2000AD Prog 281: One of Dredd’s old enemies returns… but which one?

For the first time in over a year, Tharg presents a wrap-around cover – and assuming the last one was a Stainless Steel Rat one then it’s the same cover artist back again with Carlos showing Dredd facing off against some faces from his past – namely Murd the Opressor, The Lawgiver (the person from the Devil’s Lapdogs town, not the gun), War Marshal Kazan, Judge Death, Judge Fear, Mean Machine Angel and Fink Angel. The cover lies to us by telling us that one of these old enemies will be returning – it’s actually going to be two of them! To add to the confusion, all but one of those characters is dead.

Of note in the Nerve Centre is Motortharg – a Snaggletooth-inspired portrait (Snaggletooth being the Joe Petagno-designed Motörhead logo). Among the letters are some pointing out that the spaceship/galleon picture a few progs ago was stolen from elsewhere – from the two sources given it looks like stock art that was used in multiple places. I did wonder why the spaceship was above an ocean with a galleon or two on it – the reason was that the image had been lifted from somewhere else.

Sam Slade, Robo-Hunter: The Killing of Kidd Part 7 by Alan Grant and Ian Gibson. This is how you finish a story! Not rushed, not stretched-out and keeps up the action and comedy until the end. Slade enters the operating theatre blasting (but it’s the wrong theatre). Fortunately he has some time to get to the right operating theatre as Kidd’s would-be murderers are arguing about how to kill him. Finding the right theatre, Slade bursts in on a gurney, but the doors slam shut on him. Breaking up the fight the robocops end up arresting them all, but Kidd’s show gets cancelled. Once the events hit the headlines, Kidd’s public image goes downhill (transplanting your mother’s head onto the body of a gibbon will do that). Having a meltdown at a hypermart opening, Kidd has to pay all he has to the victims (he had a meltdown while firing a gun) and – inspired by Slade’s example of running a detective agency, opens up his own – across the street to Slade… I can’t actually remember if this set-up continues in a future story – the only stories I can think of featuring singing, football (groan) and Slade getting killed (sorry, should I have put a spoiler in there?)

Dredd – by Demand is two pages of Dredd art submitted by readers. Six pictures, most not too obviously traced and no names I recognise.

Rogue Trooper: Hats off to Helm Part Two by Gerry Finley-Day and Cam Kennedy. Pinned down with one of his own grenades set to go off right next to him, Helm volunteers to have the hat he’s plugged in to used to cover the grenade. The grenade turns out to be a dud, but at least Helm was prepared to lay down his life (un-life?) for his comrades. That night Rogue repairs the chin-strap that allowed the helmet (and Helm) to fall off at the beginning of the first half of this story. Meanwhile, Helm is getting big-headed (pun not intended, but I’ll leave it there) about how he’s a hero and to emphasise this a sudden Nort patrol discovers Rogue, their first shot ricochetting off of the helm. The last panel points out that Gunnar is trigger-happy, Bagman is erratic and now Helm is a big-head. As with Kidd’s detective agency – I can’t remember if this set-up will be relevant in future stories, so looking forward to finding out.

Mega-Sounds has that Steve MacManus photo of Lemmy from Motorhead getting his teeth into Prog 272 (which itself highlighted members of a famous band reading 2000AD).

Any mystery over which of Dredd’s foes is returning is dispelled almost immediately with the title of Judge Dredd: Destiny’s Angels Part 1 by T.B. Grover and Carlos Ezquerra. A Judge-Warder gets a strange urge to release all of the prisoners on Level K of Iso-Block 666 – which just happens to contain The Fink. Meanwhile, on the other side of the galaxy, Owen Krysler, the Judge Child is busy resurrecting Mean Machine Angel – I think only the second time a 2000AD character has been literally brought back from the dead (rather than brought back from pretend dead).

Over in The Mean Arena by Alan Ridgeway and Mike White the final game is ready to begin as Tallon turns down Brazen’s offer of help in getting revenge on his brother’s / her boyfriend’s death and walks alone in to the ‘arcade game arena’. As with that holographic asteroid room from Harlem Heroes / Inferno, Tallon is almost killed by a real robot masquerading as a hologram but a sixth sense allowed Tallon to escape death. The episode ends with mysterious hands at the controls of a machine (no vid screen though – but still lends credence to the idea that Alan Ridgway is Tom Tully in disguise).

Over in the Fringe Worlds (sorry, that’s Nemesis) – over on a fringe world, Ace Trucking Co. The Kloistar Run Part 3 by Grant Grover and Belardinelli has Ace Garp come face to face with an over-sized statue of the Great Garpo, who bears a striking resemblance to Ace Garp. After a feast (meaning a great feast page from Belardinelli, as we’ve previously seen on board the Bloo Maru) comes the after dinner entertainment – Ace – sorry, Garpo – is to walk white hot coals without feeling pain… Jago Kain is still around, taking great delight at the Great Garpo’s distress.

Grailpage: Belardinelli puts in a great feast – as with the Bloo Maru, dining is an excuse to put in loads of fine details. The only thing missing is a Belardinelli cameo, though there is a character I had to look twice at because they were eating a spaghetti-like substance (which might have bene wiggling of its own accord and could be worms or maggots).

Grailquote: Grant Grover, Jago Kain: “There’s gonna be a barbycue all right, pencilhead – YOU!”

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