2000AD Prog 259: “Guess that’s our first case, Sam. Huh? Huh?” Robo-Hunter returns!

This Ian Gibson cover follows on from the other end of the zoom tube journey that took Sam Slade from the Mega-City in Day of the Droids.

Tharg fields letters from earthlet/tes in the Nerve Centre. The first suggests that lack of progs causes old age – I wondered why some people say I look younger than my years would suggest! Another reader has had back progs of 2000AD to help them fend of depression through a illness which kept them housebound – a lesson from the past to us in our present time of social distancing!

Sam Slade, Robo-Hunter: In Brit-Cit! by Alan Grant and Ian Gibson. Alan Grant actually being Alan Grant and John Wagner, but just one being credited to hide from IPC management just how much of the prog (and other comics) are written by the pair. Presented as a prologue, I actually prefer this to Sam’s first Brit-Cit adventure – sorry, case, but I’m getting ahead of myself. In a nice touch that doesn’t give anything away early, the old logo is used with the North American contact details, “in transit” plastered over them. Looking forward to a polite reception, Slade is quickly disavowed of any such notion by the customs droids, who cannot contain their mirth at his coming to Brit-Cit to work, and moreso as a Robo-Hunter. Turns out that nobody in Brit-Cit works – no human, anyway. Through lies and deception, Slade takes the penthouse suite at the Savoy Hotel and an office in Baker Street (211 if you’re interested, as opposed to Sherlock’s 221b). He gets business cards printed up which I suspect we’ll see a lot more of soon (in that logo space). We get a few glimpses of future London, namely the landmarks from our time surrounded (and below) future structures.

Ace Trucking Co. Feek the Freek in The Ughbug Bloos by Grant Grover and Belardinelli. Grant Grover actually being Alan Grant and John Wagner, but this name being credited to hide from IPC management just how much of the prog (and other comics) are written by the pair. After the events of the Great Mush Rush Speedo Ghost has finally been re-fitted and is almost ready to fly. It’s also an important day for Feek, as the skeletoid engineer had bred an ughbug queen and she’s ready to lay eggs, which will provide Feek with a constant supply of fresh food. Unfortunately she chooses to make a nest in the engine casing, around the time that Ace wants to test the engines. Death to Feek’s protestations, the engine gets switched on and the ughbugs breeding cycle goes in to overdrive and they swarm. Turns out that ughbugs sting when they’re attacked, as Ace finds out. Ace uses his scarf as a whip to fend off the stingers, and for a moment of excitement I thought it was animated on its own, but no. Maybe it gave Belardinelli ideas though… One brew of ughbug food later, the ughbugs have been dumped in to an empty hold. Not content with having had Jago Kain’s stomach pumped in the previous story, not to mention the Yellow Snork having been smashed up, now it’s time for the earthman to get stung all over… There’s also an addendum to the Space Trucker’s Dictionary – the most interesting entry being that ‘snork’ is a “sticky matter found in most funnels” – leads to a curious name for the Yellow Snork.

Judge Dredd: Apocalypse War Part 15 by T.B. Grover and Carlos Ezquerra. T B Grover actually being Alan Grant and John Wagner, but this name being credited to hide from IPC management just how much of the prog (and other comics) are written by the pair. The streets afire buy a little time for Dredd and the resistance to escape from the East Meg forces while they start to repair the sabotaged mega-way links in readiness for reinforcements. Back in East-Meg One, the Diktatorat are back in contact, just in time for War Marshal Kazan to order the executions of the three. From now on the War Marshal is the Diktatorat.

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 social distancing.

Tharg’s Future-Shocks: Nigel Goes a-Hunting! by Staccato and Redondo. Staccato actually being Alan Grant, but this name being credited to hide from PC management just how much of the prog (and other comics) are written by Grant and Wagner. A three-page Shock, we start off with a typical post-apocalyptic survivor foraging for food – though the food is a ‘forbidden fruit’ which looks rather like a giant mutated carrot (there’s a clue there). He’s chased by rat-hounds until he retreats up a tree with now way down. Until he gets killed with a blast from a shotgun. In the very last panel, where it belongs, is the reveal – the shotgun was wielded by a bipedal mutated rabbit – because leporids have inherited the Earth!

They’ve pulled out all the stops on the New Eagle – they may have run out of cover-mounted gifts, but now it’s time for a competition and a cut-out-and-collect mini-version of an original Eagle comic.

The Mean Arena by A Ridgeway and Mike White. Nobody seems to know who A Ridgeway is. Some assume it’s actually Tom Tully, who may have fallen out of favour with management (though if this was the case, surely it would have been years earlier when a Tully story led to Action’s early demise, or when future sports almost led to the end of 2000AD. On absolutely no basis whatsoever, I’d like to think it’s actually a pen-name for Alan Grant and John Wagner (you can probably see where that theory is going – if it’s true then every story in this comic would have been written by Alan Grant and/or John Wagner. Or Alan Ridgeway could be a real person). Enough with weak theories for cheap points, Tallon is hanging out with that nine-year-old (actually a robot in disguise) and they’re discussing the Hexa Gang (erm, did I miss something here? When did the conspiracy against Tallon get a name?) I thought all he knew was that there was a woman involved. Speaking of which, time for a new woman to make an appearance, and the quick description for Brazen is as a biker chick without the motorcycle.

The inside back cover plugs the so-called 5th birthday prog, starring the same stories that were in this prog (plus Rogue, with a change of art droid in Brett Ewins from the looks of it), plus a four-part Rogue Trooper poster and what appears to be a new Tharg story.

Grailpage: Belardinelli’s opener for the Ughbug Bloos as we see the Speedo Ghost ready to take on cargo and Feek’s extensive collection of hats (being almost the only clothing her wears in the first place).

Grailquote: Alan Grant, Hoagy: “British robots seem real polite, Sam. Yup!” Sam Slade: “Yeah! Either the poster is lyin’ – or I’m gonna like it here!” Sam’s narration: “The poster was lying!” and in close second, from the same story: Rapido Printing Inc droid: “Five thousand deluxe business cards. that’ll be two hundred an’ twenty creds!” Sam Sade: “Invoice me – there’s my card!”

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