2000AD Prog 306: “Get this welded, pal!” BZZZ-ZZT!

Not your usual cover, as this Ian Gibson Robo-Hunter contribution is viewed through a chain-link fence.

Tharg’s Nerve Centre opens with news that the Mighty One appeared on The Tube (eighties British teen and twenty-something music programme for those in the wrong country or decade to have heard of it) and the letters are all about that appearance. It doesn’t make clear whether Tharg appeared or the human disguise of MAC-1. Meanwhile the Forbidden Planet miniatures collection (which is known as the Titan range these days) has expanded to: 1. Judge Dredd; 2. Fergee; 3. The Klegg; 4. Judge Caligula; 5. Judge Death; 6. Robo-Hunter and 7. Judge Dredd Badge (for good measure). The badge is 35mm high, Fergee and the Klegg are 60 millimetres and all other figures are 40 mm. This would make them 1:43 scale. For comparison, most miniatures (such as certain fantasy and sci-fi skirmish wargames) are in 1:56 scale, either 25mm or 28mm, depending on how the sculptor is feeling that day.

Sam Slade, Robo-Hunter: Play it Again, Sam! Part 15 by Alan Grant and Ian Gibson. The penultimate part! Keeping with second world war imagery, in the concentration camp, Sam has to take his escape plan to the escape committee. Kidd’s a recent addition to the camp, but he’s already inveigled his way to the head of the committee and Slade is granted a diversionary riot on the condition that he takes Kidd with him on the escape. One musical riot later and Kidd and Slade (and Hoagy) are in a hovertruck heading towards the robotorium in which Iron Aggie was laid to rest.. The plan – to resurrect the prime droid herself! Though we saw Slade reconstruct Hoagy not so long ago, so we know it’s going to work… Brit-Cit National Song Year on YouTube and Spotify.

A Blast from the Past has pages each from Flesh and Dan Dare – including Dare’s use of the word Drokk for the first time in print!

Harry Twenty on the High Rock by Gerry Finley-Day and Alan Davis. This is also on its penultimate episode as Harry uses a Death-Star like energy beam to disable three of the shuttle of riot craft coming up from Earth (I can’t claim credit for that observation – I stole it from Space Spinner 2000). Supposedly impressed by the way that Harry shot them out of the skies without causing any loss of life, the Penal Board on Earth request that the slugs be shipped off of the Rock in shuttles and that in return nothing will be sent from Earth to harm the numbers. And yes, they did specify that nothing from Earth would attack. Once the slugs are gone, Warden Worldwise’s voice pipes up again to gloat over this tricky wording as a killer sat jumps in to the High Rock’s orbit to greet them. This raises two questions with me – why didn’t Worldwise leave with the slugs and why is he so happy when he would be killed in the nuclear explosion as well?

Judge Dredd: Trapper Hag Part 2 by T.B. Grover and Steve Dillon. Hag makes short work of Dredd’s team of judges before teleporting away. Luckily for Dredd, the teleport beam can be traced to the edge of Earth’s atmosphere and Dredd heads up on an in-system craft. Even luckily-er, as Dredd approaches, the teleport beam is detected again, giving the lawman time to get aboard before he returns. Dredd breaks in using a limpet pod (do we ever get to see these again? One-person pod that locks on and forms an airtight seal against the hull of a larger ship). Before he leaves, he answers a fellow judge’s query as to why they don’t just blow the ship up – the answer is in case there are innocents aboard. Speaking of innocents, Trapper Hag’s latest quarry (who lives in a McMahon-esque block featuring a roof garden) is the grandson of somebody who committed crimes on an alien planet and, according to their warped laws, guilt carries through to descendants. Sounds a bit like Catholic guilt to me.

Tharg’s Time Twisters: The Perfect Crime by Jack Adrian and Belardinelli (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 title says it all – somebody from the present uses a time machine to commit a future crime, and this one has thought out the possibilities and is going to steal gold bullion from the Titanic as the gold sank to the bottom of the ocean and effectively didn’t exist in the present. He got the idea from a photo album of his great-grandfather’s wedding – taken on the same day the Titanic sailed. Though when he appears out of nowhere in 1912 he causes a horse and carriage to bolt. This story is almost literally an example of the grandfather paradox – except that the horse accidentally killed the time travellers great grandfather, not simply the grandfather (and the time traveller thus fades from existence). This story does not use Belardinelli’s art style well – it would have done much better under somebody like Mike White, Mike Dorey or John Cooper.

Rogue Trooper: Fort Neuro Part 15 by Gerry Finley-Day and Cam Kennedy. The Nort attack against Frank Sector is foiled by the robe-runners (and a newly invigorated Rogue), but it’s not enough to whip the Franks in to a fighting force. They refuse to join Rogue in aiding other sectors, instead opting for another Grand Ball, though at least let Rogue have the runners. One training montage later they head of to Lim-ee Sector, which is a coincidence as that’s the next sector that the Norts are going to try to infiltrate (they could have gone for Rom or Scan instead).

The back cover has a weetabix ad, showing the cereal getting musical in a range of ‘Neet Weet Beet’ stickers: Crunch plays drums; Brains plays keyboard; Brian plays bongo; Dunk on guitar; Dixie on vocals and Dunk (again) on vocals.

Grailpage: Alan Davis depicts Harry shooting from the focus turret and taking out the shuttles (non-lethally) with great use of light and shade.

Grailquote: Grant Grover, Sam Slade: “Remember your story, Hoagy – me and Kidd are troublemakers. We’re bein’ moved to another camp.” Hoagy: “You can rely on me, Sam! Yup!” Warder: “Halt – who goes there?” Hoagy: “Warder Hoagy! I’m moving these two camps to a new trouble-maker!” Simple, but still funny! I was also tempted by Stogie’s: “Passes? We don’ need no steenkin’ passes!” Which he also sort of used in relation to tomatoes a few progs earlier.

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