2000AD Prog 402: Free inside! 6 ‘Dune’ stickers! (not available to overseas readers) “Joe Dredd, meet… Joe Dredd!”

Brendan McCarthy cover featuring blind Dredd facing off against future zombie Dredd! The Mutant doesn’t look right though (he seems to have gained eyes).

No letters this week in the Nerve Centre, instead a feature on Free “Dune” stickers and news that the Mega-plan will be revealed next prog (first touted a year earlier).

Rogue Trooper: Regened: 2. The Boys are Back! by Gerry Finley-Day and Cam Kennedy. The fight doesn’t take long and the genetic engineers are happy with the impromptu field test of the clone’s new bodies. Azure turns up at the end and gets chatted up by Helm. A week later, Gunnar is getting up-to-date on weapons technology, Bagman with computers and Helm and Azure’s relationship is blossoming. Two weeks after re-gening and Gunnar has been offered an executioner job (yay?), Helm is joining the computer staff and the happy couple are going to get married. Rogue just wants to be back on Nu Earth though. Or maybe another combat zone would suit just as well. By the end of the episode the wedding vows are being exchanged but Helm gets interrupted. First by an S.R. drill (Silent Running as a Nort probe passes nearby Milli-com, remember?) and then by something else. Helm’s legs are disintegrating!

Tharg’s Future-Shocks: Bad Maxwell! Peter Milligan joins up with ‘J Roberts’ (Brendan McCarthy) for a glimpse of a future where teleportation is mundane. So mundane that people can turn up in the homes of others without warning – nudity alert! An inventor combats this by creating a personalised teleporter which will only accept his molecular fingerprint. On testing it he finds himself (apparently) in a post-nuclear wasteland future. The humans he encounters are in a stockade being attacked by waste-mutants. As I often do, I’m writing this before turning the last page (though I’ve read it before, albeit decades ago, so any correct guesses might be as a result of remembrance rather than figuring it out). The future-people in the stockade beg him to take them back with him. He’s about to explain why that’s impossible before they offer gold. What I think will happen is that he takes the gold, betrays them, leaving them to be killed by waste-mutants but then it’ll turn out the mutants share his molecular code. Bonus shock points if their mutation was caused by his invention in the past. Right – he does betray them but ‘safely’ back home and gloating over his trickery he tries to figure out how his time machine works and concludes it isn’t actually a time machine – it actually sent him to a parallel world. And that their could be a parallel version of him there (when gloating he was sure to tell the people he betrayed that only those with his molecular structure could get through). As expected, a version of him turns up in the final panel, but it’s a parallel version of him, not a waste-mutant version. This story notable for how closely the stockade resembles a scene from Mad Max. Brendan McCarthy also known for co-writing Mad Max: Fury Road.

Nemesis the Warlock Book IV: The Gothic Empire by Pat Mills and Bryan Talbot. Speaking of influences, if the pic of the blitzspear heading towards The Conquistador, Torquemada’s flagship, didn’t inspire much of the Warhammer 40K Imperial starships (particularly Battlefleet Gothic in its various iterations) then I’d be surprised. In general I think the Imperium of Man was taken pretty much wholesale from Termight (though the Emperor himself was based more on God Emperor of Dune). Back to the Conquistador and (after a rant about destroying humanity) Nemesis travels to the flagship alone. After a check with a psi-counter (from Brother Mikron, showing that Nemesis has a surprisingly low level of psychic energy) Nem is brought before Torque, challenging the Grand Master to single combat to avenge the supposed murder of Chira and Thoth. Torque doesn’t bite, and settles for torturing a captive Nemesis instead. Cliffhanger – after multiple tortures the broken body of the warlock crawls towards a chopping box and is executed, the head removed and brain checked for activity. Nemesis is dead. Torquemada has won. “Next prog: ?” It may have happened thirty-five years ago, but I still remember wondering how Nemesis could get out of this one (that line about low psychic energy must have passed nine-year-old me by).

Judge Dredd: City of the Damned by T.B. Grover and Ron Smith. Speaking of dead protagonists (I’m not trying to nick Conrad’s Space Spinner 2000 transitions, honest!) the Mutant introduces time-travelling 2107 Dredd to future 2120 Dredd – and the future version is a zombie! The Mutant didn’t turn Dredd into a vampire like the other judges – he just killed the lawman outright. Now he has a second chance he wants to play with his victim before killing him, and sets off zombie Dredd after time-travelling Dredd (it’s not mentioned if the Mutant knows – or is even wondering – where the living Dredd has come from). To allow a bit more time he gives Dredd a headstart and also some eyes – in the form of reuniting him with Anderson, cast to the edge of the Dark when they got separated. Anderson feels guilty for not going back to attempt to save Dredd, but Dredd knows psychics are more sensitive to the Mutant’s powers so does not reproach her… But then she gets a psi-flash and dead Dredd is on their trail. He gets shot down by bike cannon but he’s a zombie so that doesn’t have a lasting effect – meanwhile his shot takes out the lawmaster…

The Stainless Steel Rat for President by Harry Harrison, adapted by Kelvin Gosnell and Carlos Ezquerra. Remember how that car was steam-powered? This was indicative of how old-fashioned some things on Paraiso-Aqui are, along with the semaphore system. This goes for the maintenance shuttle as well – and just because the auto-guidance and motors got destroyed by that nuclear explosion, doesn’t mean it can’t be flown down on manual aerodynamic re-entry, like really primitive shuttles – i.e. the ones that were around when this was published. Crash-landed in the middle of nowhere Zapilote’s forces turn up in short order to drive in to a crossfire – but there’s only four people firing at them, and they have a tank, so Jim launches stage two of the plan – throw a smoke grenade, split up and have everybody steal a vehicle and get back to the castle. Angelina gets the tank, Jim gets a donkey and Bolivar gets captured. The rescue plan appears to involve getting caught and captured (didn’t that happen in Nemesis?) as Jim strips off for some kind of polymer composite spray shower, takes pain-killing jabs and has something painted on his nails.

The Hell Trekkers by F Martin Candor and Horacio Lalia. Not a lot to this round-up – Rudd destroys all the shacks in the way-station, killing the marauders inside. The trekkers bury their dead. They cross the Mississippi on the way-station ferry (no further casualties). Quint is stable but could still die. That’s about it, though there’s a flashback panel to the first page of the story, where the gate judge gave the statutory warning about how dangerous the Cursed Earth is.

The inside back cover contains a next prog box: “Mutants in Mega-City One! Disc 403: It’s zarjazz!”

…and below that a host of adverts for a “Complete stamp collectors outfit”, “Free 35 Gt. Britain Commemorates (also a stamp advert), the Titan Books reprint of Robo-Hunter Book 3 (the first half of Day of the Droids), a small reservation coupon and instructions on how to stick this page and the back cover of last prog to a piece of card…

…the back page containing the bottom half of the DR & Quinch 1985 calendar. Considering this prog has a 26 January cover date it’s a little late to print the calendar, but never mind. Alan Davis provides the art and dates to watch out for are the 4th of May (2000AD’s 8th birthday – about three months late), 21st of June (Tharg’s birthday – I don’t know what this really is) and 22nd of August (Tharg’s annuals on sale).

Grailpage: it seems like too long since I picked Ron Smith for the grailpage and this episode of Dredd starts with a great centrefold featuring decaying zombie future Dredd. What’s not to like?

Grailquote: Gerry Finley-Day, Rogue (thought bubble): “Helm’s been studying new forms of troop movement…” Helm: “Got another disko on deck 54, Rogue. See you later!”

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