2000AD Prog 371: Sláine action figure this issue! Rebel with a cause… Rogue Trooper

Robin Smith brings in a Rogue Trooper cover with great sunset Souther and Nort insignias in the background.

One earthlet in Tharg’s Nerve Centre wants to buy her fiancé a Judge Dredd duvet cover as a surprise wedding present (though I feel that publishing a letter in the comic that they both read may spoil the surprise somewhat) while the next earthlet along had a quilt cover made by their mother. On a similar line, another earthlet is buying up progs cheaply on Pluto (2g) to sell on Venus (210g) though unfortunately the Venusian Chief of Police also reads 2000AD. the Death / Dredd Bolland picture gets an outing for the latest Westminster Comic Mart ad.

Strontium Dog: Outlaw Part 9 by Alan Grant and Carlos Ezquerra. On the Doghouse the Stix are paying a visit on the Gronk. And by visit, I mean they intend to kill the furry alien. He has a heart attack and collapses. Time for a flashback. Scratch that, time for two flashbacks – you can’t complain we didn’t get our money’s worth in 1984! Remembering that I was a recent squax at this time I got the entirety of Portrait of a Mutant encapsulated in eight episodes – rivalling the version of The Apocalypse War squashed into ten panels. One panel in the present and then we get the second flashback in to events we haven’t seen yet as the Stix release Kreelman from the time trap (by throwing a second time trap at him). Always out for money, the Stix were recruited by Kreelman who still had enough influence to get ‘Norman King’ appointed director of the Search/Destroy Agency. Speaking of which, the Stix return with the body of the Gronk, who gets tossed in to the bin. Kreelman sends the Stix off to Jock’s Landing on Och-11 – confident that Alpha will manage to fight his way out of the corner he’s currently in on Earth. This episode works better if (like me at the time) you haven’t read Portrait previously, as the final panel has a dramatic reveal that Johnny Alpha is Kreelman’s son!

Atari repeat their colour two-page advert for Pole Position, as shown last prog.

Unbranded Future-Shocks The Domino Theory by M. Feekins and Ian Gibson. I don’t know who Martin Feekins is but they’ve got an interesting history – four thrills, with over thirty years between the first and second. Something’s going on there… Before last prog’s Dredd sports story continues we change pace to a different sport – involving a galactic record attempt at felling dominoes. Unlike the real-world attempts which are always held in large warehouses or exhibition centres, this one takes place across an entire uninhabited planet. We see five days of successful toppling across a variety of terrains, including underwater, in a generally volcanic landscape. There’s a few simple gags but the shock that it builds up to isn’t that shocking. The last page (and day of the planned toppling) opens with the line of dominoes heading towards something which is obviously Stonehenge, so it comes as no surprise when the last domino to fall stops short of the denouement of the pattern. True enough, all the fallen dominoes are removed and the remaining pieces are left where they do not ever fall and are still there 400,000,019 days (1,095,890 years) later featuring modern day (human) tourists. It’s been a while since we saw Gibson draw Stonehenge surrounded by tourists…

Readergraph – Star Draws! Another collection with no single theme – there are simple pics (at least one copied directly from an image from the prog, with no creativity involved) plus the usual hybrids of characters – Strontium Hog, Judge Eastwood, Judge Snork… The two pages end with an advert for Flash! A “video comic for 21st century kids”. I have no idea what this consisted of but it cost £9.99 – rather more than the 22p this prog set me back when it came out.

Judge Dredd: Super Bowl – Part 2 by T.B. Grover and Kim Raymond. Last prog’s cliffhanger lasts a panel as the rookie judge rolls out of the way of the weights. Subdueing the culprit she finds he’d been taking bribes to throw the game (though was not involved with the threats to blow up the team). What’s more, he implicates one of the other team members. Not content with arresting a good proportion of the team, Dredd listens in on the coach’s pre-match motivation talk – and decides it’s an incitement to violence. Dekker also picks up on one of the team members for conspiracy to commit violence. Now it’s time for the game, and the bit that would be referenced in Portrait of a Politician, but was run in the wrong order… For some reason John Wagner (and possibly Alan Grant) really don’t like Kim Raymond, and I have a feeling it may stem from a delay which resulted in these episodes being published out of order. Or maybe Wagner just didn’t like Raymond’s art style. Speaking of which – the black parts of the uniform are virtually silhouettes with only zips and accoutrements detailed – the rest a solid black (apart from Dekker on the centre pages where her uniform looks a lot shinier as we get some reflective lines).

Next up is an actually branded Tharg’s Future-Shocks as Bill Tomkins Meets… Bill Tompkins! by Peter Milligan and Casanovas. The title character has a nightmare where everybody he encounters looks the same as him, including every other commuter on the train, the door-person at the office and a newsreader. Upon waking he answers the doorbell to see a caller with his face whom he immediately attacks…

The Sláine Action Figure! by Robin Smith interrupts the shock as the Celtic barbarian is wearing the ‘winter coat’ from Dragonheist for some reason (pretty sure it’s gone by the next story, but can stand to be corrected when I get to it).

…and back to Bill. Rather than be driven mad as in his nightmare, Bill has opted to kill his doppelganger caller. With the corpse on the floor there’s another buzz at the door and Bill opens it to see his mother (with his mother’s face) who’s there to tell Bill that when he was young the family was so poor they had to have Bill’s twin brother adopted, but that brother has now traced them. All of which is a long-winded way to get to the punchline “It’s like a dream come true”. Not a fan of this one – there’s no reason given for Bill to have dreamt about everybody looking like him to tie in to opening the door to an as-yet-unknown twin brother first thing upon awakening.

Rogue Trooper: Message from Milli-Com – 3. The Officers’ Mess. by Gerry Finley-Day and Cam Kennedy. Rogue starts training the officers and much to the chagrin of one of the complainers (Coogan is the only one who doesn’t complain – let’s call him C and the others M and W) uses live ammo. We find out that Rogue is a pretty tough taskmaster but he’s certainly seasoning the captains. Now that they’ve toughened up put some of their training in to effect, it’s time for Rogue to lure a Nort patrol to the vicinity and see what they’re like in a real firefight. They acquit themselves though Willard gets himself outflanked and has to be saved by Rogue. In gratitude Willard is about to tell Rogue something, but is interrupted by the others as the time and location of the summit is relayed to Bagman by the other conspirators. Rogue’s been fairly optimistic with the training, but now there’s this element of doubt leading to a great cliffhanger.

The inside back cover advert page sees next prog: BINGO!, the G*1 boardgame ad and Judge Dredd 3 (from Titan Books / Forbidden Planet featuring a Mick McMahon Fink cover).

The outside back cover advert is for Captain Micro’s Electro Comic. I’d guess this is along the lines of the Flash! video comic from earlier in the same prog though available to rent instead of buy.

Grailpage: tricky one, again there’s quite a bit of good art, but nothing really eye-catching. I’ll end up picking the Stonehenge page from Ian Gibson.

Grailquote: Alan Grant, Stix: “Dead. Heart attack.” Other Stix: “You were right. Didn’t need a bullet. Hundred creds I owe you.”

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