2000AD Prog 334: Sláine on Hel’s Edge

The the third week running the prog is adorned by a wraparound cover and the second of the three to be illustrated by Massimo Belardinelli, this one allowing for his distinctive imagination to be let loose on the back cover as he shows us Hel. The first time I ever used a photocopier was to get a copy of the back cover – though I was a child who had no idea how photocopiers worked so ended up with a copy of the front of the prog instead.

Half of the contributions in Tharg’s Nerve Centre are related to Cry of the Werewolf – one earthlet asks for more horror in Dredd soon. We’re going to get a Haunting story, but it’s about a year away…

Sláine: The Beast in the Broch – 4 by Pat Mills and Massimo opens with another view of Hel as the shapechanging serpent threatens that her world, Hel, will overwhelm the Land of the Young due to the drunes meddling with powers they could not control. With Ukko’s begruding aid, Sláine manages to behead the serpent (as it tries to appeal to him by changing back to Blathnaid’s form) just in time for the local villagers to turn up and do the ‘storming Frankenstein’s castle’ thing. The two escape to the sourland and there’s a great panel of Sláine on a horse, Ukko riding a boar and a local resident on stilts in the marsh. Time for another flashback as Sláine thinks back to his time in the Sessair tribe’s Red Branch as they carried out that stalwart of Irish folk-tales – a cattle raid.

Robo-Hunter: Sam Slade’s Last Case Part 4 by Grant/Grover and Ian Gibson – last part and Hoagy and Stogie are on the run – from Sam Slade! Fortunately for them he’s a bit out of shape from having spent fifty-one years lying around on a beach drinking cocktails. On their run they discover the cells, and the person who sent the message in a bottle. Freeing the ‘prisoners’ Slade confronts Doctor Droid and it emerges that they’re all clients of the world’s first fully submersible health farm. All it takes is a picture of one of the inmates, Mr Emberton (isn’t that close to one of Ian Gibson’s pen-names?) on the day he entered compared to his current healthier self and they decide it’s not actually that bad on the starvation diets and exercise machines. And so the story ends with the wealthy inmates returning to their cells, isolated from the rest of the world until they’ve lost the weight. Sam has a drink to that, though Stogie is standing suspiciously close to Sam’s glass… And thus while he’s knocked out one final time the robots leave on the yacht to watch the submersible island health farm sink beneath the waves with one more inmate.

This prog had a free gift when it was published – a packet of six free stickers for the Return of the Jedi Sticker Album. Unfortunately I didn’t buy this prog when it came out, so didn’t get them (I bought mine separately). Sharing the page plugging this is fellow IPC comic Buster, giving away a boomerang next week. I’ve got a feeling I got that as I seem to remember having some cardboard cross-shaped throwing device, but I didn’t keep any other comics before 2000AD so don’t know.

From losing weight in Sam Slade to gaining it in Judge Dredd: Requiem for a Heavy-Weight Part 4 by T.B. Grover and Carlos Ezquerra – also on its last part! The 27th Heavyweight Eating Championships start with a number of international contenders eating as much as they can within an hour. While the contest progresses Dredd waits for the last stragglers to arrive. The other contestants drop out one-by-one (or are disqualified) until Arnie is the last one though has not (yet) eaten the most. It’s not specified, but I’m guessing the contest would immediately finish once Arnold has overeaten the other person, but his ambition was to eat the ton and he’s still fifteen kilos off, so he demands the pie – a 25 kilo job. Arnie manages it, is declared the new heavy-weight champion of the world and then keels over dead. With an unerring sense of timing, Dredd chooses that moment to make his presence known, arresting everybody present (without any resistance whatsoever). Being Mega-City One there are no ceremonies for Arnie – it’s off to Resyk with him. p.s. first mention of the Melbourne-Sydney Conurb in this prog – one of the contenders was from Australia (referred to as an Aussie, no mention of Oz).

Mighty Micro Page introduces a rating system (from one to four ‘T’s for Thrillpower) and features Tranz Am (looks a bit Mad Max-y). The review of City Patrol for the ZX81 claims it has “some of the best 3D-effect graphics of any micro game”. I know I’m looking back at a 1983 game from the third decade of the 21st century, but the video clips I’ve seen of this game are stretching the definition of 3D to the limit.

Next page – that advert for the Chewbacca Bandolier Palitoy miniature carrier.

Rogue Trooper: The Frisco Phog Part 2 by Gerry Finley-Day and Boluda. When Rogue is on your side you can generally rely on one of two outcomes. Firstly all the Norts will be killed. Secondly most or all of the Southers will also be killed. In this case most of the Southers are killed in the fighting on floor 200 on the tower, except for the Fort Neuro Syndrome hippy, who’s been scrawling pictures on walls all the time. Once everybody but him is dead, Bagman notices an airlocked bridge being extended below the chem-clouds, at the level where the suits would be ineffective on their own. Zappa the hippy beats Rogue to the ‘vator (elevator/lift) where he decorates the interior. The Norts call down the vator (because climbing one hundred floors would be challenging) and kill Zappa the moment he steps out. Pressing the button to get to floor 200 but when the door opens one notices that there’s wet paint on the floor marker – they’re actually on the deadly ground floor where the Frisco Phog does whatever it does (eats through their suits / penetrates the filters / whatever).

A final plug for Prog 335 featuring previews of the poster and the cover picture, featuring Nemesis and Johnny Alpha squeezes three adverts in to the last third of the page: stamps, annuals and those Forbidden Planet badges.

Grailpage: the first page from Massimo Belardinelli has another view of Hel or conceivably what the Land of the Young will look like once Hel invades – heads on spikes, wolves gnawing people, a sea of swords, something draconic in the sky and a shadowy giant silhouetted against a shining light. All that and still space for a panel showing Sláine struggling with a serpent (not a euphemism).

Grailquote: TB Grover, sound effects: GLUB! SLURP! CHOMP! GOBBLE! CRAM! GLUMMP! (Cram makes me think of Leo Baxendale, there’s a few examples of ‘sound’ effects on that link).

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