2000AD Prog 285: Robo Hunter goes football crazy! “What’s the score, Sam, huh?”

Ian Gibson’s cover introduces the problematic elements of this week’s Robo-Hunter episode straight away – 38 years later these Japanese stereotypes have not aged well.

2000AD isn’t the only comic from IPC that costs 18p, as Tharg plugs Charley’s War in Battle. The Nerve Centre continues with a letter from an earthlet (sorry, tellurian) who wants to reignite the debate around what to call those who dwell on this planet. Though this was already settled by Tharg, who will allow people to self-identify (otherwise she’d have been an earthlette – never mind the earthlet/earthlette debate – that’s still to come). Maybe for the first time, somebody asks what colour Judge Death’s uniform is – Tharg gives the answer, also encompassing Dredd’s uniform – black in both cases (but that it sometimes appears blue when drawn). I’m sure this will be asked again, and the answer in that future prog will reference Superman’s hair colour being black, but also shown with a blue tinge.

Sam Slade, Robo-Hunter: Football Crazy Part 3 by Alan Grant and Ian Gibson. Think of an outdated comedian who used to appear on TV in the seventies but doesn’t any more. The sort who might (if they’re lucky) get gigs at working men’s clubs but only make appearances in the media when they end up insulting women working in those clubs – either be spouting some sexist claptrap at them or making comments about their ethnicity. Now imagine that they’re depicting Japanese tourists in a comic. This is the kind of thing appearing in this episode. At least only the character of questionable morals (Kidd) is the only one who uses the epithet ‘nip’. Thankfully these scenes are over pretty quickly as Sam, Kidd and Hoagy get carted off by the robocops and Japan gets knocked out of the competition. It’s going to be Italy’s turn next. Hopefully familiarity with some real-life Italians will mean it won’t be quite so painful to read.

Imposters on Parade! Six pictures sent in by readers, starting with a copy of a picture by Italian artist Belardinelli (of Big Hungry) but wearing a judge uniform. Ron Smith’s Marlon Shakespeare gets similar treatment while the other four pictures are judge uniform-wearing ducks, Satan, a druid and an egg in an egg cup.

Tharg the Mighty in The Shredding Part 3. The dictators take Tharg off to get pickled (in a pickle jar, not drunk) and while they’re away the droids have a confab about the situation in front of a poster “A. Trench A real brammer”. I spot Alan Moore, Burt, McMahon and there’s a few more which are obviously supposed to be based on actual people – one had a tag saying “return when empty” while another has a label “Harry”. The droids break into Tharg’s office, discover the mighty one in the pickle jar and release him. They accelerate his greening up (what colour is he now?) using special gas. By the time the dictators return, Tharg is back to his mighty green self and in panic they try to escape, ending up having their faces erased by the same gas that gave Tharg power.

Judge Dredd: Destiny’s Angels Part 5 by T.B. Grover and Carlos Ezquerra. Mean Machine and Fink Angel finally meet again – though only after Fink paralyses his li’l brother and drags him to his underground lair in a wasteland sector. Interestingly Fink questions whether it is now possible to kill Mean, due to his having already been brought back from the dead. The evidence would suggest it is now impossible to kill Mean (based on the next 38 years of Mean stories). While Mean is hanging around with Fink, Dredd gets authorisation to send a robot crewed interstellar craft to take care of Owen Krysler, once and for all. While Dredd enlists Psi Division to try to find the brothers, Mean and Fink make it easy for him by paying a visit to Rowdy Yates Conapt, and the reappearance of Maria and Walter.

Rogue Trooper: The Marauders Part 4 by Gerry Finley-Day and Colin Wilson returns after Kennedy’s two episodes. Back on the rack, the Traitor General tortures Rogue for a bit while the biochips (and the pieces of equipment they’re on) get shared out among the marauders. Gunnar being Gunnar, all it takes for him in the hands of an expert Nort sniper is to see just how expert a shot that Nort is. The Traitor General takes a break from torturing Rogue for no particular reason, leaving him with some inattentive guards. One of whom is wearing Bagman, who slips something to Rogue while they’re all drinking ab-synth.

Ace Trucking Co. The Kloistar Run Part 7 by Grant Grover and Belardinelli. Jago Kain’s pleasure at the news that Ace’s head is going to be moved from his body is tempered somewhat this prog when it turns out the same applies to all of the disciples, including him. Never one to let imminent death get him down, Ace sends the pigrat Chiefy off to carry a message to Ghost. Adhering to the Chekhov’s Gun principle, the hologram projector from the beginning of the story makes a reappearance, interrupting the multiple execution with a vision of the sky god Great Garpo and allowing Ace and the other luggers to get away.

Inside back cover and we get the first glimpse of Harry Twenty – plus the first appearance of some Alan Davis artwork in the prog.

Part three of the Robo-World poster has Boots, Hoagy, Steamin’ Joe, the Teeny Meks and salt and pepper. I’m now wondering if Sewergator is going to make it in to any of these segments (and am going back and forward to check).

Grailpage: Belardinelli’s opening page of Ace Trucking Co, because the splash image featuring different sizes of chopping blocks (sized to accommodate Chiefy at one end and G-B-H at the other) reminds me of the end of Inferno, which had a similar range of tombstone sizes.

Grailquote: TB Grover, Mean Machine: “Come to git ma revenge on that low-down lawman Dredd! Gonna fix him good fer kill’ Pa an’ the boys – not fergittin’ me!”

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