A problematic cover with a few outdated racial stereotypes. Outside of those there’s a nice design touch in having the Japanese flag in the sky.
Tharg’s Nerve Centre features another pic by future art droid John McCrea – no Judge Toyah this time – it’s Rogue Sucker. Meanwhile one earthlet met script robot Alan Moore and Burt at Nostalgia & Comics in Birmingham (one of the pair let slip that Slade was going to die). The next letter is from Burt, apologising and asking to be allowed back in the Nerve Centre. Incidentally, I bought my copy of the collected edition of Skizz from the same comic shop – because if you’re buying a comic in Birmingham it and you don’t already have a copy, it has to be Skizz, doesn’t it?
Sam Slade, Robo-Hunter: The Slaying of Slade Part 8 by Grant/Grover and Ian Gibson. It’s been a while since I read this, so I hope the Japanese stereotypes from the cover aren’t too bad. Let’s see. Slade travels back in time through his days as an aging robo-hunter to his days as a young robo-hunter, then further to his army days (as we could tell because he’s wearing an army uniform on the cover). In the era of Charlie Chan and Fu Manchu films, the kamikaze samudroids could have been worse (they at least speak in proper English unlike previous Japanese characters in Robo-Hunter). Anyway, enough of that – the interplay between Slade, the robots he commands and the general who commands him is great, until it culminates in an exploding kamikaze samudroid (it exploded because one of Slade’s commandroids thought it had a dud bomb, and kept hitting it).
An ad for the Sci-Fi Special shares a page with a reduced Action Video Extra featuring Circuit Smashers (self-reported high scores from readers).
Tharg’s Time Twisters: The Impossible Murder! by J. M. Teed and Carlos Ezquerra (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). We don’t get much Carlos art on short stories – the only other one I can remember right now is the space vampire one (where the chef defended themselves with garlic). A neat little story with that elusive perfect crime that sci-fi writers like to fall back on when writing about time travel. This one has two brothers who use an experimental time machine to bump each other off so that they can access their inheritance (due to their nasty piece of work father, only the one who survives longest will inherit). The time shenanigans mean each has the same idea – travel forward a few hours, kill the other, then build an alibi at the time of the murder. The alibi for Shelby stands out as he’s having dinner with Mayor MacManus, City Secretary Burton and Treasurer Frame. I recognise those names from somewhere…
Eathlets’ Tharg Gallery features Teeny Mek Tharg, G.I. Tharg and Biffo Tharg. We also got Tharg the Morris Minor in the Nerve Centre and Munch Tharg in Action Video Extra (Munch being non-copyright for Pacman).
Funny how things work out, you don’t see King Carlos in the prog for ages, then along come two stories in a row. Judge Dredd: Condo Part 1 by T.B. Grover and Carlos Ezquerra. We’re introduced to a Space Condominium, which we’re told is a space living community by a Tharg Note. Readers from the USA and Canada may be confused why Tharg needs to tell us this – it’s because the term Condo is barely used outside of North America (the closest British equivalent is ‘commonhold’). Anyway, so this huge space condo we see splashed across the first panel burns up in the second panel. Condo Gemini 1 and 2 both had mishaps resulting in the deaths of 200,000 colonists each time. When the security officer of Gemini 3 is found dead, having fallen from a balcony, suspicions are raised and Dredd is called up to the space colony. Twenty minutes later the condo is due to pass in to meteor shower and a hunch takes Dredd to Meteor Screen Control where the duty tek assures him that the screens were checked an hour earlier. They were, but only so the tek could sabotage them with a las-burner. As Dredd spots this, the tek raises a club – but he’s miles away from Dredd so we know Joe’s going to be able to defend himself next prog.
Skizz by Alan Moore and Jim Baikie starts with some pushy local reporters making a nuisance of themselves. They’ve chosen to do this to Cornelius, which is a bit of a mistake on their parts – particularly when they mention to the unemployed Cornelius that they’re just doing their job. One segue later and Van Owen is interrogating Skizz, who can now speak faltering English (with speech patterns not unlike Swamp Thing, who Moore was also writing around this time). Van Owen has great difficulty in understanding anything other than a nefarious purpose for Skizz finding himself on Earth. One more transition and Roxy sees the headline that those journalists ended up with (The Maiden and the Monster) and this spurs her on to, somehow, rescue Skizz.
Rogue Trooper: Millicom Memories Part 2 by Gerry Finley-Day and Cam Kennedy. In the first of Rogue’s reveries we find out that Gunnar (officially Trooper G) was designated to be rejected due to his unstable character. A freak accident leads to a canister of PDP (Polka Dot Plague) being smashed open and only Rogue’s quick thinking and instruction to Gunnar to shoot four de-chem flasks in quick succession saves the lives of the gene genies (the Souther scientists who created the G.I.s). Helm thinks it’s hilarious that Gunnar was a reject, though then Rogue turns his thoughts to Venus Bluegenes. I didn’t have the next prog, so all I knew of Venus was what I found out in the tropical excursion that the G.I.s take in the near future, until I started getting the back progs.
Speaking of glimpses of characters I wouldn’t find out any more about for years, the next page has an advert for Ro-Busters Book One from Titan Books – which has a fantastic painting by Dave Gibbons on the cover, of Charlie defending Northpool.
This page was detached for some time as it featured a Star Pin-Up of Tharg the Mighty by Carlos on the other side. It got glued back on to the prog at a later date.
Grailpage: Carlos Ezquerra, the opening center-spread showing a panorama of Gemini 2, just before it crashed in to Earth’s atmosphere. Colours were presumably by Tom Frame and the space colony is grey without being bland (due to blue highlights with a smigeon of brown, yellow, red and green thrown in for variety).
Grailquote: Grant/Grover, General: “We ran outa worms three back! Listen, if them samudroids turn out to e on our side, get ’em to fly some over!” But also Alan Moore, Van Owen: “What exectly did she say about the police?” Skizz: “She… said they… weren’t… as good … as madness. I did… not… understand her …at the… time. I think… I… understand her… now.” Geddit? It’s clever because it’s comparing bands, but then switches back to his present situation of being in a police interrogation.