2000AD Prog 364: These are the slummies. They’re looking forward to the good life… …these are their new neighbours. They want a billion credit refund! Dredd is the judge in… High Society!

Ian gibson brings a gallery of characters to this Judge Dredd cover.

Tharg’s Nerve Centre has a phrase for thrill-starved squaxx in France to use (in response to a letter from somebody who has moved to Emerainville). An internet translator suggests the phrase is: “2000ad the only comic book in the galaxy that gives you the zarjaz seizing power”. I’m going to guess that should read “zarjaz thrill power”. The reply to another letter is the first time I encountered the Biblical phrase regarding camels and eyes of needles (paraphrased to suit non-payment of judges).

Sláine: Dragon Heist – part 4 by Pat Mills and Massimo Belardinelli. Dragons don’t like the sun, which is why the Mata hides out in a hole during the day time. It makes his sluggish and confuses his heat-sensitive dragonvision. Sláine and Ukko weren’t exactly discreet when they were talking about stealing the Knucker last episode, as Nest was still in the background and she did indeed hear what they were planning. She picked up on how Crug had murdered her father and was set to murder her if she sticks around so tries to get in on the heist, but the barbarian and thief are having none of it. The argument is interrupted as Crug is roused from his drunken slumber and Nest rushes off to distract him. Meanwhile the population of Crumlyn Village are off to bury Gwawl, except for his widow who has been given a sleeping draft. The Mata arrives on the scene and by ‘scene’ I mean the deserted village, finding only La (Gwawl’s widow) sobbing in her drugged sleep. She wakes up to see the dragon looming over her – but the dragon has a trick up it’s sleeve (by sleeve I mean in it’s gem eyes) and it puts a glamour on her. Ukko seals up the entrance to the Knucker’s cave (by which I mean that Sláine seals up the entrance) causing the impatient dragon to roar and howl, gassing itself to unconsciousness. Sláine pulls the dragon out in to the open air so that it can still breathe (I’m guessing he gets a little bit warped to summon up the strength to do that, but not enough to show). Sláine goes off to collect the dragonhoard while Ukko gets to work on the lock. Back with Crug and Nest’s uncle smells a rat as she tries to get him drunk. As I know what happens I appreciate the presence of a flesh fork plunged in to a pig’s head which can be seen in two panels… As it looks like Crug will kill Nest for treachery back in the cave the Knucker is beginning to come around.

Adverts for Battle Action Force, Wally Incorporated (search me, I didn’t follow what it was about) and Forbidden Planet albums (Titan Books, but still not branded as such in the adverts). Shown are Judge Caligula Book One and Nemesis the Warlock.

D.R. & Quinch Go To Hollywood Part 1 by Alan Moore and Alan Davis. On the planet Hollywood D.R. and Quinch mug a couple of people for their clothes. One of the muggees is large and the other is skinny. D.R. obviously wears the large person’s clothes while Quinch dons those of the skinny guy. Two out of the four rules of Hollywood are to get noticed and to impress people with good taste and forceful personality. D.R. has an interesting take on this, in a busy restaurant at lunchtime. This entire episode is basically a set-up for the old idiom ‘legend in their own lunchtime‘ made literal (and unashamedly referenced towards the end). After I post the progs I tend to listen to the SpaceSpinner 2000 coverage of those progs – as I remember the numerous caricatures peppered throughout this story get covered in this episode – I’ll find out once I’ve finished Prog 365. I won’t try to list the famous faces parodied in this blog as I doubt I’d do as good a job as Conrad and Fox did. By the end of this episode D.R. has made a splash, acquired a lead actor, picked up some financiers and, right at the end, found out that the script is indecipherable. Though the third word is probably ‘oranges’…

Judge Dredd: High Society by T.B. Grover and Emberton. I know that Q Twerk is a pseudonym for when Ian Gibson isn’t happy with the work submitted, but ‘Emberton’s’ work is pretty good on this story. The Nelson Rockefeller Orbital Suburb is a luxurious development which – due to its position in a geo-stationery orbit above the city – is subject to the Slum Clearance Act 2105, i.e. 29 per cent of the of the private housing development must be donated to the public sector. No idea what the case was like in the early 1980s but there are similar laws enacted in the modern UK where a percentage of developments are meant to be ‘affordable’. As in the UK, the developer tries to get out of fulfilling their obligation but with Dredd on the case there’s no escaping it and mega-citizens from a few Displaced Citizen camps sign up to head up. With the best (or worst) of Mega-City One’s underclass on the case it’s one month before the last of the private owners moves out, allowing the city to buy up the rest of the orbital suburb (now an orbital slum) allowing the city to empty out six Displaced Citizen camps. This story is entertaining enough though it lacks the nuance that some previous citizen stories have – in this one the future precariat are all yobbish criminals and undesirables. Previous stories had at least some who were decent people trapped in unenviable circumstances. The citizens sent to the orbital suburb aren’t even supposed to be problem cases, but just those displaced by the destruction of their blocks following the Apocalypse War.

Strontium Dog: Outlaw Part 2 by Alan Grant and Carlos Ezquerra and the Stronts hit the Doghouse. Not a lot to say, straightforward storytelling as Alpha and Sternhammer use their reputation to get to Harvey’s office, find out that the inhabitants of Jock’s Landing (which I’ve just realised is a partial pun on Knot’s Landing) swear that it was the pair who shot five innocent men at the settlement then tie him up as prepare to go on the run. There’s a quick run-down of the weaponry they manage to pick up: cartridges; beam polariser and anti-grav chutes – but no time bombs. Something that stood out is that one of the witnesses gave a physical description of Johnny and Wulf. This is a bit of a plot hole which will become apparent by the end of the story. The Gronk wants to come along but “on der run is not for der gronk”. Meanwhile the brothers Stix enter Harvey’s office and shoot him dead, continuing their framing of Alpha. At this point we still think it’s simple revenge for the death of their brother in that previous story…

Rogue Trooper: You Only Die Twice – Part 7 by Gerry Finley-Day and Cam Kennedy. I love the scenes in the cave, sunlight reflecting off of a pool within to dapple the scene with light. Not the kind of scene we get much in comics for some reason – strange especially as most comics are in colour these days. I’m not normally one for seeing comics intended to be published in black and white later having colour added, but I’d be interested to see what a decent colouring droid could make of the cave scenes. Starting with a recap of Gunnar’s shouting in his sleep, the Nort column outside sets up a bivouac and the two G.I.s prepare to sneak out. After a recon, Gunnar suggests that they split up and gives Rogue the night’s password in case he gets stopped. Gunnar also offers to take Bagman and Helm so that Rogue isn’t slowed down (this has never been a problem before). Turns out that the password alone (Danube noir) is not enough and that voiceprints are also taken. Rogue has to change tactic and crawls through the dust and hides under the massive Nort war machines to get out. Finally, setting off a decoy fire in the fuel dump, he arrives at the rendezvous point, hours late. The only question left in Rogue’s mind is if he’s been programmed by Milli-Com to kill Rogue or if it was Gunnar’s idea. Which is a bit silly as the episode started off with Gunnar clearly rejecting brainwashing with the words: “No! I won’t do it – I’ll never do it! Never!”

More adverts – the first for the latest issue of Big K magazine with three computer programs on a flexidisc (as in a record player disc, not a floppy disk) for BBC and Spectrum games. The second is for the next prog and shows Sláine and Ukko on the back of a dragon (and a misleading tagline about how to ride a wild dragon without falling off – the Mata is the wild dragon, not the Knucker). Pet annoyance – next prog ads which spoil the cliff-hanger. We not only know that Sláine will manage to deal with the Knucker waking up, but also tame the dragon enough to start riding it.

Another advert, this a back page ad for Macleans toothpaste which features an offer for children to brush their teeth twice a day every day for two weeks (chart on the side of the pack), get it signed by mum or dad then send it off. All this done and you’ll get paid £1. I have a very vague memory of doing this, but I have no idea if it was this promotion or if I got paid the £1.

Grailpage: centre pages always get an advantage as the canvas size gives the art droid some freedom. In this case Emberton’s pic of the Nelson Rockefeller Orbital Suburb is like a (luxurious) slab of the Mega-City put in to orbit. Plus Dredd’s eagle is giving Baxter Parkes III the side-eye.

Grailquote: Alan Grant, Harvey (after playing witness statements in Scots brogue): “I can provide you with translations if you like.” and (also Harvey): “Thank heck you got here, Stix! Alpha trapped me!” Stix: “Did worse. Killed you.” Harvey: “Killed me? Naw, he didn’t kill me…” Stix: “Wrong.” Harvey: “No – Yaghh!”

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