2000AD Prog 299: “Stop the world – I wanna get on!” Escape from the High Rock!

It’s a big week for Harry, and so he gets this cover from Alan Davis (second of three H20 covers, I believe) – the tag line says all you need to know.

Tharg’s Nerve Centre has Tharg recap some of the achievements of the last century of progs (Rogue Trooper, Ace Trucking, Nemesis the Warlock, Portrait of a Mutant, Judge Death Lives and the Apocalypse War) and looks to the next hundred progs. I’d argue that the 300s top it (nostalgia helps there) and hopefully I’ll be able to convey why I think that in the next three and a bit months of blog posts! A theme which will appear in the Nerve Centre in upcoming progs starts here as one earthlet reads their prog at the top of a mountain in the Lake District (reading in an aircraft won’t count for high altitude claims).

Sam Slade, Robo-Hunter: Play it Again, Sam! Part by Alan Grant and Ian Gibson. This one’s a bit more difficult to read as the Human League (singing their theme to the tune Teddy Bear’s Picnic) attack the Bow Street Nick while the Brit-Cit robo-cops (to the tune of Delilah) defend themselves (not very well). It’s a bit difficult for me to chop and change the tune I’m reading the lyrics in – and that’s not a common complaint when reading a story in 2000AD! The robot cops all killed, now’s the time for another cliff-hanger as one of the Human League members being freed from the cells recognises Sam as getting him jailed in the first place. Brit-Cit National Song Year on YouTube and Spotify.

Spex is back with the Sci-Fi Book Scan covering A. Bertram Chandler’s The Rim of Space (sci-fi), Peter Marsh’s The Robot Age (non-fiction) and Poul Anderson’s The Broken Sword (fantasy).

Genius is Pain: An Abelard Snazz Adventure by Alan Moore and Mike White. The last appearance of Abelard Snazz, but the first one I ever read. As with previous installments, it starts with Abelard getting out of the certain-death predicament he was previously in – the previous one being about to plunge in to “the boiling vortex at the centre of the giant whirlpool bath”. Keeping to the theme of previous rescues, this is done by a deus ex machina – this time by vanishing and appearing before the Manager of the Universe (who looks a bit like traditional representations of the christian god). Having a list of his various escapades, which generally did not turn out well, Abelard reasonably assumes he’s on trial and tries to escape before his punishment is pronounced. It actually turns out that – in the way that British subjects can expect to receive a telegram (or other message, if that’s been modernised) from the queen on their hundredth birthday, Snazz gets a song and present for being six million years old (remember all that time he spent trying to solve that puzzle cube?) – it only remains to see what the present is… It’s Edwin. Last seen by Snazz when the multi-level brained genius tossed him down a waste disposal chute. Snazz is overcome with emotion. The Manager and robed figures believe it to be gratitude, and depart, genuine smiles on their faces – a heart-warming scene (except the actual emotions Snazz is feeling are frustration and anger, which he takes out on the poor, long-suffering servile droid).

Action Video No. 3. I didn’t have any of these what-we-would-now-call-consoles so can’t comment on them, but what’s covered are: Tron Deadly Discs, Megamania and the new super VCS, which had plans for film tie-ins King Kong, The Towering Inferno, Conan the Barbarian and Alien. I have no idea how any of these game release progressed, and won’t find out unless covered in the progs.

Judge Dredd: The Last Invader Part 2 by T.B. Grover and John Cooper starts with a bang (well, technically a BARUUUMB!) as Nikita starts his guerilla war against Mega-City One with an attack on Megapolitan Tower. Annie Pritchard (Agony Annie, now literally in agony with her bomb blast injuries) gives Dredd the lead on Judge Nikita Engels. Following on from what we know about the computing power of the Lawmaster bike computer (and useful for anybody following the current release schedule of Judge Dredd & the Worlds of 2000AD) this one manages to clean-up the slug featuring Engels’ message to Annie, identifying the background commentary of a jetball match. Dredd shows that he’s adept at forms of transport other than riding a bike by strapping on a jetpack and taking out Engels, showing some mercy to the dying man by not pointing out that the city he’s fighting for was completely obliterated some months earlier (by Dredd, as it happens).

Harry Twenty on the High Rock by Gerry Finley-Day and Alan Davis. Harry causes a disturbance to be put on punishment detail and get to go outside. Big Red One is wise to this and piles on so that when they make their escape attempt, he and his henchmen can muscle in on it. The second-person dialogue reveals that the three of them (Harry, Genghis and Old Ben) have been working on the space capsule for half a year and just put everything into place. Everything is going smoothly and Harry starts the firing sequence. This is, of course, the moment at which Big Red One, Root Sixty-Six and Seven Sunset make their move. Genghis and Old Ben are inside and Harry valiantly attempt to fend off the other three numbers – if he can’t escape, at least his cell-mates will get to.

Rogue Trooper: Fort Neuro Part 9 by Gerry Finley-Day and Brett Ewins. The Robe-Runners and Rogue trundle through a scum swamp towards Rom Sector. Well, Rogue doesn’t trundle. Last prog Cam Kennedy got to depict Bagman’s artist’s impressions of Ro-man and Ro-many soldiers, this time it’s Brett’s turn. As with previous sectors, this one was cut off, this time by Nort chem-strikes hitting a sealed reservoir and forming the scum-swamp. As with previous sectors, despite being cut off they know all about the G.I. who I think were supposed to be a secret until the Quartz Zone Massacre. Ro-ger last went to Rom Sector ten years ago, so putting some thought in to continuity this must be how long (at the least) Rogue’s been a deserter for. As with Lim-ee Sector – the Rom’s arrive on the scene and appear to be ‘real soldiers’. I’ve no idea how many of the people reading this are familiar with the story, but they do, of course, end up being Rom-eo’s – 1950s styled quiffs and blue suede boots mixed with 1970s disco fever. Meanwhile over on Nort lines, the two special planners are revealed – General Vagner and Admiral Torpitz – the two of the Nort High Command that Rogue didn’t manage to kill in the Assassination Run (if I’d known they’d be returning I’d have mentioned their names back then).

The inside back cover is a full-page black and white preview of next week’s cover, while the back cover is an advertisement by the Health Education Council featuring Superman and Nick O’Teen to (and you’ll know this already by the presence of Superman’s enemy) stop smoking. I knew this advertising campaign from outside of 2000AD I think, before having gotten these back progs.

Grailpage: John Cooper, Sov Judge Nikita Engels entering the offices of Megapolitan, laying charges and blowing up the building ties with Brett Ewins’ opener to Fort Neuro – what’s not to like about two robots trundling through a dingy swamp? Sorry, that should be dingy scum swamp.

Grailquote: TB Grover, Judge Henson: “What a mess, Dredd! You’d never believe we won the war!” Judge Dredd: “If all the East-Meggers had been like Nikita Engels, maybe we wouldn’t have won.”

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