2000AD Prog 350: Tharg’s 1984 calendar! Part One This Prog! D.R. & Quinch Go Straight! New Thrill!

Alan Davis is back on the cover (first time since Harry 20) heralding the first of a D.R. & Quinch series. For no reason I can work out, I hadn’t bought any weekly progs since Prog 342. I’ve said on a few occasions that I had a ‘first prog’. My first first prog was 308, the earliest of the batch of ten my neighbour at the time gave me. The second was 330, the first one I bought. The third was 335 which I can’t really justify but feels like I became a regular reader (even though I wasn’t getting every prog, then had that seven-week pause). This is my final first prog – I was on board every week and my copy of this prog has my name on the cover, so I not only went from not buying it for seven weeks to having a reservation at my local newsagents. Possibly I had difficulty getting those preceding progs, which would explain both my patchy purchases from 330 to 342, but also the long gap before this one. For the record, I’ve been getting it every week as it came out, ever since for the past thirty-seven years (strikes, distribution disruptions and Covid-19 shop closures not withstanding). Up to this point most of the progs were bought as back progs from comic shops. As of this week none of them were ‘back progs’ when I bought them (I’ll still call this a back prog slog though). Addendum – I’ve noticed my name on the top of this prog – going from not having bought the prog for seven weeks to getting it reserved at the newsagent suggests I was having problems locating it, which would explain both the gap and that I’ve bought it constantly ever since.

Tharg’s Nerve Centre starts with the interesting fact that 55 million copies of 2000AD have been sold to date (as of prog 350). Tharg also introduces the new series – D.R. & Quinch and the return of Strontium Dog. As previously mentioned, from the batch that was given to me a few of my favourites were Skizz and Robo-Hunter – both of which finished in the first prog I bought! I got something similar here – my favourite story had been Nemesis but Book III had finished the week before my newsagent reservation began – typical! One reader writes in with information on the Seacon 84 convention in Brighton.

Strontium Dog: The Killing – Part 1 by Alan Grant and Carlos Ezquerra. We’re immediately introduces to Zed – the planet at the centre of the Milky Way (Galactic Centre actually consists of a supermassive black hole, but never mind). Johnny and Wulf are attending an ancient ritual death-rite, consisting of a last-creature-standing death match. Unless it got mentioned earlier, I think this was the first time that Alpha’s equivalent of the lawgiver, the Westinghouse Variable Cartridge Blaster was named. The plan is that (as most of the contestants have a price on their heads) the two rendezvous from their starting positions and take out the competition. The contest begins with a blood sacrifice, of a forty-four year old barber, as tradition dictates (though the obvious question is why would anybody on this planet continue to work as a barber at the age of forty-four?) The sacrifice is made, the zed-horn is blown and the Killing begins!

D.R. & Quinch Go Straight! Part by Alan Moore and Alan Davis. The Time Twister turns in to a series in its own right! To join the two returning characters we meet a few more, Judge Moxlob Thorkwung and Pulger. Something I didn’t realise first time I read this (but picked up on in later re-reads) is that much of what appeared later had ground-work laid early on – but more of that when we come to it. The two look to be sent down for a long time for a long list of crimes. How long isn’t specified, but after an impassioned fake plea from Waldo D.R. Dobbs, the judge agrees to give them a month to mend their ways and – if successful – their sentence might be decreased by a few centuries. In the first part of that month they form a charity (for distressed war veterans), base it in the house next to their judge, invite the war vets to holiday there and invite a Ghoyogian party to visit (Ghoyogi being the location of the Slime Jungle Wars which those veterans all fought in).

Things to Come 84 – The Stainless Steel Rat for President (my introduction to the character), Nemesis the Warlock Book IV, interestingly presented as the climax to the Nemesis saga. Also the A.B.C. Warriors return (in the 2000AD Annual 1985) and the first mention of The Mega Plan (which I think will be Mutants in Mega-City One – I’ll link that once Prog 403 is on the slog – assuming I’m correct!

Rogue Trooper: Colonel Kovert – Part 1 by Gerry Finley-Day and Cam Kennedy. Taking to the colour pages for the first time in this story! The pages aren’t designed as centrespread pages either, so it looks like a last-minute decision. Perhaps the Mighty One forgot that Nemesis was going to be ending and so Dredd wasn’t prepared to take the centrespreads yet. It starts with Rogue being boxed in by an armed satellite – shooting lasers at somebody from space just ain’t playing fair! A shuttle is sent down to pick Rogue up – a Souther shuttle. out of the shuttle come three creatures, one without ears, one without eyes and one without a mouth – the accompanying dialogue is, of course: “They’ll do you no evil, trooper.” Young me didn’t appreciate this wordplay and drew in a mouth and eyes on those clones (or whatever they are) lacking them. The pitch from their erstwhile employer is to carry out certain missions for him and receive information on faces from their past – the Traitor General, Brass (or is it Bland who’s still alive?) and Venus – though without the promise that all three are actually still alive (turns out they are, but I don’t think it’ll be confirmed in this story).

Sláine: The Shoggey Beast – 3 by Pat Mills and Mike McMahon. In the pouring rain, Ukko and Sláine makes themselves guests at the house (whether the resident likes it or not). if this is the same person who Sláine fought erlier then my prediction about the chopped-off hand would appear to be wrong, as both the human and shoggey form of their host has both hands. There’s not a whole lot of text in this story – they go to sleep (all three in the same bed), the local weird stone seethes with power and the host goes full shoggey. If the human wasn’t sleeping naked then the clothes don’t survive the transformation (as we can see from a small detail…)

Judge Dredd: Pieromania by T.B. Grover and Kim Raymond. Kim making his first appearance in the prog and it’s for a craze. Usually Dredd only gets involved in crazes some time down the line but this time he’s in it right at the beginning, as a mega-citizen throws a custard-substitute pie at Dredd’s face. From there the craze follows the usual trajectory, though McGruder doesn’t capitulate to the demands of concerned citizens by handing out tough sentences (a non-tough sentence in Mega-City terms being six months – those called for were transportation to wor colonies or flogging). Instead the Chief Judge trusts that the craze will burn itself out and in the meantime the judges will ‘have a word’ with pie manufacturers to cut production and keep an eye on pie shops.

Tharg’s Guide to the Future, 2000AD Calendar 1984. Tharg the Mighty (top half) by Eric Bradbury. When I bought this I cut out the calendar and stuck it to my wall, then crossed of the days. Once I got through that phase I stuck them back on the progs again (I’ve mentioned this before). This does mean that my copy of this prog has six month’s worth of tick marks on the days accompanying the top half of Tharg.

Grailpage: the second page of Alan Davis’ D.R. & Quinch story – featuring the pair in the dock facing Judge Thorkwung and surrounded by a baying mob calling for them to be hung. It shows just how far Davis has come as an artist since the early days of Harry Twenty (which was excellent, but did have a few dodgy panels). I guess he probably got some practice in on Marvelman too.

Grailquote: Pat Mills, Sláine: “Have you shelter for two tired, drenched travellers?” Medrawd: “No.” Sláine: “Two tired, drenched, bad-tempered travellers?” Medrawd: “I see.”

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