2000AD Prog 397: ++City of the Damned – let chaos reign!++ “Gaze upon the DOOM that was foretold!”

Steve Dillon is back on City of the Damned, and it starts on the cover as the Mutant gets to grips with McGruder.

Tharg’s Nerve Centre announces the return of the ABC Warriors in Nemesis the Warlock and reveals that a fact file has been programmed to appear this prog, before the Nemesis episode. Otherwise, time for some prog storage solutions including foolscap-size cardboard file wallets (the links are to my approximation of what they used), magazine files and finally giving them away twice a year to the local children’s hospital. Lastly an earthlet points out a thrillpowered addition to the video for Together in Electric Dreams (link goes to the point at which the Dark Judges T-shirt appears). Tharg holds off from giving Phil Oakey any awards until he receives proof that Oakey reads the Galaxy’s Greatest. Tharg has a short memory.

The Stainless Steel Rat for President by Harry Harrison, adapted by Kelvin Gosnell and Carlos Ezquerra. diGriz and de Torres use arrogance to get past the guards and arrive at the registration office to sign up Sir Hector Harapo for the election. The 300-year-old President Zapilote turns up in person and tries to slap ‘Harapo’, but being 300 it hurts the president more than it hurts ‘Harapo’. Deciding that bumping off two nobles in the palace would be more trouble than it’s worth, things start getting risky outside when they’re not on palace grounds any more. After removing a panoply of booby-traps in the provided steam-powered car they arrive at the heliport to find their chopper torched, the pilot murdered and guards covering all exits. A helicopter gunship results in de Torres losing his temper and getting injured. They capture the gunship but there aren’t enough spaces so diGriz does the honourable thing and goes to ground in the city – his kind of place.

The ABC Warriors Fact File has art (snatched from the original run) by McMahon. I hadn’t received my christmas present containing an ABC Warriors story yet, so this page would have been my introduction to the Atomic Bacteriological Chemical war robots. Not that the data on Happy Shrapnel and The Mess would come in useful as it’d be a few years before I got the relevant back progs that contained any story at all that had them.

A NatWest advert pushes the On Line Savers Club (referring either to a calculator or telephone banking – nothing to do with the internet) suggests that the perceived age of 2000AD readership is increasing – I wonder if this ad ran in other IPC titles?

Nemesis the Warlock Book IV: The Gothic Empire by Pat Mills and Bryan Talbot. This confused me when I first read it as the cliffhanger is immediately disposed of, seemingly out of nowhere. From being disinterested in saving Hammerstein’s life, Nemesis suddenly decides to halt the execution. Before the end of the page, Nemesis is taking Hammerstein (and Ro-Jaws and Grobbendonk) to Lowry (reference to the painter of milltowns and matchstick men) and its “dark satanic mills” (William Blake reference). Just about any dialogue which has Ro-Jaws participating is great, meanwhile Nemesis is convincing Hammerstein that if they can recruit the ABC Warriors then they could save the Gothic Empire. Meanwhile, meanwhile, Starblower, Ursa and Torquemada are back on the ground and visiting the Mortuary in the Rue Morgue. I’ve only recently found out that Bryan Talbot wanted to draw some horror scenes, so Pat Mills obliged and included this whole ‘Frankenstein’ sequence, complete with hunchbacked nurse. Torquemada may look down on aliens, but an alien has solved the long-standing issue he’s had with host bodies rejecting his spirit after a a day or two. Professor Victor has constructed a body from a number of bodies, only an ‘original’ body has the power of rejection. Torque is presented with a selection of constructed bodies and picks one with power and menace (who I think looks like Boris Karloff without make-up or hair, though can stand to be informed if it’s actually somebody else). As the episode ends, Torque enters the body…

The same computer game advert for Frogger, Puck Monster, Amidar and Jungler from CGL / Konami that we’ve seen before.

Judge Dredd: City of the Damned by T.B. Grover and Steve Dillon. I think I said in an earlier prog that the Mutant had four arms – he’s definitely got six in this episode! Anderson and Dredd review the last few hours recorded on the Justice Department computers. Nothing untoward as of 1011 in the morning but then things start taking off at 1016 as dense fog builds up and Psi-Division reports a massive build-up of psychic energy. A vision of the Mutant appears over the city and major disasters which defy natural laws affect the entire city. Anderson, now Head of Psi-Division orders massed resistance, which results in melted brains all around. RIP future Judge Anderson. The Mutant appears before Chief Judge McGruder and turns the judge force into vampires. The last entry is at 1028 hours. Back in the future present Dredd decides they need to find out what the Mutant is and how to defeat it. One of Dillon’s pictures of the lawmaster reminds me of the Games Workshop lawmasters – wonder if they used this as source material when modelling it? By Games Workshop I mean Citadel Miniatures…

Ace Trucking Co.: Strike Ten by Grant / Grover and Belardinelli. Ace Garp gets picked up by the Santa Marua and the captain is somebody he knows, Stumpy (I don’t think we’ve met him before). Over on B-Hive-B the Ace Trucking Workers’ Co-operative is interviewing for pilots, until Evil Blood turns up. G-B-H moves to get him off ship, and is shot dead for his trouble. Though as he has G-B-H (Dead) written on his clothes we can’t really take that seriously. Chiefy loses his tail, Ghost’s wires are torn out and the remaining members agree under duress to have Evil Blood as the new pilot – and captain. Oh, and they’re now dedicated to locating Ace Garp instead of running a Trucking Company. Evil Blood’s belly tattoo is actually pretty inanimate this time around.

The Hell Trekkers by F Martin Candor and Horacio Lalia. In the quick-quag bog, Lucas’ son Bud rides up on a pod to save his father’s life though his father falls unconscious. Back at the radwagon the two have a shower in the decontamination chamber. Two days later Lucas awakes to find they have emerged from the Slough of St Louis and that the sun shines on the Mississippi. Though it isn’t all good news as Lucas then sees the body bags of 23 trekkers…

Advertisement page: Strontium Dog: The Killing and the Death Gauntlet, along with the Judge Dredd Annual 1985 and a next prog box showing two Kevin O’Neill snowmen fighting.

Brendan McCarthy contributes a Judge Dredd starscan (signed Bren McCarfey) and graffitied “Dredd is boss!”. It’s a strong contender for…

Grailpage: but I’m going to pick Steve Dillon’s opener to City of the Damned as we get a long shot of Anderson and Dredd around Dredd’s lawmaster playing the tape of the city’s last hours then a cut to some images of “the doom that was foretold”.

Grailquote: Pat Mills, Nemesis: “The Goths are being crushed by the Terminators because they lack aggression, experience and modern weaponry…” Ro-Jaws: “Yeah, they’re a bit naff.”

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