2000AD Prog 282: A stab in the dark “…and the Great Garpo shall die!”

This Belardinelli cover skips last prog’s cliffhanger (where Ace is due to get barbecued) and trots on to the next threat against the space trucker’s life.

Future comic writer Warren Ellis makes a second appearance in Tharg’s Nerve Centre, this time pouring on the praise for the Apocalypse War.

Ace Trucking Co. The Kloistar Run Part 4 by Grant Grover and Belardinelli. As noted, the cliffhanger is somewhat diminished as the cover has skipped to the next threat, but first Ace has to do the ‘walking on hot coals’ trick, without showing any signs of pain – much to Jago Kain’s delight. Until the earthman hears the next part of the prophecy – that one of Garpo’s followers will follow in his footsteps – also not showing any signs of pain. Revenge taken, Garp and the crews retire to a palace where they prepare to sleep on beds of flowers. Until the threat from the cover – three evil assassins arrive with murder in mind (Jago finds this hilarious). Belardinelli’s artwork adapts to the slapstick antics of all involved, while not getting too cartoonish. Ace’s scarf is very much a character now.

Judge Dredd: Destiny’s Angels Part 2 by T.B. Grover and Carlos Ezquerra. As with the first episode (which I didn’t mention) the first two pages are in colour but as individual pages – i.e. not laid out for centrespread – which is for the best this prog as the colour pages are not in the centre (must be displaced by a paying advertiser). We catch up with Grunwalder and find out that the robot now rules the entire planet of Xanadu, thanks to Owen Krysler, and that the psychic formerly known as the Judge Child is thus allowed the indulgence of revenge. Having resurrected Mean Machine, Krysler sends the undead cyborg to Mega-City One to meet up with his newly-freed brother. Following a hunch, Dredd suspects that Fink might head for Resyk to collect Ratty. Dredd is correct…

Time for a relic of the eighties as we get Tharg’s Mighty Micro Page, containing two programs in BASIC and a piece of reader art which was not drawn on a computer.

An ad for KP Outer Spacers next, The Eyes of the Aliens (part one of a three part serial) featuring art by Frank Langford. As well as comic artwork (most prominent in the 21st century is probably the Doctor Who strips he did) he regularly did commercial work, this appears to be one of the last.

Rogue Trooper: The Marauders Part one by Gerry Finley-Day and Colin Wilson. I love this story – the marauders are a group of former Nort and Souther soldiers who have taken refuge in the wreck of a Souther military satellite, crashed in a jungle. It’s Nu Earth so it’s probably a chem jungle, or a scum forest or something. As they head out on a raid we don’t see the face of their commander (so as this is Rogue Trooper and not a Future-Shock we know it’s going to be the Traitor General). After establishing that the commander is not any of the Souther generals from Buzzard Three, Rogue decides to join the Maruaders, at least temporarily. But the commander is the Traitor General, hidden behind a scarred face.

The Mean Arena by Alan Ridgway and Mike White. After two years of build-up Tallon finally faces the final two members of the gang who he holds responsible for the death of his brother. With 71 episodes behind it, this final episode wraps things up a bit too quickly – last week’s cliffhanger was the usual mysterious hand at a control, this one rapidly reveals the faces (exactly who we’ve thought they’d be, virtually from their first appearances back in 1980), show Kevin O’Connor and Rollo Hartie gaining the upper hand, then Brazen completely ignoring Tallon’s request and saving his life by letting him know where to find the energy-junction of the game’s controls. Tallon shoots at that, the control console starts glowing and oh, brother sucks the pair into the computer game where they’re going to be running around a computer game for eternity. It’ll all happen in five years, folks (or one year if you go by the original time frame). I actually did like Mean Arena when it started, and it’s had some great art over its episodes (even if not often great enough to take grail page – I’ve not been keeping particular note so I’m not sure it’s taken any grailpages – I should probably make a spreadsheet to keep track of them). Anyway, it had some good moments – I still love the concept of getting readers to suggest local teams. I also feel like I could find my way around Reading now. The series certainly suffers by having come after Harlem Heroes and Inferno – because almost all of the same plot points, characters and some times names have been recycled!

Tharg’s Future-Shocks: Sunburn by Alan Moore and Jesus Redondo. Moore goes from the heat death of the universe to a very much still active sun. Interestingly a character named Rorschach appears – but he’s not a masked vigilante. Force-areas have been discovered on the sun. They’re much cooler than the surrounding surface areas. In the 2250s humans have established holiday cities in these force areas. There follows five pages of a holiday maker who murdered his wife during a bout of bad temper and the rest is his attempt to get away with it scot-free, liberally sprinkled with puns, turns of phrase and solar-related humour.

Grailpage: Jesus Redondo’s opener showing an establishing shot of the sun, a close-up and an even closer-up, then a cityscape of Heliopolis, a tourist city on the surface of the sun.

Grailquote: Grant Grover, Feek: “I think it all go to his head!” G-B-H: “Definite no hee hee!” (I didn’t make a mistake, it was G-B-H stealing Feek’s usual line).

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