2000AD Prog 327: Dredd – on the menu for the white werewolf!

Steve Dillon provides another Dredd werewolf cover, with colouring really bringing out the feeling of a white canine’s fur.

Tharg’s Nerve Centre makes mention of the forthcoming annuals – which reminds me – when I get to them I’ll also be ‘mopping up’ a few other publications which got missed out for various reasons. Tharg takes the form of a weetabix and lies to an earthlet by saying he always keeps his word (in response to a letter pointing out that Strontium Dog was returning ‘soon’ – eighty progs ago!) Johnny and Wulf will be back within a few months.

Sam Slade, Robo-Hunter: The Slaying of Slade Part 16 by Grant/Grover and Ian Gibson. Stogie is the star of this episode, and I think the next as well as the tiny robot reports back to Slade as the teeny robots snatch all of King Tut’s treasures. The reporting is interrupted when they enter a shielded spaceship and get taken up to a orbiting space station / space ship – about which more later. When I say later, I mean the next sentence – Deller gloats that the only ones who can link him to his collection of the world’s treasures are the teeny meks, who can’t talk. That space station? It’s in the same shape as a teeny mek. Not exactly surreptitious there, Deller.

Mighty Micro Page: The 2000AD microcomputer feature! One reader-submitted program and a few articles, which I won’t list.

Tharg’s Time Twisters: The Startling Success of Sideways Scuttleton by Alan Moore and John Higgins (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). I like myself a good alternate reality story – in this one they’re called parallel worlds. This concerns the type of spiv characterised by Private Walker in Dad’s Army, who (while running away from the police as a teenager) discovered the ability to slide between worlds (through wiggling his back in a certain way). Being a spiv, Scuttleton takes advantage of this ability by buying things in surplus from one world and selling them in another world where they’re a bit more scarce, or at least in higher demand. All goes well until the day he gets shooting pains in his back and loses control of his ability. There follows a few panels of travelling to different parallels only to find there’s a slight difference which reveals it isn’t his home world (as in a certain TV programme). As also happens in that programme (which was written many years after this story) the punchline is that he has returned to his home world but that a small detail has changed, which Scuttleton thinks signifies it isn’t his home world (in Sliders it was a creaky gate that finally got oiled, in this it was the then-recent change from £1 paper notes to coins).

Mek-Maniac is a page of four pieces of reader’s art. They’re pretty good and, as ever, they look rather too good, but I don’t recognise the potential sources they may have been copied from, so I’m not going to single any out.

Across from this page are four adverts of differing shapes and sizes crammed in to one page. Of most interest is an aged version of Hitler – oh, forgot to mention, the previous story had the Nazis winning the second world war and a cameo by a Hitler who continued to work as a house painter. Old Hitler was probably drawn by Robin Smith, art editor around this time, though it doesn’t particularly look like his style.

Judge Dredd: Cry of the Werewolf Part 6 by T.B. Grover and Steve Dillon opens with a full page centrespread of Dredd amidst the werewolves. Obviously he manages to shoot his way out, but the white werewolf sneaks off. One out of the firefight, Dredd considers his next move, but the white werewolf gets the drop on him, stating an assault with a bite (yes, Dredd got bitten by the werewolf, and you know what that means). The two grapple and the outcome hinges on the iron fence that I hadn’t noticed from the cover as Dredd impales the wolf. Knowing he has one hour until he turns wolf, Dredd recalls the rad-pit that it would have been easy to miss last prog and sets a trap. The lawmaster computer is set to broadcast the sound of the white werewolf’s cry to lure the wolfpack on to the bridge where explosives will detonate, killing all of them – and Dredd himself, bringing the werewolf line to an end. Cliffhanger time and Dredd is already in a hairy situation (sorry, sorry).

Skizz by Alan Moore and Jim Baikie. Loz isn’t sitting around doing nothing – he’s not even playing a game of pool (well, he did snap his pool cue last episode, out of frustration). We see vignettes around the city centre as he stirs people in to assembling – in the words of the narration “Birmingham came running.” We get a trademark Moore-ism as running ties the episode together – Skizz is running (and Roxy is completely failing to understand just how far from home Skizz really is) while Roxy’s dad has words with Loz, who ends up giving him a pillion ride to join the rest of Birmingham. The plan is to have too many witnesses for Van Owen to get up to his usual nefarious deeds. As Cornelius’ van gets to Spaghetti Junction (and comparing aerial photos it’s a pretty accurate rendition from Jim Baikie) the armed police catch up with them. Hope those witnesses are fast at running, as it’s about three miles from Central Birmingham. As an aside, I lived closeish to Birmingham in the 1980s, and while I never went there as a child, we did regularly go along the M6 through Spaghetti Junction, and I’d usually try to figure out which of the roads in this picture I was on.

Rogue Trooper: Eye of the Traitor Part 1 by Gerry Finley-Day and Cam Kennedy starts with a potential pun. M*A*S*H was a hit medical war comedy-drama. This opens with SMASH – a Sealed Mobile Army Surgical Hospital – though coincidentally Smash is a type of ready-made mashed potato… Anyway, a lone traveller arrives at the hospital demanding oxygen, which the dispensing droids aren’t authorised to give out, without a prescription. Killing all of the humans at the hospital, the traveller addresses the robots, informing them that he is their new commander and to gather up supplies and to follow him. Hours later they arrive at an old missile disguised as a tree in a withered forest. Once the payload is delivered, the traveller goes on a shooting spree again, though one psycho-analyst droid (whose speech patterns are cut from the Freud / Jung mold) survives, offering to attempt to help the traveller with his manic behaviour. Bland and Brass discover the carnage at the hospital (naturally more concerned that the place has been looted already) while the traveller reveals his identity – the Traitor General.

Brendan McCarthy makes a welcome return in a pin-up showing Dredd before a cityscape which highlights how much his art style has developed since the early years of 2000AD, following the McMahon style of ‘pepperpot’ blocks with tufts of trees and shrubbery in roof gardens.

Grailpage: I was tempted by Jim Baikie’s opening cityscape of the Bullring as Birmingham came running, and by Cam Kennedy’s forest with a procession of hovering medical robots, but in the end I’ve gone for McCarthy’s star pin-up on the back page.

Grailquote: Alan Moore, Roxy: “I know we’re not as advanced as you, but we can build spaceships and things. We’ve already got as far as the moon.” Skizz: “As… far… the moon?” Roxy: “Yeah. Pretty good, eh?” Narration: “…and it was then that interpreter Zhcchz of the Tau-Ceti Imperium realised that he was never going to get home.”

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