Cliff Robinson on the cover. Doesn’t seem exceptional, does it? As of writing Cliff has provided at least 120 of 2,207 covers – over 5% of all progs! This is the first.
Tharg’s Nerve Centre contains news about a Masters of the Universe sticker album and stickers given away with this prog, highlighting the cover tag line ‘Master of Mega-City One’.
The Ballad of Halo Jones Book Two 9: The Last Dance by Alan Moore and Ian Gibson. Halo feels the need to tell her room-mate that she’s been “prescribed complete … relaxation after that business with Toby”. I feel that Toy probably knows this, having been living in a room with her for the past four months (of complete relaxation) and the eight months before that. I can’t imagine the people running the Clara Pandy are that happy about losing out on a hostess for a third of the trip, though the other role as company and underwater swimming partner for the navigator probably helped. There’s a nice reference to Chop Party – in the galaxy at large that means a Party thrown by Lux Roth Chop though on the Hoop it meant ‘big deal’. As Halo realises that the pair walk down a corridor, passing other passengers, including a kid who’s appeared in the background a few times. While they’re talking about Chop Parties. By the way, Halo is walking down the corridor in her swimming cozzie completely barefoot. How she’s changed since leaving the Hoop! Anyway the reason the term ‘chop party’ is a big deal is that on the penultimate night on the ship they’re all going to an end-of-voyage party – I wonder who serves the food and drinks when even the hostesses are attending as guests? When Brinna was young she met the real Clara Pandy – this party sees Halo meet her first famous person (confirming at least a small part of the speculation at Dr Brunhauer’s lecture. In unrelated news, she completely fails to ask out Mix Ninegold (the cyberneticist who thinks the bad thing about a robot dog killing your friend and then trying to kill you is that you lose the robot dog). Seconds after he goes off to dance with Cezanne Goleiter she asserts herself, but only because she finally, after twelve months, realised whey she recognised Goleiter’s voice – she leant it to a computer who animated the Hoop newscaster Swifty Frisko. As she retreats from the party that little kid whom we’ve seen hanging around in the background makes a final appearance to ask Halo for a dance. She accepts (a little begrudgingly) and tells the kid to ignore anybody if they laugh at them. The dancefloor empties, everybody watches them and they applaud at the end. Halo offers to buy the kid a karob sundae or something before they dock on Charlemagne and offers her name. The response is one of the best punchlines in 2000AD history as the kid reveals that they’re the person whose business empire has been in the background since the very first page of Book One, and the richest and most powerful person on the ship, if not the galaxy, Lux Roth Chop.
Reservation coupons share a page with another Battle Action Force ad before…
Sláine: Time Killer – by Pat Mills and David Pugh. Speaking of characters who have been in the background since the early days of a story but only make an appearance late in the run (technically Lux Roth Chop made a whole load of appearance but we only found out who it was this prog) it’s time for Crom Cruach to make a visit to the Eternal Fortress. Pat Mills opens with the first half of the poetic record of sacrifice to the pagan god (Irish text, circa 1160 CE and depending on translation dedicated to Cromm Cruaich, Stooped Head or Crooked Heap) (starting Here used to be a high idol with many fights). Fun fact – Crom Crúaich has a day dedicated to their worship – the last Sunday in July or first Sunday in August. More about Crom here and here. Our finding out about ancient Celtic gods via either Julius Caesar or those who worship St Patrick mean we don’t exactly have a reliable account of the pre-Christian beliefs, so we’ll have to stick to Pat Mills’ giant extra-dimensional worm god for the time being. Especially as I haven’t even gotten past the first panel of the first page yet. It’s an impressive creature but not really what most people would think of as a god, being instead a mindless worm which emerges from the time spiral to feed and being piloted by cythrons (a bit like the Fremen in Dune guiding sandworms). Before Sláine and Ukko can get involved they have to take (sorry, quaff – and they do indeed spill most of it) anguinam from the time worm’s eggs so that their perception of time is slowed down and they can actually see Crom. We also get to meet a new character, Tlachtga, daughter of Mogrooth and a warrior in her own right. Completely unrelated but we also find out that Crom can fire bursts of time power, bringing the Atlanteans who have hidden in the Fortress of the Ever-Living Ones back in to real-time and aging them thousands of years in seconds (they’re not immortal, they crumble in to dust). Not really unrelated, because Tlachtga gets a time-bolt aimed at her and is only protected by Sláine – but then only half-protected. Barely have we met her than one half of her face has been aged, two-face style.
Next prize: 25 multiple action armatrons! is a trailer for a KP Alien Spacers competition, next prog. I’ve used felt-tips pens to colour in one of the two Brett Ewins panels. In case you’d forgotten, there’s a reminder that there’ll be more Masters of the Universe stickers next week. Meanwhile there’s the usual Titan Books advert (Judge Dredd 4 contains a Carlos Ezquerra The Executioner cover while Robo-Hunter 4 has the Ian Gibson God-Droid cover). Finally where would mid-eighties 2000AD be without an advert for commemorative stamps?
Judge Dredd: Juve’s Eyes by T.B. Grover and Ron Smith. As originally run this story doesn’t have a title but it seems to have acquired that name. This story tells the tale of a recent immigrant from Puerto Nova (presumably the future equivalent of Puerto Rico, which I wouldn’t have heard of the first time I read this story) who happens to be a pyrokine – able to trigger spontaneous combustion (or sponcoms as a forensic judge calls it). We get shown this before we’re told it as a vagrant attacks said immigrant causing them to defend themselves by causing spontaneous human combustion. Unfortunately for the immigrant (Primo Vesta) this encounter is seen by some local Spugs (appears to be the name of the block juve gang). They recognise him and pay a call, blackmailing him in to blowing up a mothane plant and causing massive property damage (and not doubt quite a few more deaths in to the bargain). p.s. naming the pirokine Primo has to be a pun on an explosive primer, right?
Rogue Trooper: Antigen of Horst by Gerry Finley-Day and Jose Ortiz. The adviser (who still hasn’t been given a name and I’m not holding out much hope at this stage) takes off to the lead the insectoids to the next zone though sends some with Rogue to guide the G.I.s to the antigen mine in the mountains. There’s a few close encounters with bat Norts until they arrive at a cave entrance. Turns out it’s the home of the bats – Gunnar kills the insectoids for leading them there though I can think of a few valid ways that they wouldn’t know the bats had taken up residence in the cave – though this isn’t exactly a deep storyline so let’s just stick with the one plot twist – that the adviser sent them the wrong way to act as a distraction while he retreated to the next zone.
The Hell Trekkers by F Martin Candor and Horacio Lalia. The opening narration reveals that Bud is dead. Not sure why we get the last-panel spoiler at the beginning – again – this happened when the trek split up a few progs earlier. F Martin Candor has no qualms in killing off children and babies in a mutie ambush in the tradition of 2000AD. Looks like the writer (actually Wagner and Grant) has got bored of this story by now as we’re told “three times more on that long trail the muties attacked” without showing us. For some unknown reason the map that opens this story got switched from North-at-the-top (when they left the Mega-City) to South-at-the-top as they get closer to their final destination – the New Territories in the Black Hills of Dakota. As an aside, this is where Mount Rushmore is located in our time (though of course in the mid-twenty-first century it’s going to be transported so that Dredd can encounter it in 2100).
Starscan: Considering a criminal act? Don’t even think about it! Psi-Division “It’s the thought that counts”. As you’ve probably guessed, this is a poster of Psi-Judge Anderson, art by Brendan McCarthy – programmed by Tharg to herald the upcoming debut of the Judge Anderson series.
Grailpage: Ron Smith shows he’s still the master as massive property destruction in the Mega-City as a mothane tank explodes causing a class one emergency in a full-page panel.
Grailquote: Alan Moore, Lux Roth Chop: “I just wanted to tell you that I think you look very beautiful… …and to ask if I could have the last dance.” Halo Jones: “Uh… Oh well, why not? Nobody else is going to ask me as nicely as that.”