2000AD Prog 278: “Do something, Slade! I’m gonna BURST!” Inflation hits Brit-Cit!

Not that I’m complaining, but there’s an awful lot of Ian Gibson Robo-Hunter covers. The scene on this one takes place at the end of the last episode and beginning of this one.

Tharg’s Nerve Centre has a few missives from overseas readers, Tharg hints that international rules and regulations prevent competitions and offers being applicable overseas and also cause long waiting periods between publishing and arrival dates.

Sam Slade, Robo-Hunter: Killing of Kidd Part 4 by Alan Grant and Ian Gibson. Slade winds Kidd (as in winding a baby). It works. Slade discovers the concentrated helium gas pellet which caused Kidd to inflate in the first place, and Kidd tries to murder his mother, the gibbon. This is interrupted by another murder attempt on his life – Slade springs in to action, shoots down the would-be assassin’s hover vehicle and finds it was the understudy. Kidd congratulates and then fires his bodyguard. While mourning the loss of the high fee, Slade is quickly brought out of it by a call from Kidd – his hover limo has been shot and he’s plummeting to the ground. Slade starts angling for a raise…

There’s a three-quarter page ad for both of this year’s annuals next – I won’t say anything about them here as I’m going to be doing them straight after this blog post. Oh, except there’s an ambiguous announcement that “some of” the script and art droids will be attending a signing at Forbidden Planet on Denmark Street. Also of interest in this advertising spead (and also from Forbidden Planet) are a Judge Dredd badge, gold-plated (though seemingly pretty cheap at £2.75, not that I know the historic price of gold or how thinly it was coated) plus three minitatures of Slade, Dredd and Death at 40mm tall.

Earlier in the prog than it has been recently is the last part of Ace Trucking Co. Too Many Bams (Part 6) by Grant Grover and Belardinelli. The bams aren’t going anywhere as they seem to really hate overpopulation above all things (more about that later). Ace, Chiefy and G-B-H attempt to leave, but the planet isn’t letting them, not without the bampots. They get swallowed by the evil flying creature which snatched Feek. Speaking of whom, they find him inside – alive and well. And are quickly joined by the original bampot colonists. And then the creature lands on a pinnacle of rock and fades away. Then a figure emerges form the nearest mountain (as in the mountain turns in to the bust, arms and head of a person, like the Nome King from Return to Oz or the Rockeater from Never Ending Story, but predating both films by at least three years). The planet has calculated that the bampots will have entirely covered its surface within a year at their current multiplication rate and threatens to kill them if they don’t leave now. Unfortunately for the planet, its too nice and even though they refuse to leave because they (allegedly) hate overpopulation, it can’t carry out its threat. Ace brokers a deal between them – Planet Gordon won’t kill them as long as the bampots stop multiplying and hold it at a few thousand bams. This seems reasonable, but this is where I don’t believe they really hate that overpopulation thing that much, as they refuse to cease their multiplication. I’m totally on Gordon’s side here, and the bampots are the villains of the piece. Gordon summons up a whirlwind to transport them back to the now-freed Speedo Ghost (though bungles the landing somewhat). They’re well enough to depart Gordon though, leaving the planet with bampots who, even now, are multiplying, even though they claim that death is better than overpopulation. Having finished a block of progs, I listened to the Space Spinner 2000 podcast where Conrad had been informed as to the identities of those bampots:
Professor Max Challenger – Massimo
Miss Frobisher – Valentina Bellardineli
Haskins – Grant
Dave Paton (who shares his name with the owner of Elvis the Killer Car) – lettering droid Steve Potter
Celia fForbes-Schmidt – Mrs Bellardineli
Chumley – Wagner

Judge Dredd: The Game Show Show Part 1 by T.B. Grover and J Casanovas Jnr. A cold open has somebody tripping over a wire and setting off a machine gun, which doesn’t quite kill them. They reach for a game card which gives a split-second warning of a spiked weight which kills the hapless contestant. Over in Justice Department (probably still at the temporary home of the Academy of Law) McGruder has summoned Dredd. She seems to have two hands but they’re gloved so I don’t know if one’s robotic (I’m sure she lost at least one by the time she was sworn in as Chief Judge though). He’s put on the trail of four hundred game show hosts who have gone missing. Time for a flashback as we find out that Barimore Dreery has wanted to be a game show host since he was a child. Unfortunately he’s Dreery by name and dreary by nature, sending contestants to sleep the one time he gets a chance to achieve his ambition. Getting fired at the end of the show, he’s swears revenge, though can’t carry it out until he inherits a massive fortune when his uncle was killed during the Apocalypse War which he uses to design and build a death trap obstacle course in a theatre or TV studio. Bringing us up to the present and Dredd is called to a radiation pit where the first batch of game show hosts have been found, dead and dumped. I’m sure the names of the hosts are based on real game show hosts, but the only one I partially recognise is Eamonn Enos, who is riffing on Eamonn Andrews (presenter of This is Your Life, not technically a game show, but sets up the line “This is your death”).

Rogue Trooper: The Assassination Run Part One by Gerry Finley-Day and Cam Kennedy. Following on directly from All Hell on the Dix-I Front, the viewpoint shifts to Bland and Brass. We find out more about them – Brass worked on military computers for the Norts for ten years while Bland spent ten years in the Souther pay-corps (which it looks like he embezzled to set up their body-looting operation). They’re on the fringes of the newly occupied territory picking over the battlefields. Patching into Nort computers they see that Rogue has been sighted in the area. Using access to Nort satellites they watch the stadium at Nu Nuremberg (just in case we were in any doubt about the Nazi connotations of the sometimes-Nazi, sometimes-Soviet Norts). The body-looters get to see the Nort tradition of dipping standards in the River Rind before the victory parade (which I’m sure is a parody of something in old Earth, but I’ve not been able to track down a reference). They get to see Rogue drag one of the standard-bearers into the river and steal his identity chip, which will allow him to gain access to the parade ground. Based on past stories, I’m surprised he didn’t just use one of the biochips. Donning a Nort suit and a mask which looks like a neanderthal with a Hitler haircut (though no moustache) he’s ready to go in – and Bland and Brass are ready to sell him out to the Norts for a hefty fee.

Hot Item by Alan Moore and John Higgins, strangely not under the Future-Shock banner, but may as well be. Not long ago I complained about how much of a waste of pages The Lanulos Run was. Based around the heat-death of the universe, the five pages of this tale are packed with wry takes on the fight for survival when the most precious thing left is any source of energy. Everyone gets tired easily and an insurmountable distance to chase prey can be measured in metres, sometimes centimetres. Friction isn’t what it was, but then neither is gravity. The onset of darkness doesn’t mean the sun is going down, but that it’s going out – or rather did go out, years earlier (as even the speed of light has slowed). We’re following two travellers who have found a source of energy and are trying to take it back to their village. They eventually get back to the very Norse-like settlement (fimbulwinter was mentioned in the first narration box) ready to reveal to their tribe what they have found. Is it anthracite (coal)? Is it some safety matches? How about Uranium isotopes? Or oil? None of those things – it’s the same punchline as in that earlier Future-Shock referenced above – a copy of Prog 262 of 2000AD. Why do I love this story but think the previous one was a waste of space? Alan Moore’s wit has to have something to do with it. That this is packed full of jokes reappraising what we might think of energy and how we regard measurements of speed and distance helps. Personally I love pre-history (including Celtic and Norse mythological stories) and mythical future-history (the kind we get in Nemesis the Warlock). I’m also not a fan of generic space sci-fi, which that Future-Shock was.

Rogue Trooper: Fighter in the face of future war is a back page poster showing the outline of Rogue’s head (but not face) and an action pic of him and a Nort hopper in the front of it. Not a fan of the imaget

Grailpage: there’s so much good art in this prog – and some of it hints at what we’ll get in a few years (Belardinelli’s picture of the evil flying creature as it lands reminds me of the Knucker from Dragonhoard) but the words and John Higgin’s pictures of the opening page to Hot Item evokes the long cold nothingness at the end of the universe, while injecting it with slapstick comedy (the falling vulture which I haven’t mentioned anywhere else in this blog post) and the steampunkesque vehicle and ogre-like heat-jackers.

Grailquote: Alan Moore, first traveller: “It’s getting darker! The sun must be going down!” Second traveller: “I doubt it. The sun’s been in the same place for the last twelve hours. It must be going out!” First traveller: “Hmm. You’re right… Actually, it probably went out years ago and it’s taken this long for the light to reach us…” Second traveller: “Aye. The speed of light’s not what it was, is it?”

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