2000AD Prog 286: “We got yer wife, Dredd!”

A third Dredd cover from King Carlos for this story – by the time it finishes half of the episodes will have boasted a cover – really making up for the lack of covers for some of the best characters to have opposed Dredd in the first five years.

Tharg’s Nerve Centre reveals that Project XXX is… going to be revealed after this prog’s Robo-Hunter episode. One reader recycles the folk etymology that the word ‘cabal’ comes from the names of five ministers who aided Charles II’s rule. This theory relies on taking the names of some ministers and titles of others to get the initials – also just about any word derived from initials before the twentieth century is a fake etymology – don’t believe it!

Sam Slade, Robo-Hunter: Football Crazy Part 4 by Alan Grant and Ian Gibson. Italy fares better than Japan did last prog. A droid with an Italian accent pays some thugs to attack Slade in his hotel room. Beating them off easily, the robo-hunter gets put on the lead that it may be the Italians from questioning them. I’m feeling that would be a bit too obvious and it’ll probably be someone on the England team. I feel so sorry for Antipasto, droid manager of the Italian team. Through kind heartedness he gets tricked in by Kidd who starts trying to bash information out of the robot with a hammer. He thinks he’s saved by Slade, but no – Slade just wants to get the information by dismantling him piece by piece.

And now Project XXX can be revealed! But I won’t say anything about it today as I’ll cover it tomorrow – Project XXX is Judge Dredd – The Game of Crime Fighting in Mega-City One. For those not in the know, that’s the legendary Judge Dredd boardgame from Games Workshop!

Tharg’s Future-Shocks: Beware the Men in Black! by D Perry and Jesus Redondo. This was my first introduction to the concept of the Men in Black. As with many early stories which I’ve not re-read for decades, I’m never sure if I’m guessing the twists or merely remembering them. A reporter sees a flying saucer and shortly after sees some men in black (mibs). They think they’re being followed by the mibs and contacts a rival / friend to help them. The reporter kills themselves in a fall while trying to escape the mibs. First twist – the mibs are actually just solicitors trying to inform him that he had inherited a large sum of money. Second twist – the friend he contacted actually was an alien in a shapechanging disguise.

There follows a page of adverts – a Stamp Quiz still holds out, but is surrounded by a Comic Mart ad (Central Hall Westminster), one for the Judge Dredd Annual and How to Assemble your Robo-World poster.

Judge Dredd: Destiny’s Angels Part 6 by T.B. Grover and Carlos Ezquerra. The wife referred to on the cover is actually Maria, who the Angels carry off. Even after they’re told that Maria is Dredd’s landlady, not his wife, they’re not entirely convinced. In a great scene, Mean demolishes a bridge by head-butting it (on dial setting 3, for the record) though this isn’t enough to escape the judges – not without a little helping hand from Owen Krysler on the other side of the galaxy (or however far away the adept psychic is). Still convinced that Maria is Dredd’s “wumman”, Fink send Ratty off with a message for the lawman from his underground lair…

Rogue Trooper: The Marauders Part 5 by Gerry Finley-Day and Cam Kennedy. What was it that Bagman slipped to Rogue on the rack? It’s a pencil-laser, which he uses to cut himself free while the inattentive guards shirk their duties. They’re also sat across the room from their weapons – nice one, guards! This gives Rogue enough time to chuck the binding which was holding him at a port-hole, letting in the chem-clouds. As others arrive, Rogue jumps through the port-hole into the jungle to return later to get the chips back. Not that he’ll need to as the Traitor General sends former Nort marksman Morgen after him, tooled up with the G.I.s equipment. Oh, apparently Helm is big enough to fit on a Souther pilot’s head, while that pilot is wearing the chem mask underneath. Next prog: “There must be some way outta here!”

Alien Special! Today’s Drawings – Tomorrow’s Visitors? It doesn’t take a lot of thought to work out these two pages of reader’s art have an alien theme. I have my doubts about one or two, but they might all be original works. There’s a nice touch in a footnote at the end saying “Look out! There’s another alien lurking overleaf!”

Tharg’s Future-Shocks: Sid! by Stavros and Brett Ewins. This is the standard giant-alien-coming-to-Earth-and-wiping-out-humanity-due-to-humanity-being-a-parasite story. The twists are that the giant alien (Sid) gets rid of us by luring us on board his spaceship using advanced alien music technology which allows us to be carried away by the music (to the extent that we can dance through the air to the spaceship). Once in the hold we’re “humanely dispatched”. Second twist coming up – the Earth sprouts a huge face and thanks Sid the alien, which previously got rid of the rats (the Pied Piper of Hamlin) and the dinosaurs (uh, extinction of the dinosaurs). It’s not an exceptional shock, but it fulfils its place as filler while we’re waiting for Harry 20 to turn up next prog, and we’re also in the era of Alan Moore short stories, and that’s a hard act to follow, and precede.

Speaking of which, the next page has a half-page ad for the forthcoming Harry Twenty. The rest of the page concerns a KBR booklet with next week’s Wow! comic – KBR being Kid’s Band Radio, to go with Space Band Radio from Ace Trucking Co – this is truly the age of CB Radio. As a complete aside – about the time this came out and before I knew it even existed, there was a radio shop near my primary school which no doubt sold CB radios.

And rounding off the prog is the last part of Ian Gibson’s Robo-Worlds poster, this time featuring Cutie, Call Me Molotov, the two Verdus generals and (I think) B.O. Plus the robot chess pieces.

Grailpage: Quite liking the last page of this week’s Rogue Trooper – it opens with a full-length portrait of the Traitor General and Morgen and ends with Morgen hanging out of a hopper, ready to hunt down and kill the Rogue Trooper. Cam Kennedy did that one.

Grailquote: TB Grover, Mean Machine Angel: “I’ll take that bridge on 3!”

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