2000AD Prog 384: Jaw to jaw with the law! RRRRRRRRR ‘Gator!

Kim Raymond brings us another Judge Dredd cover. In case we couldn’t guess, the caption tells us the title of the Dredd story inside (Gator).

Tharg’s Nerve Centre warns earthlets to be careful when reading the 1985 Judge Dredd and 2000AD annuals while also teasing upcoming thrills Nemesis the Warlock Book IV, a new Judge Dredd story (presumably City of the Damned, though that’s still a few months off) and Helltrekkers.

Strontium Dog: Outlaw! Part 22 by Alan Grant and Carlos Ezquerra. Freed from his bonds and the rest of the Alpha Gang unconscious and about to be terminated by fellow Stronts, this episode follows Johnny as he races around, knocking people out and without difficulty breaks in to the control room where he confronts ‘Norman King’. As the Stronts are about to regretfully kill the prone mutants, Alpha arrives with King hostage. Not fans of King in the first place (but still following his orders), when Johnny whips off the fake face mask and see it’s Kreelman – the single person most responsible for the discrimination they’ve all faced for their entire lives – the atmosphere changes… Having a good stab at doing a Torquemada-like rant about mutants, this is cut short by a blaze of gunfire from every Stront present. You might think this is the end of Outlaw! save for a little bit of ‘and they all lived happily ever after’. You’d be wrong. There’s still the Stix Brothers to deal with…

Coming soon to a computer near you… Strontium Dog and the Death Gauntlet from Quicksilva the Game Lords – funny, I thought the first SD game was The Killing, which we’ve not seen advertised. Unless this is The Killing but re-branded? Or maybe by the time it’s released it will be re-branded as The Killing? The Centre for Computing History doesn’t reveal much, but at least it seems to have been released under the title advertised here.

The Ballad of Halo Jones Prologue and 9: “I’ll take Manhattan…” by Alan Moore and Ian Gibson. The prologue being just for this episode, not for the entire Book has Halo and Rodice going through customs, or border control, or whatever it’s called. The border guard is friendly enough, though is saying some pretty grim things – but always with a smile on his face. The pair have to hand over their Mamcards so that they’re forced to come back to the Hoop as they won’t have credit. I think the only time we find out what Mam actually is is in a poster in the background, mentioning Municipal Aid and Maintenance. Drummers are banned from going past the border (no reason is given – in fact the only way we know that is by another poster in the background). Most of the names of the areas outside the Hoop seem to have been preserved as they’re visiting Manhattan, though Connecticut, New Jersey and New York are strictly off limits (“we’ll shoot you”). They don’t just hate hoopsiders, as proximan districts are apartheid zones and subject to quarantine. That was the prologue bit – the next four pages are the actual episode. As with the Hoop, Manhattan is a grim place, though unlike the Hoop, it’s shrouded in fog (smog?) and unfamiliar – effects enforced by Gibson’s technique of applying an ink splatter effect (I have no idea what technique was used – I’d hazard a guess at an airbrush or flicked on with a toothbrush). There’s a moment of tension (about half a page) where we think Halo and Rodice are getting chased, possibly by the Manhattan Resident Protection Army, but it turns out to be Toby (how did he get past the border?) He deflects questioning about ‘Brinna’s killers’ – “all four of ’em”. The robo-dog reveals that Brinna logged a legacy programme the previous year and he’s now theirs, though Halo is happier about this than Rodice is… There’s also a line about how Toby is sorry about what happened to Brinna “more than you know”. Hopefully I’ll remember to mention this halfway through the next book… Unsuccessful in finding a job, on a whim Halo asks about offworld jobs and is directed towards a liner that’s taking on crew – it’s the Clara Pandy (and Lux Roth Chop doesn’t hang around – barely had he saved it from destruction that it’s been refitted and prepared for a cruise).

Mega mean metal – this is a full-page advert for Manowar: Sign of the Hammer. I thought this band had some sort of deal going to do with Games Workshop though it looks like that honour belongs only to Bolt Thrower. p.s. this advert uses the word ‘earthlets’ so has been tailored by somebody familiar with 2000AD terminology – good show!

BMX Annual 1985 takes the top tier of the next advert page while Imagine Magazine (from TSR), Dungeons & Dragons (from TSR) and Star Frontiers Game (from TSR) are squashed between that and a short, page-wide panel from the next page’s Dredd story.

Judge Dredd: Gator Part 1 by T.B. Grover and cover artist Kim Raymond. Two perps are hiding out in the sewers beneath Old Town – makes a change from trying to hide out in the Undercity. This story has the pair afraid of a sound behind them – despite the rough geographic area being the same, this time it isn’t the Manhattan Resident Protection Army, or a robot canine – it’s… Well, you saw the name of this story, right? It’s a gator. Or is it a croc? No, it’s a white gator – Dredd misidentifies it on first sight. That gator doesn’t last long, but a second gator manages to grab Dredd’s gun arm in its jaws – and it isn’t like that time with the Klegghound where the gun was still in Dredd’s hand and pointing down the gullet.

Ace Trucking Co. On the Dangle: 7 by Grant Grover and Belardinelli. It looked like the jig was up for Ace Garp and crew, but Bug Bly gives Garp some rope and orders them to tie themselves up. So, turns out that Ace is pretty handy with the lasso. With Bly dead they try to escape with the princess pig Gadarina but are seen by Evil Blood. Luckily Blood doesn’t recognise that Garp is trying to escape Porto Bucko, but unfortunately thinks that the Garp has brought the pig for some post-battle feeding…

Rogue Trooper: M For Murder! by Gerry Finley-Day and Cam Kennedy. I unaccountably forgot that this story existed and so the regening of Major Magnum was a bit of a surprise. The Norts look to finally being on the verge of killing Rogue Trooper. And when I say verge, I mean Hill 19 (that’s a pun on geographic features). Luckily for Rogue, the Norts are boasting about the situation to each other over the airwaves, and a radio message from the patrol to kommand is intercepted by somebody else, a hundred klicks away (I think that means a hundred kilometres, but could be wrong). As one Nort dies, he taunts Rogue by telling him that there’s a secret weapon, designed especially for Rogue. As all seems lost and it looks like the hill will be blown apart, the Norts are shelled from the incoming atmocraft (it took about an hour to get there, so I think it’s fair to assume one click equals one kilometre). Rogue tries to thank the pilot of the atmocraft, though the pilot has other ideas, pointing a GI issue handgun at the itinerant infantryman and revealing his identity – in case we’d forgotten the last time we saw a GI officer’s pistol, Helm reminds us that it’s Major Magnam, and he’s been regened!

Adverts for Judge Dredd Annual 1985 and the Titan 2000AD albums (Block Mania, Ro-Busters 1) share the inside back cover with a next prog box featuring the Stix.

Hooplife. This is a back cover poster-style feature featuring a not-to-scale rendition of the Hoop, portraits of Halo and Toby, a proximan and a shot of the inside of the Hoop. In the afore-mentioned podcast we established that the version of Halo we were using didn’t have this reprinted, and so there were a few bits on here that I’d half-forgotten. I’m hazarding a guess that this was written by Alan Moore, though it could have been filler written by somebody else with access to Ian and Alan’s notes. It would have been more useful closer to the beginning of the series, instead of at the back of the penultimate issue of the original run as it would have helped confused readers (of which I count myself one – I liked it, but I barely knew what was going on) and confirms that the armless aliens are from Proxima Centauri (and hints that they might be silicon-based lifeforms) and that the other aliens we’ve seen are from Alpha Centauri and are more prosperous (though not that prosperous as we’ve seen them on the Hoop as well). Other bits that we might have been able to infer are the Hoopflex twice a day, allowing wave motions to pass by without destroying the Hoop and that 70% of the population of the Hoop is female (though there’s no explanation given as to why so many are in the Increased Leisure Citizen zone).

Grailpage: I’ve not listened to it lately, but I have a feeling when I appeared on Mega-City Book Club discussing the Ballad of Halo Jones I picked this page, so I can’t not pick it now, right? Ian Gibson’s finale to this prog’s episode reveals the Clara Pandy at the Manhattan District Spaceyards.

Grailquote: Grant/Grover, Ace Garp: “Uh… there’s a real tucker explanation, evil buddy. Just, uh… gimme a sec-sec till I thunks it up!”

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