2000AD Prog 268: Heavy metal attack! BLAM! BLAM! CRAASSH!

Somebody really liked Sam Slade for there’s yet another Ian Gibson cover featuring Robo-Hunter this prog, as he’s about to get pummelled by the fists-attached-to-walking-boxes at Imperial Robotics.

Tharg’s Nerve Centre is interrupted by a Dreddflash as Zragian sabotage has led to this week’s Apocalypse War episode being delayed (so there’s going to be a reprint instead).

Sam Slade, Robo-Hunter: The Filby Case Part 3 by Alan Grant and Ian Gibson. Just before the scene on the cover, Slade managed to break in to the Imperial Robots computer systems to find out that Ronald was ‘probably’ the subject of a study by a professor at Brit-Cit University. The rest of the episode is less ‘noir’ and more ‘slapstick’ as Slade evades one danger to get in to a worse – firstly escaping four security guards to run in to a corridor where there are at least six more, then evading them to find a horde of Imperial Robots. Jumping through a window, Slade is suddenly forced to recall that he’s four storeys up, though manages to escape (?) with merely a broken ankle. One slap and a threat from gangster East Side Ernie on the way home and it’s the end to a perfect day. Oh, and then Stogie picks that moment to inform Slade that he’s reducing nicotine intake by another ten per cent. Grant and Wagner show they can handle comedy just as well as they can handle the finishing stages of a future war.

Rogue Trooper: All Hell on the Dix-I Front Part Three by Gerry Finley-Day and Colin Wilson. The Sun Legions hang-glide down from sub-orbital drop ships to the skies above Nu Atlanta. When you’ve shipped in a space fleet through a black hole, I’d question going for hang-gliders, when surely bombers or powered fighters would be a better idea. Rogue thinks so too when he uses incendiaries on some buildings. Because who would expect thermal currents above a burning warzone? Having disrupted the flight plans of the Sun Legion, it’s time for a third wave of Norts to roll out in zorb-like tubes being released from beneath the Orange Sea.

The Mean Arena by A Ridgway and Mike White. Despite being called ‘Earth-Mother’, the eyeless female manager (a much better candidate as a member of the Hexa-Gang than Brazen, who hasn’t appeared since her star pin-up last prog) is in charge of Mother Vlad’s Vampires, suggested by a reader in Leeds. Even though it looks nothing like it, I’d like to think that the castle they call home is actually Kirkstall Abbey, as that’s the most Gothic old building I can think of near Leeds. It looks like psychic powers are going to be introduced to this series as Earth-Mother / Mother Vlad seems to be forcing hallucinations on Tallon from afar.

Tharg’s Future-Shocks: The Writing on the Wall! by Alan Moore and Redondo. Two spacers are headed out towards the end of the universe. Unlike the Platinum Horde, these guys find it, in the form of a giant brick wall. They also notice that the wall is in two different colours and assume it has something written on it. They decide to scan the wall so that they scan get the computer to put it all together and find out what it says. It’s not explained why they can’t just fly away from it and read it from a distance, but never mind. Months later, after flying past a blog a hundred times larger than Jupiter, which turns out to be a comma, they photograph the whole message. Shock! It’s not the secret of the universe, it’s just some graffiti! Luckily, this got printed on the centrespread, so the two colours of wall jump out much more than if they’d been printed in black and white (though I think the person doing the colouring mixed up which side was supposed to be white and which was supposed to be brick-coloured on some panels).

Time for one of those new media bots as we’re introduced to D.J.1 in Mega-Sounds (if memory serves, this is Steve McManus exercising his pop cultural muscles). There’s four stories, two regarding soundtracks for sci-fi films (Bladerunner and Escape from New York), one about Duran Duran going on a photo-shoot and one about the cover to Tank: Filth Hounds of Hades – artwork by this prog’s cover droid Brett Ewins. I’ve had a look, and you’d have more luck getting a poster or T-shirt with Ewins’ artwork on than the actual album these days.

Judge Dredd: You Bet Your Life by T.B. Grover and Ian Gibson is ‘from the 2000 A.D. memory banks’. I probably said this last time, but having caught Walter watching a pirate TV show where the contestants are killed, he doesn’t punish the robot in the slightest.

A nice touch with this reprint is that it’s followed by a star pin-up of “Judge Dredd (as Gibson draws hi today)”.

Ace Trucking Co. Joobaloo! Part 1 by Grant Grover and Belardinelli. We start on the space city of Astropolis which resides on an asteroid, and whose population is involved in a mass exodus as space truckers converge for their annual convention (the name of which is in the title). First up, a drinking contest. G-B-H takes part but drops out soon after – he never intended to win, but couldn’t turn down the free mac-mac. Fatty Arkle does much better – well, he wins, you can’t do much better than that, though won’t be seeing much of the rest of the Joobaloo. Next prog – time for Ace to hit the gambling tables. What could go wrong? Oh, I should probably mention, we also meet Feek’s wife, who he ran out on ten years ago to join Ace. She looks a lot like Feek (i.e. a skeleton with skin stretched over it) except for a curly bouffant – a bit like how Skyla had a mop of hair, despite being a giant spider!

An joint ad for Weetabix and IPC Magazine reveals the names of the characters as Dunk, Bixie, Brains, Crunch and Brian.

Grailpage: Belardinelli gives us a great space city on an asteroid as Ace Trucking Co heads for Astropolis.

Grailquote: Alan Grant, Sam Slade: “That should hold ’em for long enough!” Stogie: “Long enough for you to deal with these others, eh, senor?”

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