2000AD Prog 255: “By my corpse! Haul me up, Ace – FAST!” The Great Mush Rush continues in… Ace Trucking Co.

Ian Gibson is back on Ace Trucking Co for this cover. It’s fair enough but nobody draws Ace like Belardinelli did.

In the Nerve Centre Tharg lets all eartlets know that “your country’s government” (presumably Britain, even though Malaysia, New Zealand, Australia and NI also feature in the cover price box) has declared 1982 Information Technology Year. Tharg warns earthlets not to try to tap into his databases. Meanwhile a confused terran compliments Rogue on its short, sharp stories, but then asks for a mega-epic (Tharg points out this contradiction in his usual tender manner).

Nemesis the Warlock Book II by Pat Mills and Jesus Redondo. Forgot to mention last prog – Ragnar has made a reappearance at the Cabal meeting. Just in time to vote for total war, against Nemesis’ wishes (Nemesis also threatens to resign if the Cabal vote against his stated wishes – we’ll find out why I said ‘stated wishes’ around about Book VIII). Seemingly a bad loser, Nemesis storms off, not even speaking to Purity who follows him for a way. Zelotes (Torque in disguise) gets voted new leader of the Cabal while Purity goes to the dungeon to check out Brother Baruda. She realises a little too late that Baruda is wearing chains, whereas Zelotes would have used web ropes. As the two face off, Zelotes-Torque requests all the secrets of the Cabal, in order to destroy the alien resistance.

The Mean Arena by A Ridgeway and Mike White. Other than the usual game stuff, a droid gun is used against JT Venner – this seems to be one of the few things that can halt the game for more than a ten minute break as it is becomes clear that there is a resident of the area using an illegal weapon. Rather than the police searching the area, instead it’s the Slayers who go looking for an attempted murderer. Did I say attempted murderer? So, after he shoots Jigsaw Jones, he has Tallon in his sights, but gives the captain an ultimatum not to move, or then he’ll die – even though he just killed that other player outright just now. Oh well – next episode comes in Prog 258.

Rogue Trooper by Gerry Finley-Day and Mike Dorey. The first two pages (out of a total of four) get us back to the exact same position we were in with last prog’s episode – the apes about to be shuttled down. Once over the petrified forest, the ape soldiers rapel down. Meanwhile, Rogue is taking another rest with Gunnar on sentry duty and Helm on pillow duty. Gunnar is too whiny to actually notice when they’re being surrounded by the Nort genetically-engineered apes meaning Rogue has a rude awakening when he finds himself lying on the ground with just Helm, surrounded by the apes who now have Bagman and Gunnar…

The countdown to the so-called birthday prog carries on, the Mekon is still coming in Eagle, the not-yet-called-Titan advert for the Judge Dredd and ‘The Chronicles of Judge Dredd Volume Two The Cursed Earth Book One’ get an advert and you can “Star” in the official Superman II film poster. The advert put the quote marks in and they are richly deserved – you pay to get a name under ‘Special Guest Star’.

Judge Dredd: Apocalypse War Part 11 by T.B. Grover and Carlos Ezquerra. The war gets psychological as hypnotic leaflets are dropped on the Northern Sectors. The throng of hypnotised mega-citizens blocking the megaway make no change to Dredd’s plan, and the radsweepers are blown up, along with the route from the occupied North. Joining rocket scientist Bob Oppenheimer Block is Nazi-turned-USA-scientist Von Braun Bridge. There follows a montage (even Rocky had one). Last prog I said I thought it was too early for Dan Tanna Junction and that we hadn’t had stub guns yet. This prog we go to Dan Tanna Junction, and Dredd takes a delivery of stub guns – show what I know about the pacing of this story!

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.

Ace Trucking Co. The Great Mush Rush Part 5 by Grant Grover and Belardinelli. Ace is in the lead, though the Speedo Ghost isn’t so speedy-o. Time to head to the quicksand and rocky outcropped planet of Peem. 2000AD really has to do something about those covers – it gives it all away – the opening spread of this episode the only hint you have that the maildrop isn’t quite so easy is a large pair of eyes which have emerged from the quicksand. Unfortunately you’d already know what lurks beneath as the reader saw Gibson’s rendition on the cover. Didn’t really affect me as I was collecting my back progs inconsistently and was well used to getting the spoilers long before I saw the set-up. So, the ship can’t land, meaning G-B-H is lowered down on a line to attempt to deliver the letter until the Titan of Peem intervenes. A serpentine, Loch Ness Monster style creature which can get fit the front of the Speedo Ghost in it’s maw. Huge teeth piercing the hull, it drags the ship below the waves. Dunes. Quicksand wave-dunes. Ace never gives up though, and orders Feek to pop a goomball in the inboard shloop tube (like 19th century pneumatic postal tubes) where G-B-H retrieves it and chucks it in to the Titan’s mouth, just before it explodes.

Tharg’s Future-Shocks: Voyage of Discovery! by Chris Stevens and Eric Bradbury. A moving black hole is discovered in the year 2000. A scientist is holidaying in a star system in its path and gets swallowed by it. Inside the black hole we see a familiar sight to anybody who has watched a cartoon where Pinocchio, Baron Munchausen or whoever has been swallowed by a whale or large fish (I think you can see where this is going). It goes there as it turns out the moving black hole is a gigantic whale, swallowing solar systems. I don’t hate this three and a half page Shock, but Bradbury’s talents could have been put to better use.

Grailpage: I was tempted to go for Redondo’s pic of Purity chasing Nemesis down the steps but it’s a bit too close to what I picked last week. I was also tempted by a few of Belardinelli’s pages (the first landscape view of Peem or the Titan wrapped around the Speedo Ghost) but I’m going to go for Ezquerra’s centrepages featuring War Marshal Kazan’s hypnotic propaganda leaflets raining down on a snowy Mega-City One.

Grailquote: who would have thought I liked Maria and Walter playing off against each other? T B Grover, Walter: “I’m looking for Judge Dwedd. He’s sure to be where the fighting is wuffest!” Maria: “Hey, you meatballs! Which-a block you with? I puncha you face! Mario Lanza kill!” Mega-citizen: “Something wrong with that woman.” Other mega-citizen: “Something wrong with both of them.”

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