2000AD Prog 412: Who’s putting the squeeze on J.D? “Don’t break the law, creep…” “I crush you good!” Monsteroso M16

Robin Smith is back on the cover and this time it’s a gatefold, as befits a giant robot (spoiler – this prog’s Dredd story features a giant robot).

Tharg’s Nerve Centre has some hot news broken by an earthlet – a Judge Dredd Roleplaying Game is on its way (Tharg confirms that it is due to be released in May). Other news is that an upcoming prog will feature a Masters of the Universe sticker album. I still own my Return of the Jedi sticker album but don’t even remember the Masters of the Universe one (I also remember the Dune album, but I haven’t seen it for ages so presume I no longer have it in my possession).

The Ballad of Halo Jones Book Two 7: Puppy Love by Alan Moore and Ian Gibson. We don’t know it yet, but the preamble to this episode has a lot of far-reaching consequences which will echo throughout the next book. Toy is not blending in to the party as conversation moves to politics. The Tarantula Nebula contains colonies which have achieved some level of independence from Earth. Earth has run out of mineral resources, of which the colonies have plenty. Earth has plenty of water to sell. The cetaceans (Kit the alien dolphin’s race) won’t let them – and if they are offended by Earth’s behaviour then shipping will collapse as the space-dolphins can navigate through hyperspace. Luiz Cannibal has a reputation as a psychopath, willing to use any means. One of which is ratwar, which requires a “rat emperor or something”. Oh and use of ratwar would appear to be a war crime. Toy is wondering about events in the latest episode of a soap opera. Meanwhile we switch to Halo opening with a close-up of her eyes – this is something we’ll see a few more times in the remaining books. Toby shares his plans – kill Brinna, get left to Halo, get a humanoid body. Halo’s not convinced and tries to lie her way out of the situation. Unfortunately for her Toby’s ripper body can hear her heartbeat accelerating. And now he has to kill her too. Back at the party Toy leaves after a run-in with a lary would-be lothario (who never does get her name right). She gets back to the cabin but Halo has exited, pursued by a Toby. On the way to hiding in a dark, noisy place (the rear engine room) they pass Glyph. Just mentioning.

Sláine – A Guide to Time Killer. Most of this is things we’ll find in Time Killer in coming weeks, but I’ll pick out some background info that won’t make it in to the story. The root races (the ones we see are the Diluvials) are explained. Before human beings came the First Root Race which were invisible beings made of fire-mist. The second were gaseous creatures. The Third were brainless, egg-laying monsters (apparently Diluvials are based on these). The Fourth were Atlanteans – including the Rmoahals, which we’re going to meet a few of. Starting this prog, as it happens. Mills also recycles a theory from Arthur C Clarke (uncredited) that certain forts in Scotland which have been vitrified through use of lasers (or leysers, to add a ley-line angle on things). This appears to be based on Dun Deardail in Glen Nevis. There’s also something about UFOs not having extra-terrestrial origins but ultra-terrestrial, from a separate time-continuum and passing through our continuum occasionally – giving rise to demons, elves and elementals. Got that?

Sláine: Time Killer – by Pat Mills and Glenn Fabry. This episode we meet Mogrooth, a Rmoahal (Atlantean root race) riding a dragon essentially being used as a ground-strafing aircraft. The Knucker has flown off while Sláine and the others are fighting diluvials and has spotted Mogrooth’s dragon. The battle is short lived and ends in the death of Mogrooth’s dragon, resulting in a vow from Mogrooth to kill the owner of the Knucker. Sláine chucks Ukko over the cliff to escape the liquefying horn of the diluvials before following the dwarf with Nest. Their fall is cushioned by the molten river of stone but a cythron’s attention has been attracted, a ball of light enveloping Nest. Sláine intervenes but has difficulties killing an ultra-dimensional creature. Sláine lures the cythron to the point at which ley lines intersect and there’s a little bit of immersion-breaking as Sláine quips about taking “power straight out of the grid”. Anyway, he kills the cythron and we meet an old face – somebody we first met in Dragon Heist and only realised had appeared in that story when I was reading in this prog-slog. Another first appearance is of Myrddin – the original name for merlin.

Editorial – Max (the computer) introduces Eagle and Tiger, above ads for Judge Dredd 4 (a Titan Books reprint featuring a Carlos Ezquerra cover of the Executioner), a stamp advert and an over-the-page trailer for this week’s Judge Dredd.

From sci-fi takes on fantasy character, to staples of sci-fi fiction as Mega-City One gets hit by a giant robot in Judge Dredd: Monsteroso by T.B. Grover and Robin Smith. I’d only ever seen giant robots in Nemesis the Warlock Book III (remember I hadn’t had the back progs with the Terra-Meks in when this prog was published) so Monsteroso was one of the earliest giant robots I encountered. Funnily enough the opening page has a rotated centrefold, just like the portrait of Torque-Armada in Prog 342. When I covered Prog 16 I predicted that the Dare portrait centrespread and 342 would be the only centre pages in that orientation. I was wrong! But – what’s this story about? A construction robot goes haywire and starts smashing up the city. The judges arrive on the scene but can’t bring it down as it’ll do as much damage if it falls over as it does when fighting (a projected fifty thousand casualties). Dredd leaps aboard, drops in to its mouth and lands in the control bay within, tries shooting it up a bit without success but the robot starts smashing itself in the head to get to Dredd, which is more successful. That’s it. There’s no set-up – it starts with the robot already haywire and smashing things up. There’s no resolution – we don’t find out why it went haywire or who can get punished. If we discount the Klep stories then I think this is Robin Smith’s first proper strip work in the pages of the weekly. I prefer his black and white work much more than the colour story he did in an annual.

Rogue Trooper: Antigen of Horst by Gerry Finley-Day and Jose Ortiz. To save the Souther adviser, Rogue sets up Gunnar on auto-fire and leaps in to the mist of the bat aliens. After a brief battle (less than sixty seconds) he gets talking with the Souther human. He’s been on the planet for fifteen years (quick flashback), being shuttled down in a team to form aliens in to fighting units. He says that Milli-com hadn’t had the technology for biochips back then, which really doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Even if we ignore my pet theory that Rogue spent at least a decade on Nu Earth, the G.I.s were eighteen years old or more when the Quartz Zone Massacre took place and they spent no less than three years roaming the planet. He also reveals that Souther command had abandoned the planet, as we knew from the previous story. More hopeful is that the advisor’s computer at his base should contain information about the antigen. We don’t get told the name of the Souther adviser by the way. We do get told that one of the Nort ally bat-aliens survived and took a description of Rogue to his comrades.

The Hell Trekkers by F Martin Candor and Horacio Lalia. Judas and Otis Nebb try to kill Rudd, but they reckon without Amber Rudd, who takes out Otis and allows Lucas to turn the knife back on Judas – killing him. Despite the constant trouble the Nebb’s have caused the final remaining Ma Nebb is still allowed to stay with the trek. She chooses not to, watching the radwagons carry on without her. Assuming she won’t appear again (I don’t remember anything further from her) only 38 of the 111 trekkers remain. And there’s still 300 out of 2,000 kays left… I do remember one more thing that happens before the end of this series, and the next prog tag “divided we fall” suggests it’s coming up next episode.

More editorial, this time the top half of the page is a panel by Kim Raymond from next prog’s Dredd while the bottom half is for IPC juvenile line – Whoopee joins Whizzer and Chips (must have been the month for ‘great news for all readers’).

Grailpage: About time I picked a page by art editor and art droid Robin Smith and it’ll be the one with Monsteroso smashing up blocks and flyovers. The only thing missing is names for those citiblocks.

Grailquote: F Martin Candor, Judas Nebb: “Y-you can’t! You’re just a block wimp-!” Lucas Rudd: “I used to be… but ten days in the Cursed Earth can change a man!”

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