2000AD Prog 318: The Stupid Gun! “You’re next, Dredd!”

Ron Smitih’s back on the cover with a scene from the week’s Dredd tale. This is another of the progs that was given to me by my neighbour and for me encapsulates a lot of what a good Judge Dredd tale was in that era. Though they were all good Judge Dredd tales!

Tharg’s Nerve Centre is back to a full page but no exceptional contributions (sorry if you were one of the earthlets or commanders who wrote in).

Sam Slade, Robo-Hunter: The Slaying of Slade Part 7 by Grant/Grover and Ian Gibson. Opening with an establishing shot of Ghost-Slade in Spaaace merging with a splash of ghostly Slade on Verdus, the narration box posits the interesting idea that Slade is being denied entrance to Hell rather than Heaven. In which case, why is Slade in a hurry to resolve the situation? If you read through all this first time around (so I’m told by people who did) then this story is a bit of filler, retreading old ground. For me, this was part of my introductory batch of Slade and Gibson’s art (not too shoddy first time around) is even more assured on the re-run. Slade talks to his old self during the war between the first and second robot armies of Verdus and gets nowhere fast. I’d forgotten I saw the moment that Slade grew young so early on in my Squaxxan career, but I guess it was all just different shades of weirdness to me at the time. Next prog, something older readers hadn’t seen before – Slade’s soldier days!

Rogue Trooper: Milli-Com Memories Part 1 by Gerry Finley-Day and Cam Kennedy. Another of those stories which had great revelations for long-term readers but was part of the foundation for me (something similar happens with Dredd’s test-tube memories within the next year). After opening with a fire-fight, Rogue shows mercy to the one barely surviving Nort while the biochips argue amongst themselves. Mention of being reminded of the time that they were ‘whole men’ brings images of wounded veterans cast aside on their return to the society they were maimed to protect (I have no idea if this was intended). No good deed goes unpunished and as Rogue leaves the Nort recovers enough to throw a broken lance, seriously wounding our Rogue (Gunnar takes care of the Nort through autofire, which always seems to be pointing in exactly the right direction). Delirious, Rogue starts recounting old memories from (well, it’s all in the title of this story). Starting with Gunnar next prog.

Earthlet Art Gallery has no particular theme. The most original is Judge Kiwi (from an earthlet based in Christchurch, New Zealand).

Judge Dredd: The Stupid Gun Part 3 by T.B. Grover and Ron Smith opens with a fantastic centre-spread of the out-of-control Zoom Tube 444, speeding high above the Mega-City. A lot of space is given to Dredd lining up on a platform gunning the engines of the Lawmaster as the accelerating Zoom approaches. Dredd doesn’t say “Turbo Boost” (he says “Go, bike! GOOOO!”) but he might as well, as he immediately gets to match speed and climbs on board the cab just before the platform ends. The Lawmaster gets obliterated. Who’d be a bike computer? There’s some interesting non-standard jagged panel borders around here. On board there’s no (real) problem in flipping the emergency stop switch and being 2000AD it isn’t quite in the nick of time, as a good few stupefied mega-citizens gets mashed by the buffers. Dredd’s Lawgiver jams, just so that Dredd will be defenceless against the Stupid Gun – until he snatches up a broken mirror, to reflect the Stupid Rays back to the mobster shooting him. As I said two progs ago, this was my first ever complete multi-part Dredd story and it’s got quite a bit of what makes Dredd Dredd with Mega-City One as a leading character, bizarre technology and crimes and extreme situations.

Skizz by Alan Moore and Jim Baikie. Time for English lessons, courtesy of the British government. Meanwhile, Roxy is having problems, with her family and at school. Not much happens in these four pages (not that I can summarise) but it’s well told and serves to intersperse vignettes before the plot picks up.

Tharg’s Time Twisters: Going Native by Alan Moore 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). Woodrow is an anthropologist from the year 6274. Interestingly a scene in Book II of the Ballad of Halo Jones takes place in 6427 – all the same numbers in a different order – and Moore is one of the few 2000AD writers to use dates in the far future, rather than just a century or two down the line. Woodrow is in the Paloelithic Era (which Moore also visited recently, in D.R. & Quinch Have Fun on Earth) to research the origins of the human race. On the Aarne-Thompson-Uther-Tharg index; this is another case of the researcher creating the circumstances they travelled back in time to investigate – to whit, Woodrow decided after a year that living in the untouched wilderness of the Rhine Valley in the Paleolithic was preferable to surviving in the overcrowded artificially-lit future dome city. After initial reservations, Woodrow gets used to the neanderthals and falls for one of them. They have children. The children have straight backs. Shock! Sorry, Twist! Woodrow is the progenitor of the human race! p.s. Neandertal (the Neander Valley in English) is in the Rhineland, hence Woodrow’s location. I would quibble about the genealogy and relationship of neanderthals to homo erectus, but I’m not sure what understanding the scientific community had at the time this was written.

Still no Nemesis the Warlock Book III yet, but Kevin O’Neill contributes a great Star Pin-Up, which adorned my bedroom wall for some time.

Grailpage: two this week – Ron Smith’s archetypal view of the Zoom Tube accelerating hundreds of metres above Mega-City One – the blocks being about the most blocky we’ve seen him draw, skirting the line as never before between being a realistic extrapolation of 20th century skyscrapers and oversized future buildings with monorails and stuff! My other pick this prog is that Kevin O’Neill poster which you may have noticed I skirted over – it’s the one of Torquemada looming over an uneasy sleeper. I had this on the wall as I went to sleep as a child, and look how I turned out!

Grailquote: Pat Mills (presumably), Remember the words of Torquemada: “Sleep is no refuge for impure thoughts!” Didn’t even have to check when I typed those words out, though I can’t remember how long it was on my wall before I glued it back on to the prog.

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