2000AD Prog 379: Rogue Trooper – blinded by the light! “My eyes… I can’t see!” KPOW! KPOW!

Robin Smith fills in on cover duties – not bad but when an art editor draws the cover I’m guessing it’s because an artist couldn’t be allotted in time.

Tharg’s Nerve Centre has a letter from somebody who attended the Birmingham Comic Art Show. Unfortunately the events listings are rarely showing who the guests are, so it’s fortunate that this earthlet told us that Alan Moore, Burt, Brian Bolland and Dave Gibbons were there. While they’d worked together previously, it’s tempting to think that post-convention drinks led to plans for Watchmen being put in place…

Strontium Dog: Outlaw Part 17 by Alan Grant and Carlos Ezquerra. Kreelman by turns taunts and tortures Johnny Alpha, while recapping what we’ve already been shown about his escaping the time trap (we do find out he spent two years trapped in it though). In the Doghouse at large the mutant bounty hunters are beginning to get sick of Johnny’s screaming, and ‘Norman King’ gets the Stix Brothers to ‘see to’ dissenters. The dead bodies of the pair are thrown down to highlight just how badly King wants the rest of the Alpha Gang to be terminated…

++ Results ++ Results ++ Results ++ D.R. & Quinch Trophy Room Competition! I’d completely missed that there was a competition to be had in Prog 369, otherwise I’d have gone through the picture and tried to pick out the references. Unfortunately for Tharg, the winner didn’t give their name. Also ++ Freebies ++ G*1 Grabbers! is from Prog 371 and lists the ten winners of the boardgame (no names I recognise though I noticed one was in the armed forces). Nestled in the corner of the results page is an advert for the classic 1980s Forbidden Planet / Titan T-shirts – featuring Brian Bolland’s Dredd, Kevin O’Neill’s Nemesis the Warlock, Alan Davis’ D.R. & Quinch and Mick McMahon’s Dredd.

A larger advert takes up the next page, for the Best Pals Club (some kind of club for pet owners).

The Ballad of Halo Jones by Alan Moore and Ian Gibson. We skip the Hoop Riot that was about to start last prog as this one opens with Halo coming around after having been knocked out (though we can see an affray in the background). Plot-wise Rodice changes her plan to get to the Northwest Quadrant of the Hoop before the scheduled Hoopflex but they miss it. Halo comes up with an alternate plan to go up and use a hoop-top track to zoom around the other way. Rodice has severe agoraphobia and is (to say the least) not keen on the idea. Think B.A. Baracas every time they tried to get him in to an aircraft. Things that went over my head at the time: MAMpoints (we’ll find out what that refers to when they leave for Manhattan); the Exit Gardens (euthanasia is a thing on the Hoop); what Hooplex was actually all about; the word Googol (which I found out the meaning of towards the end of the 20th century, just in time to feel clever when Google named themselves after the word). I’m continuing to love how this really feels like a far future culture – extrapolated from the present day but with a multitude of influences which we couldn’t even guess at in the next three thousand years.

Another plug for the Free Comics from KP Skips promotion takes the top half of the next page, below which are four More 1984 Reader Profiles. Another branch of the armed forces is represented. The only other publications mentioned are The Times and Farmers Weekly.

Judge Dredd: Dredd Angel Part 3 by T.B. Grover and Ron Smith. This whole episode is one big fight scene, and it doesn’t take itself too seriously as the four-way butt out of the greatest buttists in the New West meet head-to-head. The last goat standing manages to stay upright, but their head goes to pieces (literally – it cracks and shatters). That, and some follow-up head butting gets Mean’s dial stuck on 4 ½ – I think the second time we’ve seen that happen (the first resulting in Mean’s death). After going in to a butt frenzy in a water plant Dredd catches up and manages to switch down the dial – though not before a water tower starts toppling on to them – next prog: SPLASH!

Ace Trucking Co. by Grant Grover and Belardinelli. This story has neither a title or part numbers, so it’s just continuing on from last week. Ace and company shake off the jeepies (galactic police for those who’ve forgotten) with the aid of G-B-H picking up a truck and they reunite with Speedo Ghost. Though Ghost initially pretends not to recognise Ace (wishful thinking, perhaps). They get in to space and then start discussing what to do next, now they’re on the run. Evil Blood comes up with the solution – to go to the pirate base Porto Bucco, join his band and plunder the spaceways. G-B-H and Feek the Freak aren’t keen on the idea, though after Evil Blood reveals what he does with mutineers Feek has a change of heart (and headgear as the hat gets replaced with a piratical scarf).

Announcing a special signing of Tharg’s 1985 Annuals! – it doesn’t say which top script and art droids will be present, but it does say where and when – Forbidden Planet (the Denmark Street shop) on Saturday 18th August 1984 – one week before the official launch date. The events listing has the rough pic of Dredd from one of the annuals by Gibson, so presumably Ian was one of the droids present. Also by Gibson is a close-up of a zenade from next week’s prog.

Rogue Trooper: Blind Terror Part 1 by Gerry Finley-Day and Steve Dillon, with the back page in colour. Just in case we’ve forgotten, Gunnar’s telekinetic ability is reinforced in the first page of this episode. Vision is important as Rogue uses binox to switch to infra-red, lays down some smoke cover, Norts use thermal imaging on their gunsights and other Norts use binox to catch him in the middle of running a Biochip Systems Check (remember that time they were in a sandstorm and Rogue ran that check to discover that Bagman’s protein base was breaking down?) The second squad of Norts get to test out some new weaponry – anti-dazzle visors down they launch flash-missiles (or whatever they’re called) and blind Rogue. Under attack Rogue tries to re-slot the chips but not able to see what he’s doing gets it wrong – Bagman is in the gun, Gunnar in the helmet and Helm in the backpack. The telekinesis doesn’t work and Bagman in the gun gets left behind as Rogue runs for cover…

Grailpage: tricky one – once again there were a few I really liked, but not enough that I was going to have a double or triple page week. For the fun that Massimo brings to his work I’ll head for the page showing Speedo Ghost having left the system and calling a meeting. The particular reason I’m picking this page is down to an alien shepherding two-legged things that look a bit like chestnuts when they still have their spiky outer husk. And they’ve got long tongues a bit like frogs and are sucking globular things on an asteroid. Plus there’s a four legged thing on the underside of the asteroid poking it’s tongue out. After a few Shocks and Twisters I’m not sure he was brilliantly suited to, it’s great to see something he obviously enjoyed drawing.

Grailquote: all humour today with Alan Moore, Rodice: “Now, we can’t use the main Hoopway because of the riot… but I do have a back-up mammoth emergency plan.” Halo Jones: “Is this a mammoth emergency?” Toby: “Not yet, but she’s working on it.” and TB Grover, Mean Machine Angel: “A man gets mighty tired ot it! A normal man, that is! Me, I AIN’T normal!”

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