2000AD Prog 419: Fear, Fire, Death & Mortis! “There’ss no sstopping uss now!”

Another prog, another Dark Judges cover – this one featuring all four DJs (last prog missed out Judge Fear) and drawn by Kevin O’Neill. Time for a controversial take! Received wisdom is that Bolland’s depiction of Judge Death is the definitive depiction, on account of having created the Dark Judges, drawn their first two stories and Ewins having been instructed to mimic Bolland’s style. That’s all fine, except… Bolland has a very clean line and I’d question how effective that actually is when drawing decayed and revolting characters. Of all the art droids who have passed through the pages of 2000AD at this point I’d assert that Kevin O’Neill would actually have been the natural choice to depict the DJs (though that would have meant less time on Nemesis Book III, and we wouldn’t have wanted that).

Tharg’s Nerve Centre. Advert for T-shirts, with a Bolland pic, Stodgman ‘Feed Me!’, McMahon ‘I’m a fink’ and Davis ‘Real men don’t use blanks!” pictures shown.

Anderson Psi Division: Revenge by Grant/Grover and Brett Ewins. Fire and Death kill Anderson and in Death’s words: “Ssshee isss purged!” (I’m suspecting she isn’t, not least because there’s thirty-five years worth of stories that come after this tale). Character-wise Mortis is raring to return to Anderssson’ss city while Fire advises a little more caution and Fear heads off to pick up ‘devices’ (assuming they’re transporters then each DJ is now equipped with a matter transporter and a dimension jump). Speaking of which they arrive at the Ronald Reagan Block for the Aged and Infirm (ho ho). A reference which ten-year-old me wouldn’t have understood but *mumble* year-old me does is the Over 100 Club, surely a reference to the 100 Club on Oxford Street. The venue (under different names) has played host to Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Ronnie Scott, Louis Armstrong, the Rolling Stones, Alice Cooper and the Specials. Though I’d have first heard of it due to the 100 Club Punk Festival (essentially British punk’s equivalent of Woodstock or the Isle of Wight Festival – especially in that if everybody who claimed to have been there actually was the venue would have had to have been ten times larger). Back to the story – the Dark Judges start their murder spree, cue the age-related jokes (“Dodder for it!”) and reports filter through to Chief Judge McGruder. Grant and Wagner are keeping up the pretence that Anderson is dead for the time being…

Enter this mega-zarjaz compu-tition! – final part so I’ll dig out the previous progs and find out what the 18 letter message is. I-M-G-L-A-D-I-M-N-O-T-A-T-U-R-T-L-E. Words to live by.

Advertisement: “It’s the big Wispa giveaway!” in comic form based around various Chinese whispers.

Sláine: Time Killer by Pat Mills and Glenn Fabry is back from tag-teaming with David Pugh. Sláine is dead, his body taken by the Christian monks to the hollow hill while Elfric’s body dissolves as his spirit departs. In Dinas Emrys Brotor buys Nest a few seconds to ‘reverse the time flow’ and bring Sláine back to life or something, sending him to where he was immediately before the Battle of Clontarf – Els-where, in the time stream – where he meets the similarly temporally displaced Murdach. You might expect Murdach to be pleased that Sláine has won the battle for him, but Murdach wanted to lead an army of warriors. This dissatisfaction leads to a fight, though (from what we see here) Murdach is not used to combat – or at least not as well-versed as Sláine. After a brief thrashing Sláine chucks Murdach a sword – and a warning not to try using it on the warped warrior. So the pair go off to find a water-hole and come across Pluke (a native creature) being attacked by four el-women: “strangely-painted girls”. Unlike Sláine, Murdach has not been warned about the dangers of El women…

Judge Dredd: Hagatha Smeld by T.B. Grover and Ian Gibson. After the appearance of the Ronald Reagan Crock Block both aged mega-citizens and Ron get a second appearance this prog – Ron & Nance residing, preserved, at the Mega-City Necropolis. Dredd has been called to investigate the rapid decay of a ‘resident’, identified as being due to specific ageing poisons. Dredd requests the body be boxed up as he’ll take it with him. I’m wondering just how this will happen, as his lawmaster is outside the Necropolis – is he going to perch it on the pillion? We get tantalising glimpses of Mega-City One law which probably wouldn’t add up if you analyse what Justice Department have gotten up to in other stories – apparently truth drugs and dream machines can only be used if there is definite proof of involvement in a crime. Anyway, the upshot of this is that the three relatives who stand to benefit from the death of Aunt Haggy get through their interrogations without incriminating themselves and have to be released. One of those relatives, Hizlop, reminds them not to incriminate themselves even now as the judges may have had Smeld Tower bugged. This goes out of the window when Aunt Haggie herself turns up, axe in hand. Dezi and Lymeswold break immediate, incriminating themselves and each other while Hizlop keeps a clear head and decapitates the body with a sword hanging on the wall. Turns out Dredd ordered the corpse wired up with robotics and the confessions have been recorded… A nice example of the lengths that Justice Department will go to.

Rogue Trooper: Antigen of Horst by Gerry Finley-Day and Jose Ortiz. Last prog (and I may not have mentioned it but the prog before as well) I assumed that a Souther navy would come to rescue Rogue and the boys. I wasn’t quite right – Rogue actually asked Bagman to patch in to attempt to patch in to the computers of some rusting hulks on the horizon. Bagman manages to get six operation and as they approach Rogue fires off some incendiary grenades, turning the hulks in to fire ships. So the were sort of rescued by the navy, though had more agency than that. Back on dry land and they’re in a new zone – but they won’t get to explore it until Prog 422 – I wonder what we’re getting for the next two progs instead?

Strontium Dog: Big Bust of 49 by Alan Grant and Carlos Ezquerra. Other than “der bump on der noggin” there are no consequences to Middenface and Wulf being blown off their hover-bike (which Alpha calls a bogey – but if I’d just called it a bogey you might have thought I was talking about an aircraft, railway car or something else). The bounties get killed or captured and Johnny uses alpha eyes to question whether the three survivors know anything about Xen the Brainwraith. The hired help (two robots) are left to their own devices. Though if Alpha had given them other instructions (get away from here, for instance) then they wouldn’t have been around to get tortured by one of the Howlers. So now Darkus knows that Alpha is on the trail of a six mill bounty.

Advert time again – BMX Bi-Weekly takes the top and Buster celebrates its 25th birthday.

And on the back cover – 2000AD Star Pin-Up: The Tomb of Torquemada! by Bryan Talbot shows some Termite tourists visiting a huge sculpture set in the travel tubes.

Grailpage: Glenn Fabry returns to Sláine in style with a splash page showing valkyries weaving a ghastly loom in the elemental aftermath of Elfric’s summonings (the displaced elementals now wandering aimlessly across the Earth, giving rise to the legends which have passed on to us). Looms and weaving figure heavily in European mythology usually in relation to fate – probably most relevant here is the Norns from Scandinavia.

Grailquote: Grant/Grover – I mentioned it up-post, but Grant/Grover, random crock: “Dodder for it!”

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