2000AD Prog 388: Future War Games on Nu Earth “My move, G.I.!” SNAP!

Cam Kennedy shows the traitor playing a chess-a-like game with figures of Rogue and the (embodied) biochips in this latest cover.

Tharg’s Nerve Centre has a lesson in Irish (not about Sláine for a change, but regarding Spud Murphy referring to The Garda instead of The Gardai).

Nemesis the Warlock Book IV: The Gothic Empire part 2 by Pat Mills and Kevin O’Neill opens with a full-page vista of London, Britannia. Ocean liner-sized aqueducts vie for space among skyscraper-sized Victorian chimneys while what is now traditional steampunk / alternate reality airships float through the air. But this was all published in 1984, and such things weren’t so common back then. Nemesis makes his first appearance this book, wearing the same outfit he was wearing when he visited Great Uncle Baal, lending credence to the idea that these episodes were original drawn around the time of that episode, and before Nemesis was due to pay a visit on Brother Gogol. Off-screen a robotic voice shouts “Get lost, nerk-face!” – no prizes for guessing who that may belong to… Ro-Jaws makes a visual appearance on the next page and the three or four year old Book I art style gives way to a rendition of Nemesis taking a shower in something looking much more like his Book III style. Something I’ve previously missed – Grobbendonk has the power to home in on Nemesis’ psychic aura – one of the advantages of being a familiar, I guess. Ro-Jaws is talking about his old friend Hammerstein (who we’re told eventually enlisted again) – remember that while the annual had come out I wouldn’t have read it until christmas, it being a present and all – so this was my first exposure to Hammerstein in a story. The last page has another re-drawn Nemesis panel. As I think I’ve mentioned before, O’Neill’s work on Book III is my favourite era of his art style so when this came out I was a bit disappointed that the art was from an earlier period, though I wouldn’t have known that was why the style was different at the time. In the present (2020) I still much prefer the Book III style – after all it was one of the main reasons I became a long-term Squaxx – but at least I can appreciate the earlier work as well. p.s. outside of 2000AD I rate O’Neill’s work on Metalzoic, Marshal Law and League of Extraordinary Gentleman pretty highly though in my perfect world he’d have been working on Nemesis the Warlock instead (though that means we wouldn’t get to see Bryan Talbot’s artwork, about which more next prog). Or maybe those stories and Nemesis the Warlock. Art droids don’t need sleep, right? Plot-wise, Nemesis arrives on Britannia and gets told by Grobbendonk about the young Goth’s meeting with Torquemada.

The Hell Trekkers by F Martin Candor and Horacio Lalia. The established bad guys cause their first death as the Nebbs’ cause a stampede among the herbivore dinosaurs. After a little shooting reminiscent of scenes from Flesh Book I (the bit with the dino-express) the dinos are stampeded in a direction away from the helltrek. A group of trekkers want the Nebbs to be kicked out, but Rudd gives them a second chance (more fool him). I’d not realised before, but the shape of the radwagons is similar to the covered wagons familiar from Westerns – something made all the more obvious when they camp for the night, forming a circle with the wagons. One day, one casualty, but what’s this? Bud, the trekmaster’s son, has gone off exploring with another child, Wayne. Coming across a huge footprint instead of returning to the camp they head in to the darkness. Which we see has a tyrannosaur in it. They don’t see that though, but I think they will next prog…

That (presumed) Department of Transport advert for children on cycles to look around and signal at junctions is next, before…

Rogue Trooper: To the Ends of Nu Earth Part Two by Gerry Finley-Day and Cam Kennedy opens with a map of Nu Arcady, Oman-3 and the Polar regions. If anybody’s trying to make a map of Nu Earth, it took Rogue six weeks to walk to the pole from wherever he was. Last named location I can remember off-hand was Tim-Buk-2 (or whatever the Nu-Earth name for the city was). Nu Arcady is West of Oman-3. Following the body-looter’s lead, Rogue comes across the Souther and Nort battle lines, but they’re frozen out – every soldier dead from blitzed thermo-controls. After some non-plot propelling action we switch narrative to the Traitor General and find out those playing pieces on the cover weren’t artistic licence and that the TG actually does have little models of his enemies, one of which he crushes as he hears Rogue firing on the Ghost Front (the name given to the polar battle lines). The TG also monologues about having complete control of all circuitry. Presumably including bio-circuitry? Other than a few panels from the final episode of this story I can’t remember any details about this one.

Last week had a four-page pull-out in that two-tone that ruins art in the early annuals – this one pushes Big K. I suspect this pull-out would have been across a number of IPC titles (Eagle, TIger and Battle Action Force being obvious suspects) though Richard Burton’s presence as Assistant Editor on the computer title tied this to 2000AD in particular, along with the cover of Issue 8 (pictured in the pull-out) by Carlos and featuring Johnny and Wulf. The blurb says that Strontium Dog is starring in a series of computer games. He’s been in a few but I don’t know if it was a series at this point. I’ve only been able to find a really blurry copy of this magazine on archive.org and as well as the Carlos cover there’s a one-page intro to Strontium Dog, a two-page round-up of Stront computer games (the other one looks like The Killing, but the writing was too blurry for me to read) and even a feature on Burt and 2000AD (using more Carlos art reprinted from the galaxy’s greatest). As a taster of what kind of games this mag was covering, there’s a competition to win a 64K computer with a built-in joystick – from back in the days when the keyboard and computer were the same device (and we’re not talking laptops).

Too old for nine-year-old me to watch, Conan the Destroyer gets a full page (newsprint greyscale) advert. I did get to see it before the end of the eighties though.

It can be so confusing cutting out posters and putting them together, so the activation instructions for the two-part back page posters appears next, alongside a next prog trail and a plug for the Glasgow Comic Mart (as is now customary, we are given no clue who will appear there). The bottom half of the page is a sparse advert for Strontium Dog and the Death Gauntlet.

Star Shadow: Footsteps in the Snow by Graeme Morris and Tim Sell (an advert for Dungeons & Dragons). There’s some form of competition coming up, which will ask questions about this story – so I’m going to go in to more detail about this advert than I usually would. I also like roleplaying games, so can always do with nicking ideas. Morwyn Starbrow and Matt Greyshadow are facing ice goblins and blue-eyed white wolves. Shadow gets knocked out while Star is fighting and once she beats the goblin chief he’s been taken away, leaving her the only living person left in Björnsfjell. I hope the competition doesn’t ask what the name of that village is because I’ll never remember it (or if I do I’m sure I’ll get that second ‘j’ in the wrong place).

Judge Dredd: Eɿɿoɿ of Judgement by T.B. Grover and Ron Smith. In case that title doesn’t display properly – it’s “Error of Judgement” but with the ‘r’s reversed. Ron starts the second of the Judgement trilogy with his trademark Dredd portrait (though given a alternate version look by being coloured in with blue trim on the helmet instead of red). Dredd is accused of assaulting a fellow judge after having gotten involved in a civil case after encountering Bonnie. Bonnie fell in to a chem pit and most of her body was destroyed. In fact, if you discount her brain then all of her body was destroyed in the chemical sludge. Unlike Bizmo Clux she didn’t have the cybernetic implants to form a nightmarish cyborg entity. Instead she (or her parents) had to settle for expensive surgery to put her brain in a robotic body, but unfortunately the cut-price 22nd century surgery – though enough to put them in debt for the rest of their lives – was not enough to rehabilitate her. After an altercation with local block juves Dredd decides that the city will pay for the rest of her rehabilitation. Bonnie’s brain is healed but that isn’t enough to convince the block juves and Bonnie is killed beneath the wheels of a truck while fleeing the bullies. Dredd returns from the shift in which Bonnie died to find Judge Winslow. Those with very good memories will remember that Winslow from Accounts appeared in the first of the space-bound episodes of the Judge Child Quest when Dredd booted him off the Justice One for being dead weight. Though I do wonder if he made a cameo in Prog 182 (the post-Judge Child story where the Council of Five made their first appearance to discuss Dredd’s judgement). Faced with the moaning Accounts Judge, Dredd punched Winslow. McGruder dismisses the case though (following Morphy dobbing Dredd in) sends him to undergo a psychiatric assessment to establish his fitness to continue as a judge. Not the usual story for a nine-year-old to read. More about that next week…

Ace Trucking Co.: Strike Two! by Grant Grover and Belardinelli. The big news is that the Belardinelli-faced bampot hanging around outside the Lugster’s Union gets up-ended as Ace Garp rushes past. Meanwhile the plot of this week’s episode has Ace escaping the pirate Evil Blood but only as far as the airlock of the Speedo Ghost, where Feek blackmails him in to agreeing to the crew’s demands. Not a lot more to say, other than I still appreciate Belardinelli’s imagination, plus Ace’s animated scarf and Evil Blood’s torso tattoo.

Oh, and on the back cover we get the second half of that Helltrekkers poster / ticklist of those about to die.

Grailpage: following immediately on from my last grailpage pick, Kevin O’Neill’s magnificent steampunk masterpiece opens his last episode on this book. I’m not a massive fan of his earlier work, not compared to the work that was running when I started reading 2000AD, anyway (my belief is that his style loosened up and developed in the course of drawing the first book of Nemesis) but this page is exceptional.

Grailquote: Pat Mills, Ro-jaws: “I’ve brought your hot coals… we don’t get many demons staying at The Majestic!” tieing with Grobbendonk: “Trogging and trugging for Big Hoof! Mushed and grushed, then snorked up the bafflebar!”

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