This was the most recent back prog I ever bought – from the next week onwards I was getting every prog as it came out. Kevin O’Neill finishes off Book III of Nemesis with this Torquemada cover, which is very red, but not as red as that page with Chira last prog.
Tharg’s Nerve Centre – I’d mention the visit by droids who visited Glasgow and Birmingham, but there’s no mention of which droids, so I won’t. Other than that sentence, obviously.
Judge Dredd: Bob & Carol & Ted & Ringo – Part 4 by T.B. Grover and Ron Smith. The first of the stories in this prog to end, making way for next week’s jumping-on prog. Does that make this a jumping-off prog? How about a clear-the-decks prog? Looming over the ‘story so far’ text is a Ron Smith portrait of Dredd as we get in to the firefight as judges converge on the escaping dinosaurs. Is it a firefight if only one side has fire? Good news – we get to see a second art droid depict Manta Prowl Tanks, as Ron’s tank comes in to land, sprouting tyres (or possibly caterpillar tracks). Bad news, the tracks / tyres proceed to crush Granville’s leg. Even badder news, the tank shoots off Bob’s head! Like a chicken, the Tyrannosaur doesn’t stop with such a trifling wound, and charges through the mutants pens (before eventually keeling over). As with the rad-traks in the previous story, Dredd realises they can do more damage being put out of commission than being allowed to run riot, and orders the Wall-side gates of the pens to be opened. Herding them through with lawmaster headlights the dinosaurs eventually catch a whiff of home on the breeze coming through the gap in the wall, and Dredd allows them to go, unhindered. In the post-emergency analysis, Dredd informs Granville that the robot will be dismantled, and the keeper gives a little speech about how they didn’t deserve to be caged, for they had committed no crime. Dredd agrees and promises that the owner of the dinosaur exhibition will be punished (bet the robot still got dismantled though).
Advert time – and the Weetabix are out for a winter-themed advert (involving Bixie running away from the others, slamming the door of the cereal box and causing snow to fall down on the rest).
Sláine: The Shoggey Beast – 2 by Pat Mills and Mike McMahon. Alright, it isn’t quite a clear-the-decks prog as this story does not conclude. Ukko plays dice games against one of his slaves and is obviously tricked by the gambler into first granting the slave his freedom, then into becoming the gambler’s slave. Sláine thinks this is hilarious, though after a fair bit of moaning from Ukko, makes his own wager against the gambler/slave-master. Sláine shows he’s a bit of a dab hand at making tricksty bets as well, by challenging a spear throwing match at point blank range and the opponent cannot step sideways, the gambler goes first. The gambler didn’t know about Sláine’s salmon leap feat and aimed too low. When it comes Sláine’s turn to throw he adjusts his aim in the sure knowledge that the gambler will try the same tactic (should have ducked). After setting Ukko (and the other slaves) free, they spot the shoggey trail, which ends in a house…
Nemesis the Warlock Book III by Pat Mills and Kevin O’Neill. A superb ending to a great series (I probably mentioned this was one of my favourite stories ever to be published in 2000AD – if not, I’m saying it now). Due to the events around Nemesis having ended two progs ago, this one is protected from being all cliffhanger and then ending abruptly, as many stories have tended to over the years. Having said that, Chira is dispatched pretty quickly, just appearing in the first panel and then dying off panel. In case we didn’t already realise it, Sir Hargan is bad and proves it by sending one of his terminators to pick up Chira’s ring (and melting in the acidic warlock blood in the process). It looks like all this was for nought though, as Sir Hargan then searches out the homunculus Thoth. As we’ve been told three times now though, Thoth has been gifted Chira’s power and trivially hypnotises Hargan to see him as a human child and look after him. Back in Termight, Hargan presents the ring to Torquemada, proof of her death. Then it’s time to take Thoth home to wife (Hargan literally calls her ‘wife’ – she’s also dressed like a puritan). She has the same initial reaction until the hypnosis / magic kicks in, the couple preparing to keep ‘their’ baby a secret.
Tharg’s Future-Shocks: Diplomatic Blunder by Alan Hebden and Eric Bradbury. A comedy of errors, this story revolves around the newly elected president of Earth playing host to a variety of aliens at an interstellar congress. Many hijinks ensue as each alien has strange customs (and a diplomatic aide who always manages to reveal what they are a little too late). The pivotal moment is when it comes to an insectoid trying to exchange arms with the president. You can guess where this goes, and the ensuing offence taken when the human doesn’t remove one of their arms results in the exchange of firepower.
Tharg’s Review of 1983! I’d probably enjoy this kind of two-page feature as they encapsulate a lot of the best moments of the preceding year. Though as I’m doing a prog slog and have read them all within the last sixty days (allowing for specials and annuals) it’s not so interesting. Not a fan when they go on for too many pages, by the way… Next prog: Things to Come ’84!
Rogue Trooper: Timeslip – Part 2 by Gerry Finley-Day and Boluda. Rogue hallucinates for a while (we find out he was bred for impact when a motorcycle hits him – unless that ability was just a dream as well) and by the time he comes around he’s been chucked out of the sealed museum. The curator isn’t best pleased at the delirious Rogue knocking through exhibits and is pretty nasty about it – though gets more than his comeuppance when Rogue discovers a new trick of the bio-wire – it’s now more mobile and has followed him. Rogue opts to allow the curator to have a quick death (seal-burster) and they find a second new ability – the bio-wire exudes acid.
Inside back cover and it’s a part preview of the Alan Davis cover of the next prog plus a panel from The Killing. There’s a now-standard teeny advert for the boardgame too.
The back cover has a now classic pin-up
Grailpage: there’s two this prog, both were in my mind before I opened the cover, which has to be a sign of a memorable page, if nothing else. The first is from Ron Smith and has a judge on the West Wall asking if Dredd wants them to take their shots at the escaping dinosaurs. The second page I’d been looking forward to was that of Sir Hargan’s pad – his house in a travel tube. Taking something from the citiblocks of Mega-City One, Hargan lives in the penthouse of KiL BLK and we also get a snatch of the inside decor in the last panel of Book III. I didn’t realise it’d be on this prog, but I’m going for a third grailpage as well – only the second time I’ve done this, and Robin Smith’s first entry (I know there’s going to be one or two more over the next three years of progs without even thinking too hard). What did Robin Smith draw? Tharg’s Droids: No 9 in an Occasional Series – Art Robot Ezquerra! “OLÉ!” as King Carlos brandishes a plastic ruler and presents a page of Dredd artwork, a defeated robo-bull behind him. The page of Dredd is from Requiem for a Heavyweight, for the record.
Grailquote: TB Grover, narration: “Then a breeze wafting in through the West Wall gap reachers their nostrils… and on it the faint scent of far-off Sauron Valley – HOME!” – as with the grail pages, this was a line which I was waiting for from the moment I started reading the first episode of the story. How could I not pick such a line? Also! Pat Mills: Gort the Gambler: “I… played that… badly.” Sláine: “You did.” Gort: “I’ll… die… now…” Sláine: “You will.”