2000AD Prog 344: Created by robots – consumed by humes! Rogue Trooper Killers in the night! The Gasbah Part 2

cover Cam Kennedy Rogue Trooper

Tharg’s Nerve Centre has some notable artwork as one earthlet puts in an illustration of Chira which is how I’d imagine she’d have looked if Ian Gibson has drawn the first episode of Book III of Nemesis. Meanwhile Eoin Coveney produces a random alien (Eoin has become an art droid within the last six years).

Judge Dredd: Rumble in the Jungle – Part 2 by T.B. Grover and Emberton. The rumble has started as the juve gangs clash in the Jungle. There’s only one panel of that before the judges arrive on the scene and even though it’s their first day in operation the juves are well aware of what Mantas are. I know that when Ian Gibson felt he hadn’t been submitting good artwork he’d be credited as Q Twerk, though this one (credited as Emberton) has some fantastic images, so I don’t know why it wasn’t credited as Gibson.The juves have similar clothing conventions to the citi-def and blockers from the early episodes of Block Mania, in that their clothing is festooned with the names and emblems incorporating the initials of their respective blocks. Wagner and Grant show some inspired naming in this episode as we find out the leader of the Y-Bob’s juve gang based from Bob Marks Block is named Bob. Speaking of the Y-Bobs, their three hijacked rad-traks are attracting all H-Wagons and Manta Prowl Tanks in the sector and the first is taken out by shooting at the control cab (and killing Bob). Once it crashes through barriers and hits city bottom the vast amounts of radio-active dust are released, creating a cloud of fallout. Dredd leads the team of four lawmasters in the manta he was assigned to through a walkway parapet to jump (or is that turbo-boost?) on to the deck of the Godzilla rad-traks.

It’s not interesting, but Pritt stick have placed an advert on the next page (it’s for a make-a-card competition to win Atari consoles or BMX-style Raleigh bikes) – not your usual advertiser in 2000AD.

Sláine: The Bull Dance by Pat Mills and Massimo Belardinelli. We’ve seen Ukko outwit Medb’s father’s guards in the previous episode, now it’s time for a change as we follow Slough Feg and the Badb. Feg imparts that he will send Slough Throt and a company of skull-swords to hunt down Sláine – Throt being the Slough that will be the star of Sky Chariots (who I never realised was mentioned so early on). Feg also gives Medb the task to travel north and marry one of the kings (cue Sláine the King). Being of the Southern tribes, Medb needs to be told a bit about the Tribes of the Earth Goddess – namely the Tribe of the Growling Shields, the Tribe of the Shadows and the tribe of the Sessair. Medb shows that she hasn’t lost her nerve after the wickeman and also that she is a bit nifty with acrobatics as well as magic as she jumps around the bull arena. Switching back to Bran’s hut, Ukko is feeding Sláine broth and bleeding him. In an entirely unrelated turn of events, conversation shifts to Domnall, a weapon-smith whom the villagers say use dark powers to make his swords.

Nemesis the Warlock Book III by Pat Mills and Kevin O’Neill. In an earlier episode Mek-Quake joined in a conversation between Sir Evric and Brother Hieronymus. The speech balloons were in the same style as the humans, which I felt didn’t quite work. We’re used to Mek-Quake having the usual robotic speech balloons, but Mek-Quake is usually (modern-day) bulldozer sized. When he’s a huge robot taller than most office buildings I feel he should have something different – speaking more like a sound effect than a regular speech balloon. This time Brother Potter rolls out the special font and it emphasises the size of Mek-Quake in his siege robot body. Sir Evric’s problems start with a destroyed flag robot and an out-of-control surviving siege robot but don’t end there. His son is having doubts about killing aliens and gets out his bestiary to show that some of the aliens within may appear strange but that doesn’t make them evil. The species he uses as an example matches up pretty closely to the description of the skiapods by Ctesias in the 5th century BCE (five or six centuries later Pliny the Elder would also write about the book). That book was about India and also included the first mention in the west of unicorns, talking parrots, falconry, Indian elephants and the manticore. Enough about Sir Evric’s problems, now it’s time for Nemesis to get involved as he interrogates a vestal vampire (well, gets the low-down on Evric through hypnosis).

Strontium Dog: The Moses Incident – Part 9 by Alan Grant and Carlos Ezquerra. Johnny and Wulf are on the verge of being hung, Johnny’s last words to his old friend “Sorry I got you into this, Wulf.” Or at least they would have been his last words, if Martha Quest didn’t shoot the ropes as the trapdoor fell away below their feet. Moses’ mother realised that if Johnny had been a bad man he would have walked away from the dead child, but because he tried to ‘fix’ things (even if it was in the worst possible way) he was at least trying to put things right. Only one thing remains. Johnny was tricked by Malak and wants revenge. The episode ends with a showdown as Malak reveals to his brothers that he engineered the zombie Moses so that the death-blade can be nourished by the soul of an angry man.

The next page is taken by an advert for the Philips Video Games Club – I think we’ve had this one before, art by Frank Langford.

Rogue Trooper: The Gasbah – Part 2 by Gerry Finley-Day and Cam Kennedy. Rogue takes a room at Rix Bah and seems to be looking forward to spending the night in a room as it’ll make a change from sleeping out in the field. I’m half-remembering a later episode where he’s on Millicom and eschews the bed so he can sleep on the floor. In the alleyway outside an alien releases an ali snake into Rogue’s room in the hope that the G.I. will be susceptible to the otherworldly toxins. Bagman and Gunnar take care of the snake, and Rogue jumps out of the window and chases the alien who set the snake loose, but before getting any information out of them a Nort dagger kills the ali. So, Rogue pretty much knows something is going down in the Kyro gasbah but has no idea what. The episode ends with some sort of fore-shadowing from behind Nort lines, but it doesn’t really propel the plot any further than when two obviously-Nort agents were whispering to each other in the bar at the end of the last episode. Cam brings some great artwork to Nu Earth as we start to get a few distinctive varieties of alien.

Another inside back cover, another selection of adverts – a joint ad for KP Alien Spacers and 2000AD where the first letters receive variously Hornby 3D Space Systems (looks like a ‘spacey’ monorail version of Hornby train tracks), a space shuttle model kit from Revell and lots of boxes of Alien Spacers. Forbidden Planet are still hocking their badges (showing Strontium Dog, Anderson, the Judge Dredd logo and Tharg). There’s also an advert for the last (?) episode of The Moses Incident and yet another competition in the next prog.

The back page has another advert for a computer game, this one is Pole Position on the Atari.

Grailpage: so many tempting pages, I’m going to plump for the three Godzilla rad-tractors as they sweep the wrong way up a one-way street, a great top-down view of the pedways and walks of the Mega-City.

Grailquote: Pat Mills, Brother Hieronymus: “He’s got a brutal, psychopathic personality that’s quite unique. A streak of pure sadism runs through him.” Mek-Quake: “Yeah… that’s me!” Mills’ gift for comic dialogue continues, but without typing out half this week’s script, I’ll leave it at that.

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