed when they also turn out to be a werewolf. They’re not the only ones as they find out teh whole ship is full of werewolves! Back on Earth mission control has calculated that they’ve probably just about made the discovery that all the applicants had been screened to rid the world of werewolves. Meanwhile, teh latest colony ship is being prepared as “Alucard… …Count Alucard” makes his application, at the head of a queue of cloaked figures. Short and funny, as a Future-Shock should be!

Judge Dredd: Apocalypse War Part 8 by T.B. Grover and Carlos Ezquerra. As the Sovs attack the command bunker, Dredd orders the Chief Judge to be evacuated but Joe manages to make a citywide announcement before following. The order for judges to carry on their resistance to the invaders extends to all citizens, not that many citizens are actually listening, being in the grip of Block Mania. One citizen is listening though, one with a distinctive speech pattern. Another member of the same household also has an entirely different speech pattern, though no less distinctive… And this is how Walter comes to tie up the Block Maniac Maria so that he can take her to Dredd, because “he will know what to do with you”. Not being in a condition to lead the city, Dredd sends the poorly Chief Judge into space in Justice 2 to keep him safe from harm. I wonder how that’s going to work out? All of the stories in these progs I have read before. Some I have forgotten, this one I remember – so, I know how it’s going to turn out…

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

Nemesis the Warlock Book II by Pat Mills and Jesus Redondo. Torquemada, attracted to Baruda by his psychic emanations of hatred, leads the two Terminators through the fly farms. Well, more accurately, leads one to the fly farms and only through the fly farms – Brother Gonzaga lasted just over a page after we found out what his name was. After that come the web-tubes in to the city where we get the Baruda versus giant spider fight on the cover, ten to the spaceport where we find out what Torque’s plan is – Baruda is to creep on board Zelotes’ ship and kill him as Torquemada’s spirit possesses his body – the Grand Master intends to attend the conference of the Alien Alliance in the body of the Caretaker of Arachnos – it’s a great reveal!

Rogue Trooper: Glasshouse-G Part 2 by Gerry Finley-Day and Colin Wilson. Macinrow continues to cause trouble for Rogue, due to Rogue’s cover of cowardice. An altercation is broken up by the Norts and Rogue takes the opportunity to get to the front of the queue to be interrogated. While the disguised genetic infantryman goes up to see the Buzzard (who we already know is indeed the Traitor General), Macinrow leads an uprising below in the compound. It’s not going to be quite that simple though, as Rogue hears the Nort’s command to open the air-seals, which will expose hundreds of Southers to toxic chem-clouds, killing them all. A nice touch is the drones hovering around the outside of the glass dome. I don’t know for sure, but I have a half-image in my head that Rogue is going to use one of these to escape the glasshouse. We’ll see next prog.

Grailpage: the second page of the Ace Trucking Co has it – Belardinelli’s Speed Ghost heading through the meteor storm is great on its own, but this page has a map as welL!

Grailquote: Gerry Finley-Day, Macinrow: “This dirty coward surrendered with a loaded rife. I saw it all! Let’s rip that chem-suti off his back an’ see his yellow streak!” Rogue (thought): “Hell, they’ll see a colour all right, but it’ll be blue!”

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