2000AD Prog 368: “Still want to stand for mayor?” Election bulletin!

Ron Smith finishes the three-part Dave story with this cover.

Tharg’s Nerve Centre finally goes back to a full page, except for an advert for the Judge Dredd – The Judge Child Quest monthly reprint comic from Eagle, featuring Bolland’s The Quest Begins – later issues given sub-titles Planet of the Bodybuilders and Murd the Oppressor and Sagbelly the Toad. Letters-wise one from Nigeria is from an earthlet having difficulty getting copies of the prog, and is put in touch with the World Wide Subscription Service. Meanwhile another earthlet has some questions about where Pulger got a dress, large piece of soap and plastic explosive, which are answered by Alan Moore (the answers culminate in a big, dangerous cake sent by Pulger’s mother).

As Sláine takes a break, the opening story slot goes to Strontium Dog: Outlaw! Part 6 by Alan Grant and Carlos Ezquerra. This episode starts off with the Antartic militia sending out jet troops against the five muties (plus Wulf). Was the electro-flare one of the three items mentioned when Alpha packed up to leave the Doghouse? Nope and we’ve already seen the cartridges and beam polariser get used – just the anti-grav chutes left (plus whatever else he picked up – but no time bombs). Alpha gets out the electronux though, as he doesn’t want to kill any of the Antarctic militia (after all, he’s on the run to clear his name). After the militia break out the fire bombs (even though their own jet troops are on the ground) the six drift down river until they get to a burrow (looks like a beaver’s dam). Whatever the thing living within the burrow was, as well as being evicted, it also serves as dinner for them. As a few of their number have been injured the new plan is for Johnny, Wulf and Middenface to head in to Antarctic City, pick up transport and collect the others. Back on the Doghouse ‘Norman King’ has gotten special permission from the government of Antarctica for the bounty hunters to operate inside their territory. Also the bounty has gone up to 200,000 per fugitive, except for Alpha, whose head is worth 400,000 creds. Time for a dogpile!

Adverts for Barratt Sherbet and Quicksilva games Fred, Boogaboo (The Flea) and Ramond Briggs’ The Snowman. Plus a reservation coupon with the Robin Smith Tharg fighting Thrill-Suckers pic.

We’re not that far off from Halo Jones making her debut, but until then we have half the creative team bringing us the two-part The Amazing Maze Dumoir Part 1 by Alan Hebden and Ian Gibson. This story is told from the viewpoint of Lieutenant Jebel Claw of Earth Police but is really about… well, you can tell from the title. Maze is a witness to be transported to Earth. The main problem is that the accused is the richest human being alive and if they get convicted then they’ll be executed. The first attempt to kill the witness comes on the way to the spaceport (see grailquote) but fortunately for the both of them, Maze is very capable and has the similar attitude to clothing that Ardeni Lakam did by starting off wearing a skimpy blanket or towel or something and ending up having a shower and dressing in another towel – which is what she’s wearing when she discovers as small nuclear device and taking an escape shuttle as Claw’s starship explodes.

Judge Dredd: Portrait of a Politician – Part 3 by T.B. Grover and Ron Smith. It’s straight-forward from a plot perspective – Dredd gets assigned as Dave’s bodyguard (every other mayoral candidate also gets a bodyguard), there’s a few parodies of early eighties British politics like the Lib-Lab Flab rally being a spin on the Liberal Labour Pacts that have occurred frequently in British politics (the fourth having taken place from 1977 to 1978). Other than that there are the usual attempts on Dave’s life which are fended off by Dredd then it’s on to the election. Barney presides over the push-button election and Dave wins by a landslide. As I’ve mentioned every episode so far, we knew right from the first panel of the story that he’d win, as it opened with a full page portrait of him wearing his chains of office. So the magic of the story is all in the telling.

Tharg’s Future-Shocks: The Message! by Alan Hebden and Cliff Robinson. Cliff’s second appearance in the prog and a take on 2001: A Space Odyssey, which I hadn’t seen at the time I first read this story. This story was published in the same year that the sequel film 2010: The Year We Make Contact was released, so I can only guess that Hebden was inspired by this. Incidentally, my contact with these stories is as follows: I read this parody of the first film; I got my hands on a ‘making of’ magazine on the second film; I saw the first film; I saw the second film. Each stage had about three to five years in between. Probably not the usual way to read and watch them! A scientist goes up to the moon on an Ultra-Top Secret mission to investigate a black monolith which has been discovered just below the lunar surface. As the sun touches the monolith it lets off a screeching sound and sends out a signal (so far, so as the film). Back at the base the humans await a signal now that the monolith has been discovered. It comes in the form of a message – congratulating them on discovering a hidden object in an inter-galactic treasure hunt, and winning a holiday. As well as reading the parody this was probably my first exposure to this kind of punchline – something which promises to be cosmic and awe-inspiring from a superior level of being turns out to be very mundane, albeit alien – similar to the previous The Writing On the Wall in the pages of 2000AD, and God’s Final Message to his Creation in So Long and Thanks for All the Fish the following year.

Rogue Trooper: You Only Die Twice – Part 10 by Gerry Finley-Day and Cam Kennedy. End of the story and things get confusing. I thought the person in the gun sights from last episode was Gunnar, because the G.I. had a G.I. rifle and not Rogue’s Nort master-blaster. This episode starts with Rogue getting winged while carrying both weapons. Reaching for the master-blaster he’s alerted by Bagman that a bullet has jammed in the breech so he uses Gunnar’s rifle to take out his would-be assassin. Meanwhile, Gunnar’s programming has taken over and he prepares to kill Rogue bare-handed – unfortunately for the re-gened infantryman, Rogue has (in my theory ten year’s) combat experience that Gunnar doesn’t have and the brainwashed Gunnar resorts to using weapons again. Bagman makes sure he can’t use telekinesis to get his hands on the rifle so he goes for the master-blaster instead – ignoring Rogue’s attempted warning. It backfires, killing him instantly – but Rogue still has sixty seconds to retrieve the chip and place it in the rifle – in Helm’s words “Back where he belongs – the butt of all our jokes”. Rogue leaves a mouthpiece (message pod) for Dr Edvark, the genie in charge of the operation containing a monologue. One ambush later they’ve confirmed that the power of telekinesis is still with Gunnar. Rogue’s internal monologue says “I’ve gained his power” while Helm was asking “Reckon we’ve still got telekinesis?” but I’m going to try to keep an eye on whether it’s only ever going to be used in relation to Gunnar.

Adverts: for a Bubblicious compeittion (electronic games – all the rage in the early 1980s) and the next prog, with a Jim Baikie Dredd (it could be a different judge).

Readergraph: 2000AD – the comic with the art of gold! I missed the first one, but apparently Tharg said something about a lack of funds in a Nerve Centre not so long ago. I know that because there was a follow-up saying they’ve got some money and don’t need anything sending in. This back page also raises low funds as Tharg awards £10 each to four contributors. Pictured works are: Tharg – the Green God (based on Diana Moran, the Green Goddess – a keep fit TV personality who wore a green leotard on breakfast TV at the time); D.R. & Quinch Go Fishing – pretty good pic – concept good enough that it could have been copied from an Alan Davis frame; G.T. Gravity Trooper – generic space soldier; Nipponese Merc Grenadier – another generic space soldier and despite the name not looking very Japanese.

Grailpage: another low key one with no flashy splash images with Ron Smith’s last page showing Dave winning the election, Smairt celebrating with a glass of something (doesn’t look fizzy, so maybe not sham-paigne), Chief Judge McGruder presenting the trappings of office, Dredd offering his own congratulations. All great stuff and if I had a piece like this on my wall I know it’d bring a smile to my face whenever I read it.

Grailquote: Alan Hebden, Lieutenant Jebel Claw: “I’d never even heard of Gworsh till I got this assignment. Heck, I’d bet a mea-buck that Gorgon Van Kline’s never heard of it, either!” Maze Dumoir: “And you’d lose it, buster!”

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