2000AD Prog 375: Reckon you could survive in Mega-City One? “NO!” Beware the wreckers!

The second half of the Judge Dredd story Wreckers gets its own cover, as the first half did – though this one is by story artist Steve Dillon.

Tharg’s Nerve Centre has saved up all the letters that had “P.S.”s, including one pointing out the mistake on the readergraph from Prog 366. One reader suggests turning Sláine into a book (because it would make many groats), and requests Burt come back (Tharg says no). Sláine does get two novels (they don’t make enough groats to continue) and Burt does come back. Eventually. IPC have made some kind of deal with KP Skips as there’s a cover line about it plus a coupon in the corner.

Strontium Dog: Outlaw Part 13 by Alan Grant and Carlos Ezquerra. This episode is split in to four sections – first up, Evans and Torso save the lives of Egghead and Stretch from the muskrox (not that they deserve it) until the stolen starliner turns up. On board they discuss why their new allies joined them (the Scots-written Scots stereotype of “Whit made youse yins throw in wi’ us onnyway, my tattie-heided freend?” getting the response “Sure and we didn’t like the way t’ings was happening at the Doghouse”. It’s not all nationality-based humour though as Sideways wants to “get ourselves some straight answers at the same time”. Somehow all this went over my head at the time (well, I was nine years old). Back in the Doghouse ‘Norman King’ order Og System authorities to be on alert (the system that Och-11 is in) while the Gronk gets taken away to recycling – waking up just in time and hooking his snout on the garbage chute as he has his third heart attack in a few hours. Finally the starliner comes out of warp-space and gets intercepted by two Hunter-Killers in the Og System so Johnny and Middenface take to a pod to get to the planet while the speedy starliner acts as a decoy. I remember one scene from the planet, but not anything about how they get there or how they meet back up with the starliner crew at a rendezvous point, so I’m looking forward to the next few episodes (not like I wouldn’t be anyway, it’s a great story).

Four more 1984 Readers Profiles with today’s range featuring 7 to 13 year olds, all from the UK. Favourite stories: Citizen Snork and D.R. & Quinch while other comics purchased are Eagle, Beezer and Dandy. As there’s only four, the other half of the page is taken up with an ad for Software Index No 3. Still don’t know what this actually is, but as it features 1,500 games and 700 educational programs it must be some kind of catalogue.

Collect Four Free Comics with KP Skips is IPC and Skips continuing to push this promotion in a full-page colour ‘thing’ – it doesn’t say ‘advertisement’ at the top of the page, so technically not an advert. At a time when 2000AD cost 22p, you have to cut out coupons from four out of nine selected comics (Buster, Eagle, Whizzer and Chips, Tammy, 2000AD, Tiger, Battle Action Force, Roy of the Rovers and Whoopee), tokens from ten packs of Skips, 12p in coins and send off, receiving 88p in return. Sounds like a lot of fuss to me. Hot news was that there were Worcester Sauce flavour Skips – I don’t remember those!

It’s not branded as a Future-Shock, but it is really as we join The Possessed by P Milligan and Trev Goring. This story is the perfect use of Goring’s atmospheric style. I know this might be shocking, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen John Carpenter’s The Thing – this is something I aim to remedy but I haven’t gotten around to it yet. I love everything about this story – the main computer on a freighter momentarily registers six lifeforms on board before going back to the expected five. Putting it down to a temporary glitch, the Captain tries to get back to sleep, though broods on reports that ships have been found with the entire crews dead in the quadrant the freighter is passing through. Finding one of the crew dead in his bunk, they conclude that an alien lifeform has arrived on board and is possessing one of those present. The mission is cancelled and the Captain orders everybody to lock their cabin doors – nobody is to be trusted! This doesn’t prevent another crew member being killed. The second in command has it in his head that one of the crew members was responsible but the Captain is a bit more level-headed (it’s the alien after all, not the person). Going to sedate the suspect, the Captain finds him dead as well and concludes it was actually the second-in-command. Arriving on the flight deck, he finds the second-in-command dead and it takes him a moment to realise the truth. The alien is possessing him, the Captain, the one person on board that the others would trust. He plans to jettison the log-book through which we’ve been told the events and destroy the ship, preventing the alien from killing anybody else. Then a thick panel gutter later and a three-quarters page height panel with three inset panels shows an addendum as the previous log-entry is revised and the Captain prepares to arrive at Earth in two days and a chilling “I can’t wait to be among humans again” There was also an element of the original Alien film in this story.

Did you know that IPC and KP Skips had this promotion going on? Just in case it escaped your notice there’s a half-page ad – sorry, ‘feature’ for it here, sharing a page with a poster for BMX Bandits – welcome to the eighties! Forgot it had a young Nicole Kidman in it…

Judge Dredd: A Good Night for… The Wreckers – Part 2 by T.B. Grover and Steve Dillon. As darkness falls on Sector 27 a mist creeps over the war-torn terrain, leading to that addition to the title. After a brief run-down of the circumstances (the sector should have been condemned, but where else is everybody going to be sent?) the attack begins on the Throughway we saw last prog as the Beware of Wreckers sign is dropped down. There’s no grand plan behind Dredd’s operation to clean up the sector – just throw judges at the problem as 75 go to deal with the Throughway and another 25 deal with a smaller disturbance on the Causeway. The Throughway had richer pickings but fewer ways to escape – all the wreckers are killed or captured. Our viewpoint character is a wrecker who manages to escape the Causeway, but only for as long as it takes for the house-to-house searches to detect blood on him and his disguise in the abandoned apartment next door. One panel is given to “that night and the next” as the sector is cleaned up, though the remaining panels go on to explain that not all the wreckers would have been caught and a sector like 27 breeds wreckers so it’s only a matter of time before it starts up again. It’s a good story, combining elements of Cornish wreckers and highwaymen and the pacing feels like it could have had an episode or two extra – I suspect it may have been cut down to allow for a jumping-on prog with 376.

An advert page for the 2000AD Sci-Fi Special 1984 and a reservation coupon.

Curiously branded as a Tharg’s Future-Shocks instead Tharg’s Time Twisters is Bad Timing by P Milligan and Belardinelli. Most progs for the past month or so have featured not just one but two Shocks, Twisters and assorted one-and-done short stories – I like the odd short story, though can’t see why there were so many – weren’t there any short series of four or five episodes that could have been run instead? We’ll find out what’s been saved in reserve at the end of the prog… Last time there was a Future-Shock called Bad Timing it involved a Kryptonian (Klaktonian in that story) parody involving somebody ending up further in the future than was intended. This time it’s mixed up with a Nikola Tesla / Thomas Edison style piece of patent theft as the inventor tests his cryogenic suspended animation by freezing himself for fifteen years. Unfortunately before he went under his invention was stolen by the Edison-style rival who constructed a building on top of his laboratory so he couldn’t get out. The solution? Put himself under for another twenty years. The building’s still there, so another forty years until the building if finally gone. Back to the scientific institute is when he discovers what his rival did – seventy five years too late!

Rogue Trooper: Message from Milli-Com – 7: Dirty Tricks by Gerry Finley-Day and Cam Kennedy. Remember that Strontium Dog story where the mutant with the secret eye power kills people with a beam, and the killer is in the background whenever the beams kill people? This one’s like that, with Captain Coogan acting the innocent as Southers die. It gives the patrol enough reason to believe that he’s under attack for having information which can save the top brass though and he gets taken on board the summit island. Remember that time that Rogue dropped some dog tags and they were caught by Bagman? Well, Bagman scanned those dog tags in the second or so that his servo-arm was holding them and has just worked out that combined the energy cells within form a beam weapon. So that carrying the dog tags individually would register as being unarmed but put them together and you can kill your own patrols without anybody the wiser – simple as that. It doesn’t really matter to the chips which bunch of corrupt generals are in charge at Millicom, but Rogue doesn’t like being made a fool of, covers himself in swamp mud and blends in with the dead guards, all of whom have mud congealed on their bodies. They’re picked up and taken through the force shield surrounding the summit…

From Tharg with Thrill-Power! Now we find out why the Dredd story ended this prog (that’s my theory, anyway) and why we’ve had so many short stories lately, as Dredd will see teh return of Mean Machine Angel, The Ballad of Halo Jones begins and Ace Trucking Co. returns. Not knowing anything about Ace when I first read this I drew a picture of what I thought the space truck looked like. It was absolutely nothing like the Speedo Ghost in any way. Sandwiched in to the corner are adverts for ‘solar powered airships’ UFO Solar and Forbidden Planet badges.

2000AD Star Laser Scan: D.R. & Quinch Part 1 by Alan Davis. Almost but not quite called a starscan, this comes across almost like a wraparound cover to me (though doesn’t have space for the logo so if it was originally intended as such then the plan changed before the layout was finalised). The ‘front’, this part, has D.R. and Quinch playing tennis and everything seems fairly normal though the scoreboard shows that the pair are winning against the Rest of the Universe, who have yet to score any points. Oh, and the umpire is tied to the high chair that Pulger is sat on, smoking rifle in hand. In the background, Quinch’s mother watches on. We won’t find out what’s really going on until next prog…

Grailpage: double grailpage prog – Trev Goring’s atmospheric finale to The Possessed and Steve Dillon’s opener to this week’s The Wreckers, showing Joe Gibbs looking out on the ruined Sector 27, donning his wrecking disguise and meeting up with others wearing balaclavas.

Grailquote: *groan* Alan Grant, Spud Murphy: “Never let it be said Spud Murphy isn’t willing to chip in!”

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