2000AD Prog 372: BINGO! Dredd & Dekker play for creeps! “Your number’s up!” BINGO! Losers inside

Kim Raymond is on the cover as the artist depicts Rookie Dekker taking aim at a few perps.

Tharg’s Nerve Centre has a reader point out some seemingly inconsistent figures from an early prog as 16,000 oranges weighed three hundred tons, meaning each orange would have weighed 40lbs. Tharg responds that the oranges weigh around 8oz each (the same as Earth oranges) but the pips can weigh as much as 39lbs 8oz…

Strontium Dog: Outlaw Part 10 by Alan Grant and Carlos Ezquerra. This story was my introduction to the Gronk, so the ability for Gronks to die and (for some of them) to come back to life after apparent death has always been part of their physiology as far as I’m concerned. So I can’t remember if this has come up before, but the amount of space given to it on the opening page suggests it was a ‘new’ ability to all readers, not just to recent squaxx. The Gronk (dropped in to a waste bin at the end of the last episode) has his heart re-start, listen to Kreelman order the Stix to go to Och-11 and then have another heart attack. Time to head back to Antarctica and the Alpha Gang make it to the storm drain, blocking the way behind them. Alpha ditches his no-kill policy by taking out Smelly Quinn (even though Quinn was outnumbered, and having been lurking in a dark storm drain would have been a prime candidate to be temporarily blinded by a flare). Above ground and in the city, the trio stop a hover car and steal the clothes o those within – now disguised as brothers of the Antarctic Brotherhood (monks with face-covering hoods). Almost at the spaceport but Johnny uses Alpha-vision to count at least fifteen Stronts hidden around the entrance alone. Is this much of a cliffhanger? They’re disguised as norm monks – mutant bounty hunters who aren’t even usually allowed on Earth aren’t going to be targeting them. Also, they’d be looking for six people, not three.

(from the art) PLUS-1’s PLEA… This readergraph (what pages full of reader art were called in the really early days of the prog, or programme as it was called at the time) is another un-themed collection, along with the introduction of a calculator shaped accountancy droid who highlights that the Command Module is running low on galactic groats and begging readers to send in low-quality art so that prize money doesn’t have to be sent out. Other than one pic obviously copied from a McMahon Dredd I don’t recognise where some of the other entries might come from, so I won’t single any out to say “that was copied” – but I’m pretty sure some were…

What’s Up, Dock? by Alan Hebden and Casanovas. Simple one this – a one-mile long oil tanker is heading for New York on its maiden voyage. The entire ship is crewed by one person – Captain Royston Spink – as the rest is computerised. Foreseeing that his arrival in the city on this ground-breaking (wave-breaking?) voyage will lead to his being feted as a celebrity he goes off to have a nap. As he leaves the bridge a seagull flies in and alights on the keyboard. Tapping away it increases the speed to eighty knots and manages to deactivate the auto-pilot. Arriving early in New York while the Captain sleeps it crashes through the Brooklyn Bridge (or another bridge that looks like it – I’m not incredibly familiar with the geography of NY, and I doubt Hebden or Redondo are either). The tidal wave from the speeding Juggernaut crashes against the Statue of Liberty. It’s a typical tale of unchecked technology, but pretty dated as the modern reader knows it wouldn’t be that easy to switch off auto-pilot – they’d be confirmation dialogue boxes and the like. Leaving aside the idea of having only one person on the ship – they’d be at least two or three to cover all shifts (as the Captain sleeps in a bed it’s clear that the intention is that the captain will sometimes be asleep while on board). This ends in a half page showing what’s happened to New York while the captain was asleep, the other half of the page given to a reservation coupon.

The 1984 Reader Profiles begin, along with an ad for the 13th issue of Scream! (featuring a Jose Ortiz cover). The age range is from 10 to 59 and have been reading since prog 48 up to prog 345. Fave stories are DR & Quinch, VCs and Nemesis.

Judge Dredd: Bingo! by T.B. Grover and Kim Raymond. Ever since reading this story as a child I subconsciously think of ‘industrial estates’ as ‘dust zones’. Strange that the unchanged (apart from the bionic component) of American Football should be immediately followed by a game of Bingo. Kim’s depiction of the judge uniform has evolved – the black areas no longer looks like a silhouette though they’re still darker than most depictions. Tellingly, Dredd is thinking of Dekker as his “best rookie ever”. There’ll be a call back to this, but we’ll have to wait until John Wagner semi-retires (from writing Dredd, at any rate) in a decade or so. Discovering an illegal game of bingo, Dekker and Dredd take a more subtle approach so as not to cause mass heart attacks among the “old crocks” in attendance. It’s a very straight-forward creep around backstage and arrest perps silently with the emphasis of the story being the joke about bingo having been outlawed and Dekker acting capably.

Tharg’s Future-Shocks: Uncommon Sense! by Ben Haldean and Collins + Farmer (debuts for Mike Collins and Mark Farmer?). Just checking, Barney says yes – and also reveals that this was written by Alan Hebden (and looking at the names, Haldean’s is an anagram of Hebden’s). A couple of aliens observe Earth, noting that humans have inferior vision, hearing, sense of smell and taste and decide to share their ‘wisdom’ and increase said senses. The first recipient of their gift has weak senses of smell and taste while eating in a Woody’s Burgers fast food cafe. I feel like this should be a parody of Wendy’s, but the tagline “That’s the Wonder!” doesn’t seem to correspond to any Wendy’s advertising. Never having tasted food so strongly before, he eats and eats until dying from over-eating. The second victim (sorry, recipient) is somebody wearing glasses, and so his eyesight is ‘improved’. Things go very The Man With X-Ray Eyes (spoiler – right to the end, in fact – none of the ‘slowly increasing power’ stuff) as he can see through to skeletons, the tube trains underground but not things right next to him, such as the van that he runs in front of and which kills him. Last up, somebody with poor hearing who gets (once his hearing in increased a hundred-fold) is deafened by people talking, cats meowing, footsteps and cars. The alien gives up and the whole thing turns in to a set-up for a pun as the alien discussed with their crew-mate that the failure “just doesn’t make sense”.

Mighty Micro Page featuring games for the Spectrum, BBC and commodore. Games are Trashman, Grid Bug, Space Shuttle, Galaxy (a ‘version’ – rip-off? – of Galaxians), Empires and 3d Lunattack.

Rogue Trooper: Message from Milli-Com – 4. Jungle Warfare! by Gerry Finley-Day and Cam Kennedy. The location of the ‘Nort summit’ is to be in the Neverglades in five days time. Nobody has heard of it, though Bagman gets some back-up info – it’s the largest wilderness zone on the planet. How can none of them have heard of this place? It’d be like saying Saharah? Antarctica? Nope, never heard of them. By the way, as a kid I hadn’t heard of the Everglades so didn’t realise the Nu-Earth version was a pun. The three millicom captains are led by Rogue to the zone on the underside of a hovertroop train and about the time that their arms are dropping off it’s time to roll and drop on the edge of the Neverglades. Rogue takes point with the lachette, cutting their way through the jungle (or is it swampland?) though when Coogan takes over Rogue drops back to have a chat with Willard about that secret that the captain almost shared at the end of last prog. This time the interruption is a mutagator (more like a snake than an alligator). Rogue manages to kill it, but Willard also dies due to “a split in his chem-suit”.

Inside back cover advert time: Weetabix Shrinkies free with Tammy, Whizzer and Chips, Girl, Whoopee and Eagle take the top half of the page while the next prog (Judgement Day for Dekker) and 2000AD Albums (Judge Dredd 2 and Nemesis the Warlock Book II from Titan/Forbidden Planet). I think a shrinkie is a plastic tile which you can colour in, place in the oven and it gets smaller and tougher – usually getting used as a keyfob.

2000AD Star Pin-Up: “You’re beginning to get on my nerves, creeps!” – Judge Dredd by Brett Ewins, featuring some typically punky hairstyled perps and spikey shoulder-pads.

Grailpage: I was tempted by a few of the pages from Hebden’s two stories, but instead I’m opting for Ezquerra’s opener to Strontium Dog, showing the Doghouse, the Gronk and an inside-bin view of the Gronk re-starting his heartbeat.

Grailquote: Alan Grant, Middenface McNulty: “Still, it’s like I always say – gin a body be goin’ doon a brae, ilka ane’ll gi’e him a jundie!” Johnny Alpha: “Uh… right, Middenface.”

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