2000AD Prog 345: Strontium Dog vs Malak Brood!

I’m trying to avoid saying that every cover is a classic, but even in an era of great images, this one by Carlos Ezquerra stands out, marking the finale of Strontium Dog’s battle against Malak Brood.

Another cut-size Nerve Centre as Tharg Dracula plus next prog, meanwhile sharing space with Forbidden Planet badges, the 2000AD Annual and Prince August hobby casting (this is where you cast your own gaming miniatures instead of buying them pre-cast – I think I’ve seen adverts for this in White Dwarf and maybe a few of the games magazines that came in the late 1980s and early 1990s).

Judge Dredd: Rumble in the Jungle – Part 3 by T.B. Grover and Ian Gibson. Dredd leads the street judges from Manta 114 on to the rad-trak roof. They bring one rad-trak to a halt while the other crashes in to a memorial shoplex before an H-Wagon drops judges to take care of the other one. It’s not over though, as Dredd commandeers them and steers them towards the rumble. The H-Wagons and Mantas herd the juve gangs into a small area where the bulldozers can pull a pincer manoeuvre, trapping them so Dredd can dole out the sentences (ten years in juve cube). This is a neat little story – I always appreciate the Mega-City gang stories with their Warriors-style themed juve gangs. Having said that, I think it’s going to be some time until we see their like again.

Sláine: Heroes’ Blood – 1 by Pat Mills and Mike McMahon sees a flashback / history lesson to the time of the Titans, who ruled Albion before they sank into decay. In modern (pre-flood) times they’re regarded as cumbersome oafs who are rejected from the new human societies. Domnall the dwarf was weapon-smith to the Titans, which is what instigated the history lesson. Meanwhile, Ukko continues to bleed Sláine as part of the post-creeping death treatment (or so he claims). That night, Sláine pretends to be asleep so he can follow Ukko to Domnall’s forge. Turns out that Ukko was bleeding Sláine so that his blood could be used to quench Domnall’s swords. Pat Mills shows his ear for dialogue once again as Ukko and Domnall argue about business while Sláine interjects… It’s all for nought though as Sláine is knocked unconscious, awakening to find himself tied upside down and preparing to be bled to quench a sword of the Titans.

Nemesis the Warlock Book III by Pat Mills and Kevin O’Neill. Uncle Pat continues with the great dialogue as Nemesis pays a visit on Sir Evric, starting with the line “Are you still there” as Sir Evric hides under his covers (the answer is “Yes”). The two make a deal – Nemesis will provide Sir Evric with courage, riches and to be young and handsome. In fact, the warlock grants the first two wishes straight away and next morning Sir Evric shows his new courage by ordering Brother Hieronymus to raise the siege immediately so that the terminators can return to Termight. Though as Nem tells Muzurphus, the commander’s troubles are only just beginning.

Strontium Dog: The Moses Incident Part 11 by Alan Grant and Carlos Ezquerra. Final part! Johnny’s S/D equipment doesn’t help a whole lot against Malak’s sorcerous powers, and things look grim. Even switching things to hand-to-hand (courtesy of an electro-flare and the electro-nux) doesn’t appear to help, until Johnny tricks Malak into piercing his own burden (ball-and-chain) with the soul-sucking death-blade. At least I’d like to think it was intentional – it could have just been happenstance that led to Johnny rolling out of the way while leaning against the burden. Anyway, this sees off Malak and his sorceries as Brood and his brothers crumble (plus the zombies). As my introduction to the series, this left me with an unconventional view of the set-up, as we’re not going to get many more zombies and magic-users. In fact I can’t remember any off-hand until the Final Solution…

Grandstand are back with an advert, this time for Crazy Kong (‘inspired’ by Donkey Kong, obviously) and Mini Munchman (Pac Man).

Rogue Trooper: The Gasbah – Part 3 by Gerry Finley-Day and Cam Kennedy. Last prog a stammel rider got sent out from a Nort outpost, this time a stammel rider arrives in the Kyro gasbah. His only clue to the suspicion that something is happening being a Nort weapon, Rogue pays particular interest in the rider as it’s the most obvious way for Norts to get agents in to the gasbah. Following him in to a bar, Bagman detects that the stammel rider isn’t the ali that it seems – instead being a surgically-modified Nort. In no particular order the disguised Nort holds the bubble dancer hostage, Rogue discovers from a mouthpiece (Nort message pod) that there’s a suicide mission plot and the bubble dancer holds on to Rogue’s shoulder. On his way to warn the Souther mili-fuzz the shoulder-hold becomes relevant as the dancer’s bubble suit was coated in Virus X – brought by the stammel rider to deal with the G.I. They hadn’t wasted any time coating her costume in the stuff though, as Rogue almost immediately followed the rider in to the bar. Rogue’s paralysed and the Nort’s look like they’ll be able to carry out their plan without hindrance.

The age of the video game continues as 2000AD runs an Activision competition – it’s a caption competition using the artwork from Prog 293. Prizes are a set of games: Enduro; River Raid and Robot Tank.

Grailpage: Kevin O’Neill – Sir Evric’s tent, filled to the brim with the sort of purifying decorations we’ve seen in Widow Grundy‘s bedroom – great detailing from Kev. Just a few of the many highlights, an hour glass – using blood, naturally plus furnishing in abundance made from alien skins.

Grailquote: TB Grover, Judge on megaphone: “Get these vhiecles off the streets!” Street judge: “That means you, citizen!” Mega-citizen: “Why should we move?” RUMBLE! Mega-citizen: “Flamin’ kneepads! Say no more!” Also, Pat Mills, Sláine: “In my tribe, a helmet is considered effeminate. It suggests you’re worried about getting your head split open.” Ukko: “And you can bald if you wear one too long.” (seem to recall this will come up again in the Nerve Centre). It does.

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