2000AD Prog 326: “Is this the death of a G.I.?”

Brett Ewins’ cover shows K For Ken, a Nort missile and three G.I.s (it’s a front view of Rogue so we can’t see Bagman).

Tharg’s Nerve Centre has the announcement of Project Thrill-Power Unlimited! – ranging from annuals, new series (that’ll be Sláine) and a mystery free gift (I think this is a Ron Smith poster) and the return of one of the “most zarjaz characters” – that’ll be Nemesis the Warlock Book III. Letter-wise an earthlet who’s also a paperboy gives a pretty weak excuse for breaking the spines of 2000AD progs. Why fold it down the spine? It could be rolled up and flattened to get it through a letterbox – that’d crease it slightly, but at least there’d be some hope of it flattening out again. Another letter points out the discrepancy in Slade’s birth and death dates in relation to his age. The discrepancy which was explained in the Nerve Centre on the first episode.

Sam Slade, Robo-Hunter: The Slaying of Slade Part 15 by Grant/Grover and Ian Gibson. This episode starts with a great in-joke as Slade’s old body is buried at a National Corpse Parks Multi-Storey Graveyard (which would shorten to NCP = National Car Parks). This wasn’t an episode I would have read in 1983, but I remember there’s another reference to NCP a few years down the line in the second half of Mean Team. Or maybe that’s NCB = National Coal Board? A very unprofessional robo-vicar gets shown the error of his ways (you’re not supposed to slag off the deceased at their funeral) by Slade. Now familiar with Deller’s M.O. Slade predicts what the next target will be – The Treasures of Tutankhamun at Brit-Cit Museum. One scene change later and Stogie is “dink dink dink”-ing around the museum at night, taking up residence in the ear of King Tut’s death mask itself! After two days on sentry duty, the Teeny Meks are sent in their van.

As with last prog, there are two pages of grainy black and white stills, this time you have to turn the page around to view them, and the film in question is Superman III. Pictures include Clark Kent, Superman in the computer cave thing in the Rockies, the bit where Supes is eye-lasering shut the oil tanker, Richard Prior as an army general and a generic Supers flying around shot. Some people don’t like this film. I do. Definitely the best supercomputer lair I can think of off the top of my head!

Skizz by Alan Moore and Jim Baikie. We’re getting towards the end now. This one starts by thematically tying together the characters we’ve seen recently through their desires: Matthew O’Rourke wants his little girl; Jan Van Owen wants his prisoner; Cornelius Cardew wants a job; Roxanne O’Rourke wants to do what’s right (and a Mars bar); Interpreter Zhcchz wants to still be alive in the morning. There’s some wordplay between Skizz and Roxy involving (actress) stars and (literally) stars – the latter being emphasised by the night sky in the background. Unfortunately armed police have spotted Cornelius’ Transit van.

An advert for Eagle, Battle and Tiger also plugs a new Action Force cmoic (Star Wars figure sized Action Man figures for those who weren’t around in the 1980s).

Another Sci-Fi Book Scan presented by Spex covers: Harry Harrison’s The Technicolour Time Machine (seems a bit like that film studios time machine story from earlier this year); Isaac Asimov’s The End of Eternity; Robert E Howard’s Conan the Warrior.

Judge Dredd: Cry of the Werewolf Part 5 by T.B. Grover and Steve Dillon. The fugitive robots dominate East Undercity, and the symbol they have chosen for their dominance is the white werewolf. Dredd has other ideas, easily blasting half the robots and freeing the werewolf. Not interested in the robots, the lawman wheels away, using infra-red to follow the tracks to Central Park (subtly showing a rad-pit underneath a bridge that the werewolf scarpers over. He eventually tracks the white werewolf to a lake fo green glowing Cassidium, but it’s on the far side of the werewolf pack. He plunges in on his lawmaster, batting off attacks by the wolves until close enough to chuck the vials of neutralising agent at the lake – it works immediately (though Dredd’s now right in the midst of the pack).

Tharg’s Time Twisters: The Visitation by Jack Adrian and Eric Bradbury (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 one’s pretty skimpy – a visitor, his skin heavily burnt, is lying on his deathbed next to a mediaeval church. We find out that the church was on the verge of being overrun by berzerkers (think vikings) when a great light appeared in the sky, killing the attackers and depositing the visitor. As he dies we find that the only thing he left behind was a NASA space helmet, from a thousand years in the future. That’s it – a normal lift-off which exploded, for some reason sending the astronaut into the past.

Rogue Trooper: The Vid Vultures Part 4 by Gerry Finley-Day and Brett Ewins. The homing missile, alerted to Rogue’s position by K For Ken is about to kill him, when the biochips lay in to the flying robo-correspondent. The argument wins it over – instead of reporting the news of the death of Rogue Trooper, K For Ken puts itself in to the missile’s path, becoming the news. Having ejected its last tape, Rogue passes it on to the Southers. A month later K For Ken posthumously wins the Correspondent of the Year Award (though none of the film is shown as it’s been censored).

Grailpage: tricky one – there’s no exceptional set pieces but plenty of well-drawn pages with eye-catching images. I could pick pages from Ian Gibson, Jim Baikie, Steve Dillon or Brett Ewins. I’m going to go for the one from Jim – Cornelius’ transit van driving through the starry night, past a police landrover on an industrial estate.

Grailquote: Grant Grover, Sam Slade: “So make it short an’ sweet – especially sweeet!” Robo-vicar: “Ashes-toashes-dusttodust, restinpeace-andallthat-guff! Thankyou,goodday!” It’s easy to pick a grailquote when the words have stayed with me for decades and I’m only now finding out where I picked them up from!

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