2000AD Prog 293: “Starbase one under attack!” Win the video game that talks to you!

All of Eric Bradbury’s covers for 2000AD will be within the next two years, starting with this one of Tharg playing computer games against the Dictators of Zrag. Spoiler alert – four of his five covers feature Tharg and hte Dictators of Zrag.

Tharg’s Nerve Centre backs up the videogame-themed cover.

Sam Slade, Robo-Hunter: Play it Again, Sam! Part 2 by Alan Grant and Ian Gibson. National Song Year has been declared in Brit-Cit, an excuse for Wagner and Grant to set most of the story to music. When I first read this I was unfamiliar with a good proportion of the songs, and I’m not entirely familiar with them now so have put together a Brit-Cit National Song Year playlist on YouTube and Spotify for me to listen to while reading the new lyrics. There’s certainly a lot of whistling bird-song in the source material! Slade visits 10 Downing Street to be given a task by Iron Aggie, prime robot of Brit-Cit, to investigate The Human League (the anti-robot terrorist organisation in Brit-Cit, not the electronic music group of Sheffield). Slade turns the other down, having no great love for robots – after all he’s spent a career hunting down and killing them. Not one to take a refusal lying down, Iron Aggie tries to convince Slade, with a song.

Zarjaz Prizes from Intellivision. So I think the selling point of this game (and I’m not entirely sure which game it is – either ‘Space Spartans’ or ‘Space Battle’) is that there’s speech? Or better sound effects than other games of the time? Anyway, it’s another cut-up-your-beloved-progs-for-tokens and send off, along with the answer to a trivially easy quiz (ten characters, two each from five stories – match them up). The more interesting part for me was the tie-breaker section of the contest – “Which of the following stories would make a good video game?” and a request for advertising spiel, 15 words or less. 38 years too late, but I’ll have a go for each of the six options. I think (Mean Arena) would make a good video game because (the combination of unique teams and themed maps will make for varied and exciting games). I think (Strontium Dog) would make a good video game because (team play as Johnny, Wulf or the Gronk collecting bounties and then healing the injured). I think (The VCs) would make a good video game because (play in two modes – space battle and surface skirmishes with a choice of characters). I think (Ace Trucking) would make a good video game because (delivery jobs get disrupted as rivals, space creatures slow you down – watch out for jeepees). I think (Apocalypse War) would make a good video game because (play as invading Sovs or defending Meg City Judges as one superpower invades another). I think (Nemesis) would make a good video game because (Terminators and Cabal face off under the surface of Termight as resistance fighters try to escape). Out of the selection I think Mean Arena would probably translate to the best game, even though Nemesis is by far my favourite series. I could probably spend days pondering how these games might work, and then whether it’s on the technology of 1982 or modern technology. But I have a daily prog slog to get on with, so next!

Harry Twenty on the High Rock by Gerry Finley-Day and Alan Davis. Though once Harry gets to the workshop everything takes on a grubby Mike Dorey style as Davis gets the sponge out to apply texture to the dark and oily corners of the work room. While he’s in the workshop he gets in the way of Swede Sixteen (Sweet Sixteen, geddit?) but wants to keep a low profile today so backs down. Turns out Sixteen was nervy as Harry was too close to a home-made blaster that the number had been working on. Swede and one other (un-named) number kill one slug and take two others hostage (including Pusser – the one who keeps making racist assaults on Genghis), forcing them to strip and then knocking them out. There plan is to dress as the two slugs and escape on the regular change of duty shuttle.

Ro-Jaws’ 2000AD Film Review: Tron. Ro-Jaws rates the special effects above the story, though also accepts that a more complex story would get in the way of a visually-focused film.

Judge Dredd: The Executioner Part 3 by T.B. Grover and Carlos Ezquerra. This is the bit that will be called back in two or three years time with Dredd questioning a likely suspect who turns out to be innocent. This is Judge de Gaulle’s first appearance, though I would be introduced to her by her ‘revenge’ appearance in years time. A vigilante gives rise to copycat killings – a recurring theme in Dredd vigilante stories. The real Executioner continues her search for those responsible for her death of her husband – we, the readers, finally have a name to work with – the deceased was Nicholas Tatum.

Ace Trucking Co. Stoop Coup Soup Part 6 by Grant Grover and Belardinelli. Gator Magee has no intention on sharing the billions of byms and is about to kill the crew of the Speedo Ghost until they are saved by jeepies. Though ‘saved’ in this instance means their lives are saved, their liberty is another matter. When it comes to the court hearing there’s a great exchange where Ace writes off the resemblance between Speedo Ghost and Yellow Uff as “pure co-in-cee-dence” though has problems explaining why traces of yellow paint were found on Speedo Ghost, and why Magee’s solitary confinement bubble was found in the cargo hold… It’s back to the Bide-a-Wee penitentiary for all concerned, Magee gets lifetime solitary confinement, Ace gets thirty years while G-B-H, Feek the Freek and Chiefy Pig-Rat get ten years each. We get a quick shot of the effect that isolation sickness has on Magee, and the treatment that Ace can expect from the warders. And that’s it – next time Ace and the crew appear it’ll be after I’d been a Squaxx for a year or so – I’m looking forward to it! Tharg gives a quick plug to Skizz in the series sign-off.

Rogue Trooper: Fort Neuro Part 3 by Gerry Finley-Day and Cam Kennedy. After two episodes of Brett Ewins art it’s time for Cam to take over for a few weeks as Robspierre tells of the fall of Fortress Neuropa and Frank Sector in to the Napoleonic Complex, under microwave-jammed isolation and heavy chem-cloud coverage. Boredom became the biggest enemy, giving rise to D.G.D. – Don’t Give a Damn – as the Neuropans found distraction in computer games and vid-shows and finally looking to Earth’s past to model themselves on half-forgotten memories of revolutionary France. They had managed to hear about Rogue, but I’ll go in to my theory regarding that when another time frame comes up… The Napoleonic Complex seem very keen on Rogue and it’s looking like he might have to sneak out of the sector.

Grailpage: I was tempted by Dredd’s interrogation of de Gaulle but I’ve ended up with Cam’s opener for Rogue Trooper, showing Robspierre’s flashback to the early days of the war and Fortress Neuropa’s siege.

Grailquote: TB Grover, Judge Dredd: “Sorry, de Gaulle. Had to be sure.” Judge de Gaulle: “Yeah, I know. I’d have done the same to you! And if I ever get the chance, I will!” And she will! (must remember to insert a link on this post to her revenge story when I cover it – in about three prog years!)

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