2000AD Prog 303: ? “The time is out of joint!”

Eric Bradbury provides his second cover and his only non-Tharg cover, this one tied in to the Time Twister.

Tharg’s Nerve Centre is back to full-size this week (except for an advert for Titan Comics edition of ABC Warriors Book One, and a stamp advert).

Sam Slade, Robo-Hunter: Play it Again, Sam! Part by Grant Grover and Ian Gibson. The funeral procession of Iron Aggie takes place and unusually the killer of the prime droid is also present, in an official capacity. An official prisoner, that is – and only there to help fuel the rhetoric from Sir Oswald Modroid to trick the humans present to voluntarily enter hover-trucks. Once aboard, barred gates clang down and trap the humans inside as they’re taken away to… Well, we’ll find out next prog. With the humes out of the way, Brit-Cit is set to become a robot state – I think the second one we’ve seen (after Grunwald and Saturn Six). Brit-Cit National Song Year on YouTube and Spotify.

My copy of this prog has a missing page here – it’s my guess the original owner cut out the micro-prog pages, so no big loss to me as I own the full-size Programme 1.

Harry Twenty on the High Rock by Gerry Finley-Day and Alan Davis. In the zero-gravity Condemned Cell (why would the Condemned Cell have no gravity? It’s not explained) Big Red One wastes no time in attacking Harry Twenty. For all his size and viciousness, Big Red isn’t that much of a fighter as Harry very easily retaliates with a head-butt and is all set to strangle BR1 to death. Interrupted by Warden Worldwise’s Rock-wide vidcom announcement of their impending deaths, Harry gets a new idea. Faced with certain death, Big Red One is receptive and next morning as they’re taken to their executions, Harry uses the black maria gem that Genghis found to slice his way out of his execution hood and distract the guards. The slugs all get killed, if not directly from blaster fire, then when Big Red One chucks them out of the airlock, taking the places of Harry and Big Red (Chief Thrower is one of the slugs to go out without a suit). Now it’s Harry’s turn to make a rock-wide announcement by vidcom – “The numbers are takin’ over!”.

Judge Dredd: Shanty Town Part 4 by T.B. Grover and Ron Smith. Master artist opens up with his version of a stub gun slicing through a Strato-V (different to Carlos’ original designs, but something I’ve always liked about 2000AD is that there is no house-style for the artists). Mad Mox’s assistant (I think they were named as Peewee in an earlier episode) warns the leader that stub guns are prone to get overheated, but too late, and the explosion buys the judges some time. Too late for Ocks’ arm though. I’m really hoping we get to see a cybernetic Ocks in a later story – though judging by what happens to Elvino he might not make it past this story. Elvino was the judge who was sent to try to get word past the radio jammer through to Mega-City One, by the way – and his bloodied helmet and badge appear in the crowd. The Y-Shanty come up with a plan to execute hostages, though the hostages are all carrying guns. Girth, another of those besieging the judges rightfully didn’t have massive amounts of confidence in that plan and is ready to drive a tanker full of phosphorous into the ruined Strato-V, which backfires when the judges depart on lawmasters and have more protection through their uniforms from the rain of phosphor drops than the other combatants on the battlefield. The defeated gangs are sent to head West while the innocent folk of Shanty Town are screened and offered employment in Cursed Earth food farms one thousand kilometres to the West (they have to go twice as far, but they are at least supplied by airlift, which is more than the perps were). I think we’ll get to see some of those food farms, though I’m not sure if they’re going to be the same food farms from Tour of Duty, in about twenty or thirty years time.

Tharg’s Time Twisters, there isn’t actually a title given for this story in the prog so I’m going to go with the cover-line: The Time is Out of Joint! by Jack Adrian and Eric Bradbury (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 time I read this story I didn’t know the authorship of Shakespeare’s plays was supposed to be controversial (with some guessing it was Sir Francis Bacon, Christopher Marlowe or Queen Elizabeth), so this was a nice introduction for the child version of me. D.H. Rosencrantz, a Shakespearian scholar in a future city (future cities not Eric Bradbury’s strong point) reads about a time machine and decides to get to the bottom of the ‘mystery’ regarding who wrote the plays. The inventor does not agree but Rosencrantz is a bit more single-minded than that. Rosencrantz searching 16th century London but nobody has heard of Shakespeare. For somebody who has lived their life in the study of Shakespeare’s plays, sonnets and poems this is a calamity. Rosencrantz comes up with a solution – he will write Shakespeare’s works himself. This is just a variation on the theme of time-travelling investigators becoming what they set out to study, though at least this time the traveller doesn’t end up burning through the sky or trapped in the past (but still gets on the Aarne-Thompson-Uther-Tharg index for ending up creating the thing which they went there to investigate). Speaking of Queen Elizabeth – when I covered a story featuring a time traveller who ended up becoming the Queen I mused that there was a similar story about a hundred progs later – I was out by nine progs!. By the way, Bradbury’s artwork is still perfect for Elizabethan London, and the people who live there. On a technical point – there’s one page that has an arrow pointing from one tall frame on the right hand side to a frame lower down on the left though there would be no problem following the flow without it. The reason I mention it is because the arrow is cut out of the frames themselves, rather than being plastered over the gutter, as is usual – i.e. the frame just out from the right-hand panel and there’s a corresponding gap in the left-hand panel. On that topic – the left hand frame also has something else interesting going on. As Rosencrantz starts to get agitated over the paradox he’s created the top of the frame matches his mental state. Before I go on to the next story – this one had Shakespearian paraphrased terms and phrases peppered throughout – a short selection: great Caesars’s ghost; in the flesh; though black and midnight cab; gain thy quietus; now is the whirligig of time set loose. Get the picture?

Rogue Trooper: Fort Neuro Part 12 by Gerry Finley-Day and Brett Ewins. Re-running the last few panels of the previous episode, Rogue then leaves Scan Sector and reuintes with the robe-runners who are happy to see him again as he’s the only one in Neuropa to appreciate them since the old days. Before they can return to their sectors to keep an eye on potential Nort movements they point out that their batteries are running down. They head to the robotic workshop which has been repurposed as a tanning salon and hairdresser to recharge. As could be expected the old equipment has not been well-maintained and over-charges them, creating an electro-magnetic force which attracts nail-files, metal combs and other small metallic objects to the robe-runner’s chassis. This is relevant – they now have spiky metal skins. If we ever get roleplaying / wargaming miniatures for robe-runners I fully expect to see before and after versions of Rob-s-pierre and Ro-ger. Rogue sets up camp on an island in the reservoir / chem-swamp and sends off the robe-runners to gather information and return within 48 hours. They return some time later, apparently earlier than expected but still within minutes of each other. Ro-ger has nothing to report, but Rob-s-pierre has news, that the Emperor has escaped from Elba (where Napoleon was banished) and turned up centuries later in Frank Sector, obviously a Nort ploy. As with the Time Twister, the last page of this story also has a panel on the right which leads to another panel on the left which starts at a higher point than the right-hand panel ends, and Brett has used an arrow to point towards it (though as with the Twister, the flow of the page means the arrow is unnecessary). There are actually two panels on the right with a downward-facing black arrow plastered across the gutter joining the two panels while the arrow pointing left

Grailpage: Ian Gibson’s opening page has a panorama of the route to the Robotorium in Gibson’s usual loose style, though also deceptively has a number of details. Everything that happens in this episode takes place in the locations shown in the first panel.

Grailquote: Grant Grover, Carlos Sanchez Robostogie: “Tomatoes? I no’ need no steekin’ tomatoes!”

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