2000AD Prog 383: “Heeeeeer, piggy piggy piggy piggy!” “Hark! A voith calleth my name!”

Zarjaz cover poster this prog! From Belardinelli – the half on the front features the Speedo Ghost crew (including the ughbugs, if they are ughbugs) while the half on the back introduces us to Princess Gadarina (which was used in the previous prog’s preview).

Tharg’s Nerve Centre features a Strontium Gronk. Tharg reveals his eyes change colour depending on what he’s observing. For instance, when looking at window cleaners (whether or not she’s wearing a yellow bathing costume) they turn a beguiling shade of purple. It’s in the Nerve Centre, so it’s canon.

Strontium Dog: Outlaw Part 21 by Alan Grant and Carlos Ezquerra. There’s a lot packed in this episode – a few dogs die (namely Spud and Sideways), the Gronk gets Johnny free, the rest of the Alpha Gang (the ones who are still alive) get knocked unconscious by nerve gas and are due to get captured. Despite all this happening it doesn’t feel rushed, unlike my recap.

For Your Eyes Only! has the regular crop of Judge-themed pictures. The Gronk gets to be a judge, complementing the Strontium Gronk in the Nerve Centre. A note at the end suggests it might be a good idea for Dredd not to see this file. Oh, and there’s yet another ad for the G*1 board game.

The Ballad of Halo Jones 8: When the Music’s Over… by Alan Moore and Ian Gibson. The aftermath. Brinna is dead and Rodice and Halo are speaking to the rumblejacks (leucotomised / lobotomised persisent offenders turned in to cops). Rodice isn’t handling it very well, but there’s nobody other than the rumblejacks to get angry at. She also gets angry at the person in charge who reckons they don’t have enough to go on, but as Toby is a ’47 Iliac ripper, he’ll catch them. Oh, Toby. There’s a hint about a previous relationship that (what I’ll call) the sarge had with Brinna, but that’s all we’re ever going to get, a hint. Ludy returns, and she’s joined the drummers. We don’t get a whole lot of detail on what exactly this means but it appears to include the implant of something that produces a beat, which is all that Ludy can hear (when she doesn’t want to interact with Halo or Rodice). Halo utters the words “I’m going out.” Something Ludy said before she retreated in to the beat suggested this isn’t the first time she’s talked of escaping the Hoop. Apart from a possible cameo in a picture in the next book, this is the last time we’ll see Ludy, so I’ll recap what I think we know about her – she’s a young teenager, maybe fourteen or fifteen and is a third tenant of Brinna’s habitat, though for some reason I’ve never noticed that in the last thirty five years! Back to Halo – she hasn’t packed anything, she’s just leaving – though the one-use-only disposable nature of clothing on the Hoop suggests there wouldn’t be a whole lot to pack anyway.

Advert time! The Grange Hill Annual 1985 shares space with Tucker’s Luck Annual 1985 while the bottom half of the page is shared between the tiny Dungeons & Dragons ad, another RPG from TSR, Star Frontiers (I’ve never played it, though the scenarios look rather similar to D&D of the era) and a Robin Smith Dredd peruses the McGruder eyes only file from earlier.

Judge Dredd: Dredd Angel Part 7 – MELTDOWN! by T.B. Grover and Ron Smith. Last part! As you may surmise from the title, the colour centre pages are very red and orange as Tulsa Melts, melts. Down. The leader of the Mutancheros dies in flames, which is a pity as we barely saw anything of him. Outside the brain surgery on Mean finally wears off and he sees Dredd as Dredd instead of Pa Angel. Dredd has a wounded leg from a previous episode and gets a cracked rib courtesy of Mean but as the success of the mission to save the judge clones was down to Mean, feels he owes the Cursed Earth desperado. A few more cracked ribs convinces Dredd otherwise and he shoots Mean’s legs out from under him (literally – one shot to each knee). Thus Texas City judges call to collect the wounded pair and take them back to Mega-City One (or maybe Texas City). Either way the Texans are grateful and “If they’re anything like him (Dredd), the rest of us can retire!”

Ace Trucking Co. On the Dangle: 6 by Grant Grover and Belardinelli. The Garp-orchestrated fight between Blood’s Buckers and Bug Bly’s swabs begins and the crew of the Speedo Ghost take the opportunity to infiltrate Bly’s dome by the time-honoured technique of pretending to have been captured (though with the twist that nobody is pretending to have captured them – so they just walk in and beat up the swabs). Of course, no sooner do they find and ‘rescue’ the princess pig than they’re cornered by Bug Bly himself (I’m assuming Bug is male here – it’s a bit difficult to tell when it comes to insectoid insects).

Rogue Trooper: Death Valley! Part 3 by Gerry Finley-Day and Cam Kennedy. I’m disappointed by this episode. After all the talk of honour it really looks like this Nort will actually be a more rounded character than any of the other Norts we’ve met, but when it comes down to it he does the dirty on Rogue and acts dishonourably when they could have had a proper duel. After another flashback, Rogue goes back to save the centurion, who proceeds to scoop up Gunnar and threaten to kill Rogue. Rogue dares the centurion to a duel, and to place Gunnar on the ground between them. The Nort agrees – though shoots Dredd’s knee first (lots of kneecapping this prog). Little does the Kashar know about Gunnar’s recently acquired telekinesis level-up!

Another inside back cover, another page of adverts. Shoot! is a football magazine, Forbidden Planet are selling the Block Mania Titan collection (Mike McMahon cover – I guess that’s the last time he drew endless hordes of block maniacs). Oh, and there’s a panel from next prog’s Dredd: Gator.

Grailpage: I’m picking the most familiar sequence when I read this prog – as having a scene stay with you has to say something about it. It’s the one where Mean’s knee wounds are bleeding on to the ground, he tries to claw his way to Dredd until we get a close-up of his snaggle toothed mouth. Plus there’s a pic of Dredd by Ron Smith walking away from the scene, heavily wounded. It’s not a real Dredd story unless he walks away at the end, uniform and body heavily damaged where lesser people would be stretchered away.

Grailquote: Alan Grant, Wulf Sternhammer: “Johnny needs help. There must be some way out! Of course! Der escape hatch!” Scampi: “Huh? What escape hatch?” BADAAM! BADAAM! “Oh, that escape hatch!” also a few pages later: Stix: “Bang bang.” Other Stix: “You’re dead.” I could also have picked lines from Halo and Dredd.

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