2000AD Prog 270: “BEAST!” Ace Garp gets the big brush-off! See this week’s “heart-warming” episode of… Ace Trucking Co.

Belardinelli puts in an Ace cover this week and Ace’s scarf joins in by making a heart shape.

Tharg’s Nerve Centre reveals that Tharg’s birthday is the 21st of June (not that the passage of time means much to him). This is a half-size Nerve Centre to allow space for the second part of the comic advert of The Secret of Nimh film adaptation.

Sam Slade, Robo-Hunter: The Filby Case Part 5 by Alan Grant and Ian Gibson. Slade fends off one of the Special Branch droids (sending it crashing in to the ground) and, thanks to the other one going berzerk, manages to ‘drown’ the other, burning out the black box recorder so that Special Branch can’t trace the destruction back to him. There’s one thing he forgot though – Stogie has also drowned in the pool! Fortunately for the dead cigar (whose “fire’s gone out”) Slade isn’t just good at destroying robots, he can also put them back together again (within reason). The last page is great, Slade dismantling and reassembling the tiny robot, pumping out the water in the robotic cigar and being rewarded by a kiss from Carlos Sanchez Robostogie! I’ll probably end up picking something flashier for the grailpage though…

Rogue Trooper: All Hell on the Dix-I Front Part Five by Gerry Finley-Day and Colin Wilson. If we’re still following Nort phases then they’re probably on phase four by now, rolling out the psychogen attacks. Souther troops are still only too willing to take off their chem suits at the sight of a dancing woman – whether the dance is a square dance, ballet dancing or ‘funky dancing’. That’s not the only gas around though, as the steam from the Memfizz Geysers pushes both the psychogen and the usual chem clouds away from the area, allowing humans to remove their suits in safety. A few Norts also join in but overhear Rogue and Sledge talking to each other. Sister Sledge comes up with an idea and they start disrobing… By the time the Norts get within sight, she’s somehow found a ballroom dress, the two dancing together to trick the watching Norts into thinking some psychogen gas is still around. They suit up, which also makes it more difficult for them to hear. There’s some interaction in the last panel as Sledge walks ahead. Bagman defends Sledge for coming up with the idea, Helm is reminded of “a doll” he knew and Gunnar wants rid of her…

The Mean Arena by A Ridgway and Mike White. The game begins and it’s not long before Tallon is hallucinating again – he really should have taken up Local Annie’s offer of a medical. Re-using a cliffhanger from the Ants game, Sourpuss is alone in defending the Slayers’ goal from three animal-dressed Vampires players.

Tharg’s Future-Shocks: The Big Day by Alan Moore and Robin Smith. This is much better than Robin Smith’s Captain Klep work – though a one-page superhero humour strip is hardly a good showcase for artwork. A biblical leader takes a tribe to a golden pillar, awaiting a message from the gods. It’s not an alien invasion and it’s not Earth, but they find themselves under Neil Armstrong’s foot as he takes “one small step for mankind” so we’ve seen this before.

Cinefax sees the last of the three new media droids – this one is D-MIL, who speaks in a very Hollywood director style. I like Ro-Jaws reviews, not so happy with being called “hume babies” by this droid. Films mentioned are Bladerunner, Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, Tron, Supergirl, Conan (The Barbarian), Krull, The Sword & the Sorceror, Beastmaster and E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial. Hardly anything is known about any of these films at the point this was published so it’s light on details.

Judge Dredd: Apocalypse War Part 25 by T.B. Grover and Carlos Ezquerra. Izaaks wants the war ended, as does just about everybody on Kazan’s Strato-V. They hate him, fear him but are still East-Meg judges, and he is their War Marshal (you can tell I’m paraphrasing Izaaks’ words, can’t you). Time for Dredd to do what they cannot. To help him along the way, Izaaks announces on the intercom that Dredd has been released. One execution later and the Apocalypse War is over. McGruder gets sworn in as the new Chief Judge (apparently having lost a hand, though resting her stump on the Book of Law while taking her oath), the surviving Sov judges get dropped next to the hole that was East-Meg One and McGruder asks the question that a few earthlets wrote in with – is this the doom that Feyy foretold? Dredd’s answer… …is in the grailquote section below!

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.

Ace Trucking Co. Joobaloo! Part 3 by Grant Grover and Belardinelli. I’ve said before that Ace Garp is pretty honourable. When it’s almost certain that a distress beacon was a decoy, he still checked it out on the off-chance it was genuinely a trucker in trouble. He never leaves a crewmate behind, even at great personal risk to himself. That’s all out of the window this prog, as he’s only too willing to mistreat Mrs Feek even though she’s rightfully aggrieved at her being deserted by Feek Freek. He then trips her up, injuring her, sexually assaulting her and then kidnapping her and posting her by interstellar mail. All so he can get Feek’s crown for a stake in the Battle of the Biffos. Though then he talks about it just after selling the crown for the byms, and his plan is conveyed to Jago Kain. Giving the Yellow Line boss time to plan…

An Airfix ad on the back page – three kits: Encounter with Yoda on Dagobah, Battle on Hoth but best of all, the AT-AT. And I say this as somebody who still has my now much-battered AT-AT to this day!

Grailpage: I didn’t think I’d pick this, despite liking it, but even the death of Kazan (spread across two pages, so can’t count as a single grailpage) won’t dislodge the resurrection of Carlos Sanchez Robostogie and the cuban cigar’s gratitude brought to us by Ian Gibson.

Grailquote: TB Grover, Chief Judge McGruder: “It’s like a scene out of hell, Dredd. I wonder – could this be the catastrophe that Judge Feyy predicted for the city?” Judge Dredd: “Either that, or there’s worse to come.”

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