2000AD Prog 323: Meet Nu Earth’s genetic infantrymen If his number comes up, they all die!

Brett Ewins put in a Rogue cover featuring the corporeal GI running and a stylistic take on this bio-chipped buddies. This was one of those ‘fill-in’ progs I got a few years after reading those before and after.

Tharg’s Nerve Centre is presented by Tharg Lynch (a reference to a soap opera character) and has a rather uncharitable response to a seven-year-old who wanted to join Tharg’s club. Tharg could have said that every reader is automatically a Squaxx dek Thargo, but instead says that A.O.E. (Aliens on Earth) is not open to earthlets.

Sam Slade, Robo-Hunter: The Slaying of Slade Part 12 by Grant/Grover and Ian Gibson. Slade has no trouble tricking a robotic warden into opening up a maintenance room and uses clawhammer (from inside the maintenance room) to smash a circuit hatch off and get the robot in the neural link circuits. Locking the door, the two Sams use the maintenance ducts to get to the Time Stretcher room where Slade adjusts it in to a time machine (Slade thinks this is pretty simple). Best not to think too hard about this bit, though I will comment that comics are the perfect art form to show a character crawling through ducts – only partially realised in this page. The next day, Scumm gets marched to the Time Stretcher chair which surprises the warders and warden by disappearing when activated. The two Sams arrive at their destination – Brit-Cit of the future. Though it’s in the middle of a road and it looks like the pair are going to get smushed. There’s another issue, but I only know about that because the next prog was another of my first ten (might be wrong, but I think it was the last one until I started buying them for myself).

Spex is back with the Sci-Fi Book Scan, presenting two books I don’t have: Jerry Pournelle’s Janissaries and Gregory Benford & William Rotsler’s Shiva Descending – the name of which heavily suggests it’s part of a series to me – there must be an ‘Ascending’ out there, right? There’s another book, and it’s one I do own. I’ve also read a comic adaptation of it, and if you’re interested enough to read this blog then there’s a good chance you have as well. Harry Harrison’s The Stainless Steel Rat for President was released in this year, and I should be covering the adaptation in a few month’s time. Kelvin Gosnell (I’m going to guess) and Carlos didn’t waste any time adapting it! I can literally see my copy from where I’m typing this, so I have no excuse not to read it when I cover the adaptation, as I did with the first Stainless Steel Rat story (I still don’t own a copy of the middle book which was adapted – should really do something about that).

Not under the Tharg’s Time Twisters brand, but it’s a time travel story. The script robot for The Lethal Laziness of Lobelia Loam is not credited but the art is by Boluda who we’ve seen a few times now (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). Lobelia is a slob. So much of a slob that her mother flees to Southend and changes her name. Her father tries to avoid the piles of mess that Lobelia creates to escape to the cellar where he’s set up his scientific laboratory. Unfortunately he’s so eager that he doesn’t account for the mess and trips on a clothesline and slips on a damson flan, tumbling down the stairs and breaking his neck. Lobelia hears his dying cries and investigates, discovering a time machine. Lobelia doesn’t care a whole lot about the time machine, until she discovers by accident that things that go in to the glowing portal do not return. Uncharacteristically (once she’s disposed of her father’s body) she goes on a cleaning spree, chucking everything through the portal. Well, for a while, anyway. Then she hires a decorator to finish the job and clean up the house (before murdering him and chucking him in to the time portal as well). She hosts potential suitors in the now more respectable house, murdering them, rifling their clothes for cash and disposing of all evidence. What she hasn’t ever noticed was that there was a read-out saying where the destination of the time machine was. Not that it’s any surprise – I’m sure most people reading this would have guessed that it the rubbish would pour out at some point in the future (like a reverse of sending rubbish to the past). Oh, and the reason no credit was given was because there was a framing story about Tharg baby-sitting his nephews (Joko Jargo not among them – but then I think the first time we met Marg we were also introduced to about fifty husbands – so there could be any number of children).

Robin Smith provides a full-height half-page advert for 2000AD (Zaps all known thrill suckers…) and a series of horror books called Dark Forces from Corgi/Bantam Books.

A second media droid appears this prog, D-MIL with Cinefax. Larry ‘Buster’ Crabbe has died and about half the other stories don’t turn out to be true (I don’t think Superman 3 was ever released in 3D).

Judge Dredd: Cry of the Werewolf Part 2 by T.B. Grover and Steve Dillon. I was wrong – Judge Fogg does not die, and actually succeeds in taking down the werewolf – three shots don’t affect it, but incendiary has much more success. Fogg advises the two citizens who encountered the werewolf to go to the nearest med-unit, but Darlene just wants to get home – Floyd obliges. Elsewhere, Dredd and Korkoran get in to the werewolf-fighting action – normal bullets didn’t have much effect on Fogg’s werewolf, but bike cannon seems to do a good job. High explosive also does the job, but not before Korkoran gets bitten (you know where this is going to go). Studying the bodies, Korkoran finds that one of the werewolves is wearing a judge’s uniform. About the time that Dredd confirms that the werewolf is indeed Judge Bram, who went on the Long Walk to the Undercity some time between 2099 and the current year (2105), Korkoran starts to change…

Skizz by Alan Moore and Jim Baikie. While the ‘protest’ carries on distracting the guards outside, Loz and Cornelius set to work inside the complex and their first step is to pretend to be doctors. With the aid of a ‘plague rat’, they’re left to their own devices and manage to get Skizz out – switching back to being fake laundry workers. So that’s the laundry van, the protest and the stolen rats accounted for in the grand plan, but what about the two toy wallabies? Glad you asked – the first one is left in Skizz’s bed and doesn’t stand up to scrutiny, but allows the trio some time to escape. Meanwhile, as they make off in the laundry van, Van Owen chases after the other wallaby on the back of a scooter (the wallaby is on the back of a scooter – Van Owen is in a police car). So, plan accomplished, Skizz is free – but for how long?

Rogue Trooper: The Vid-Vultures Part 1 by Gerry Finley-Day and Brett Ewins. The missives from Nu Earth change gear as we get a new side – a rare glimpse of the civilian life of South Side culture opening with a news (propaganda) broadcast, viewed by a chem-ravaged vet and his family. He’s not impressed by the sanitised version of war presented to the viewers, though I can’t remember if we see any more of his family as the narrative then switches to Rogue’s latest encounter with a Nort hopper. There’s a distraction but as the Nort hopper doesn’t know rogue’s trademark tick of hiding a few millimetres under the surface of the ground, then breaking through and shooting, the distraction is only momentary. Bad news though – Rogue has got a spy-in-the-sky reporter – or vid-vulture – on his back.

Robin Smith’s Tharg’d Droids: No 8 in an occasional series focuses on Art Robot Ewins, focusing on his focus of late on Rogue Trooper, as Brett’s paintbrush takes Helm’s bio-chip, the ink-opt has Gunnar’s chip and the drawing table takes Bagman’s chip.

Grailpage: I knew it had to be one of Steve Dillon’s pages from Cry of the Werewolf, but which one? In the end I’ve gone for the page which begins with the headlights from the lawmasters ridden by Dredd and Korkoran approaching two werewolves, one being killed by bike cannon and the other (the werewolf previously known as Judge Bram) picking up their prey by the neck and running off.

Grailquote: Alan Moore, Skizz: “But… what if we are… apprehended?” Loz: “Just pretend to be a string vest!”

Before I finish, just a few things I noticed about this prog – out of five stories, three had characters underground, two had characters escaping and two featured time travel.

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