2000AD Prog 413: The hunt is on for Halo’s bones! Hot digital dog!

Ian Gibson provides a spoilerific cover featuring Toby – the first cover from Halo Jones that hasn’t been a series opener montage cover.

Tharg’s Nerve Centre is introduced by Tharg the Resident (reader’s art and a reference to an avant-garde band from the 1960s, 70s and 80s at time of publication – never heard of them, had to look them up). A reader has played the computer game The Killing and gives a tip on how to get a massive bounty. From what I can tell it’s an exploit of a bug – my reading of it is that you can continue to get bounties for shooting at a gallows. Meanwhile a letter prompts Tharg to plug a Judge Anderson laser scan next prog and the forthcoming debut series in Prog 416.

The Ballad of Halo Jones Book Two 8: Hounded by Alan Moore and Ian Gibson. Editorial decreed that this book should contain more action following reader feedback from the first book. After the Tarantulan episode this is the most action-packed episode as Toby catches up with Halo, pinning her down and preparing to rip her apart. With a hint from Glyph Toy manages to find the two struggling and wrestles the robo-dog off of Halo and in to the furnace. But being raised to 450 degrees isn’t enough to stop the ripper and it looks like it’s all over for Halo and Toy. Glyph has followed them in to the engine room though and spills a barrel of highly flammable liquid into the searing hot robot. The moment his claw touches the liquid it explodes, enveloping both Toby and Glyph. No sooner is Glyph dead that the two survivors have forgotten they existed. When Rackle, Eamonn and me covered The Ballad of the Halo Jones we very nearly went for the entire podcast without remembering Glyph – oops!

2000AD Leyser-Scan: Defence of Dinas Emrys! sees David Pugh’s debut in the prog. I’m a fan of Pugh’s renditions of the Bill-Savage-like leering Sláine and Nest.

Be the Peek Freans Mallows Young Reporter of the Year says it’s an advertisement but was plugged in the Nerve Centre. It’s a competition to win a Portable COlour TV & home Computer. No idea what Tharg mentioned it as only the families of employees of Nabisco are ineligible (if it was a joint competition then the same would apply to the IPC). I also have no idea what a biscuit and sweet company are running a young reporter compeition.

And after that leyser-scan it’s time for Sláine: Time Killer – by Pat Mills and David Pugh. It’s a good debut for Pugh and the new art droid is given a few chances to shine, particularly the scene where Sláine enters the Eternal Fortress (through a hole in the wall which he made), the Knucker rowdily breathing fire within. The main things which happen this episode are Sláine and Mogrooth brawling over the death of Mogrooth’s dragon while Myrddin watches. – speaking of Myrddin, we find out he may be humanity’s protector but that doesn’t mean he has a high opinion of humans – referring to them as pigs. He also reveals to Ukko that he’s half-human and half-cythron. Some watching cythrons also refer to humans as pigs and have a conversation about the battle. The Guledig (no explanation of who that is at this stage) has ordered that Crom-Cruach shall be released to aid in the battle. We’ve first heard of this deity for some while ago, so it’s about time we got to meet them.

Judge Dredd: Spugbug by T.B. Grover and Kim Raymond. I’ve always thought that art droid Raymond’s style took after the Ron Smith school of illustrating the adventures of Dredd and this one-and-done opens with a full-length portrait of Joe. What is spugbug? Making prank calls. In this particular instance the calls are made towards the end of a dinner party and involves somebody who just happens to have an unregistered vid phone. The law gets involved when one of their victims dies from a heart attack. Like Monsteroso this is not an involved story – they continue to make calls, voice prints and photo scans reveal who the main spugbugger is and Dredd gets sent to arrest them. There’s no resistance but the Mega-City has an additional bit of culture added.

Rogue Trooper: Antigen of Horst by Gerry Finley-Day and Jose Ortiz. Rogue, the human advisor and the insectoids arrive at the data dump – thousands of information discs hidden in a camouflaged desert dune. There’s a tiny side-quest about a swarm of bat aliens (the usual collective noun for bats is a colony if roosting or cloud if flying) passing overhead. Rogue kills a lone Nort bat bringing up the rear with an entrenching tool (Gunnar would have been too noisy) and finds a tattoo of himself on the dead body. These bat aliens really take their quarries seriously. Meanwhile the data reveals the location of the antigen, less than a day’s march away. This is only the third episode though so I doubt it can be that simple. Oh, and that entrenching tool was being used so that Rogue could dig a hole to hide in. New planet, old tricks.

Reservation coupons share a page with another advert for Battle Action Force (looks like a John Cooper pic of ‘Duke and his Action Force team’).

The Hell Trekkers by F Martin Candor and Horacio Lalia. The trek splits up as a breakaway faction wants to take what looks like the quick and easy route direct to the New Territories. One way or another this will be their last day of trekking (because they reckon they’ll be at the NT before nightfall). The split manages to get both stuttering-as-comedy and Engrish-speech-patterns in. Moving on and important plot point is introduced. Crustacea has gotten in to the water tank of the Glemp’s radwagon and can only be lured out by latching on to Bish’s nose. The other plot point is a mutant attack during an electric storm – the cliffhanger is more of a cliff-being-landed-on-top of the helltrek.

An ad for Eagle Comics (Judge Dredd Block Mania cover by Bolland and 2000AD Monthly Alan Davis pic of DR & Quinch getting Drafted) before trailers for the next prog, featuring the cover preview and an eighties-tastic inside back cover plug for the Panini Masters of the Universe sticker album to be given away free (also available with Roy of the Rovers).

The eighties continues on the back cover with a Transformers advert offering an autobot watch (of course pressing a button ‘transforms’ the watch).

Grailpage: I almost went for the last page of Halo (see grailquote section) but am instead going for David Pugh’s piccy of Nest apologising for the Knucker, Ukko atop the dragon and the dragon itself getting a bit fiery.

Grailquote: Alan Moore, Halo Jones: “Toy? Toy, what happened? Are we dead?” Toy Molto: “No… Nobody died today.” RiP Glyph.

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