I don’t know if Robin Smith is still art editor, but if so he’s probably doing lay-outs for all the commissioned covers (as seen in an annual). I wonder if this was always intended as a Smith cover or a rough inked up at the last moment because another artist couldn’t be found?
Tharg’s Nerve Centre is introduced by SIM-1 (as Tharg has gone off on holiday or something, as explained the previous prog). In the corner is an advertisement for the range of “eighteen Judge Dredd & 2000 A.D. colour T-shirts” (produced by Titan / Forbidden planet). I particularly mention this as these were the T-shirts that adorned the wall of Fantasy World in Hanley – my first local comic shop. The designs depicted are Bolland’s “Are you feeling lucky, punk?” (I think officially designated “12. Enormous Dredd head” and Alan Davis’ D.R. & Quinch say “Nuke Your Parents!” There’s no picture of it but I think the two I wanted most (predictably) were “1. Torquemada, Nemesis’s horrific enemy” and “14. Nemesis”.
Anderson Psi Division: Revenge Part 3 by Grant/Grover and Brett Ewins. It’s been a while since I re-read Young Death: Boyhood of a Superfiend or The Fall of Deadworld so I’m not sure how the elders below the Deadworld Hall of (In)Justice tie up. Which elders? The ones that the Dark Judges force her to fetch when they possess her body – for her spirits were not wasted when their bodies were destroyed last time she was on Deadworld. Incidentally, unless the word/name featured in Book III of Nemesis this prog was probably the first time I would have encountered the word ‘necropolis’. We’ve gone through the routine of applying the dead fluids, having the spirit form DJs possess the bodies and the familiar faces rising to greet Anderson. We’re all set for the slaughter to begin next prog!
Nemesis the Warlock Returns to 2000 AD this Autumn! – an internal ‘colour laser-scan’ by Bryan Talbot complete with the title of the next book: “The Vengeance of Thoth”.
Facing the arch-deviant is eighties British wrestler Big Daddy, advertising condiments (Daddies tomato ketchup and brown sauce, of course). There’s also a competition to win a Commodore 64 computer meaning there are two entirely separate competitions to win a C64 this prog.
Sláine: Time Killer by Pat Mills and David Pugh. The Badb make a return, summoned by Elfric (I think one of them is the from the Bride of Crom storyline, but I don’t recognise the other two). Myrddin, Nest and Ukko watch on through the time viewer, while Myrddin exposits about the fall of Atlantis (due to cythrons), the survivors being saved by Myrddin in the Eastern Provinces (known to the others as the Land of the Young and to us as the British Isles). Just in case we don’t get that the cythrons are the bad guys we get a fall-of-Atlantis picture juxtaposed with Nazis-bombing-London-during-the-blitzkrieg image. Sláine and Elfric fight it out though seemingly give each other fatal wounds (Elfric hints that Sláine can’t actually kill him though). The big news this episode though is that the traitor in Dinas Emrys reveals themselves, and it’s no other than Cador the Dodman – or rather it isn’t Cador as the dodman resisted torture by the cythrons and he’s actually the Lord Weird Slough Feg in magical, shapechanging disguise. Just as an aside as we’re not going to get any more dodmen – the word comes from a vernacular word for snails. Alfred Watkins, the person who coined the word ‘ley line’ thought that this name for snails (who have two eye-horns that look a bit like dowsing rods) was derived from prehistoric leyline surveyors. Watkins also believed the words hod (as in the builder’s equipment for carrying bricks), doddering along and dodge shared the same etymology. Mills was obviously influenced by Watkins when writing this period of Sláine.
Judge Dredd: Sunday Night Fever Part 3 by T.B. Grover and Cam Kennedy. It opens with a jump-forward image in the storyline, but that jump results in a pic of my favourite vehicle from the Justice Department armoury, so it can be forgiven. Back in the story the first page carries on from the rodentine sewer gas being released and spreading out among the job rioters, not just killing them instantly but also stripping the flesh from their bones (tends to leave the clothes well alone though). From there things unfold pretty quickly – we get a few vignettes of pairs of mega-citizens chatting to each other, being enveloped in rodentine and being dead. Then a quick and efficient Justice Department clean-up operation and the final page showing the arrest. No fight, no conflict, just a simple arrest and a narrative conclusion emphasising how dour the life of the average mega-citizen will continue to be.
Rogue Trooper: Antigen of Horst by Gerry Finley-Day and Jose Ortiz. Lots of action this episode but plot-wise not much happens. It begins with Rogue atop a small rocky outcrop in a sea surrounded by aquatic Nort aliens. It ends with… you get the picture. Only difference is that the tide is coming in and everything seems just that little bit more hopeless. As last week, the only way out I could foresee is for a Souther navy to turn up to rescue Rogue and the boys. The next prog tag says: “When the boat comes in…” so this would tend to support that theory. As ever, I have read this story before, but it was so long ago that I’ve forgotten exactly what happens. In fact all I can remember about the entire rest of this series is something involving camels / stammels and the bit with Rogue on the launchpad right at the end.
Strontium Dog: Big Bust of 49 Part 3 by Alan Grant and Carlos Ezquerra. Xen the Brainwraith doesn’t have a physical form and instead takes over the bodies of others and is thus difficult to track. Alpha has a tip-off that the extremely valuable bounty is on-planet and the one clue that the possession involves a huge amount of energy, so the host body has to consume large amounts of food. In the meantime the trio get on with collecting more mundane bounties, though it looks like Middenface is coming a cropper in an explosion.
Week 3 of Tharg’s zarjaz compu-tition! has more instructions to win Valiant Robo-Turtles and commodore64 computer sysems – final part next prog. The inside back cover also contains an advert for Battle Action Force, which gets a full-colour Action Force poster. For those not around at the time, Action Force was a range of action figures to the same scale as the more iconic Star Wars figures that dominated the toy market for the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Something which dominated the toy market for the mid-eighties takes the back cover as Transformers introduces New Insecticons.
Grailpage: we saw this style of architecture in Brett’s early Fort Neuro episodes but it’s realised more fully in the opening page of Anderson Psi Division – Brett Ewins’ establishing shot of Deadworld showing a huge tortured face building through the mists and fog. This prog also contains an image of Sláine holding the two broken halves of a chariot’s wheel-scythes which I remembered dominating the page more – I’m not going to pick this page by David Pugh but I know there’ll be a few pages coming up that will be strong contenders. Finally it may be a jump-forward in the story but it resulted in a double-page spread of a Manta Prowl Tank – the opener by Cam Kennedy is a great image.
Grailquote: Alan Grant, Middenface McNulty: “Onny way, while we’re playi’ “hunt the ghoulie”, we might as well be howkin’ in some o’ the weer fush! Like my auld granny used tae say – “Mony a mickle mak’s a muckle!”” Johnny Alpha; “You ride with Wulf, Middenface. Tell your cage to follow on automatic.” Middenface: “Youse’d better tell it, Johnny. It doesnae seem tae unnerstand a word I say!” Scottish writers Alan Grant and John Wagner predict difficulties in speech recognition software recognising Scots accents.