2000AD Prog 339: The siege of the century – in Nemesis the Warlock!

With blurb like that you’d expect Nemesis to make it on to the cover, would you? Not that I’m complaining about the first (original) Carlos Ezquerra cover of Strontium Dog in over two years – the biggest gap ever (even from prog 1 to the first appearance on the cover).

There’s a couple of letters from adults in Tharg’s Nerve Centre, plus an advert for the Eagle reprints of Judge Dredd (featuring a thumbnail image of No 2 by Brian Bolland).

Judge Dredd: The Graveyard Shift – Part 5 by T.B. Grover and Ron Smith. After Ron Smith’s ‘portrait’ of Dredd’s arm firing a lawgiver, Carol Monroe Block comes down though while Vince St Clair Citi-Def celebrates the rival block crashes into the Undercity, cracking open the tweenblock plaza and tilting their block as well. Total evacuation procedures are brought in to force, the survivors being sent to a catchment area where their innocence or guilt in events can be ascertained. After arresting the ring-leaders and sentencing them to sixty years apiece for the murder of 70,000 citizens in the rival block, it’s time for Dredd to save a baby – though chucking the baby to a fellow judge the floor collapses and it looks like Dredd may fall to his death to become “Just another statistic”.

A quick ad for Top Trumps cards, art by Frank Langford and then on to…

Sláine: The Bride of Crom – 3 by Pat Mills and Massimo Belardinelli. Another episode, another flashback – this one instigated by Sláine bumping in to familiar faces – a bit like in the broch, there’s a pattern here, recognising people who have been imprisoned… Within the wickerman the most notable of those faces is one Roth Bellyshaker, the ‘Roth’ of Sláine MacRoth. In the flashback we also get to see Sláine’s mum, Macha who fought alongside Roth in a war against the Fomorian Sea Devils. Though due to Roth’s boasting, Macha gets entered in to a chariot race – without a chariot. The King of the tribe in his chariot murders Macha, running on foot, for which Sláine blames Roth. While this tale has been told, Ukko has been busy picking the locks of the chains, releasing himself and Sláine by the end of the episode and getting to work on the rest of the army of thieves, plunderers and cut-throats in the wickerman. By the way, I read this long before I heard of a certain film based in part on Roman reports of human sacrifice in Celtic countries (specifically Gaul).

Nemesis the Warlock Book III by Pat Mills and Kevin O’Neill. The centre pages are very green as we head to a massive tree in which live the basilisks. Ydrasill Castle is a great donjon on the planet Demotika and is currently under siege by the Terminators under Sir Evric. The episode starts on a high and stays there as we’re given a whistle-stop tour of the Terminator’s equipment – pandemoniums (seen in Nemesis Book I), giant trebuchet robots, a robotic fire engine that’s been repurposed and a full-page panel of a mobile battle tower. The battle tower has feet that look like bulldozers. It also has a Ford company emblem. Plus it shouts BIG JOBS! as it approaches Ydrasill Castle. Yep – that’s right, it’s Mek-Quake (the first time I met the giant robot, meaning I had minor culture shock the next time he appeared in his original body). Unfortunately for the Terminators (and Sir Evric, who’s paying for the whole siege) Mek-Quake is as competent now as he ever was, and drops the ramp early for the attack squad within, leading to their falling to the ground and being stomped underfoot. Speaking of Sir Evric, he’s not getting on with his chief engineer, Brother Hieronymus. We’re told of the Lost Age of Science (which we’ll later find out was put to an end by the Terminators themselves) and the difficulties involved in repairing and maintaining old robots. Sir Evric’s fever returns and while he’s having boiled roc’s venom administered by a battle-maiden things get even worse – it’s at this point, of course, that Nemesis is sighted breaking through the planetary blockade.

It’s time for another flashback, though this is a general narrative flashback rather than a character remembering things in Strontium Dog: The Moses Incident – Part 5 by Alan Grant and Carlos Ezquerra. As Johnny and Wulf arrive we find out about Malak Brood and his two brothers, who were captured by the sorcerers of Lyra. Their guilt was shackled to them in the form of magical balls and chains, tieing them to the island forever. Malak conjured a blade and killed his brothers, stealing their power and breaking out of the cell in which they had been sealed – it could contain any one of them, but not all of their power combined. When Malak killed his brothers he also took on their sins, resulting in…

The Weetabix and School Fuel has the Weetabix gang topple a box of cereal to the breakfast table, though they realise too late that it’s a Saturday and they’ll be waiting around for the children to come down to breakfast. This was an advert, by the way – now it’s back to Strontium Dog.

Malak killed the prison wardens and brought them back as the living dead, while the Lyran sorcerers decided that Malak was too strong for them now, but that the shackles would tie him to the island forever. Speaking of zombies, Johnny and Wulf are walking through a graveyard when those members of the undead rise from their graves.

Rogue Trooper: From Hell to Eternity Part 5 by Gerry Finley-Day and Brett Ewins. In the brief respite between Nort attacks, Rogue and Venus talk about how there were only enough rations for one person among the survivors and (according to her reasoning) as G.I.s are ultra-humes it was only logical that she should live – so she killed all the others. During a bit of introspection from Rogue (shown in a panel with call-backs to the child G.I.s and test-tubes from Cam Kennedy’s Mill-Com Memories) a Nort Vroogmen (frogmen) squad attacks using an underwater channel leading under the island to the lagoon. Venus saves Rogue from being dragged underwater by the vroogmen though Scum Marines are on the beach. Help is at hand though as the Norts themselves have come under fire – the Souther Navy is on its way. More introspection though – when the Southers get to the island, should Rogue reveal Venus’ secret?

Another page another advert – Philips Video Games Club which seems to be inviting people to opt in to receiving a catalogue of new games every month (I presume).

Grailpage: I was tempted to pick Massimo’s pic of the wickerman, but I picked a very similar page from the last prog so this clears the way for one of my favourite pages ever, in this or any other prog! Kevin O’Neill’s magnificent introduction to Ydrasill Castle on the planet Demotika, a quick portrait of a couple of the resident Basilisks, then a Terminator’s eye view from of the siege.

Grailquote: TB Grover, Judge Lyall: “You’re too valuable to risk, Dredd!” Judge Dredd: “When a judge gets too valuable to risk, he’s no longer a judge!” Also Alan Grant, Wulf Sternhammer: “Ach! Now ve are here, Vulf is not so sure is der good place for der holiday!” following up from the line last prog.

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