2000AD Prog 352: D.R. & Quinch go girl crazy! “I think I’m in l♡ve!” SKRAANG!

Three episodes in and this new series already has its second cover from Alan Davis, again heralding a new storyline.

Should have mentioned that one reader wrote in to say they’d read 2000AD on top of the Great Pyramid at Giza. I mention this now because another reader sent in a photo (not published) of the Sci-Fi Special at Kanchenjunga – third highest peak in the world. Also in Tharg’s Nerve Centre is the accusation that Psi-Division judges are mutants and should arrest themselves – something not mentioned in a JD story until the 2012 film! One motorcycle-riding earthlet commends Dredd for his riding style – though criticises him for wearing black. Though I would also point out he’s also wearing a whole load of red, green, yellow and shiny gold, so I think that evens out.

Sláine: Sky Chariots – Pt. 1 by Pat Mills and Mike McMahon. Here it is – McMahon’s magnum opus. It’d be a tough call between this and his Block Mania episodes plus early Judge Dredd Annual fully painted artwork, but after what looks (in my opinion) to have been rushed work for the Shoggey Beast, Mike is on top of his game for this one. It’ll be interesting to see how many grailpages I pick from this story over the coming prog-months. As Sláine and Ukko suspect they have a war party following them since their escapades in Drunemeton, they have left the straight track system (I’m not quite sure if this is supposed to be based on ley lines or pre-Roman road style networks) and stop off at settlements along the way to Sláine’s tribe. Sláine is not exactly being faithful to Niamh – and as we’ll find out in Sláine the King, news of this will get back to her… Ukko is enjoying himself with the dwarfs / dwarves they encounter (and seem to have a polygamous thing going on). I never noticed before, but our first view of the Great Dolmen has a few sky chariots flying above it – only took me thirty-seven years to notice them! We meet a boy who bemoans his situation, living so close to the dolmen, the land is being drained of earth power and when he dies he will become the half-dead. Returning to his village (consisting of a long house, roundhouses and a palisade, prehistoric settlement fans), we get about a page of how everybody’s starving before Sláine turns up on a hairy one (mammoth). Seeing the villager’s reaction to the walking banquet, Sláine offers it to them and there is much merry-making. When the boy goes to get more mead Throt’s war party arrives…

Sláine The Origins By Script Robot Pat Mills. Following up from the Mills takeover of the Nerve Centre in Prog 341, this is a two-page feature written as an article rather than in a question and answer format. Early mention is made of Murdach and Myrddin, who will both appear later on. Also, effectively, the drunes are based on Roman reports of druids while the druids are based on Celtic myth, passed down. Pat finishes by stating that where there are conflicting sources he’s tended to go for the more exciting and entertaining, as this is a fantasy story, not a history book.

After two stories from D.R. where Quinch’s only verbal input has been “S’right”, D.R. & Quinch Go Girl Crazy! Part 1 by Alan Moore and Alan Davis has Quinch tell the story. It’s a simple story – D.R. has met the daughter of the new drama coach and fallen in love with her. The pair are going to be playing the leads in a play and D.R. needs to spend time rehearsing. Which means less time with Quinch. Oh, and because Chrysoprasia is very middle-of-the-road, D.R. has put on a completely false persona which he tries to maintain by lying through his teeth about his friendship with Quinch by pretending that Quinch is from the slow reading group at college, and the reason scared people give him money is because it’s a charitable scheme and not people being afraid for their lives if they don’t give him all they have. You get the picture, hijinks and hilarity ensue.

Strange Forms of Dredd! This is a reader’s art page showing various characters as judges – E.T., a thrill-sucker, Stogie, Burt and Andy Capp.

Rogue Trooper: Colonel Kovert Part 3 by Gerry Finley-Day and Cam Kennedy. Rogue investigates the Nort G.I.s though raises the question about why they’re being trained in conditions so different to Nu Earth (also, they’re training in darkness). As ever when a character is spying on something through binoculars (or binox) somebody attacks them from behind. Things are going. They’re not going particularly well but then they could be worse. Speaking of which, they get worse when Gunnar launches in to auto-fire and alerts the rest of the training camp. Nice one, Gunnar. Rogue tries to contact Colonel Kovert to get him out of there but only gets static. The next prog box says: “All for naught?” – seems they missed a chance at a pun there…

Judge Dredd: Mutie the Pig Part 2 by TB Grover and Ian Gibson. Reprint time, from Prog 35. Funny how little Gibson’s artwork changed in the intervening six years – a lot of the city shots could have come from the last story we saw by the artist. There’s some evidence of censorship in the shop window of a funeral parlour (I can make out “Donaldson’s – for the ***f with a ***f.” I can only guess what it originally said.

The last page of the Dredd reprint was a half-page, the other half being filled with reservation coupons for the reader and a friend, and illustrated with a Robin Smith pic of Tharg with Burt waving a union flag in the background.

Strontium Dog: The Killing Part 3 by Alan Grant and Carlos Ezquerra. There’s a scene coming up when the Despots of Zed realise that “John Alpha and Wulf Sternhammer” are playing the Killing for a bounty hunt, but it doesn’t happen yet. What does happen is that they take out The Thing (12 bounties) who is about to gut Hashash Al-Mashneep (no bounties, an innocent man), then set Hashash free (only for him to get shot from behind while profusely thanking the bounty hunters). We also find out that the 375 Byknls bounty they got for Claw Kerm the previou sprog plus the 40,000 cred bounty for Oorbooro the Sargassian this prog make a total of 111,000 creds. So the exchange rate of creds to Byknls is roughly 189.33 – this is important information (which I have no doubt will never, ever come up again).

The inside back cover has next prog featuring a Slough Throt panel and the 2000AD/Atari Message Competition results (from Prog 335 to 338) – we’re getting results much quicker than at some times in the past…

…and the back cover has another Weetabix advert, Brian Weetabix and the Titchies! taking a Gulliver’s Travels tack as Brian is tied to the breakfast table surrounded by mounds under the tablecloth. Turns out it’s a dream and he fell asleep while reading that book.

Grailpage: I was tempted by the first view of the Nort training camp centrespread but it has to be one of McMahon’s Sláine pages, but which one? It’s really difficult to pick between the first three pages so on a whim I’m going to go for the first one, Sláine saying goodbye to Sabra while Ukko says goodbye to Tangwen, Cassir, Midir, Goneril, Gormlaith and Fay.

Grailquote: Alan Moore, Ernest Errol Quinch: “Pretty soon we had to go home. This was basically because ‘Chirpy’ has to be in by nine o’clock, which is, like, totally disgusting in my opinion…”

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