2000AD Prog 367: Sláine… dragonslayer?

Interesting fact – after the last week’s episode of Sláine I wrote a letter saying how much I loved the Dragonheist story and I hoped it would continue for ages. I don’t think I sent it, though if I had by the time it got read the storyline would have finished – this very prog. Belardinelli celebrates the last episode with a cover featuring Sláine and the Mata.

Another mini Tharg’s Nerve Centre with just the Thargnote and no letters or pictures. It does have the Eagle Judge Dredd monthly advert (featuring the Bolland Judge Call: ‘Bring me the Head of Judge Dredd’ cover). The half-page ad is for Mountain Video which look like two early imported anime videos called Space Firebird and Battle Robot. I tried to find out more details about that second film, but you try searching for “Battle Robot” and narrowing down the results.

Sláine: Dragonheist – Part 7 by Pat Mills and Massimo Belardinelli. Sláine has a knife (possibly a sword, but in general fantasy literature terms it probably counts as a knife instead) but opts to pick up an anchor as a replacement weapon for Brainbiter. Jamming it in to the Mata’s mouth and luckily for Sláine, the combination of air and fire as the Mata breathes in mixes with inflammable venom inside leading to an exploding dragon. That’s the fighting over and done with for the first ‘era’ of Sláine as the warped warrior weighs up the dragonhoard and Ukko and decides to take the dwarf on dragonback as the four of them (Sláine, Ukko, Nest and the Knucker) head North. As they fly, Nest tells gives them a bit of prehistoric biology (alright, technically all of Sláine is prehistorical, but Nest talks about the pre-prehistorical biology) learnt from the druids and how dragons evolved from dinosaurs. Heading over Snowdonia, Nest suggests Sláine ask the druids at Dinas Emrys how they know all this. That’s it from our quartet for a while as we switch to the Cave of Beasts and find out the names of the Badb from Bride of Crom which would have been useful when I was assigning grailquotes. Though not very useful as we’re not told which names relate to which of Medb’s compatriots. For the record the blonde one, the dark-haired one and the one with a mohican are collectively Fea the Hateful, Nemon the Venomous and Catha the Fury (presumably Nemon is the one who jabbed Sláine and knocked him unconscious). We get a bit of exposition – after the battle at the end of Sky Chariots when Slough Feg was summoning Crom and killing Slough Throt, he disintegrated. We also find out the name of a skullsword as General Melga asks if they poured the Lord Weird’s remains in to the slime pool. At that moment there is a disturbance in the slime and Feg returns. We find out that the druids at Glastonbury definitely aided Sláine but that they haven’t been in contact yet while Medb has now reached the Northern tribes. Speaking of Northern tribes, the skullsword General reports that Canarc is being boosted, allowing earth power to be hijacked to power ice glaciers and bringing with them Fomorians who are proving victorious over the tribes. We also get our first glimpse of Balor of the Evil Eye and find out that the Sessair (Sláine’s tribe) are already defeated. “Sláine returns in a zarjaz new saga soon!” – so this is the end of the first saga, not era of Sláine.

Taking advantage of the end of the first saga of Sláine is a repeat of that advert for White Dwarf.

D.R. & Quinch Go To Hollywood Part 4 by Alan Moore and Alan Davis. Weird that this story is so short – though with the full-length prologue it’s really a five-part story. I’m pretty sure that anybody who didn’t grow up in pre-21st century UK wouldn’t automatically know who Barry Norman is – so this episode starts off with a parody of Barry Norman’s film review programme (which got retitled every year, initially Film ’71 to Film ’18 when it was cancelled) and continues with another parody, this time of fellow film critic Clive James. Enough background – what happens? The film has been released and (other than the parodies) the critics and Hollywood do not like it, though the audiences do, breaking all box-office records. Though with the box-office takings the duo return to the bus station where it all started and discover the body of T.J. where they left it four weeks earlier. As D.R. constructs a letter of complaint to the Sanitation Department, T.Q. reanimates (note in a zombie way – in a coming-out-of-a-coma way) and continues the sentence he started a month earlier. Taking back his manuscript he prepares to return to Hollywood (not knowing the damage that D.R. has done to his name in the intervening time). And that’s it for Alan Moore D.R. in the prog. As I remember there’s going to be one more Moore script in a sci-fi special, plus some Jamie Delano (?) one-pagers. I think Alan Davis will do a few Dredds in collaboration with Mark Farmer but apart from the afore-mentioned stories and a few D.R. & Quinch covers and/or posters that’s it for his work in the prog too. I could check Barney, but I have three more stories this prog and am hungry…

Judge Dredd: Portrait of a Politician – Part 2 by T.B. Grover and Ron Smith. This is just a fantastic episode. It has Mega-City One weirdness, people in power acting in bad faith and getting the comeuppance (twice) and even a rare-but-not-unheard-of smirk from Dredd. It starts with Dave’s first appearance on Tipster’s Tonite where he makes twenty predictions on the winners of upcoming jetball games while the tipsters pore scorn on his picks. Dave’s owner Billy isn’t concerned about how accurate they are as the payment for that single appearance will pay for their tab at the bar for months. Things don’t turn out that way as Dave gets fifteen out of the twenty correct (better than the human tipsters – first comeuppance). Dave’s popularity takes off much to the chagrin of said tipsters and by the time the mayoral election comes around they slip in a picture of Dave to try to trick him out of picking the winning candidate. In their words “He can’t win the election – he’s not even nominated!” and “It’s like I’ve said all along – the chimp’s a chump!” Upset at this treatment, the patrons of Salmonella’s (the name of the bar) call the Justice Dept Electoral Register and nominate the orang utan as a candidate. They’re joined by 37,000 other mega-citizens in the first twenty minutes of Tipsters Tonite, leading to an impromptu meeting and by the time the show ends Dave the Orang Utan is the latest official candidate for mayor. Comeuppance the second. I can’t remember what I thought of this story first time I read this but I absolutely love this story now. As an aside, this is the first mention we’ve had of mayors since Fungus, so I guess the city has been mayorless for the past two years.

Strontium Dog: Outlaw! Part 5 by Alan Grant and Carlos Ezquerra. A number 4 cartridge gets rid of the remote-controlled S/D interceptor and we find out the Antarctic Rainforest was created by the Rad-Wars (along with flying snakes and monkey gators). Flying snakes being snakes with actual wings and not snakes that can flatten out and glide, like in the real world. Alpha outlines his (obvious) plan to go to Jock’s Landing to find out what really happened there but the real developments happen back on the Doghouse as a new Director takes control, one Norman King. He gets the usual response that Harvey used to get, though does what he can to whip up the hatred in the room. Stix turn up and quieten down the crowd, picking out one and forcing them in to a duel. The Doghouse police back Stix up and the two brothers join King in his office. They talk about how they framed Alpha and that the Doghouse is now under NK’s control while the Stix are uninterested in revenge “Revenge don’t pay. Work for money.” In an internal monologue we find out that Stix’s days are also numbered, kept around only as long as they’re useful. There is one other thing we find out… NK is really NBK, Nelson Bunker Kreelman! Though of course I would have had no idea who that character was when I first read this, not having any back progs yet.

Rogue Trooper: You Only Die Twice – Part 9 by Gerry Finley-Day and Cam Kennedy. While they’re waiting for a final push from the Norts Rogue confronts Gunnar. Bagman and Helm defend the re-gened G.I. – even though they were present last episode where Gunnar was pointing a gun at Rogue, interrupted only by the Nort attack! Turns out that the dappled effect in the cave brought flashbacks to the hypnotic lights back on milli-com, which are also brought on by the flash-effect of the Nort las-fire and Gunnar finally recalls the brainwashing sessions to kill Rogue Trooper. Gunnar had been fighting it, which is why he’d been leading Rogue in to tight spots rather than outright killing him, hoping a Nort could carry out the execution which he couldn’t. Souther Space-Attack Craft arrive on the scene, greeted by Helm with the words “We’re saved!” which is odd as they’ve just found out that Milli-Com sent an advanced G.I. brainwashed to kill Rogue. Interesting definition of saved there. (Not much of a) cliffhanger as Gunnar is in a Nort’s gunsight, determined to take out the G.I. before he gets killed. The text says “…as Rogue watched the destruction of the Norts” but the accompanying pictures clearly show a G.I. with a G.I. issue rifle, rather than the Nort master-blaster which Rogue is carrying at the moment. I do like this story – in fact I think you have to really like something to do this much nit-picking – if I didn’t like it so much I wouldn’t pay attention and I’d just skip to the next feature !

Readergraph: I am the Draw! You can probably guess what this collection of reader’s art is themed after. We get Judge Hippy, Judge Bampot, Judge Quinch and Judge D.R.edd (Waldo D.R. Dobbs in judge outfit, geddit?)

Grailpage: there is so much great artwork in this prog – Belardinelli alone puts in some great splash pages and I also like Cam Kennedy’s set up of the Norts surrounding the remains of the Spyder tank in which Rogue and Gunnare are holed up, but I’m going to pick a less flashy, more low-key page – the one where Mo Molinski calls Justice Dept Electoral Register, nominates Dave for mayor, McGruder calls a meeting of senior judges and by the end of the programme Dave the Orang Utan is an official mayoral candidate (to the dismay of the fellow pundits).

Grailquote: TB Grover, Judge Dredd: “By the law of averages, even a chicken would score 50 per cent.” Other judge: “Yeah? So how come all the experts regularly score in the low twenties?” Dredd: “I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.”

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