2000AD Prog 275: Take your partners for the… SPLUD! Sha’ka War Dance!

As with the last Belardinelli cover, G-B-H takes centre stage in a fight, though this fight poses more of a threat to the pretty one-sided affair last time.

An earthlette writes in to Tharg’s Nerve Centre to complain that 2000AD isn’t priced high enough, feeling that it’s worth at least twice the 18p cover price.

Sam Slade, Robo-Hunter: The Killing of Kidd Part 1 by Alan Grant and Ian Gibson. We get a glimpse of Sam Slade’s home life as Robo-Stogie wakes him up in much the same way a hungry cat does, by walking over Slade’s neck and kicking his lip (a cat will tend to do this with claws out, it has to be said). It’s not good news from Slade’s point of view – his nicotine intake has now been reduced to zero. Oh, and Hoagy makes a habit of getting in to Sam’s bed while he’s asleep… Cases are few and far between, and not that well-paying when they do come. Then an unexpected parcel arrives. It’s abrasive adult in a baby brat’s body, Captain Jim Kidd. This was kind of given away in the title of the story, but never mind. First time I read this I had no idea who he was anyway. Since we last saw him at the end of Verdus, he’s had a new career kick off as a child star of a TV soap opera. Kidd has received attempts on his life. No great fan of Kidd, Slade thinks whoever is carrying out the attempts on his life has the right idea, though a hefty fee to act as bodyguard changes his mind. I half-remember how this all ends, but feel I could have guessed who’s responsible anyway.

Rogue Trooper: All Hell on the Dix-I Front part ten by Gerry Finley-Day and Colin Wilson is back on the story he did the first half of (so far, I don’t remember how many more episodes there are). I should have mentioned in the early episodes that the map featured an interestingly-named point called “Harpo’s Ferry”. I thought this was a bit too distinctive for us not to pay a visit to, and here we are. The South are evacuating the remainder of the civilians and soldiers from Dix-I to Nu-Araby. Rogue and Sledge are about to board one of the ferry craft when Bagman’s battle computer detects some Nort MCVs (Missile Carrying Vehicles) approaching and Rogue stays behind while Sledge is grabbed by a robot to put her on a solboat (I guess they’re solar-powered, though there’s no evidence of solar panels – also, how much sun gets down to Nu Earth through the chem-clouds?). Among all of the European-style realistic Colin Wilson artwork, the face of a child looks very cartoonish (just before he’s killed by Nort missiles). I imagine this was as a result of some sort of censorship to purposefully make the child character less realistic. Rogue and the Souther rearguard (who had apparently been issued with dud seal patches by a corrupt clerk, who probably sent the real ones to Norts) destroy all the MCVs but only after they’ve blown up the last of the solboats to leave. We don’t see the rearguard die, but Rogue is left alone on the beach afterwards, so they must have died either from wounds or the effects of chem-gas. At least he thinks he’s alone, until Sister Sledge makes a reappearance, and turns up the charm. In Bagman’s words “She’s getting all romantic!” and in Helm’s words: “An’ I think Rogue’s falling for it!” Gunnar’s contribution to this conversation was: “Huh?”

The Mean Arena by A Ridgway and Mike White. After a vampiric confrontation it’s time for Brazen to relate a flashback. Earth-Mother, aka Mother Vlad had a civilian name, Eartha Trent, and she stole Brazen’s man (Paul), encouraging him to take risks in the arena until his body was broken, when she left him. Brazen later joined the Slayers, on the off-chance that they’d be drawn against Mother Vlad’s Vampires. From the looks of it, with her origin story out, it’s time for her to die as the latest vampire that she kicks in the chest explodes right next to her. Half-remembering, I think this means all of the vampires have bombs in their chests, so that when Tallon’s due to plunge an electro-stake at the chest of the goal keeper he’ll be blown up.

Judge Dredd: Fungus Part 1 by T.B. Grover and Carlos Ezquerra. The third of the post-Apocalypse stories (and I mean that as being very specifically about themes arising in the aftermath of the war – which I looked forward to after later mega-epics but didn’t necessarily get). I had no idea who Jim Grubb was when I first read this. The Mayor has lost his memory though when he sees a mutated fungus the shape of the mushroom reminds him of an image he saw of East-Meg missiles exploding across Mega-City One. Just like the nuclear mushroom clouds, this one pops, showering Grubb (or Grubby as his forager companions knew him) in fungal spores. Before long he comes to the attention of Justice Department and put in to isolation. Unfortunately for the city, the other foragers also came in to contact with the spores and are at large (Dredd doesn’t know anything about them yet).

Space Truckers’ Dictionary New Edition. It’s not far off a year since the original Space Truckers’ Dictionary was published, so that’s enough time to rehash the content (and update it with a few of the new terms that have emerged in the stories since). This will be continued in the next prog, just covering from A-N in this installment.

Between the Space Truckers’ Dictionary and the latest misadventures from the space truckers themselves is Cinefax hosted by D-MIL. Pre-production has begun on “Raiders of the Lost Ark 2” (working title) and there are snippets on The Dark Crystal (along with a photo of Jen the Gelfling and urSu the Mystic), E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, XTRO and Mirrorman – which has Kevin O’Neill among the production crew! Though I can’t find any details on the film, so it doesn’t look like it ever got made.

Ace Trucking Co. Too Many Bams Part 3 by Grant Grover and Belardinelli. G-B-H keeps hold of Ace long enough for the trucker to get his gun and shoot at the worm trying to drag him underground. G-B-H’s Sha-ka War Dance (from the cover) and Ace’s gun scare off the lobster-armed worms, for the time being, anyway. While all this has been going on a fibrous metallic plant has been engulfing Speedo Ghost in its vines and has it held so tightly that Ghost can’t get free of them. The bampots are all for heading towards higher ground, a plateau in the distance. Over the course of the day they reach the plateau with no specific encounters (though a “gigantic, infinitely evil monstrosity” passes overhead). The bampots gather around a campfire and dance faster and faster around it until they are a blur. When they stop there are double the number of bampots. Don’t expect any more explanation of their population explosion than that, because you’re not going to get it! That night Feek and Chiefy are left on guard until Ace is woken up by Chiefy in a rather more violent manner than Robo-Stogie woke Sam at the top of the prog, wailing that “Feek’s dead!”

Nerve Centre Extra has the Events Guide (The Nostalgia and Comics Convention in Birmingham, Fanderson ’82 and the London Comic Mart), plus tips on getting letters and artwork published.

Grailpage: There were a few instances in earlier progs where I was torn between a Belardinelli page and whatever I ended up picking. I generally picked the other because I knew there would be Belardinelli pages I could pick later. This is paying off now as the Italian art droid delivers another landscape on the inhospitable planet of Gordon (the one with creepy crawlies, a skull, skeletal hand and misty terrain).

Grailquote: Alan Grant, Sam Slade: “A robot divorce is all I need! Hoagy – show these utensils the door!” Hoagy: “This here’s the door, yup!” Dustpan: “Keep your eyes off it, you!”

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