2000AD Prog 253: “Prisoners escaping… Initiate destruction!” Jailbreak at Glasshouse G!

Colin Wilson is on the cover for the first time in a while as he draws the scene I must have been thinking about when I noticed the drones flying around outside the Glasshouse last prog. It’s not often we’ll get a pink Rogue on the cover!

Tharg plugs what looks like the second release from Titan Books in the Nerve Centre and reveals that Brian Bolland is providing four new pages for the collected first half of The Cursed Earth. Think I’ll have to search out those pages to see what/if they add to the story. I know that at least one of the collected editions has a death scene in Las Vegas that I wouldn’t have seen in my prog slog (due to suicide or death by falling or something). It says ‘interior pages’ so I’m guessing they’re starscan-style pictures rather than actual story pages, like the ABC Warriors will get. One earthlet provides one of the first ‘lapsed reader’ letters, though I think one or two of the profiles we’ve seen had similar stories of people who stopped reading before seeing the error of their ways. In case you want to know, the Eagle Awards in 1981 were arrived at by distributing voting slips through specialist science fiction bookshops and magazines throughout the country. A good crop of letters this week.

Ace Trucking Co. The Great Mush Rush Part 3 by Grant Grover and Belardinelli. To make up for the massive lead that Jago has, Ace is prepared to go to drastic lengths – in this case heading towards the sun. I never quite understand how Slingshot / Catapult Effects work in sci-fi, but Gravity Assist has certainly helped some real-life spacecraft on their ways. I’m reminded of Brian Bolland’s depiction of Judge Lopez’s hallucations upon taking the Oracle Spice as reality seemed to warp around him, but I prefer Belardinelli’s depictions of the effects of massive G-forces on the crew of the Speedo Ghost. The gambit works in getting Ace to the first post box of three, but the state both he and the ship are in by the end of it do not bode well – I love the visuals of the Speedo Ghost puttering away from the planet, trails of smoke twisted around the main trail behind it.

Tharg’s Future-Shocks: The Bounty Hunters by Alan Moore and John Higgins. Both names have been appearing in the prog a lot lately, and on one-offs. This is the classic set-up of a group of bounty hunters attempting to find their shape-changing quarry. After suspecting animals one of the party starts shooting at a clump of bushes. It’s not long before they turn on themselves (well, one kills another, to nobody’s sorrow – I get the feeling they’re not exactly close). Finally one among their number posits the idea that the planet they’re standing on could itself be the shape-changer. After giving it a few blasts and creating a crater the conclude that it’s a lost cause and they’ll never find the bounty. And so return to the ship. Once in the ship, the ship licks it’s lips… A good tale, casual dialogue doesn’t seem forced and adds to general light-hearted tone (even as a bunch of trigger-happy bounty hunters shoot everything up.

In The Mean Arena by Tom Tully and Mike White, one of Tallon’s team-mates gets a fake message, leading to his being in the wrong place at the wrong time – and that place and time being in front of Tallon’s blastmaster. Tallon’s angry response is to carry on doing exactly what he was going to do anyway, scoring a goal against the Invaders. Tallon suggests to Zlykon, Invader captain, that one of his team may have been responsible for the rogue calls. The rumour spreads to the crowd, though ‘happy gas’ manages to pacify them. The members of the two teams are not given a dose of happy gas though…

Judge Dredd: Apocalypse War Part 9 by T.B. Grover and Carlos Ezquerra. The Chief Judge ‘safely’ out of the way, Dredd heads to where the fighting is thickest. A lot happens in this prog – Dredd’s convoy gets cut down by block maniacs with a sonic cannon, who themselves are stopped by a falling atmospheric module from Weather Control. The sky burns (literally), then, out-of-control, a blizzard starts. For all his faults, War Marshal Kazan is prepared to pay personal visits to the frontline and gets a report on how the block maniacs are making it rather difficult for the sov forces to occupy the Mega-City. Luckily they have the antidote, which can be administered in gaseous form by Strato-V squadrons. The block maniacs are cured! All except Maria, on whose head Walter placed a respirator – trying to protect her, but instead preserving her as the last block maniac left in the Mega-City!

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. It’s all about Torque this week (and Brother Baruda). The bad brother takes Skyta hostage, forcing her husband Zelotes to pilot their spaceship to an Imperial Starship where they are captured (after a struggle). Brother Mikron makes a reappearance, preparing the body of Zelotes so that the giant alien spider can be killed and possessed by Torquemada. Skyta is reintroduced, but only so that Torque can test whether he’s convincing enough – once that’s established she’s tossed out of the airlock. Seeing as we won’t see her again, it’s about time I mentioned something about her. So, Zelotes and Skyta are both giant spiders. If it wasn’t for the humans next to them you’d think they were normal Earth spiders (unless you really know your stuff about spiders) and yet Skyta has a mop of long hair atop her head, as if she were mammalian.

Rogue Trooper: Glasshouse G by Gerry Finley-Day and Colin Wilson. This wraps up a bit too neatly. Rogue escapes out of an airlock (largely unguarded as no sane person would climb out of an airlock without a suit), manages to easily incapacitate the two flying robo-guards outside and allows the Southers to reach the train. Handily one of them has snatched Gunnar up and unwittingly brought him straight to Rogue (who is a train driver now). Having chosen to save Southers rather than unmask the Traitor General, Rogue makes a last-ditch attempt to assassinate him from afar, but it’s so paltry it’s barely worth a mention.

After a stamp advert and a teaser for Prog 260, designated a birthday issue (though ironically printed in a comic published five years after the first prog) Kevin O’Neill brings us a 2000AD star pin-up on the back page: A Fringe World Express. Think of an over-sized stagecoach, but semi-robotic and headed through a rocky landscape.

Grailpage: that back page star pin-up. No named characters, no place or situation we’ll ever see in the comic strip pages, just a random vignette from the universe of Nemesis the Warlock.

Grailquote: It’s not often I’ll pick out quotes by this pair of characters, but here goes… TB Grover, narration: “Soon, only one block maniac would be left in the Mega-City -” Former block maniac: “Wh-why am I holding this club?” Maria: “Walter! Geta this a-stinkin’ spaghetti bowl offa my head! I gotta some killin’ to do for-a Mario Lanza!” Walter: “Oh cwipes! What has Walter done?”

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