2000AD Prog 312: “Sniff!” “Ay-yi-yi! senor Slade, he ees no more!” Robo-Hunter – the final case?

Ian Gibson provides a striking cover containing Slade’s tombstone, bordered by Hoagy and Stogie mourning the robo-hunter. We’ll see this tombstone quite a bit, but more about that inside…

Tharg’s Nerve Centre has a note on the dates on the tombstone on the cover, apparently they put on your biological age on the grave, rather than your chronological age (remember that 35 years reversal in age that Slade had within a few episodes of us meeting him for the first time?)

Sam Slade, Robo-Hunter: The Slaying of Slade Part 1 by Grant/Grover and Ian Gibson. A smaller version of the image of the tombstone on the cover forms the logo for this story, so we’re going to see it more than twenty times. The first page shows Slade lying in hospital as his life support is switched off. I think this is pretty superfluous as we’ve already got the tombstone on the cover and logo. Once the cold open flash forward page is over and done with it’s time for a flashback as a hover-taxi lands outside the Tower of London, spewing forth teeny meks. Meks equipped with grappling hooks allow them to scale the wall (I wonder why the hover taxi didn’t just land inside the walls?) and meks with gun barrels take care of the robo-yeoman-warders. Some get crushed by descending security gates, but the gates are barred so the others are small enough to get through. Another mek has a hammer, letting them get in to the crown jewels while they all seem to have rockets so they can just fly away. I’ll mark this one down to illogical but entertaining and while I didn’t have this prog when I first started reading 2000AD I did have a few of those following it, so made many teeny meks from plasticine.

The next page has a full-page competition for Activision games cartridges. This game had a token that had to be cut out and collected. The previous owner of my copy of this prog cut out that token, meaning the next page also has a missing square section.

Luckily the square section was in the establishing shot of Earth and narration box of Invasion of the Thrill-Snatchers Part 5. Annoying, but doesn’t affect the reading of the story. Burt revives Tharg by pouring the 2000AD back prog brew down the Mighty One’s throat. Using microscopic vision, Tharg can see the greater-spotted thrill-suckers and releases a sudden burst of thrill-power to deal with those about his person. Sucker socker and the microbes could deal with lesser-spotted, but for these thrill-suckers Tharg presents himself as an irresistible target by growing to massive size. Once every thrill-sucker on Earth has either thrill-o-cuted itself or otherwise attached itself to Tharg, the editor flies off to the sun, popping them to death. Now in super-Tharg mode, it remains only to deliver copies of 2000AD all around the world and then deliver one thousand Rigelian hotshots to Zrag…

Judge Dredd: The Starborn Thing Part 4 by T.B. Grover and Carlos Ezquerra. Mutie names like Fang and The Goon appear to be based entirely on their appearances, so no more Bonanza references this time. The thing crawls up the ramparts of the settlements, dealing with the two night sentries. At least one of them is only knocked unconscious, allowing the creature to sting the prone body and proceeds to give the same treatment to the sleeping mutants in the stockade. As the sun rises, so does Dredd, and it doesn’t take the lawman long to get his bearings, running in to the settlement and waking everybody up with by shooting his lawgiver in to the air. Following the sound of a scream he uses an incendiary against the creature – which fortunately seems to work. Story over. Or is it?

After last week’s prologue, Rogue Trooper: Major Magnam Part 1 by Gerry Finley-Day and Brett Ewins sees Rogue stow aboard Bland and Brass’ atmocraft to be taken to an illicit auction room where the spoils of war are sold. Unused chem suits, rows of talking medals, Souther staff cars and Sun Legion standards looted from battlegrounds and wastelands all go under the hammer until the special item comes up – a G.I. officer’s hand gun, complete with bio-chip (which has kept quiet). One person makes a bid, but then Rogue intervenes with a more persuasive offer – if he doesn’t get the gun then he punctures the seal and everybody dies from chem exposure. Outside the gun finally talks. Its name is Major Magnam and from now on they take their orders from it.

Mighty Micro Page – so that video page last prog seems to be devoted just to consoles while this one is for programmable computers, with a few paragraphs on ZX81s, Spectrums and BBC Micros (model B).

Skizz by Alan Moore and Jim Baikie. Roxy’s worried. She’s tried giving Skizz breakfast, but he’s not keeping any of it down. She’s tried cereal, toast, marmalade, orange juice and only has muesli left to try. While she’s trying to find something he can eat, the government are getting on Skizz’s trail, as Mr Van Owen arrives on the site of the starship which self-destructed. Back to Skizz and the muesli isn’t working while we’re getting a few of the words that Skizz has picked up: Rahk-see, Burmy-gam, Beck-fuss, Flippi-neck and Moo-zee. Van Owen shouts Voetsak at Sheba, one of his dogs, which appears to translate to ‘foot bag’. Does this make some sort of sense that’s passing me by?I’m going to blame the translator I used – where’s an interpreter when you need one (Burmy-gam). Sheba manages to sniff out the foot prints left by Skizz (including a tail print, giving the appearance of a “three-legged space monster”).

For he’s a jolly zarjaz alien! is a birthday picture by Ian Gibson showing Tharg and assorted droids welcoming a birthday cake topped by six polystyrene cups. I’m sure the identities of these droids have come up on the forum previously, but I’m making partially-educated guesses at John Wagner, Alan Grant, Ron Smith, Mick McMahon, Tmo Frame and Burt. There’s at least one more which looks like it should be a specific person, whether script, art, lettering or editorial droid.

Grailpage: Ian Gibson’s Robo-Hunter cover. Apart from anything else, the dates appeal to the continuity geek in me.

Grailquote: Gerry Finley-Day, auction robot: “That’ll be 600 nu creds for admission.” Mister Brass: “Dayight robbery. At least they’ve erected a bigger bubble this time!” Mister Bland: “Inflation, Mister Brass!” Inflation, geddit? Because it costs more, but also because the bubble gets inflated with oxygen.

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