2000AD Prog 336: “Roll up! Roll up! See Sláine the Giant!” The Beltain Giant

After a week off for the jumping-on prog, it’s back to wraparound covers for this Mike McMahon posters. This is another which adorned my wall, and as it was still in good enough condition to take off the wall and glue back on to the comic, the lack of ‘activation instructions’ meant the inside covers can still be read (the activation instructions – when they appear – say to paste it to some card).

Tharg’s Nerve Centre features a rabbit asking why there are no rabbits in the prog (but they made the mistake of calling Tharg ‘Green Bonce’ so only get Rigelian Hotshots in response).

Judge Dredd: The Graveyard Shift – Part 2 by T.B. Grover and Ron Smith. A Ron Smith story has to start with an atmospheric portrait of the judge’s head. Once that’s out of the way it’s time for the suicide of that caller to the agony aunt show from last prog. Dredd doesn’t spend long in the area and carries on to thwart a robbery once the clean-up crew has arrived. A four-way juve confront goes ahead and is quelled before Dredd arrives, but there’s a block war in the making over at Larry Hagman Conapts so Dredd won’t be sitting around waiting for something to do for long.

Sláine: The Beltain Giant by Pat Mills and Mike McMahon opens with somebody trying to track down Sláine on mammoth-back. Meanwhile Sláine’s ennui continues as he bemoans his current situation. This time the flashback is less glorious as he recalls how, in the land of Albion (on the Cerne Abbas giant) he used the earth power to bring on a warp spasm, merely to make enough money to eat. All of which leaves him in a mood to accept a proposition from the mammoth-rider to kidnap / rescue his daughter from being sacrificed the following day, on Samain. Though as is common in this kind of situation, the mammoth-rider sent in armed and armoured lackeys in first, meaning there was a fight before the business proposal could be put forward.

The next page has that ongoing competition. Today’s anagram – a starship’s position: GRITBOIN NEVUS. (Orbiting Venus).

Nemesis the Warlock Book III by Pat Mills and Kevin O’Neill. Last episode began with mention of the Fringe Worlds (because gibberish is a Fringe World dialect). This episode begins with a map of the galaxy. In the (galactic) North of the map lies the Termight Empire, to the West is the Gothic Empire, to the East the Nether Worlds (where Nemesis lives) and buffering them all are said Fringe Worlds. After the map comes a lengthy narration box intro, which I can’t help but read in the same manner as that on The Dark Crystal (which was released the previous year). Ashtar’s castle is not unlike the Castle of the Crystal though always reminds me of Arnold Böcklin’s Die Toteninsel. When I first read this episode I was familiar with one of those cultural references… I distinctly remember getting the plasticine out again and making recreations of the party guests. This episode is a tour of Castle Mendes before Ashtar ends up in Magna’s boudoir where he pleads with her to forget her infatuation with Nemesis and settle for a rich young warlock instead (but she prefers Nem, for he’s left the Nether Worlds and lived a little). Things we find out about warlocks – Ashtar’s powers have faded, her diabolic powers are greater than his (though there’s no sign he has any magic / psychic powers at all any more). As Ashtar leaves, Magna still has a plan to win Nemesis though – and it somehow involves Chira and Torquemada.

Strontium Dog: The Moses Incident Part 2 by Alan Grant and Carlos Ezquerra (No Grant Grover on this one, but it’s still co-written by John Wagner). As Zilch kills one of his own men who tries to desert (so we know he’s evil), young Moses Quest tries to get a better view of the fighting. Alpha and Sternhammer manage to isolate two of Zilch’s lackeys, letting them escape without getting shot by Zilch. Once they’ve got Zilch on his own, unarmed, Alpha gives the bounty a chance. Said bounty says ‘terminate’ but Alpha doesn’t like killing in cold blood, even somebody like Zilch. Shame really, because all the events that follow this episode would have turned out differently if he wasn’t so averse to execution. We see the first event. As Alpha shoots Zilch, Zilch’s blast goes wild, hitting the boy Moses Quest.

Next is a full-page ad for the IPC annuals – don’t think we’ve had one of these this year? On the list of eleven are: 2000AD; Battle; Scorcher; Tiger; Score; Valiant; Roy of the Rovers; Action Man; Eagle; Action (is this seven years after the comic was cancelled?) and Judge Dredd.

Rogue Trooper: From Hell to Eternity – Part 2 by Gerry Finley-Day and Brett Ewins. Helm still doesn’t know that Venue and Rogue were a would-be item, though a pass by a Nort atmocraft stops the conversation heading in that direction. There’s some neat editing of the vo-corder (flight recorder) to take out any reference to enemy activity before it transmits to the Nort convoy but to no avail – a ship has left the convoy to investigate Caliban Island. Oh, and Venus gave some story about how the orbiter she was on got hit by a stray missile and crashed on the island. She – she was the only survivor… Brett’s early artwork showed signs of learning on the job (as happens with many artists, particularly those who hadn’t worked for other comics before 2000AD) but it’s really developed now and has been strong since Fort Neuro.

Grailpage: I can’t pick between the two this week, so it’s both of the double-page spreads – the wraparound cover from Mick McMahon which would be at home in a fantasy roleplaying game as an opening scene (except the artwork in games in 1983 wasn’t up to much rendition of Castle Mendes and the beginning of Ashtar’s trip down the stairways. Also there’s a map.

Grailquote: TB Grover, Control: “Message logged. Catch wagon on its way.” Judge Dredd: “Control – better make that a meat wagon.” Control: “What’s the body count, Dredd?” Dredd: “I’ll let you know.” …later… Dredd: “You got four stiffs, Control. One of them’s gonna take a little piecing together.” Control: “Forensic are gonna love you, Dredd!”

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