2000AD Prog 305: “You’re under arrest, creep!” Dredd puts the bite on bounty-hunters!

Steve Dillon’s back on the cover for the first time since Prog 226 and (getting ahead of myself) also back on Dredd for the first time since Block Mania.

Tharg’s Nerve Centre is reduced to half-size again, so that IPC can plug another comic (this time it’s Whoopee!) barely leaving space for an earthlet to point out just how often Rogue buries himself underground.

Sam Slade, Robo-Hunter: Play it Again, Sam! Part 14 by Alan Grant and Ian Gibson. Starting off with singing rats, roaches, fleas, lice, maggots, slime and collective vermin, this is not your usual 2000AD strip. Or any comic strip for that matter. It’s all a dream (not a narrative tactic I usually approve of, but this one is purely in aid of a laugh rather than to help the writers get out of a corner). The new day sees Slade encounter the new warder, Hoagy, who plans to protect Slade from within the system. Note that the plan is to protect Sam, not to allow Sam to escape. Sam’s not happy about this and violently shakes the frog-robot in a pique of anger. Which just happens to do the trick in restoring Hoagy to his previous faulty, put-together-by-amateurs setting. Roll on the escape attempt! I noticed some way in to this that the next prog tags were also musically themed. I considered adding them to the playlists but decided against it for two reasons – the first was that they don’t aid the sing-a-long and second I’m not sure they’re entirely consistent. Brit-Cit National Song Year on YouTube and Spotify.

Uh-oh – my copy of this prog has a page cut out again. I can only hope it’s the micro-prog that I already have the original of!

Harry Twenty on the High Rock by Gerry Finley-Day and Alan Davis. Toady has Harry in his sights – but would you expect Toady to be an expert shot? Harry manages to pull himself out of the way using his life-line and gets the pressure hatch open. Inside Warden Worldwise acts all evil – some might so over-acts – while Harry takes control of the riot cannon allowing the other numbers up to the top deck. Chasing Worldwise in to the compu centre Harry is trapped between the traitorous Big Red and the Warden – but all he has to do is duck and Warden kills Big Red, saving Harry’s life in the process. Before Harry can fire off a message to Earth, the Warden’s voice sounds over the comms – he’s already contacted Earth and Earth has responded by sending up riot craft. Not many episodes left in this story now…

Judge Dredd: Trapper Hag Part 1 by T.B. Grover and Steve Dillon. Over in Mega-City One and we get to see how the judges respond to bounty hunters (they’re not in favour) as the alien of the title appears (literally – via teleportation) in the city on the trail of three criminals who blew up half a city on an alien planet in order to break in to a bank. As well as the teleporter Trapper – or is that Hag? – has at least one other trick up his sleeve. Hmmm, he’s not wearing sleeves. If he was wearing sleeves it would be up his sleeve though as he has a force field activated from a control on his wrist. He also has some kind of bomb, and from the next prog tag (“…and three lay dead!”) it looks like three of the six judges in attendance will not last past the centrespread next week. Or maybe the three referenced are the three criminals? This began with a flash-forward cold-open before actually starting where (in my opinion) it should have.

Tharg’s Time Twisters: The 200 Years’ War by J.H. Teed and Mike White (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). I have no idea if J.H. Teed is a try-out writer who didn’t go on to be a regular script droid, or a pseudonym for somebody we’d recognise… This Twister opens on a desolate landscape ravaged by war for the past two centuries, as we’ve seen before (check!). The authorities in what’s left of England have somehow managed to use their remaining resources to invent a time machine in a last-ditch effort to prevent total annihilation of the human race. They do this by sending somebody back to try to stop the war from beginning. The presence of a 22nd century person in the 20th century causes the Cold War superpowers to try to monopolise the advanced technological secrets they’re convinced he would have (not knowing that the future is in the midst of a new dark age). Representatives of the super-powers get involved in a tussle on the floor of the U.N. causing a heart attack in the time traveller, thus (wait for it) causing the war which he was sent back to prevent (check!) – in case anybody is in any doubt – I can recognise how formulaic some stories can be yet still enjoy them!

Mattel get some market research done in tandem with a number of IPC comics, in return for the chance to win a holiday to Walt Disney World (the one in Florida).

Rogue Trooper: Fort Neuro Part 14 by Gerry Finley-Day and Cam Kennedy. After thirteen progs of set-up, the assault on Fortress Neuropa finally begins, starting with the signal from Fake Boney – decapitating the Frank commander. The Old Guard break ranks from within while the conventional Nort troops attack from without. The two robe-runners acquit themselves well, merely needing to trundle through the ranks with their now-jagged shells ripping through the chem-suits. By the time Rogue turns up a good number are dead, though it isn’t long before he weaponless against the las-sword wielding Boney. Fortunately, and improbably, Gunnar has been left at the exact right angle to be able to shoot Fake Boney – though wasn’t he further in to the Fort last time we saw him? Best not to think too long about it.

In the early days of Eagle the comic had photo strips. It also had a 3-D special (well, four pages in 3-D, along with the special glasses). I dimly remember having seen this issue – must have been at school, possibly on an end-of-term read comics and play games day. Or maybe my memory is playing tricks on me. I did get Eagle at some point, but only after it had switched to a more conventional format.

The back page has a Nemesis the Warlock Book poster by Kevin O’Neill, showing Terminators culling a family of blitzspears, including the babies!

Grailpage: Cam Kennedy’s vista of the the shield wall skirting Frank Sector has it all – chem clouds, pock-marked fortifications, remnants of the original natural rocky outcrops which caused Fortress Neuropa to be built there in the first place – plus the page has a few robe-runners in the panels following. I picked this before seeing the blitzspear poster and was really tempted to change my choice, but I’m sticking with it.

Grailquote: TB Grover, narration: “He came in search of bounty – he found… Judge Dredd!”

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