2000AD Prog 331: Bred to fight… destined to die?

Cam Kennedy brings in an almost pointillist cover of Rogue, just managing to fit in all the bio-chips.

Tharg’s Nerve Centre contains news of free gifts to be given away with Progs 333 and 334 (I still have these – the free gifts actually ran from 332 to 335 but I didn’t get 334 at the time). Meanwhile one earthlet sent in a picture of Vogue Trooper – who looks a lot like Big Ben from the Warrior comic, which would have been coming out around this time. Did I miss a call for earthlets to send in thrill containment ideas? Two earthlets send in their methods of storing progs – one puts ’em in a binder, getting about twenty in each one, kept in place with elastic bands, while another puts them in plastic bags and in to a card folder. At the time, and for about a year after, mine went in a pile. At some point I started putting them in to cardboard boxes and once I discovered comic shops I began bundling them five at a time in to the plastic bags that the comic shops provided. Some are in boxes, others are in magazine files. Classic annuals sit on the shelves in the gaps between everything else. I get my comics from a comic shop now where they’re individually bagged, so I keep them like that. There’s also an ad for the Forbidden Planet collection of Nemesis the Warlock Book One (not branded as Titan in the advert, but my copy has Titan Books on the spine).

Sláine: The Beast in the Broch – 1 by Pat Mills and M Belardinelli. The Roman arrives on the scene with gusto. As good as individual moments were in Ace Trucking Co were, I think his artwork really shines on this – I’ve long considered Meltdown Man to be his magnus opus, but I might have to put his work on Sláine in joint first place as it opens with a fantastic scene in nature as dinner is caught for Sláine and Ukko. While Ukko is off in town, Sláine reminisces why he was exiled. That ‘certain offence’ from the advert in 229 is revealed – he slept with the king’s betrothed. Now that the king has died (due to failed crops) ‘the warped one’ can return. We’re shown a snapshot of the druids using earth power for good (passing babies through a holed stone (looks like Mên-an-Tol in Cornwall) and contrasted to the evil purposes the drunes put it to. We’re not told exactly what ‘evil’ they’re carrying out, merely shown what looks like a sacrifice – though we already know the old king was chucked off a cliff for failed crops, so human sacrifice isn’t solely the forte of the drunes. While this flashback is going on, Ukko has been off in town using both of their shares of the treasure won last prog to uy a prison – a concept he has to explain. Sláine should at least be familiar with the idea of the ‘satisfaction for slaughter’ fee paid by relatives of murderers to the family of their victims, as this would have been used in the tribes of the Earth Goddess too. On the guided tour a mystery is shown as a door, locked and barred, holds a prisoner ‘with the plague’.

Sláine – A Guide to his World – basically a glossary of names and concepts that we’ll see in the first year or so of stories.

Rogue Trooper: Eye of the Traitor Part 6 by Gerry Finley-Day and Cam Kennedy. The Traitor General claims Rogue has tracked him for two years, which would seem to conflict with my theory that the Quartz Massacre happened a decade earlier – to account for how the Fort Neuropans knew all about Rogue even though they’ve been cut off for ten years. Outside of sloppy continuity, this could be explained as the earliest meeting we saw between Rogue and the TG was about two years ago, and the chase has continued every since. As long as TG doesn’t say anything more on the subject, this is what I’m sticking with. TG waits though uses the time to familiarise himself with the zone (and discovers an unexploded flesh disintegrator). Rogue arrives as the sun is setting. Bland and Brass use their eyeballer droids (like Justice Department’s Spy-in-the-Sky) to track the action, and seeing the disintegrator contact some alien psychics to predict the outcome of the match – they see a G.I. skeleton (though – spoiler – there’s a minor clue in that the helmet does not contain a biochip). Being untrustworthy types, B&B have put money on their man, the TG, losing to Rogue.

Judge Dredd: Requiem for a Heavy-Weight Part 1 by T.B. Grover and Carlos Ezquerra. We’ve not seen the fatties since The League of Fatties. They’re still confined to four segregation blocks though the eating contest scene has managed to survive, going underground and using fatties outside of the blocks. An accident with an appetite inducer has led to one of the trainers needing to recruit a new fattie and he finds a likely candidate in one of the segregation blocks in Arnold Stodgman who has somehow managed to gain weight in the heavily-regulated regime within the blocks.

The next page sees an eighties-tastic offer to buy a BMX bicycle.

Tharg’s Future-Shocks: Buzz Off! by Alan Moore and Jim Eldridge. This one is almost wordless with no dialogue at all (other than buzzing from flies). This Just-So Story-style shock has flies actually be tiny alien (?) hoverships which board robotic pigeons to go to the Costa del Sol in October – which is why you don’t see flies in the UK in the winter.

An advert page next, reserve your copy of the prog with your newsagent, blow bubbles and this year’s 2000AD annual is on sale now (which means that’s what I’m covering tomorrow).

Sam Slade, Robo-Hunter: Sam Slade’s Last Case! Part 1 by Grant/Grover and Ian Gibson. Spoiler – it won’t be his last case. Introduced by Stogie and Hoagy (mainly Stogie, let’s face it) this follows directly on from the last prog’s story. And by directly I mean fifty-one years have passed, but Sam has done nothing except sit around on the beach in Tahiti. In 2198, Slade is no longer the fit, agile robo-hunter he was in previous stories and whatever Stogie does to try to spur him back in to action Slade ignores. The robo-hunter is fully retired. And so when a message washes up on the beach, Stogie formulates a plan to ignite the old spark. The first step is to kidnap Slade which they do by slipping him a ‘Michael Feen’ (I had no idea this was Stogie-speak for ‘micky finn’).

Jim Baikie sees off Skizz (not to mention Roxy, Cornelius and Loz) in a star pin-up on the back page.

Grailpage: Massmio Belardinelli put in a great start for his work on the warped warrior in that nature scene on the first page. A good selection of things he’s particularly good at – animals, rocks and gnarled trees.

Grailquote: TB Grover, Judge Dredd: “Probable cause of death?” Attending judge: “Bedstead lodged in the abdomen!” sharing the limelight with Grant/Grover, Stogie (thought bubble): “Ay-yi-yi! Eef Hoagy like the plan, there mos’ be something wrong weeth eet!” Next prog: “There ees!”

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3 thoughts on “2000AD Prog 331: Bred to fight… destined to die?

  1. Reading your section on Slaine, I would have never found the Hole in the Stone, that’s a great find. As for the current King of Chieftain being sacrfied because of failed crops. I was in the habit of thinking that what was happening on the front page of “The Time-Monster” . On top of the Crom-Lech or Men-hir or what ever it’s called. Somebody is being sacrificed. Not sure whether they are Druids or Drunes. Given that it’s that far south of where the Tribes of the Earth goddess are. I say that it’s a unfortunate, Fir-Bolg chief and they are Drunes, since they are all over the south. As for paying the Honor price to the family of whom ever got killed or murdered, they came up with term for that in Slaine Role playing game and called it Sarhaed and it’s on page 31 of the main rule book for it if you have it.

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    1. I do have the RPG – both the Dungeons and Dragons version and the Runequest version (both written by the same person). I’ll check, thanks for the heads up.

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