2000AD Prog 341: Sláine – The Bride of Crom

Massimo Belardinelli is on the cover with a very fiery image featuring Sláine and (a now awakened) Medb. After having missed out the previous week’s prog when it first came out I did get this one.

Tharg’s Nerve Centre is a Sláine special, featuring a warped Tharg, somebody doing a very close copy of Angie’s pic of Sláine and Ukko descending the steps after killing the Time Monster. Questions and answers (Pat Mills was drafted in) include different spellings and pronunciations of Tir-Nan-Og – the first of many Sláine-related pronunciation queries! Another earthlet snarkily notices similarities between Sláine and Conan ending with “What do you say to that?” What Pat says is that Robert E Howard (creator of Conan) took the names from the same ancient Celtic sources that Mills did – including the name Conan! Finally Angie gets complimented and Pat replies that Tharg is looking forward to her drawing more Sláine stories (this will not happen though I seem to remember she has some creative involvement with a Glenn Fabry story at some point in the future – but Glenn hasn’t even appeared in the galaxy’s greatest yet, so I’m getting ahead of myself).

Judge Dredd: The Graveyard Shift – Part 7 by T.B. Grover and Ron Smith. Part 7 finishes off the story with a 7-page episode which does, of course, start with a portrait of Dredd by Ron and then heads straight in to murder. I got my first encounter with Anderson as she uses a bag of left hands to get a description and rough location for Lefty. The graveyard shift peak subsiding more judges are free to converge and Lefty gives in without a fight. Turns out he was going for the record of one-on-one murders during one night. He was off by about five (though I’m sure there’s a follow-up story a decade later about somebody trying to beat Lefty‘s record). As the graveyard shift winds down we get a tour of Mega-City routine as the robot maintenance crews go out to fix up all the damaged sections of roadways, the mutie pens get cleared of mutants as they’re expelled into the Cursed Earth, Weather Control gets programmed and the judges hit the sleep machines for their ten minutes before the day shift begins. This has been a great story – taking elements we’d expect as a complete story (a block war, a bite fight, a serial killer) and smashing them all together into a normal night’s work for Justice Department.

Sláine: The Bride of Crom – Pt 5 by Pat Mills and Massimo Belardinelli gets straight into the ‘Sláine the warped’ section of the story promised last prog as the flames and arrows get to Sláine. Slough Feg beseeches the worm-god Crom to intervene and the wickerman collapses, Sláine and Medb falling to a swamp below. Roth Bellyshaker, seeing his son apparently killed by Feg attempts to kill him, but the sorcerer’s powers force Roth to kill himself. The other released prisoners are escaping through the swamp but Feg has more tricks up his sleeves (he’s not wearing sleeves, but you know what I mean). Feg does have some sort of furry chaps covering his legs though… One of the zombies half-dead has a sabre-toothed tiger skin on – I’d like to know which tribe that one came from. Sláine carries on with the slaying – this isn’t like an out-of-control berzerker beast – the woad warrior can still hurl insults as well as corpses left and right. Next prog: Sláine the Victor. Does anybody else think that sometimes these next prog tags are a bit too descriptive? We knew he was going to be warped this prog and that he’s going to be victorious next prog. Speaking of which – I have a feeling next prog will have a particular scene I’m expecting to pick as grailpage. It’s been a while since I last saw it, but I think that the fact the scene is memorable to me suggests I should pick it.

Nemesis the Warlock Book III by Pat Mills and Kevin O’Neill. The fight begins as the warlock enters the fray, the sword sinister focusing the basilisks in battle. Meanwhile the Terminators are egged on (and insulted if they show fear) by the vestal vampires. The centre pages are very green and red, with muddy shades stopping it from being garish. In the black and white pages Nemesis leaps on a spear which impales three Terminators – I remember I made a diorama of this scene using some kind of bamboo skewer-style wooden stick and plasticine figures (I was pretty young at the time). Things on the ground seem to be going the basilisks way, but there’s still the siege engines to deal with, with Mek-Quake and Trebuchet re-appearing and Fire-Raiser (the repurposed robotic fire engine) being given a name. A new character is introduced in the last few panels, and I know this will herald a grailpage next prog (but will it put that Sláine page at risk?) as Torque-Armada looms through the smoke and shadows.

There’s lots of magic in the prog these days – Slough Feg, Nemesis the Warlock and next Malak Brood. Strontium Dog: The Moses Incident Part 7 by Alan Grant and Carlos Ezquerra. We also meet the decapitated (but still alive) brothers, Karnak and Hebkak. Johnny has only one thing that he can offer – his life. Until Malak has another idea – if the bounty hunter can release him from his burden (the ball and chain) then Moses will be resurrected. The first attempt is a number 3 cartridge (I think that was the equivalent of the lawgiver’s incendiary last week – I was going to say I should make a note but there’s the Traveller Strontium Dog RPG from the 2000s and the contemporary Miniatures Game – I’m sure one or both of those have details – when I look it up I’ll put details in the comments). It doesn’t work, anyway, but the time bomb does. For a while – then the Lyran sorceries bring it back, much to the delight of one of the disembodied heads, though as Malak starts to strangle one Johnny reminds Malak of his ‘promise’ (using the barrel of a blaster).

That IPC annuals advert next, followed by…

Rogue Trooper: Mega-Minefield Part 1 by Gerry Finley-Day and Boluda. I’m not so familiar with this one – I kind of remember some of it but even though I read all of it at the time it originally came out I don’t know exactly how it’s going to end. Boluda has appeared a few times now – I’m surprised the art isn’t as well-remembered as some of the others who have worked on Rogue before the Hits. Mine-ohs are soldiers trapped in the midst of massive minefields, gradually running out of oxygen with air purifies doomed to break down at some point. I’m not sure how long they’re supposed to have been trapped in a bubble-tent but there’s a sense of claustrophobia surrounded by swirling chem clouds here. It looks to be the last day of our focus troopers, much to the delight of Nort watchers, recording the Souther’s slide into delirious fatigue. Until Rogue turns up, of course – and once they’re out of the way Bagman downloads the minefield layout from the Nort computer and starts broadcasting instructions to the Mine-ohs while Rogue and the other two bio-chips head out to see off an approaching squad of Norts.

More adverts! One for the next prog, one for some sports magazine which I think got advertised previously but I’m not interested in and finally a one-sixth page ad for the latest Titan Book (still advertised as being from Forbidden Planet). This one is for Ro-Busters Book Two. I know the cover of Book One (the Dave Gibbons Charlie one) but I don’t recognise this one – and the tiny grey thumbnail on toilet-roll quality paper doesn’t give me many clues. I suspect it might have been painted by McMahon, but shall have to have a look later on.

And on the back cover there’s another advert for an uninspiring board-game from Waddingtons.

Grailpage: Massimo Belardinelli’s depiction of a shape rising from the swamp across three panels, inset in a splash page showing a variety of half-dead (I already like depictions of swamps, so this was an easy pick for me).

Grailquote: TB Grover, Judge Anderson: “Hoojie Paloojie, whamma de do! I’m here, Lefty – where are you?” Judge: “Does she never take anything seriously?” Psi-Judge: “No, but she knows what she’s doing.”

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