2000AD Prog 342: The Suspect “TALK!”

I’ve always thought that Cam Kennedy was on the classic line-up of Judge Dredd artists when I first started reading 2000AD, so I’m a bit surprised here that I was already a squaxx when he produced his first Judge Dredd story (and cover). Not your usual 1980s children’s comic cover here as our protagonist engages in an interrogation (which one you consider our protagonist depends on your viewpoint…) p.s. for some reason I didn’t get any more progs after this one until until 350, that’s nearly two months!

The Nerve Centre is very slimline today. A week or two after having told earthlets that all letters and artwork are recorded for later use, even if they aren’t published (I didn’t cover it in the blog post for the prog in question) Tharg relates that the Dictators of Zrag have wiped this week’s Nerve Centre from the storage discs… Meaning that there’s only space for the Thargnote, voting coupon, stamp advert (we’re not out of that era yet) and a large Forbidden Planet / Titan Books advert. There’s sixteen Titan collections out now (plus a seventeenth, Charley’s War) and a range of twelve T-shirts.

Judge Dredd: “Suspect” by T.B. Grover and Cam Kennedy. Cam’s debut on the lawman takes a cue from Ron Smith by having a full-length portrait of Dredd, Lawgiver in hand on the first page. Told from a mega-citizen’s point of view (for most of the story, anyway) this one revolves around Dredd’s interrogation of the protagonist. We know from thought bubbles that he’s guilty of something, but not what. He’s been spending more than he’s been earning but realises early on that Dredd doesn’t know where he’s been getting the extra money, so the interrogation is just Dredd fishing. After an hour of questioning, running through almost every crime on the book and getting negative results every time. Dredd responds to an ultimatum to arrest him or let him go by… letting him go! Though Joe has another trick up his sleeve – spy-in-the-sky cameras. The following morning Dredd pays a visit to the suspect’s apartment, greeting him with his real name plus two aliases – he has more than one job – a serious crime in the mega-city, hit by 87 per cent unemployment!

Sláine: The Bride of Crom – Pt 6 by Pat Mills and Massimo Belardinelli confounds the usual expectations of the genre by having not just the warped one but also the half-dead (zombies) able to throw insults at each other while fighting – and not just grunting and attacking in silence, respectively. the half-dead run out of steam before Sláine does – in fact I’m not sure what’s happening with Sláine – it looks like his head catches fire with earth energy? Either way, Medb finally gets to say something – and what she has to say is that she is not happy (to say the least) with being ‘rescued’. She wanted to be sacrificed. Ukko leads Sláine out of the swamp to have a cold shower (while the dwarf washes his loincloth). Medb also has a wash though I think she has to clean her own clothes… On which subject, Urien (Medb’s father) turns up on mammothback and the father-daughter reunion doesn’t go well – it having been his idea to stage the ‘rescue’. The first time I read the previous prog I didn’t ‘get’ that Slough Feg magically made Roth Bellyshaker kill himself and this time I didn’t realise that Urien’s heart attack was brought on by magic rather than stress. Sláine kicks Medb off the mammoth before she can turn her magics upon him and gains a mammoth out of the experience. It’s not all plain sailing (riding?) though as Sláine wounds are now festering from the bites of the half-dead – next prog: The Creeping Death!

Nemesis the Warlock Book III by Pat Mills and Kevin O’Neill opens with a rotated centrefold of the latest character to hit the prog – Torque-Armada! A giant robot even taller than Mek-Quake’s siege engine body this detailed two-page panel is followed by a page from the Termight Mechanicus (though don’t look at the statistics too closely – it claims that a robot that has full-size galleons for feet weighs 180 tons. The galleon-feet themselves are probably made from metal or wood and the foot rollers look like stone. each of the eight rollers about the height of four or five men. For reference, the Mary Rose weighed 800 tons, and didn’t have giant stone rollers (or another galleon contributing to the weight and a robot towering five times higher than the mast pressing down on top of it). Mabye if they moved the decimal space a few places? Something I like about this episode is how the Teminators have chained themselves to the capstan so that they don’t desert their posts in the terror and heat of battle. Contrast this with the ‘heat’ of battle a prog or two later… There’s also a great panel where we see the visages of Nem, Grobbendonk and Muzurphus reflected in alchemical jars. it ends as Nemesis casts a spell, raising air elementals to send a dust storm amongst the siege engines – this spell-casting reminds me of those from the Elric of Melniboné graphic novel. Torque-Armada is blinded by the dust, accidentally hits Mek-Quake, and you know what Mek-Quake is like. Next prog: Rogue Robot!

More magic in Strontium Dog: The Moses Incident Part 8 by Alan Grant and Carlos Ezquerra. Malak Brood initially disdains the idea of Johnny Alpha being a threat to him but relents, hesitant to find out if the strontium dog could defeat him and performs an act of kindness, bringing Moses back to life, normal life, not like the zombies that staff the Isle of the Living Dead. And if you believe that then you need to listen to what Malak’s decapitated (but still animate) brother’s heads have to say on the subject “Don’t trust him!” “He’s up to something!” “You’ll be sorrrrreeeee!” Once Johnny, Wulf and the seemingly alive Moses have left Moses reveals his true colours to his brother (but doesn’t tell them what his game is).

We had an advert for Firefox F-7 from Grandstand recently – here’s another one, before returning to Strontium Dog…

The further the spaceship gets from Malak’s Island, the more Moses tires, as Wulf ponders, the boy “vas never anything more than der zombie!”

Rogue Trooper: Mega-Minefield – Part 2 by Gerry Finley-Day and Boluda. While Bagman synths out parade ground-style orders from the captured control tower, Rogue heads out on to the ground to deal with an approaching Nort armoured convoy. Rogue varies his favourite tactic of burying himself a foot or two underground by hiding out below the surface of an acid pool. Getting out of the minefield by following Bagman’s instructions, they turn on the G.I.s and spurn any further help, looking to get a heroes welcome by claiming to the Southers they got out on their own, the only mine-ohs to ever make it out alive. Rogue shrugs off the disdain and leaves them to head off to the Barbary Zone though this triggers some memory of a Nort experiment. Turns out that when the mine-ohs head towards a Souther camp it ends up being a giant mine which kills them all – Rogue is long gone by then, though sees the explosion.

It’s the age of the video game as the back page has an ad for Galaxian from Atari, told in comic strip form.

Grailpage: as I predicted last post, there’s two grailpages this time – the first is Massimo’s ‘shower’ scene, Mills letting Belardinelli play to his strengths with the natural forms of waterfalls, rocks, trees and wildlife while Kevin O’Neill lets loose on the knee cannons with Torque-Armada’s centrefold (you even have to turn the comic around to view it).

Grailquote: TB Grover, John Kilroy Henders: “I’m asking for two weekend jobs to be taken into consideration.” (alright, doesn’t really make much sense out of context, but it’s funny in the strip). Also, earlier in the same story, desk judge: “Not often you lose one, Dredd.” Judge Dredd: “Haven’t lost him. The creep’s guilty of something, but I don’t intend wasting a whole day cracking him.”

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