2000ad Prog 317: The Bio-wire… Creeping killer of Nu Earth!

Another of my first batch of comics has a Cam Kennedy cover and the first apperance of bio-wire.

A very much reduced Tharg’s Nerve Centre – just the Thargnote, in fact, plus a Titan advert for the Judge Death collection and a non-Titan advert for bubble gum.

Sam Slade, Robo-Hunter: The Slaying of Slade Part 6 by Grant/Grover and Ian Gibson. Slade is sent back to Earth in ghostly form to locate and tidy up the discrepancy regarding the mysterious other Slade. Thinking about where he first encountered the Teeny Meks Slade finds out that being a ghost has one advantage, just thinking about a time and place is all he needs to go to that time and place – ending up at the events recounted in Prog 174 (I mentioned this prog in that blog post!) when Slade burst out of a cake to throw a football bomb at the God-Droid. During the course of events, Slade got knocked unconscious – in this prog ghost-Slade has a chat with old Slade (or younger, alive Slade). I’ve never noticed before, but the cloud-like structure they’re sitting on in living Slade’s head is his brain. Live Slade knows nothing, so ghost-Slade heads out to leave him to come around. Before leaving he sees one of the robo-hoods crawl away, a hatch open and a disfigured human emerge (and I mis-remembered when I was writing that post – I thought Slade’s killer had emerged from the remains of the God-Droid, not one of the robo-hoods). It was quite some time after reading this that I saw the events that surrounded that scene.

Frank Langford contributes a comic panel for a Philips Video Games Club before we get to the debut of two new characters…

Tharg’s Time Twisters: D.R. and Quinch Have Fun on Earth! by Alan Moore and Alan Davis (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). Sorry, my mistake. This story is written by E. E. Quinch. It says so in the Compu-73E credit card. The fun that the title characters have involves a whole bunch of time travel, including visiting places we’ve seen before (the Marie Celeste, the Bermuda Triangle) plus there’s a panel showing a classic 1950s UFO encounter which I’m sure must be a parody of a contemporary comic, but a quick look around the internet just now didn’t reveal anything. Moore based this story on a story featuring characters O.C. and Stiggs, best known by everybody I’ve ever met who’s heard of them as being the inspiration for D.R. and Quinch. The tale is a jaunt through time and space to carry out an elaborate revenge on the dean of said character’s university (who suspended the pair) by changing the geography of the Earth to spell out an insult. And also guiding the indigenous lifeforms (humanity) to travelling to the stars in order to get this message to the dean. It works, the dean is insulted, the Earth destroyed as a consequence and D.R. and Quinch are allowed back to the university. P.S. this story was the first time I encountered the term ‘Diminished Responsibility’.

Judge Dredd: The Stupid Gun Part 2 by T.B. Grover and Ron Smith. We find that two hoods have done the dirty on their fellow hoodlums by turning the Stupid Gun on them and then going on a criminal rampage. After being spotted outside a bank they stupefy a judge then take to the Inter-Block Zoom to escape. Young me was taken by Ron Smith’s depiction of the high–rise high-speed monorails, emphasising that this future city wasn’t like the plain old cities I’d seen on TV and film. Speaking of which, the use of the Stupid Gun means that the entire zoom other than the two hoods are now stupid, giving Smith a chance to depict the less than aesthetic side of Mega-Citizens.

Rogue Trooper: Bio-Wire! by Gerry Finley-Day and Cam Kennedy. This starts off with a Souther squad cut off by a Nort lightning advance. As the sergeant lays down on some wire so that the others can use him as a bridge to get through, the wire starts rustling. Alive and on the offensive, only one Souther survives the attack by the bio-wire – Cookie, no doubt due to the weight of the stove he had to carry. Turning the page – yup – expect it’s called a laz-cooker. Rogue arrives on the scene, alerted by Bagman’s sensors picking up the screams. Immediately surmising that this is the latest Nort technological development, Rogue blasts a temporary hole through the wire in order to get the battle-shocked Cookie back to Souther lines.

Rogue’s sprint through as the bio-wire closes the gap is interrupted by Play the Game! – the latest advert from the Weetabix skinheads (they’ve got four cut out and keep boardgames on the backs of the cereal boxes).

Back to Rogue and the bio-wire snaps at his heels as he carries Cookie through. As they crash to the ground just clear they’re caught by Norts and taken to a chem-sealed base. Recognising the Souther as a cook, they force Cookie to make them a meal if he wants to live. Bit of a mistake letting a captured prisoner cook food for you immediately after having been caught. Cookie’s meal for the Norts contained bio-wire, eating them from the inside and allowing Rogue and Cookie to get free, call an atmo-craft and take Cookie out of the war. Bio-wire is a fantastic invention of Finley-Day’s, and we will see it, or a variant, again (though I’m not sure if Finley-Day’s Rogue stories will feature it).

Skizz by Alan Moore and Jim Baikie. We’re in prime Moore territory now. He’s learnt the craft of story-telling in Future-Shocks and annual stories and honed the poetic method we’re used to from other works. Scene changes are achieved through thematic connections, metaphors come to the fore and an entire episode about somebody dreaming and then waking up is more interesting than that might sound. Can you tell I like this story? It’s better than that film they made about an alien who was accidentally left on Earth. Oh, and Skizz’s antibodies have fought off the Earth infection. I guess that was pretty important. P.S. this story was the second time I encountered the term ‘Diminished Responsibility’ – strange that it was in the same prog as the first time I encountered it. Though less strange when you consider who wrote that other story. (Quinch).

The back cover has another advert for a boardgame from Waddingtons – this one is Buccaneer and is apparently about “Raiders of the South Seas”.

Grailpage: D.R. and Quinch made an explosive debut due to Alan Davis’ artwork, the first page dominated by the splash image of D.R. bazooka-ing (bazooking?) a dinosaur in our planet’s Mesozoic era.

Grailquote: Grant Grover, Ghost-Slade: “Anyway, time I was off. Thanks for nothin’!” Live-Slade: “Think nothin’ of it!”

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