2000AD Prog 301: Fort Neuro gets… Disco Fever!

Disco takes over the cover in this image from Brett Ewins (I can’t help feeling it may have been a few years too late for actual disco – Abba references were just past topical as they’d split up the previous year).

Tharg claims the Nerve Centre is much reduced due to ‘thrill-power’ – nothing to do with that half-page advert for an Air Forces Booklet with next week’s Battle comic then (taking a similar form to the Programme 1 micro-prog reprint)?

Sam Slade, Robo-Hunter: Play it Again, Sam! Part 10 by Alan Grant and Ian Gibson. This is entertaining, but I’m not going to pretend that it’s complex or subtle! Word comes down from on high (literally, because they’re in a sewer) that Slade can meet with the big boss of the Human League, but first the Robo-Hunter has to prove his loyalty, by assassinating the Prime Droid, Iron Aggie herself. Which, as we know, shouldn’t be a problem as Slade was given the job of infiltrating the League by Iron Aggie. The nonchalance with which Slade accepts impresses the other League members though… One meeting with Aggie later and the arrangements are left to Sir Oswald Mosdroid – a character named after an infamous British fascist (though for the eight-year olds reading who weren’t aware of wartime political history, he also has a villainous moustache). The date for the (alleged faked) assassination is set – the very next day, though the smart version of Hoagy is not convinced and pleased with Sam not to go out. Slade should have listened to that droid… Brit-Cit National Song Year on YouTube and Spotify.

Tharg’s Mighty Micro Page has a long Computer Translator (Betelgeusian to and from English) program written in ZX81 basic. As a possessor of a ZX81 I would fully expect it to overheat and crash by the time I’d typed it all out!

A Blast From the Past – as the previous prog has the cover pages of the micro-programme 1, this one has the first set of four black and white internal pages.

Tharg’s Time Twisters: Revenge of the Guinea Pig by Alan Hebden and Kim Raymond (those links are to old collected editions which are probably pretty difficult to get hold of these days – and only cover the Alan Moore Twisters in to the bargain). The first appearance by Kim Raymond in these pages, I believe. Something I like about a few Alan Hebden scripts is the way they might take a few interesting facts and form plots around them, as the low gravity of Mars having affecting the development of those colonists born there, and how the Earthers kept forgetting that things worked differently on the Angry Planet. This story tells of an East European government which uses a political prisoner (due to be executed) being subjected to a time experiment. He’s placed in a sealed chamber and subjected to tachyon rays to accelerate his time relative to those outside. But they make a mistake – instead of compressing one week of his time into a minute that minute lasts fifty years in his time. Luckily the test subject knows a lot more about science than I do, demonstrating knowledge of biology by watching a fly outside the chamber and working out that its wings beating at 10,000 times a minute should appear to him to beat at the rate of once per minute. When this doesn’t happen, he works out that he isn’t trapped – the electrically sealed door is held shut by an alternating current – fifty times a second it blinks on and off, leaving him a maximum of three days to wait until the current blinks off and he can stroll out. He spends forty nine years wandering the world, unable to speak or interact with anybody and in the last year before time equalises for him he plots his revenge – including leaving a bomb on the podium of the “glorious leader” and scooping out the supporting columns of the high-rise laboratory in which the experiment took place before heading back up to gloat.

Judge Dredd: Shanty Town Part 2 written by T.B. Grover and Ron Smith starts off for the second week running by showing a Lawmaster from a non-standard angle – this time from underneath as the judges start to clean up the previously lawless township without the walls of Mega-City One. The place they start is the base of the organ leggers, built around a crashed Strato-V from the war, which always reminds me of the film The Flight of the Phoenix. Rather than imprison the perps (they have no prison in Shanty Town and the city doesn’t want them) they instead force them to head out from the city towards the nearest habitation. Five hundred kilometres across the Cursed Earth. The element of surprise only lasts so long though, and it looks like one of the judges (Ocks?) is the first victim of the retaliation. Though he did fall for an obvious trap – he must have arrived on a synthi-biscuit.

Harry Twenty on the High Rock by Gerry Finley-Day and Alan Davis. It looked like things were all finished last prog – the numbers escaped the High Rock, we got a lengthy depiction of their descent to Earth and a rousing two-thirds of a page picture of them punching the air in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with a symbolic image of the High Rock in teh background. But then there was a ‘next prog’ tag. The narration reveals it wasn’t just six months but almost an entire year spent on building that escape pod. Old Ben somehow magics up the materials necessary for a fishing rod while Genghis puts together a harpoon out of, um, something. Not to be left out, Harry digs out a chart copied from the library and works out they’re near the equator somewhere East of Australia, three days from Fiji. Things aren’t quite that simple though – neutron weapon tests were carried out in these waters giving rise to mutated animals, such as the squark. Being a squid / shark and wonderfully realised by Alan Davis, though Rackle reckons it looks more like a sharktopus. No, we didn’t know there was a film by that title (not until just now, anyway). Anyway, the three of them go to the nearest island that the ocean currents take them to and Harry and Genghis investigate smoke (leaving the harpoons behind so as not to leave the wrong impression). And (after Genghis finds a mutated pearl – a black maria) they find slugs who have just burned down the village. Briefly escaping the slugs, they run in to one of the biggest twists in 2000AD history (some other contenders – from progs already covered, natrually: Yujeeworld; Dredd shooting himself – not going to include John Probe’s death as the opening page of that story announced his death). Old Ben reveals their plan had no chance to succeed because he’s been an android all along!

Rogue Trooper: Fort Neuro Part 11 by Gerry Finley-Day and Brett Ewins. The faces of the characters aren’t distinctive enough, but I’d like to think that the ‘girl-soldier’ who’s told to ignore the salvo from the Nort sonic cannon in the first frame is Britt – who ends up being the Nort sleeper agent who tries to assassinate Rogue. But that’s skipping ahead – Rogue’s presence at the disco is causing some jealousy between the Rom’s and the Scan Sector ‘girl-soldiers’. Before he can leave he’s presented as first prize in a beauty contest (well, a dance with him is). Bagman reminds Rogue of “that time you danced with that dame, Sister Sledge” – about a week earlier, from what I can tell. It does mean that Bagman is close enough to see Britt pull out a micro-blaster and attempt to shoot Rogue, dispensing micro-mines to blow her up. Of course, the watching Rom and Scan’s didn’t see the micro-blaster though did see Bagman dispensing micro-mines. Thus Bagman is placed under arrest leaving Rogue on his own in Fortress Neuropa. Oh, and that last page with all the action squeezes in twenty-two panels – pretty sure that’s the most panels on one comic page in 2000AD so far (I’m not going to count any of those digest reprints even if they had more panels – which they probably didn’t – and I’m not going to check either).

Belardinelli provides a 2000AD Star Pin-up on the back page, showing G-B-H and Chiefy partaking of mac-mac while Feek makes an attempt at an ughbug. Oh, and Ace gets his foot crushed by an adjustable spanner, despite his scarf’s attempt to hammer Feek on the head. Ace won’t be back in the prog for about two years.

Grailpage: Alan Davis, the big reveal! Though I’m quite partial to the first page with a squark on it as well.

Grailquote: Gerry Finley-Day, Old Ben: “S-sorry, boys. I guess I’m just trouble!” You can say that again!

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One thought on “2000AD Prog 301: Fort Neuro gets… Disco Fever!

  1. Dont have it to hand but I dont think Ocks was the first judge to die. Might have been Glennon. ? Had a moustache. As does the next. judge to cop it next week. Ron Smith seemed to always feature at least one judge with a moustache.

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