2000AD Prog 362: “On yer bike, Dredd!” The spectre in the sector gets stroppy!

The Haunting of Sector House 9 get its third cover from Brett Ewins, though this one just retreads the end of last week’s episode. Some interesting uses of colour as the dialogue is a green-blue, the top headlights are blue, the lower headlights (infra?) red and the trim on the lastmaster is gold.

Tharg’s Nerve Centre has news of a Sláine: Dragonheist feature. There’s also a strange advert for ‘Spaceline from British Telecom’ – “recorded information for skywatchers and space enthusiasts” – had a quick look online but couldn’t find any further information about this.

Sláine: Dragon Heist – Part 2 by Pat Mills and Massimo Belardinelli. The episode starts with the conflict between Sláine and the local crew ending in a job offer to Sláine and Ukko at Nest’s dragon farm. Of more interest to me is the natural history feature on dragons as we see how the Mata – and ancient legendary wild dragon uses it’s fire breath to create hot air thermals to glide on as it hunts for prey – finding it in the form of a stag.

Time for Tharg’s Time Twisters though it’s untitled and uncredited. The term “I’m running out of time” gets used a few times though, so let’s call it that. Plus the art is by Redondo, even if not credited. There’s a few more details but the pertinent bits are that a scientist creates a time machine which sends him back a few seconds in time to get engulfed in the field of the machine, sending him back again. By the time he destroys it (with a gun seemingly magicked from nowhere) there are five of him. For no clear reason he shoots two of the others then the others scatter. He manages to track down and kill a third but the fourth ‘time clone’ scientist is still out there. It’s all readable but a bit pointless.

Judge Dredd: The Haunting of Sector House 9 – Part 4 by T.B. Grover and Brett Ewins. The entire centre spread retells the last page and a bit of the last episode (as also featured on the cover). By the time we get to new content Dredd recalls details of the mouth that has manifested a few times to run a dental check with the Grand Hall of Justice data banks and trace the perp (this could have been run earlier as it’s not the first time the mouth manifested, or that Dredd saw it). Turns out it’s a psi-criminal who was ‘killed’ in a gun battle with Judge Berger following an intimidation campaign from Sector House 9 (who were aware of his criminal past but unable to pin anything on the perp). I’ve mentioned Ewins’ trademark photocopy to zoom in technique, this time we get an interview with Berger where Brett zooms out. Another technique (adapted from the speaking bio-chips from Rogue Trooper) is use of badges to denote which judge is speaking. In this case the judges are pretty distinctive in the first case, but for a body of people wearing face covering helmets it’s a nice touch. p.s. Chief Psi Omar’s badge says “Psi Omar” on it, unlike other Psi badges. Dredd comes up with the method the perp used – he was not mortally wounded in the shoot-out but used his psi-powers to convince Berger that he was, and to leave him alone for a few hours before calling in forensics. During that time he lured a poor mega-citizen to the mansion, killing him and hiding out. The episode ends with a great panel showing Dredd and the others riding along dingy streets between lived-in blocks.

Rogue Trooper: You Only Die Twice – Part 5 by Gerry Finley-Day and Cam Kennedy. Gunnar’s regened body has a few advantages over Rogue’s old body. It isn’t affected by Dreamweaver gas, has greater endurance and has better senses – able to detect a waterhole sixteen clicks to the West. Gunnar might have good senses but he doesn’t appear to detect a Nort sniper positioned in a mutated tree next to the watering hole. I’m probably half remembering how this actually ends but it seems to me that Gunnar is on a (possibly subliminal) mission to kill Rogue but can’t bring himself to do it himself and was hoping the Nort would do what he couldn’t.

Scream! No 2 gets an advert and this is one I did get when it came out – the one with a Ron Smith cover and a cheap plastic spider given away free. Stories within are The Dracula File; The Library of Death; Monster; Tales from the Grave and Terror of the Cats (recently collected in the modern day in a Judge Dredd Megazine floppy). This shares the page with an advert for the Software Index. Think we’ve seen that one advertised before.

Tharg’s Future-Shocks: Dead Clever! by Alan Hebden and Cliff Robinson. Cliff’s debut in the prog – I thought his first work was in the next sci-fi special, shows what I know! This tale of industrial espionage has a computer company hire a spy to find out the secret behind their main rival’s latest product, a handheld computer with extensive information on a specialised topic. Upon infiltrating their premises he firstly finds a truck delivering dead bodies and secondly that they’re pleased to see him. They show him their process – that the bodies (some of which died naturally, the rest murdered) are discarded and slithers of their brains installed in the computers – before doing the same to him. A gift from the company to that which hired the spy provides a punchline – “he’s joined hi-tech and let them pick his brains”.

Sláine: A Guide to Dragonheist. Almost certainly written by Pat Mills, this acts as an extension to a previous background special feature. Dragonvision is tied to infra-red vision of rattlesnakes and diamond sensors on the Venus space probe mission. Some paces mentioned are the Glamour Land (South Wales / Glamorgan), The Gower, Worm’s Head, the Silver Forest and Crumlyn Village and Durrington College, being near Stonehenge. There’s also a mention of cranes being regarded as birds of great evil by the Celts, which I think only comes in to play in the epilogue to Dragonheist.

The inside back page is for White Dwarf – the house magazine of Games Workshop (though at this time it covered products from other companies). The issue shown is 44 and games mentioned are Dungeons & Dragons, Runequest and Traveller. Coincidentally by the time Mongoose own the 2000AD roleplaying games licence in the 2000s, they’ll produce Judge Dredd, Strontium Dog and Sláine games based on these three systems.

Eric Bradbury provides the 2000AD Star Pin-Up of Tharg versus Sol-Darkk from the previous prog’s Tharg story.

Grailpage: The penultimate page of this prog’s Sláine as the Mata takes to the skies in a panel filled with fire, glides over the forest and finds a stag.

Grailquote: Gerry Finley-Day, narration: “‘Mu’ – mutated, like most of the living things on Nu-Earth. Mutated – or just plain dead.” I know this doesn’t really make much sense but it was very familiar when I re-read this prog, so the narration must have stayed with me.

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