Ron Smith brings Mean back to the cover. If I checked the Judge Child I’d probably find Ron depicted Mean a few times, but I think most of his Angel Gang work was after Mean died. This prog cost 22p and came out a month after Prog 376.
An Eart…Terran unsuccessfully tries to reignite the Earthlet / Terran debate in Tharg’s Nerve Centre. Nestling in the corner is a token for free comics from KP Skips. The small print mentions that if any comics are not published due to an industrial dispute
Strontium Dog: Outlaw Part 15 by Alan Grant and Carlos Ezquerra. The Stix Brothers blast their way in to a fish gutting shed, terrorising the women within. It’s been a while since I saw Whisky Galore, but I’m pretty sure their speech patterns are not dissimilar. With the ‘weemin’ hostage, Alpha has no choice but to surrender. The Stixes knock him out and shoot Middenface when he tries to intervene. In a rare example of breaking genre norms (not muties) the villagers pretend that the shot killed Middenface instead of letting them know he’s still alive. The moment the Stixes depart with Johnny they send for the doctor…
Pulger from D.R. & Quinch appears in a third week of Alan Davis Star Pin-Ups with a rare internal colour page (that isn’t an advert).
Though speaking of internal colour pages which are adverts – time for one for Ice Magic. Which I’d totally forgotten ever existed. Wonder if it’s still available to buy?
I read and re-read that first episode and then had to wait a month for this episode, The Ballad of Halo Jones 2. A Little Night Music by Alan Moore and Ian Gibson. Pity the poor readers of Tammy – they had to wait a month for their female-led stories and then didn’t even get their next episode. Halo and Rodice are off to watch a gig featuring their friend (and possible housemate) Ludy. Rodice is mainly interested in chatting up the lead singer Box (contrary to 20th century and 21st century trends, marriage is still enough of a thing that Rodice’s opening gambit is “Wanna marry me?”). Some groundwork is laid for Ludy’s lack of confidence and admiration of Rodice for being “really tough”. Halo reassures Ludy by saying that her “and Rodice and Brinna’ll take care of” Ludy – I don’t know how I didn’t notice that Ludy probably lives in the same hab unit before. On the way home from the gig the three of them encounter a group of drummers (we never got told exactly what drummers were in the pages of the story, having to wait until a follow-up starscan for more info). Expecting trouble, it turns out they just wanted to tell Ludy how they liked her music – though their delivery of this information leaves a lot to be desired… Back home and Ludy’s had time to brood over the experience, but we’re not going to find out what conclusion she came to for about six or seven episodes. Meanwhile Rodice has found out that they’re completely out of food, which means… “a shopping expedition!”
I was probably familiar with Fighting Fantasy by the time I was reading this – Lone Wolf by Joe Dever and Gary Chalk not so much. This is a full-page advert for the first two books in the series. Apparently it was a series of four books – there definitely ends up being loads more than four in the entire series!
Judge Dredd: Dredd Angel – Part 1 by T.B. Grover and Ron Smith. As I keep mentioning, this was my first year as a squaxx, so the return of many characters was my introduction to them. This story I got to meet Mean Machine Angel and Pa Angel (well, the latter kind of) as Dredd enters Mean’s iso-cube and appears to change in to Pa just as Mean was about to headbutt him. The change ends with Mean giving Dredd a great big hug instead of attacking him. I was going to say this was the first time we’ve seen somebody hugging Dredd, but Vienna probably game him a hug in her story. Then it’s in to a flashback (to tell us that Mean had some neural links burnt out of his brain earlier that day which confuses him in to thinking that Dredd is Pa Angel – but this is a temporary fix) and another flashback as Dredd tells Mean that he (as Pa) struck a deal with the judges to recover some treasures which were shot down by mutant raiders two days previously. As the two head out in to the Cursed Earth (Dredd on a lawmaster, obviously, and Mean on a huge trike) we get our third and final flashback of the episode and find out what’s really going on – the treasures (Liberace relics – this reference went completely over my head at the time) do exist but the reason Justice Department’s interested is because the freighter that went down also had some clones held within mobile midwife machines (they’re a bit like Walter but with babies in their tummies instead of microwaves, coffee machines and the like). And who are the clones of? The greatest judge heroes of Mega-City One – a gift to Texas City “to improve their stock”. At this point I don’t think it had been established that Dredd was the clone of Fargo, but the Father of Justice is indeed one of those whose clone has been stolen, along with others we’ve never heard of even though “their names and deeds are legend” (Goodman, Hansar, Rubins and Mandela).
Tharg’s Future-Shocks: Doing Time! by Alan Hebden and John Ridgway. After last week’s mildly disappointing hunting story this is much better. Though why it isn’t a Time Twister I don’t know. Debut appearance from art droid Ridgway by the way – and a cursory look over Barney suggests he won’t be back in the prog for another couple of years. This is another entry for the Aarne-Thompson-Uther-Tharg index for a time traveller being the thing they were investigating – usually it’s the Star of Bethlehem or a historical figure – in this case it’s the thing which led to a town disappearing. The first, untested use of a time machine fifty years later is by the inventor checking out the disappeared town but due to something a mile radius of the machine also dematerialises when its activated. So the inventor of the time machine ends up not just being the first time criminal but also responsible for the disappearance of two towns.
Ace Trucking Co. isn’t back yet, but we get a Space Truckers’ Dictionary to prepare us for the return next prog (which I needed as I was unfamiliar with the story). Between the original serialised dictionary, abridged versions and updates in the prog, annuals and specials this is about the fourth time we’ve had a version of this so other than a quick scan read of it I don’t think there’s any new slang on there.
Rogue Trooper: Message from Milli-Com – 9. Souther vs. Souther by Gerry Finley-Day and Cam Kennedy. Last episode of the story! It’s action all the way as Rogue repels the first attack by the rebel junior officers, buying enough time for a Milli-Com space attack wave to arrive. Captain Coogan has raided the armoury and stolen Gunnar’s rifle leaving Rogue with just Helm and Bagman to chase after him. In some blatant trail-setting the dog-tags of the dead captains lead Rogue in to an ambush. Coogan dares Rogue to chuck a grenade at him, but that will take out Gunnar as well as Coogan – seemingly completely forgetting that the dog-tags also act as a composite laser… By the time Rogue has returned to Summit Island it’s been blown up and the generals are pulling out. Hours later they listen to the usual propaganda broadcasts which (of course) neglect to mention the G.I.s role in fighting off the coup (or that it was an attempted coup – it’s just a ‘surprise attack’ in the news).
Free Comics from KP Skips is the other acknowledgement of the month-long gap between progs in the returning 2000AD. As well as mentioning the ‘industrial dispute’ it also mentions that Tammy is no longer being published. Survivors of the strike are: Buster; Whoopee; Whizzer and Chips; 2000AD (obviously); Tiger; Eagle; Roy of the Rovers and Eagle. The page also advertises the Westminster Comic Mart and Ace Garp next prog…
…and the back cover has the KP Skips promotion as previously published (except with Tammy removed).
Grailpage: tricky one – after much consideration I’m going for the opener to Dredd Angel by Ron Smith. There’s one thing I’ve been trying to keep an eye out – a little artist’s foible – and I think this is the prog where it first made an appearance. When Ron Smith draws Dredd’s helmet (from now on) he’ll often put in glabellar lines so that even Dredd’s helmet is frowning! That’s not the sole reason I’m picking this page though – it’s down to the metamorphosis of Dredd’s visage in to Pa Angel.
Grailquote: Alan Moore, Ludy: “She’s really tough, isn’t she? She wins fights and stuff. I wish I was like her.” Halo Jones: “Yeah? Well, she wishes she spent eight days a week rehearsing with Box!”