2000AD Prog 256: “The East-Megs are behind us! Get out while you can!” Readers’ art – your drawings inside

Carlos provides a cover with Dredd and the Mega-City covered in snow, and it’s not even the christmas prog!

The Nerve Centre has Tharg telling us how he uses reader’s art to threaten art droids with replacement if they dn’t come up to scratch.

Ace Trucking Co. The Great Mush Rush Part 6 by Grant Grover and Belardinelli opens with the goomball hitting the Titan of Peem’s belly (giving the massive sand-sea snake a bit of indigestion). It buys them enough space and time to get away, but that’s about it. By this time the other truckers have arrived. Ace tries to warn them, but with the amount of misinformation already in this race, nobody believes them – not until Attaboy Bobe and Sweaty Machetty lose their lives in the Lug Warrior. After paying their respects, the remaining lead truckers draw straws to pick a decoy who can occupy the Titan while the others deliver their envelopes. Fatty Arkl is the unlucky trucker.

Squeezed between the first and second thrills is a full-page ad for a new comic – Eagle! Or New Eagle as we generally call it, to differentiate it from the original Eagle. It’ll cost 20p (compared to 2000AD’s 16p) and as well as the Mekon has a few other comic strips. Or should I say photo-strips? Doomlord (sci-fi), The Collector (horror?), Sgt Streetwise (undercover cop) and Thunderbolt and Smokey (sports). It also has a Space Spinner – tough I think this one might be silver, compared to 2000AD’s red one.

Nemesis the Warlock Book II by Pat Mills and Jesus Redondo. This if a fighty episode so unless I was going to go in to detail about fighting technique (which I’m not) there isn’t too much to say. It’s good to see Purity fighting as she was a pretty passive character up to this book (other than the On the Run With Purity Brown episode). Nemesis confronts Torquemada and reveals he has brought the Ambar Stone, to seal Torque’s spirit within itself forever.

After a full-page ad for Mr Bellamy’s Licorice Novelties (which seems more 1990s style or even more modern than an early 1980s ad) it’s time for nearly two pages of reader’s art. I wouldn’t want to falsely accuse anybody of copying art without proof, so I’ll just say that two out of the five look like they’re very accomplished… There’s also a half page ad for Roar – a film which had a chequered history – this ad is a multi-part comic strip by Dez Skinn and Steve Dillon who were also working on Warrior launching the same month that this prog was published (and costing a massive 50p – and I thought Eagle was expensive at 20p). If you haven’t heard of Roar, it’s a tale of big cats in a house. It was filmed by taking actual big cats (lions and tigers) and putting them all in to one house. If you think this might be a bad idea, particularly having untrained cats in a house together, you’d be right – it took five years to film, a total of 12 years production and somewhere between 70 and over a hundred of the 140 crew were injured in the course of filming.

Judge Dredd: Apocalypse War Part 12 by T.B. Grover and Carlos Ezquerra opens with the first field test of the stub gun, at the hands of Joe himself. Slicing a Strato-V in half, Joe does the cool protagonist thing of turning his back on the explosion while everybody else is looking at the downed Sov ship. Meanwhile, Kazan does the evil antagonist thing of threatening his own underlings (or at least making them distinctly uncomfortable) as Izaaks gets half-strangled. Meanwhile meanwhile, Walter actually does something useful regarding the plot by spotting a secret deployment of Strato-Vs unloading troops deploying in a pincer movement behind Dredd’s position. The robot (only slightly impaired by the struggling Maria) manages to relay the warning to Dredd via the radio from a crashed Lawmaster. My, there were a lot of ‘R’s in that sentence – try saying that in Walter’s voice! Acting on Walter’s information, Dredd splits the party of judges – half going to take care of the sneak attack, the rest dedicated to bringing down the Junction.

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.

Tharg’s Future-Shocks: Joe Black’s Big Bunco! by Kelvin Gosnell and John Higgins. This is a sad one – I’m pretty sure that Abelard Snazz has only one more misadventure to go but for Joe Black this is the last, but best to go out on a high. Joe is being given final orders from his boss – if the next mission isn’t a resounding success then an investigation will be started into some of Joe’s recent missions, with an eye to spotting if any dodgy freelance deals were made on the side. Things look to be going well as he surveys an uninhabited planet rich in mineral deposits… until Joe encounters another ship. It is quickly apparent that the occupant of the other ship is exactly like himself – an underappreciated employee of a surveying organisation from an as-yet unencountered alien race. Due to a cultural misunderstanding the two get off to a bad start (as well as both being after the same prize, and their respective careers hinging on pulling this one off successfully). After an evenly matched fight (so even that they even collapse from exhaustion at the exact same time) they get to talking about their situations. The two make a deal, not only are they going to submit reports on each other’s civilisations, but they’re going to use their ship computers to do so in double-quick time. Not a bad swan song for Joe, and at least he finally got a bonus!

Rogue Trooper by Gerry Finley-Day and Mike Dorey. How does a genetic infantryman fight when his gun is taken away? Along with his backpack, full of grenades and secondary weapons? Leaving just his helmet? He uses the helmet as a weapon, of course (in Helm’s words: “Use me, Rogue, fast!” The apes chase him, using his own weapons against him (though Rogue is helped somewhat by the biochips attached to those weapons giving him warnings when the apes are about to do something). Finally cornered, it looks like the end as Rogue is hopelessly outnumbered until he hits on the idea of challenging the leader to a duel. By happenstance they’re in the same place that Rogue encountered some long-term snipers earlier, and their oxy-tubes are still hanging down, making a good noose for the ape leader’s neck. Having asserted his dominance, Rogue is now hailed as the ape leader – Helm thinks that if they’ve been “gene-engineered, they must have a language of sorts” – not sure if that necessarily follows – I don’t remember Dolly the Sheep giving any interviews during her lifetime… Helm’s right in this case though, and ascertains that the apes weren’t happy with their lot, having been mistreated by the Norts. Speaking of whom, they’re on their way back to pick up Rogue’s body…

Ian Gibson heralds the return of Sam Slade in a “Robo Hunter in Brit-Cit” star pin-up (Hoagy and Stogie also feature, as does the Savoy Hotel).

Grailpage: tempted by Carlos’ shot of a Strato-V being sliced in half (particularly the literal cutaway of the ship itself) but I’ll go for John Higgin’s opening shot of the P.E.S.T. headquarters in an Earth future city.

Grailquote: Kelvin Gosnell, Bugs the Ypurian: “Greetings, primitive one. I come from beyond the stars in my fire chariot. My people, the Ypu, have come to bring you great prosperity and wealth…” Joe Black: “Not so much of the ‘primitive’, pal. My race, the Earthmen, have also come in fire chariots to loot this mudball of its mineral wealth. And I saw it first…” Bugs: “Oh, yeah?”

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