2000AD Prog 404: Torquemada dresses to kill! FWOOSHH! “Your fireballs cannot harm me now, Nemesis… repent and die!”

Bryan Talbot puts Torquemada on the cover about a year after the last time (that time a phantasmal and victorious Kevin O’Neill piece).

Music Centre continues the promotion of Mutants in Mega-City One by running some reviews from various sources (The Galactic Guardian has a typo “I lovde it”). The rest of the Nerve Music Centre variously offers those who write in freebies from the Zarjazz sub-label (namely ten sweatshirts, ten posters of the record cover and an unspecified number of badges), a voting coupon, the familiar advert for stamps and the also familiar advert for the Eagle reprint comics of Judge Dredd (Bolland cover of Fink – the first reprint comic I ever bought) and Nemesis the Warlock (phantom Torque by Kevin O’Neill).

Rogue Trooper: Regened: 4. Eye of the G.I. by Gerry Finley-Day and Cam Kennedy. We get to see the operations room of Milli-Com from whence all of the Souther operations across the galaxy are co-ordinated and also the person in charge – Star-Marshal Nukrom Lamal, Chief-of-Staff. Into this Rogue makes an entrance and despite the mélée Lamal grants an audience – solely because he once fought on Nu-Earth. Lamal checks on his personal computer, using a retinal scan – sure that won’t be relevant later (we won’t even have to wait until next episode) – to discover the location of the antigen that can cure the bio-chips of the virus. The information is not shared with Rogue but we’re not told why. After kicking his heels around Milli-com for a few more days (having resolved to steal the data somehow) he figures out how to steal the info – the gene genies hold spare parts for the general when they’re not engineering super-soldiers. So… Rogue steals Lamal’s eye, shimmies up the ‘vator shaft (we don’t know how many storeys this is, but it’s quite a few) walks in to Lamal’s office (have we been told that G.I.s can see infra-red before? There’s infra-red beams) and accesses the computer. Cliffhanger!

Tharg’s Future-Shocks: Kaboom! by Pete Milligan and T Jozwiak. Jozwiak is Anthony (or Tony) Jozwiak, was previously seen on a Future-Shock about a trans-dimensional house and will be back three more times. This Shock doesn’t have a published name, but the word Kaboom! appears large on the first and (spoiler) last panels. The super-rich have provoked aliens in to attacking the world, then hid in an underground bunker, shielded from the people by an army of robots, programmed to protect just them. When one of them notices that the reports from the surface involved the robot army retreating from a region which was supposedly destroyed the previous month they decide that the robots have gone haywire and are feeding them false information and leave the bunker. They kill a protesting robot on the way out and find the overground is clean and untouched by war. Too late they discover the aliens won the war and that the robots have continued to protect them by keeping them underground. Kaboom! Nice story but about time Milligan got a full series – he seems to have been on Shocks for some time now.

Nemesis the Warlock Book IV: The Gothic Empire by Pat Mills and Bryan Talbot. After a bit of slightly dodgy etymology on the names Torquemada and Nemesis we find that the Grand Master has donned some special armour (referenced on the cover) which is fire-proof, ray-proof and psycho-proof, so the pair are going to have to fight it out the old-fashioned way. It’s also got rocket-packs so when Tomas’ sword breaks on Nem’s armour he flies off and traps the warlock in the door to the armoury. Looks like Torque is going to revisit the beheading scene from a few progs earlier…

Judge Dredd: City of the Damned by T.B. Grover and Steve Dillon. This is the legendary episode which had to be re-drawn at very short notice. I’ll probably revisit this in four prog-years when both versions get published side-by-side, but for the time being I’ll just say that the pub where the original artwork was accidentally left was my local for some time. Not that I knew that until after I’d moved to somewhere else – the cover story that the artwork was missing for those years hadn’t been revealed to be false yet. Anderson doesn’t rate their chances, with her wounded and Dredd blind – but she reckons without Dredd’s commanding presence. Not for the first time he merely has to say a few words and resistance melts away – though this time the would-be resistance were vampires. Zombie Dredd can’t be dealt with so easily. Anderson assumes they’re headed for the armoury but Dredd reveals the plan – he noticed a Teleporter Room in the Hell Street Sector House (can’t say I did – had a quick look through and didn’t spot it in any of the panels). As Dredd tells Anderson to set the teleporter for the co-ordinates of Proteus, the time machine, the Mutant cogs on and sends zombie Dredd after them with more urgency (looks like he can run, after all). Zombie Dredd gets his hands on Dredd as Anderson labours away on the controls – “no power in creation” can save Dredd’s life.

The Stainless Steel Rat for President by Harry Harrison, adapted by Kelvin Gosnell and Carlos Ezquerra. Last episode! Having had the election unexpectedly brought forward, Jim’s plan changes tack and he makes sure he’s in a public place when the local poll results are announced. Instead of succeeding by winning, he succeeds by losing. Zapilote’s fixed results are immediately disproved by Jim showing that more people voted for him from those present than were announced and that, according to the planetary constitution, the election is to be re-run in two weeks. Allowing the family diGriz enough time to properly fix the election. Programs rigged, codes cracked and two weeks later election day number two declares Jim’s fake persona the winner – though in his moment of triumph he is cut down by an assassin’s bullet. Harapo’s vice-president, De Torres, takes leadership while Harapo’s widow leaves the planet with her sons, an old and bearded porter pushing their trolley. Inside the family’s quarters the beard is removed and we find that James was the ‘assassin’ and Jim is still alive, free to resume his usual identity. This is quite a rushed episode – presumably to clear space for a mini-jump on prog next week. It didn’t seem particulary rushed when I’ve read it previously, but having read the whole lot in the space of a week or two it seems strange that it took a few episodes to get on the campaign trail and then the two elections and an assassination happened in the space of three pages. That it’s the last we’ll see of the Stainless Steel Rat makes it seem more of a wasted opportunity.

The Hell Trekkers by F Martin Candor and Horacio Lalia. The trek makes the half-way pole, which has been adorned by messages from previous treks. Chopper’s name appears (must be from an admirer as there’s no way the scrawl artist could have made it out this far – though he will be headed out to the Cursed Earth in the future) as does the Kelly Trek, which reached this point in 2103, turned back but reached it once more in 2104. I don’t understand why they’d turn back though – once they’re half-way does it matter which way they head? Big news though is the death of trek guide Banjo Quint. All is not lost though as we find out in a half-hour flashback – Quint has bequeathed his map to Lucas Rudd, and in his dying minutes talked through the rest of the route. Will those twenty minutes be enough to carry the trek to the New Territories? Only time will tell… Other than something involving lava, the trek splitting (and what happens with the splitters) and the final episode, I can’t remember much about the rest of this – but we have ten more episodes to cover the last half of the trek.

Cam Kennedy rounds off the prog with a star pin-up of Azure – “warrior without a war” – I mean, she does have a war, all she has to do is get sent down to a warzone, but Millicom seem to want to keep her up there for some reason.

Grailpage: Cam’s artwork on this week’s episode was great though I’m going to pick the starscan of Azure from the back page instead. Presumably the colours are by Tom Frame, as he seemed to do all the colours around this time (or was that only on Judge Dredd centre pages?) and show Azure’s blue skin complimented by her green and camouflage fatigues and contrasted by her ginger hair (I have no idea why she has ginger hair – Rogue’s hair is white, perhaps Azure’s is too but she dyes it).

Grailquote: T B Grover, Zombie Dredd: “Good shooting for a blind man! But then we always were good, weren’t we?”

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