2000AD Prog 382: 🟊 Heavy melt-all issue! 🟊 “Stomm!” “Judge clone in jeopardy… repeat… judge clone in jeopardy!”

Last prog Ron Smith showed that he could depict the destruction of cities other than Mega-City One. This cover shows that the city in question is about to be wholly destroyed – including the bits that got missed out fifty years earlier. Plus there’s dialogue. We don’t get enough speech balloons on comic covers these days.

Tharg’s Nerve Centre reveals there are six stories this prog – wonder if the extra will be a Time Twister or Future-Shock? There’s a pic of a warlock wearing G.I. equipment – it’s captioned Neme-Trooper, but it looks more like Chira to me. Like me, another earthlet is confused by the art droid responsible for the SlΓ‘ine cover of Prog 355. Meanwhile the gestalt entity known as ‘Alan Grant’ gives a translation for “Gin a body be goin’ doon a brae, ilka ane’ll gi’e him a jundie!” It means: “When someone’s going down a hill, there’s always somebody willing to give him a shove!” Clear? Oh, and that KP Skips free comics promotion is still running.

Strontium Dog: Outlaw Part 20 by Alan Grant and Carlos Ezquerra. Linguistics time! When Spud Murphy opens a door to the police he yells “The garda” – I’m pretty sure we’re going to get a letter to the Nerve Centre about how the plural of garda is gardai. If not then I have no idea where I picked up that information. Meanwhile, Wulf shouts: “verdammt” – that’s German – no idea what the Norse would be, but modern Norwegian would be “forbannet”. Easier to check these things in the internet age, I guess. As or the story – while ‘Norman King’ coordinates the Doghouse-wide hunt for the Alpha Gang, the Gronk takes advantage of the distraction to eat his way through the ventilation duct, free Johnny from the electrodes and get to work on dissolving the metal restraints (gronks being metal eaters, as we’ve seen before). Back with the others, Big Eddie is dead, Spud doesn’t look too healthy and things are pretty grim all around.

The Ballad of Halo Jones Book I by Alan Moore and Ian Gibson. Halo writes a few words while the ringroadster takes the trio home, reiterating (in case we missed it earlier) that Ice Ten have been signed to Chop Leisure. And then they arrive at W21, the ‘postcode’ of their habitat. As they approach, Toby smells something and has “a job to do”. Or so he says. The girls arrive home to discover a few clues that something’s wrong. The holo is broken, repeating a few lines of dialogue from a holo-soap. Brinna’s holo-soap notes are on the floor. And the last page has Halo opening the door and discovering Brinna in one large panel showing the scene before her, four inset aspect-to-aspect panels picking out details from the scene, showing that a struggle has taken place and finishing with Brinna’s foot and a dead fish out of its bowl. And then the last panel shows Rodice and Halo’s reaction. This is one of the most cinematic scenes to have run in 2000AD, and you’ve all seen films in which someone comes home to find a dead body on the floor. A character we’ve barely met, but the obvious love that Halo has for her brings more emotional weight to the moment than a hundred deaths before and since.

Turns out the extra story is Tharg’s Future-Shocks: Class of ’65… by Alan Hebden and Redondo. Now what’s significant about the number 65? It’s not a mystery for long as one of two academic classes talks about the extinction of the dinosaurs 65,000,000 years ago. Meanwhile another class is giving a lecture on nuclear warfare. The two lecturers contrast the theory of a meteor shower wiping out the dinosaurs allowing the small furry mammals (our ancestors) to dominate against the effect of nuclear arsenals being unleashed. The other stages parallel, fire storms, photo-chemical smog, ultra-violet rays, cancer, mutations, followed by an ice age. Then the two halves of the page diverge. The final two panels focus on the extinction class as the lecturer predicts that nuclear weapons could recreate those circumstances, allowing the insects to become dominant. The last half page (this Shock doesn’t get to a full three pages) flips to the warfare class and reveals – SHOCK – this audience of this class are dinosaurs and it wasn’t a meteor shower that wiped out the dinosaurs but a nuclear war 65 million years ago!

The other half of the final page is taken up by four more 1984 Reader Profiles, ranging from nine to 27 years old with entrants from Dublin, Birmingham, Scotland and Australia. Other publications purchased include Mighty Worlf of Marvel, Kerrang! and Warrior. One of the profiles is a joint profile, either from a young married couple or possibly siblings.

Joe and Mean roar into this week’s episode with a full double-page panel in Judge Dredd: Dredd Angel Part 6 by T.B. Grover and Ron Smith. After reminding us that the melted glasseen reflect and refract Dredd’s flare, a stray shot hits the mutancheros ammo supply dump, causing a blast wave that happens to propel the pair right up to the judge clones (plus the Liberace loot, much to Mean’s delight). We’ve had this once or twice (probably once – the cover of Prog 160) but there’s a close-up of Mean’s dial, showing the different settings: 1 – Surly; 2 – Mean; 3 – Vicious; 4 – Brutal. Dredd sets the robotic midwifes to take the judge clones out of the melted and melting city. By this time the reserves of phospher shells has caught and the whole place is in meltdown. Phospher, not phosphor in case you were wondering. If I don’t write much, it’s not because it isn’t good, merely that it’s action heavy and there’s not much you can write about action.

This isn’t the happiest of progs as Rogue Trooper: Death Valley Part 2 by Gerry Finley-Day and Cam Kennedy has Rogue and the Kashar’s surrounded by the carnivorous cane stalks. Even though they’re on the verge of being wiped out by the accelerated growth of the cane there’s still time for bickering as Gunnar accuses the Kashars of having looted the corpses of their G.I. comrades. The centurion denies any wrongdoing, carrying out the massacre with honour (as much honour as their is in war). There’s a flashback to the day that the when the Souther traitor’s message came through, outlining the time, place and plan for the massacre. For good measure it ends in a Kashar-eye view of the massacre – you’re not a Rogue Trooper artist until you’ve depicted the pods crashing and burning above the Quartz Zone. Bagman analyses the killer cane and discovers it feeds off of blood sugar – and G.I.s (we find out for the first time) have half the blood sugar of unmodified humans, so Rogue could just walk away to let the Kashar’s be eaten alive. Technically I think once he got some way from the Kashar’s the half-sugar blood would be enough to attract the attentions of killer cane, but let’s skip that, shall we?

A mystery is set down in the “next hog” (instead of next prog, because there’s an anthropomorphised pig in the picture) box, though as the art is by Belardinelli it’s fairly clear which story it relates to – but first a few other ads for the Judge Child Quest and Nemesis the Warlock monthly reprints from Eagle Comics, and a really tiny advert for Dungeons & Dragons from TSR. Probably the Mentzer rather than Moldvay edition, for those interested.

Ace Trucking Co. On the Dangle: 5 by Grant Grover and Belardinelli. That pig gets a bit of background as we flashback to before Ace’s escape. An emissary from the royal court of the planet Hoggus Major (who’s a pig, as you’d expect by now) has an offer for Ace – the crown princess was kidnapped by pirates. If Garp can rescue her then he’ll be freed. As I’ve said before, something I like about Ace is that he always has his lugbuddies’ backs – offered freedom his first thought is for the sentences for G-B-H, Feek the Freek and Chiefy to also be quashed. Even when they don’t appreciate it. Belardinelli has fun in the backgrounds as something (I’d guess ughbugs if I could remember exactly what they looked like) hatch from GBH’s hair and pop in to flying creatures. Just in time to fly out of the window while we get a vista of the domed city. Before the fight last episode Ace had managed to discover which pirate had kidnapped the princess – the next stage of Ace’s plan is to daub graffiti around Porto Bucko, namely “Evil Blood’s a sissy True by Bug Bly’s Swabs”.

Grailpage: It’s sorely tempting to go for one of the Halo pages, but I’m going for the back page of the prog, Belardinelli’s rendition of Ace and crew creeping the darkened streets of Porto Bucko – it could be a back alley of Sutermunda.

Grailquote: Alan Grant, Middenface McNulty (though when I reveal it there won’t be any mistaking who said it): “Jing – the alarm! That’s fair put the cat in the porridge!” But I’ll also go for the following, and bear in mind that this is the case it was presented in, in a medium in which most writing is presented in upper case. Alan Moore, Rodice: “Toby… Toby must have smelled the blood.” Halo Jones: “Brinna?”

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