2000AD Prog 324: Robo Hunter returns to Brit-Cit “Dumb place to park a chair, ya crazy hume!” KRAAAK!

Ian Gibson shows the next panel from last week’s cliffhanger on this cover. I may be wrong, but I think this was the last of the batch given to me by my neighbour in 1983.

Tharg’s Nerve Centre. One earthlet gives Tharg a chance to plug Nemesis the Warlock Book III and forthcoming thrill Slaine. Another has read 2000AD at a high altitude on the rim of the grand canyon, and a low altitude, 200 feet below sea level in Death Valley.

Sam Slade, Robo-Hunter: The Slaying of Slade Part 13 by Grant/Grover and Ian Gibson. That cliffhanger doesn’t amount to much as Slade (and Scumm, and the chair) are merely knocked out of the road by the truck. They’re not home and dry yet though, as they’re still strapped in to the chair. The Brit-Cit public do not want to get involved, until Sam (Slade) tries a little reverse psychology by loudly ‘enjoying’ himself in the chair, which attracts the disapproval of those around. Sams are almost released, until somebody suggests calling the Brit-Cit robo-cops. After some discussion, they decide to put a cordon around Sam and leave him there. Interestingly they ride off no motorcycles looking not unlike lawmasters. Next prog: The Man Who Killed Himself! (Spoiler – this inspired me to dig out Prog 312 and yes, despite Hoagy, Stogie and the Robo-doc being the only characters we get a proper view of – it’s a human hand which switches off the life support – subtle!)

Action Video: The 2000AD Video Games Guide! Games covered include: Beauty & the Beast; Atlantis; Ms. Pac-Man and Frogger. Reader-submitted high scores (Circuit Smashers) include an earthlet with the same name as somebody I used to work with (and is from a city 36 miles from where the person I worked with went to university) but I have no way of verifying whether they’re the same person.

Tharg’s Time Twisters: The Time Machine by Alan Moore and Jesus Redondo (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). This is considered to be the best Time Twister by some. Though boring by others – so a little divisive. It’s not your usual story for a children’s comic – in fact I’m not sure I’d have gotten what was going on first time I read it, so I’ll describe it twice (spoilers if you haven’t read it). The surface reading for people who might take the words literally (i.e. youngish children) is that a scientist has invented a time machine because he wanted to revisit his childhood. The time he spent on it (six years, all consuming) led to his wife leaving him and when he completed it, it didn’t appear to work. But later he jumps from a bridge and (possibly some children may have understood) that it did work, but with a delayed reaction or something, because he saw the events of his life. What really happened was that he committed suicide and the visions he sees are just his life passing before his eyes before he dies. As I say, not your usual children’s comic fodder.

Judge Dredd: Cry of the Werewolf Part 3 by T.B. Grover and Steve Dillon. I hadn’t seen An American Werewolf in London and The Company of Wolves hadn’t been made yet, so the opener to this episode was the first time I’d have seen a graphic representation of the metamorphosis of human in to wolf. So, in case you hadn’t guessed, while Korkoran is turning in to a wolf back at the Hall of Justice, mega-citizen Darlene is also turning in to a wolf. The wolf-Darlene kills Floyd, her husband and then the action switches to Korkoran, whom the medics manage to sedaet (but only after wolf-Korkoran puts the bite on a judge and Dredd subdues the wolf). Quick-witted Dredd wastes no time in putting out a priority call on all judges to converge on Darlene’s home – named Buck Chegwin Block – the only Chegwin I know of was Keith Chegwin. Steve Dillon puts in a great establishing shot of the block by the way, it’d be a strong contender for grailpage if it wasn’t for… more of that later. By the time the judges arrive, Darlene has gone on the rampage and gets shot – by four or more judges simultaneously, from the looks of it. Always quick to realise the gravity of the situation, Dredd knows that every judge and mega-citizen who’s been bitten is a candidate to become a werewolf. For the last year or two I’ve used the word ‘mega-citizen’ to refer to those inhabitants of the mega-cities who aren’t judges. I didn’t consciously take it from this story, but I’m gratified to see the term used to describe Darlene O’Smith.

Skizz by Alan Moore and Jim Baikie. My first encounter with the term ‘second city’ to refer to Birmingham (though let’s face it – I probably wasn’t that aware of Birmingham at all at this age, despite living fifty miles from the place). Roxy is trying to keep a low profile, walking by the Bullring where Skizz wandered way back. her nerves on edge, Loz takes her by surprise when he meets her with the stolen van, and Skizz. Van Owen is stepping up the pace of the manhunt – though the hunt isn’t for a ‘men’, as Van Owen puts it (something else that would have gone over my head – I’d have had no idea that Van Owen was South Efrican). Back with Roxy and co, and the van is heading through a typical British urban area, decorated with Hawkmoorish churches, industrial chimneys and commercial warehouses. Hawkmoor’s distinctive Roman-style churches reminding me of Moore’s 1990s From Hell and a religious extremist with a billboard reminiscent of mid-eighties Watchmen.

Rogue Trooper: The Vid-Vultures Part 2 by Gerry Finley-Day and Brett Ewins. K For Ken, the remote control war correspondent (though not actual remote control from what I can tell – it seems to be an autonomous hovering robot) continues to pester Rogue and the chips. After recording the G.I.s take out a Nort patrol, K For Ken reveals its ambition to win the War-Correspondent-of-the-Year Award. Above them two Norts are watching and one is particularly pleased that the war correspondent is giving away the G.I.s position. He’s got a curious design on his clothing – as well’s as death’s-head designs there’s a few stripes and jagged lines on the helmet part of his mask.

An unusual half-page ad for the next prog has a Jim Baikie Skizz-head in front of a photo of some chimney stacks and cooling towers (we don’t normally get photos in 2000AD, unless it’s an advert for a teen magazine).

The back cover has an ad for Quicksilva Games – for ZX81, Spectrum, Vic20, BBC and Dragon home computers, available from John Menzies (remember that chain?) and Boots – in addition to computer stores.

Grailpage: as is increasingly common these days, there’s a host of good pages this prog, but the one I’m picking is Steve Dillon’s centrespread featuring Darlene’s transformation, which has colouring which really sets it off (probably by Tom Frame).

Grailquote: Grant/Grover, Sam Slade (narration): “So there I was, folks – stranded in a sea of people, a tragic victim of the British reluctance to do anything about anything -” also from the same creative team, this time writing under the name T.B. Grover, a mega-citizen: “I’m sure they’ve got a dog in there!” Second mega-citizen: “What’s a dog?”  I remember that this brought home to me how far in the future Dredd was set, that some mega-citizens wouldn’t know what a dog was.

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