2000AD Prog 271: “Ditch him, G-B-H …the fate of Ace Trucking is at stake!” Battle of the Biffos!

Belardinelli’s Ace Trucking Co cover features G-B-H in the midst of a fight. This is not the only Belardinelli cover to feature such a scene…

Tharg’s Nerve Centre opens with calamitous news. The price of the prog has increased by tuppence to 18p (as I write this, this week’s prog cost £2.99).

Sam Slade, Robo-Hunter: The Filby Case Part 6 by Alan Grant and Ian Gibson. On the verge of being sacrificed by the Robo-Goonies (not that he realises it, though everybody else knows) Hoagy still refuses to tell Sam Slade his whereabouts. Luckily Robo-Stogie is around to trick him in to revealing his location (by saying he’d like to join the Temple Goonie but needs to know where to go). Taking the Leymek Hoverstreak (I think it was called) Slade soon has tail. Two, in fact, as the local organised crime boss and Imperial Robots punch-bots take chase. Smashing down on top of Brighton Tower, Slade is just in time to stop Ronald and Hoagy from being pushed off, to their deaths. In the altercation, Slade pushes the Goon-Leader to his death instead. It doesn’t seem like too much of a threat to me, as the now irate Robo-Goonies are at the bottom of the Tower, as Slade and company are at the top and have a fast hover-car. Things are never quite that simple though, as we’ll find out next prog…

Rogue Trooper: All Hell on the Dix-I Front Part Six by Gerry Finley-Day and Cam Kennedy. You know there have been scheduling conflicts when the artist for a story changes mid-way through. This week (and next, I believe) Cam will be illustrating the mini-story within the main narrative focusing around some Southpoint Military Academy officer-cadets (riffing on West Point Military Academy in New York state). Other than world-building, there’s some continuity building as we find out Nu Earth still had breathable air forty years ago, in earlier days of the war. Unfortunately these officer-cadets are under a Colonel living in the past, of the ‘march-slowly-towards-the-enemy’ variety, and refuses to take advice from Rogue, even after the column of cadets are torn apart by Nort missiles. They have some sort of synth musical instruments, though they look more like weapons so I’m not too sure which ones are supposed to be guns and which are supposed to be instruments… The synth music gives Rogue an idea though. While all this is going on, Sister Sledge was hinting she should leave Rogue as she’s slowing the genetic infantryman down. Towards the end of this episode there’s a pic of the Nort Armoured Legion which I’m sure is going to get used in the Rogue Trooper boardgame by Games Workshop in a few years time.

The Mean Arena by A Ridgway and Mike White. It looks like Sourpuss is going to be overwhelmed by Mother Vlad’s Vampires, but he manages to hold them off until back-up arrives in the shape of Screaming Sid and new boy Wolf Rawker. Unfortunately a bat glider manages to score a goal anyway – the Slayer’s goal being a giant Slayer head which spurts synthi-blood when cracked. I’d better also mention that the Vampires goal (as we found out in an earlier prog but I neglected to relate) involves wrestling the keeper into a coffing, then plunging an electro-stake in his chest. What could possibly go wrong? I’d had the impression early on that calling the Black Ace (where the enemy team’s marksman can take a single shot to kill) is supposed to be quite a rare occurrence. Rollo Hartie forces Matt Tallon into calling the Black Ace. I think this is the third time we’ve seen it called, plus another in flashback.

Tharg’s Future-Shocks: One Christmas During Eternity! by Alan Moore and Jesus Redondo. A couple prepare for christmas. Immortality has been achived for humanity, and so they have now spent three hundred and seven years together, but christmas is the best day of they year as they prepare presents and food for their child Timmy. All of Moore’s Shocks seem to be two-pagers and this is no exception. It is different to all those stories where something is bigger of smaller than you expect though. With this one the shock is that the son isn’t really their son – he’s a robot, because nobody has children any more, to keep the population stable. It is touching, spending one day a year with a fake child to make up for the lack of children (though why not just keep the robot child around all the time? Nitpick over).

D.J.1 is back with Mega-Sounds, trying to gleen some sci-fi angle from whatever is in the pop charts. Toyah’s Brave New World, Thomas Dolby’s The Golden Age of Wireless, a Thunderbirds soundtrack and Toltex 9 get the mentioned.

Judge Dredd: Meka-City Part 1 by T.B. Grover and Carlos Ezquerra. Something I love about The Apocalypse Wars is all the post-war stories we get, even into the time that I started reading 2000AD, a year later. This is the first one. All those dead mega-citizens mean loads of ownerless robots in search of a leader. They find one though it doesn’t take long for them to regret it. Meanwhile we get an update on life in Mega-City One for the citizens – McGruder has instigated compulsory labour units. In Mega-City One, few people know the meaning of work and in the new Chief Judge’s words they “are about to learn”. McGruder gives Dredd teh assignment to deal with the robot rebellion in South Sector 555 – where former robot wrestler Precious Leglock has bullied those leaderless robots into building a wrestling ring for him, and then a city around the ring. And all in two days.

Cursed Earth Competition Winners! There’s 175 winners who all won a copy of The Titan Books The Cursed Earth Part II – I can’t imagine how many copies were printed in the first place if that’s how many were being given away free! Amongst the winners is somebody I know! Simon Belmont, the first person to appear on the Mega City Book Club (and how has been back three more times).

Ace Trucking Co. Joobaloo Part 4 by Grant Grover and Belardinelli. G-B-H is doing well in the Battle of the Biffos (biffos being space trucker slang for trouble-shooters). In fact, a little too well, as none of those he goes up against are a match for him, and the odds Ace is getting are thus suitably low. Jago Kain offers him the best odds possible – for all Garp wants is his ships back, and all he has to stake is all the money he has. Having established the wager, in front of witnesses, it’s time to introduce Brute – Kain’s new biffo. He’s big. Very big. About twice as tall as G-B-H and with arms as big as Ace’s biffo. Despite the ease with which Brute can pummel any of the other biffos, he’s very polite and hopes there’s no hard feelings from those he’s about to beat senseless. I think he means it (even if Jago Kain doesn’t).

The inside back cover has an ad for that Cursed Earth Book II collection, plus part 3 of the comic advert for The Secret of Nimh film (apparently ripped from a comic album, which I hope reads better than these selected panels).

Cosmic Hardware. It’s time for more reader-submitted content as Tharg presents four space craft one of which looks like the front section of a battlestar, including hangars and for some reason flying over a sea on which sail some galleons. I’m sure I saw something like this before – unless I just caught a glimpse of this when I was pulling out a batch of comics a few weeks ago.

Grailpage: for images that stick with you, Brute smashing through the wall to greet Ace and G-B-H is the page in this comic that I could almost picture despite not having seen it for decades.

Grailquote: TB Grover, Judge Dredd: “Next time, we get our retaliation in first.” I’d thought this line was at the end of the main Apocalypse story, but nope, it pops up in Meka-City.

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