Ron Smith is back on the cover and depicting Dredd in the middle of a riot (or more likely gang or block war).
Tharg has a no-copying policy though cribbed pictures by readers often get through when the mighty one isn’t familiar with the source material. Though the pic of the Stainless Steel Rat in the Nerve Centre is lifted directly from a pic of the rat that the Glyph picked up to save the life of the Rat King so you’d have thought Tharg might have recognised this one. In the advertising corner is a thumbnail of Brian Bolland’s cover for Judge Dredd 5 from Titan Books (featuring a panoply of Ron Smith stories from across his run, both pre- and post-Apocalypse War).
Anderson Psi Division: Revenge by Grant/Grover and Brett Ewins. The Dark Judges carry on killing (continuing their new modus operandi of slaughtering until the judges turn up, then teleporting to the next location) while Anderson faces the music with McGruder. She’s suspended, confined to quarters and has only Titan to look forward to. Not a lot I can write about this episode, but I’m enjoying it – Psi-Division head Judge Omar makes a reappearance.
Readers’ Art: Colour Supplement! (plus an advert for Yamaha portable keyboards). Pretty standard pictures – three 2000AD characters, one generic sci-fi warrior and a mash-up of Hammerstein and Johnny Alpha.
Strontium Dog: Big Bust of 49 by Alan Grant and Carlos Ezquerra. I didn’t think they’d be any trouble from Darkus and the Howlers, as they still need Alpha to lead them to Xen the Brainwraith. True enough the nearest to a confrontation is merely to distract Middenface so that the Howlers can plant a tracer on the mobile gaol. Being Grant and Wagner, there’s the opportunity for some singing – though I’m not sure if all the Scottish songs which Middenface is teaching the imprisoned bounties are adapted from real songs, made up, or some combination. Oh, and Alpha looks through some trader records and discovers that the “Keeler place” has tripled their order in the past six months – a likely candidate for Xen’s hiding place.
BMX Bi-Weekly – it’s an advert and the magazine (or comic) features free stickers. Another advert has at least a third week of free gifts with Battle Action Force – this time a Cobra poster. It could have been funded from the promotional budget of Palitoy but it was probably a sign that sales were falling and had to be propped up by IPC Magazines.
Judge Dredd: Thirteenth Assessment by T.B. Grover and Ron Smith. For some reason I’d thought this assessment took place when a cadet was thirteen years ago, but it’s merely the thirteenth assessment to determine whether a judge cadet is fit to continue their cadetship. They do this by being put in contact with a street judge via spy-in-the-sky cameras (and of course the street judge in this instance is Dredd). This one involves Cadet Brisco and starts with a juve gang killing. It seems that members of one juve gang have killed members of another. I say seems as it turns out it was actually eldsters trying to spark off a juve war. This comes to light when boot prints do not math known makes of juve boot and additional grey hairs are discovered under one of the victim’s fingernails. I like the way that both Brisco and Dredd’s reasoning suggests that this is actually quite a common occurrence. The thing that really makes this story is that a fingerprint is discovered which matches that of Brisco’s mother. The judge tutors couldn’t be more delighted – what better way to test a cadet than have their own mother be prime suspect? He handles the situation with aplomb and when his mother proves to be uncooperative is about as tough as Dredd would be – adding one year to her sentence for each number he counts. He gets to three. The conspirators go away for fifteen years apiece while his mother gets eighteen. A great one-off story showing that Dredd isn’t the only uncompromising judge on the force (not that Brisco is currently on the force – though I believe we will be seeing him again at some point – but we’ll have to wait).
64 circuit-sizzling pages! An advert next for the 2000AD Sci-Fi Special (a grey-scale rendering of the fully painted Ian Gibson cover). And facing that is a reprint of the Star Shadow: When the North Wind Blows Dungeons and Dragons advert (previously seen in Prog 387, which I covered extensively because it had a quiz competition attached that time). I wonder if they’re going to re-run the full ten-episode story?
Sláine: Time Killer by Pat Mills and Glenn Fabry. Slough Feg appears to have a spaceship (or something) called the Ventla. I’ve looked it up and can’t figure out if Ventla is supposed to be a reference to something. Murdach mourns his father and his son, Tordelbach (I’ve seen a name like that somewhere…) Remember that time Sláine killed Elfric? Well, now that Sláine and Murdach are in the El World, Elfric is back (it’s his home turf). I hope you like cosmic themes because things are getting a bit metaphysical as Pluke heals due to the Els (dark els or dev-els) outnumber Sláine and Murdach and Myrddin is powerless to use magic to help Ukko and the rest escape, as then it would tip the macrocosmic balance in Elfric’s favour. Or something. Anyway, Sláine has now defeated Elfric twice, which means the balance is already back in Elfric’s favour so the dev-el is really confident that he’ll win next next time they meet.
Next prog’s preview has a section of a laser scan of G… And under that is an advert for half of IPC’s comics, featuring a free Weetabix badge (Buster, Eagle and Tiger, Whizzer and Chips and Roy of the Rovers).
Another back cover, another advert – this one for Mr. Freeze ice poles.
Grailpage: Ron Smith’s cover – contrasts with the Brian Bolland Block War cover by having Dredd seemingly phased by being in the middle of a juve gang conflagration.
Grailquote: TB Grover, Judge Dredd: “Brisco? Any relation, cadet?” Cadet Brisco: “Yes, sir. It’s… it’s my… mother.” Judge Tutor Ram (smirking, to another smirking judge-tutor): “That’s a turn-up for the books. Now we’ll really see what he’s made of.”