King Carlos is back on the cover, showing Dredd get stretchered off.
Tharg’s Nerve Centre gives a thrill-power warning for the back of Prog 316, which will feature a Harry Twenty star pin-up (which will have been the first time I saw Harry).
Sam Slade, Robo-Hunter: The Slaying of Slade Part 2 by Grant/Grover and Ian Gibson. My intro to Sam Slade, this has a reference to the story that started in Prog 152, which would probably have been the first time that eight-year-old me would have been alerted to the idea of continuity in comic strips, eventually leading down the dark path of collecting back progs. Paying a visit to the the robo-cops after seeing security footage on the vid-news, Slade examines the remains of a teeny mek. It is revealed to the reader that the teeny mek’s visual receptors were still active and sent the image of Slade to its controller. We don’t quite get a Tom Tully special, but we do see an array of monitors, all with Slade’s face on it (but no villainous hand). Meanwhile the vid news reveals the Ming Ring has been stolen from the Emperor’s Palace in… well, nevermind the name given to the city – suffice to say any decent person wouldn’t use the word nowadays… The teeny meks are delivered to Slade’s office building and use the grapples to descend to his window. Hoagy tries to warn Sam, but is disregarded as the frog-robot doesn’t usually come out with anything useful. They shoot Slade, but if I remember correctly he’ll come around again before they slay him…
Alien Art is another reader’s art (half-) page featuring three aliens, one or two of which may have been heavily influenced by other sources (I won’t say which one or two, as I don’t know for sure that they’ve been plagiarised). This shares the page with a half-page ad for Techno Police which was available from a video company located opposite where Forbidden Planet was sited first time I went there.
There’s that Lego advert again where a postman minifig finds it difficult to keep up with addresses as the buildings keep moving around – but is inspired to change his own appearance and become a motorcycle policeman.
Tharg’s Time Twisters: The Avenging Kong Meets Laurel and Hardy! by Stavros 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). Starting with a generic chainmail-wearing fantasy female warrior, she leaps down in to a pass to combat Mongol soldiers. Victorious she then gets transported to the year 2169 where it is revealed that she was sent there so that a film studio could make films. The next film for the android Time-Woman is on board the Marie Celeste in the year 1872 (first seen in Colony Earth, next seen very soon). Their modus operandi is to send Time-Woman to locations in the past where there were no survivors (read: witnesses) – unfortunately for the mass murderers at GMG Studios, another film studio in their future has the same idea – thus is the studio destroyed by a giant Kong robot from 2219.
Judge Dredd: The Starborn Thing Part 5 by T.B. Grover and Carlos Ezquerra. Something I really miss in current Dredd stories is that Lawmasters don’t seem to speak so much any more, and they certainly don’t have a personality like they used to (hint to any Dredd writers who might be reading this). The alien thing’s body gets burnt to a crisp, but Dredd is feeling the worse for wear and departs immediately, staggering towards Hossanjo Valley. He’s not the only one to suffer from belly aches as many of the mutants are also coiled up in pain. Getting to the Lawmaster where it was abandoned when it was affected by the magnetic fields outside the valley, Dredd scrambles through the med-kit before an urge encourages him to head in to the valley and the nest. What’s left of Dredd’s consciousness alerts him to how illogical this impulse is and that it’s growing stronger. This is where he handcuffs himself to the bike and orders it to both take Dredd back to the city and also disregard any further orders. Back at the settlement an owlish mutie called Hoot tries to stop the other mutants from leaving as they’re also taken over by the sudden impulse. The thing-affected mutants drop a large object on him. I’d like to think that he was only temporarily incapacitated rather than killed, and if the remaining episodes of this story don’t say otherwise that is what I shall continue to believe. If I ever run a Dredd RPG set in or after the year 2105 then Hoot-with-lumbago shall feature, somehow. By the time Dredd gets to the city he’s in incredible pain, and Ezquerra shows this by showing a black and white negative picture of the yelling Dredd. In the city he’s taken to a med-bay where Chief Judge McGruder observes a growth in Dredd’s abdomen. He’s operated on and an egg is removed – Dredd’s going to be a mother!
Rogue Trooper: Major Magnam Part 2 by Gerry Finley-Day and Brett Ewins. It doesn’t take long for Magnam to start giving orders to Rogue and the other G.I.s starting off with some target practice at the expense of some full oxy-bottles. Gunnar lets slip that the four of them are deserters, but this is covered up by Bagman who detects a battle in progress nearby. The battle in question is over a Pueblo Mountain, an articifical solar-celled community which bears more than a little resemblance to a design in an Usborne book a few years earlier (to the extent that ancillary domes and radar are in the exact same position). Arriving at Microwave Mountain, all five G.I.s are taken to the CCP (Chemically-sealed Command Post). Even as a disembodied chip in a gun, Major Magnam outranks not just the G.I.s but also all the Southers who have been trying to take the Nort-held pyramid. He orders the ‘lootenant’ to take him and pistol whip the other Southers for being ‘cowards’.
That story got interrupted by another full-page colour advert – this one for Weetabix.
Skizz by Alan Moore and Jim Baikie. Roxy buys baby food from Boots the Chemist – there’s some wonderful dialogue as she distractedly answers the cashiers chat about the ‘baby’ before she leaves and bumps in to a few old friends of her father. Loz worked with her dad while Cornelius lost his job as a pipe-fitter but ‘still has his pride’ (he hasn’t dealt with it well). They offer her a lift home but it seems to take some time as it looks like it’s dark by the time she gets there. En route they’re stopped by the police led by Inspector Van Owen, who are on the look out for an animal. As she leaves the van her bag spills and Loz sees the baby food she’s purchased. He offers to help, letting her know that just because he’s a friend of her dad’s, doesn’t mean she can’t trust him if she’s in trouble. At least Skizz can stomach the baby food, even if he doesn’t like the taste.
There’s a whole load of promos and adverts next, with a frame from that Techno Police film from Mountain Video on New Oxford Street and news of a competition next prog, an advert for the Forbidden Planet miniatures (still in Denmark Street, so probably the shop isn’t in New Oxford Street yet), a reservation coupon and an ad for bubble gum.
On the back page is another of the Star Pin-ups which I stuck on my wall where they lived for a while before coming back down and getting glued to the comic they came from. This one is by Mick McMahon and is of Fink Angel (And Ratty). Remember I had no idea who these characters were – it wouldn’t be until I got the Eagle Comics reprints a few years later – in fact Fink was cover star of the first one I bought, in or around February 1985, from the newsagent next to my school crossing to my middle school.
Grailpage: the design may have been taken from elsewhere, but Brett Ewins first view of Microwave Mountain is fantastic.
Grailquote: paraphrased, Alan Moore, cashier: “How long have you had it?” Roxy: “Since yesterday night.” Cashier: “It is a little boy or a little girl?” Roxy: “I’m not sure.”