2000AD Prog 289: “Drok!” Judge Dredd in Rabid

Ron Smith is back on the cover – seems like ages! This story has its own logo though first time I read it I thought it said ‘Rabio’ (I was really young at the time).

In Tharg’s Nerve Centre one earthlet correctly surmises that Prof Max Challenger’s face (not to mention cameos in Inferno, Meltdown Man and previous Ace Trucking Co stories) is that of Belardinelli. Tharg chooses not to confirm this.

Rogue Trooper: The Marauders part 8 by Gerry Finley-Day and Colin Wilson. Starting with a retread of Cam Kennedy’s version of events at the end of the last episode, Player takes off with Helm while Rogue heads through the jungle-swamp while the Traitor General has an ace up his sleeve in the Marauder’s base. Once there are reports that Rogue has made it through the perimeter, TG heads off to a missile silo as silo seven contains a secret escape capsule (which will appear again in one of the first Rogue stories I ever read). For no discernible reason, Player changes in to a Nort chem suit (he was wearing Helm above a Souther chem suit in previous episodes and at the beginning of this week’s episode) and spots TG’s escape pod as it flies past him. Putting the blame on Helm, he changes his mind and heads back to rescue Rogue. Everything is down to the line as the Marauder’s discover TG gone, the activated auto-destruct system and Rogue is flown just to the edge of the blast radius as the base explodes. The last panel does not match up to the next appearance of the escape pod in a petrified forest, but never mind. Next prog: A Shadow of a Doubt! I have no idea what next prog’s story is – doesn’t ring any bells.

Harry Twenty on the High Rock by Gerry Finley-Day and Alan Davis. You know it’s a Gerry Finley-Day script when it contains loads of puns and allusions, thus we get convicts (numbers) Root Sixty-Six (reference to a road and song), Seventy-Seven Sunset (reference to an obscure USA TV show), Twenty-One Toady (Twenty-One today) and Big Red One (1980 film). Speaking of which – Harry Twenty spots a potential blind spot outside and causes a ruckus with the Big Red One to get on a punishment detail. Fortunately once outside he confirms there is a blind spot though unfortunately Big Red’s cronies attack him, slamming him off in to space to die from oxygen starvation…

DJ-1 is back for Mega-Sounds, covering Tik and Tok (sci-fi themed mime artists, singers and performers who are before my time), Solid Space’s album Science Museum (with an address to order which, checking a map today, is a very suburban looking house). A singer in the USA called Richard Bone is claiming to be from “the planet Tharg” – this does not go down well. Biggest news though is a photo by one Henry Arden of Buster Bloodvessel from ska band Bad Manners, reading a copy of Prog 277.

Judge Dredd: Rabid by T.B. Grover and Ron Smith. There’s not enough robo-dogs in 2000AD! In fact, I think the last ones were in the Robot Wars, the first multi-part Judge Dredd story five years earlier. It’ll probably be another couple of years before we see any more. I’d be tempted to tag this post with ‘robot dogs’, but I think I’ll only be using it two other times (and that’s if I go back to the previous story to tag that retrospectively). Another post-Apocalypse War story (one of the things I liked most about the Apocalypse War is how it really did affect most if not all stories for a year afterwards). In chronological order what happened was a collector used robotic dogs to protect his private museum, forgot his pass one day and got killed by said dogs. The War ‘did the rest’ – in this case the left the museum and started killing people trekking through the wasteland. It’d be nice if ‘the rest’ had more explanation, like Snap, Crackle and Pop going out to get blood to keep their charge alive. Dredd’s partner on this patrol, Judge Moel, gets attacked by teh dogs and I assumed that was the last we’d see of Judge Moel but no, he made it to the end of the episode.

Ace Trucking Co. Stoop Coop Soup Part 2 by Grant Grover and Belardinelli. Being in prison garb, we’re not seeing Garp’s animated scarf throughout this episode, the story makes up for this by featuring a lute with a face and a tongue that throws shapes (including a treble clef). In fact, I’m not entirely sure if it is a lute or a tortoise with a really long neck – only Belardinelli could bring this kind of creature to life… Anyway, being Grant and Wagner there’s a song and the song (or ballad) tells of a fellow prisoner doing a fifty stretch but with the knowledge of where billions of byms can be found. If only somebody could spring him out… Garp is the dupe, next prog.

The Great Detective Caper – Hemlock Bones —- Who He? Part 1 by Jack Adrian and John Higgins. This starts off as a Victorian crime story but by the end of the first page has turned in to a farce as an actor (Ernie Grice) makes a mess of another take in the filming of Hemlock Bones (a cheap knock-off of Sherlock Holmes, which the producer’s can’t afford due to copyright problems). Grice is paid so little that he has to walk home from the studio to his home in Crouch End. He’s walking along a very flat road and Crouch End is very hilly (I should know, I used to live up a hill from the place) so he must have quite a way left to go. Then he gets beamed across the galaxy and the comedy turns in to sci-fi comedy. The aliens who have snatched him believe him to be Sherlock Holmes and are rather upset when he points out their mistake, cue the big muscly aliens (and we still don’t know why they’ve even beamed him over).

Bubblicious / 2000 AD Competition! Competition Result re-uses the pic of Walter in a ripped up suit held together with safety pins – one I cover the annual that will finally publish the story this comes from, I’ll try to remember to link it from here. It’s a good few years off though. There are a hundred and one competition winners but 2000AD only prints the name of the first prize winner (the century of runners-up get three packs of bubble gum each). The rest of the page is given to next prog’s competition (for a very eighties-Pac-Man wristwatch).

No Nemesis the Warlock Book III but we do get a Star Pin-Up by Kevin O’Neill of the young warlock “being trained in the art of killing humans by his father Thoth”. Continuity-wise this is interesting as Nemesis is full-grown by the end of the Volgan War so I don’t know where they’re getting their supply of humans.

Grailpage: Gotta love Colin Wilson’s opening to Rogue Trooper, but then I do like swamps and jungles anyway…

Grailquote: TB Grover, Judge Moel: “Just look at this, Dredd – a wellie boot!” Dredd: “Genuine!” Moel: “The real thing all right! No wonder he wanted to guard this stuff!”

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