2000AD Prog 267: The law comes to East-Meg One… with a BANG!

Brett Ewins is back on the cover for the first time in a while, and is it the first time he’s been on Dredd since The DNA Man? That cover being reminiscent of the end scene of Doctor Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

Tharg’s Nerve Centre brings news that three new droids have been constructed to keep tabs on any films, books or records being released (don’t worry, Ro-Jaws will still be doing film reviews, so Tharg tells us).

Sam Slade, Robo-Hunter: The Filby Case Part 2 by Alan Grant and Ian Gibson. Flashback time as Filby fills in Slade on what the case actually is – he allowed his droid, Ronald (who was installed with an early version of Free-Thought circuits), to go his own way, to do what he wanted to do, but the moment the robot actually did the owner changed his mind and now, three days later, wants him back. Slade’s experience leads him to a robot fringe group called the Goonie Temple who he orders Hoagy to join (they might not be the highest intellect, but they’d still notice if a human tried to infiltrate them). While Hoagy goes off to do that, Slade heads off to Ronald’s original manufacturer, who have recently tried to buy the old, seemingly valueless droid back. Slade gets to speak to the head droid, who denies all knowledge of both Filby and Ronald, so that night it’s time to pay a surreptitious visit to the company, where we see the first droids to pay a visit to Slade, from last prog…

Rogue Trooper: All Hell on the Dix-I Front Part 2 by Gerry Finley-Day and Colin Wilson. The first phase of the Nort offensive continues as Southers are killed when the seals are burst. Those who survive are picked off by Norts disguised as Southers though still no sign of a major ground offensive. Rogue knows to look up to the skies as a new wave of Norts have just cleared the Valhalla Gates (the famous black hole dominating the skies of Nu Earth – I hadn’t realised it had ever been given a name). The Nort starships look a lot like Imperial Star Destroyers – not the first ships in 2000AD to share that distinctive wedge shape… Gotta love Colin Wilson’s art though.

The Mean Arena by Alan Ridgeway and Mike White. Following Brazen to her flat, he illegally enters it though doesn’t find her there. What he does find is a bomb in a vid-phone, though Chip sacrifices his life to protect Tallon from the blast. Nobody seems to think it strange when he staggers out of the flat with the body of a dead robot boy. Back to the future sport in this future sports story and the contender for the one million pound side-stake is revealed as the broadcaster goes over to “Earth-Mother” who we’ll find out a bit more about next prog.

Judge Dredd: Apocalypse War Part 23 by T.B. Grover and Carlos Ezquerra starts with a recap of that famous pair of panels from last prog, where Dredd refuses to show mercy in the wake of the devastation that East-Meg One has done to Mega-City One and pushes the button. Fourteen seconds later, three of the missiles launched from Bostok 7 Silo hit the city and, in the words of the narration box “East-Meg One disappears from the face of the Earth” In the Meg the tide turns as the morale advantage switches from the Sovs to the Mega-City judges. Things aren’t so rosy in the missile silo, however, as Dredd orders the Apocalypse Squad to surrender before the silo gets destroyed on Kazan’s orders for its part in the end of their home city. This whole episode has just been handled expertly by everybody concerned. It’d be easy to fumble the end of a devastating war in a 25 episode story, but the stakes are still high (for Dredd and the Apocalypse Squad, anyway – which encompasses almost all of the still-living named judges we’ve ever met).

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.

The next page has a reader’s short story sharing the page with an ad. The story is called Dark Glass and is an internal monologue from a biochip which remained at the site of the Quartz Zone Massacre. Some parts don’t make sense (even in the continuity that had been established at that point) but it’s still pretty good for – presumably – what has been written by a child.

And as for the avert? It’s for a new children’s humour comic called Wow! I don’t remember this comic at all, but I do remember having something resembling the obligatory free gift given away free – what I had was a piece of card with most of a man’s head on it, but the face replaced by a string which can be shaken up or shaped into whatever profile you’d like (though really you have a choice of big nose or big chin).

Tharg’s Future-Shocks: Skirmish! by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. It’s an alien invasion of Earth! The aliens believe Earth to be without defences, and we’ve seen this kind of thing many times before, so we already know they’re probably going turn out to be small. What happens, however, is that their fleet is atomised by mysterious beams (which are accompanied by “ridiculous noise”s. The penultimate shock is that they’re in Space Invaders arcade machine and have been destroyed by Norman, who’s just playing a game while his friend eats a burger. The actual punchline is the friend John asking why Norman can’t “find something useful to do with your time” like save the Earth! It’s a bit more advanced than those really early Moore shocks and this one doesn’t seem so much like it’s been sitting on a shelf waiting for publication while Moore’s skills as a writer were advancing.

Will They Return? is a page of reader’s art featuring characters who aren’t in the prog at the present, but Tharg is semi-promising will be back. To be fair, they all do eventually return, in the following order: Fink Angel and Ratty (within the year), Nemesis, Johnny Alpha, Wulf Sternhammer and the Gronk (next year, 1983) and Ro-Jaws and Hammerstein, who’ll make a cameo in 1983 but won’t be back properly until the following year or so. If I remember, I’ll link to the blog posts once I reach the progs they return in, not counting annuals.

Ace Trucking Co. Last Lug to Abbo Dabbo Part 8 by Grant Grover and Belardinelli. Freed at last, Ace’s crew, plus the many truckers who had been imprisoned by Spawny Plack take their revenge on Plack. That’s not the end for Plack though, as he’s then imprisoned in a life-supporting plasteen case and cast out in to the void to drift forever. The freed truckers are convinced to leave the treasure because it’s surely ‘cursed’ (though once he’s dropped them off at the Lugster’s Union on the planet Ewick, he returned to pick up the treasure for himself). He bargains without the damage done to the Bloo Maru’s solar sail and finds it taking the nightlight flight, sucked into the nearest star. Goodbye Bloo Maru. Goodbye pig-rats. But not goodbye to Chief, who has been under Feek’s crown the whole time. Most notable for me is that this time is the first that I’ve spotted Ace’s scarf acting with autonomy. We just need Dredd’s eagle to start reacting to circumstances and we have the triumverate (G-B-H’s hair has been an extra character right from the start).

Mike White puts in a pic of Brazen for a Star Pin-Up on the back cover.

Grailpage: Ezquerra’s centre page, showing the destruction of East-Meg One and the deaths of half a billion Sov citizens. Though an honourable mention to Belardinelli’s panel showing the Bloo Maru melting as its sucked in to a star.

Grailquote: Alan Grant, Robo-Stogie: “You geev soch an importan’ job to Hoagy! Ay-yi-yi! Are you sure thees ees wise, senor?” Sam Slade: “I’m 100 percent sure it ain’t wise, Stogie – but I got no choice!”

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