2000AD Prog 423: Dark Judges in Crash Dorm 2! “Ssssleep forever!” Anderson’s nightmare!

Cliff Robinson puts in a great effort for this Anderson Psi Division cover, showing Fire and Death disturbing judges while they sleep (not sure about Anderson’s yellow eye shadow though).

Tharg’s Nerve Centre had news of Tharg’s birthday (21st June – not sure why this date was picked), mentions that Anderson’s first name is Cassandra – I’m not sure if this has been mentioned anywhere else previously – I was trying to keep an eye out for it. A reader also notes the picture from Prog 416 of an illegal execution in Saigon (though incorrectly identified the murderer as being American, not South Vietnamese). Another reader also provides an excuse for Tharg to plug the Judge Dredd Collection (a collection of strips from the Daily Star) which will get an advert later on in the prog.

Anderson Psi Division: Revenge by Alan Grant, John Wagner and Cliff Robinson, taking over from Brett Ewins. Anderson won’t let a little thing like being suspended stop her from taking charge and as the Dark Judges attack sleeping judges in the dormitory (judges have regulations to do six hours of natural sleep a week, apparently – other sleep being ten minutes on the sleep machine every day. Or every thirty-six hours. Or something). Anyway, she kicks the tek-judge out of the way (literally, of course) , snatches up the dimension jump and alerts security to the presence of the DJs (using psi-powers to detect where they are). Judges die, more judges arrive, the DJs teleport out, this time heading to security control. Judges arrive there nd they port out – but this time they know Anderon’s still alive, so she’s next on their hit list – the last panel has Anderson surrounded by four dark judges and our Cass shooting one of the spherical dimension jumps, destroying it (the Justice Department jumps are kind of mobile phone size and shaped while the origins are ball-shaped). The jump in question belongs to Judge Fear – who always seems to be the first DJ to be defeated (both appearances so far, not that he’s quite defeated yet).

Time for that Judge Dredd Collection advert. I have this collection from when it came out and it’s pretty good, but not as complete as the more recent collections from Rebellion which I’m covering year by year. The bottom half of the same page contains a reservation coupon and the whole lot faces off against a reprint of the Star Shadow / Dungeons & Dragons advert from Prog 396 (this time without the competition).

Sláine: Time Killer by Pat Mills and David Pugh. Murdach might be concentrating on Sláine fighting orgots, but he’s still got some time to actually fight some himself. Once they’re out of the way Pluke reveals that their saving him was a selfless act and has thus moved the macrocosmic balance in their favour. Hope you really like exposition as there’s a couple of pages of it as we switch focus to Myrddin explaining macrobes, light-els and dark-els (dev-els) to Nest and Ukko. We get teased with some secret knowledge that Myrddin is going to reveal (not this episode though) before switching back to Sláine and Murdach as they enter in to a fight with some cythrons bathing (so that the two human warriors can nick their armour). And yes, we get to see naked cythrons.

Advert time! There’s a couple of gamebooks I’m not familiar with from Knight Books – The Way of the Tiger 1 (Avenger!) and 2 (Assassin!). The blurb on the covers claims it’s “The No 1 Adventure Game Series” though I suspect it’s somewhere behind Fighting Fantasy and Lone Wolf. The two books have been republished within the last decade though. The other advert on this page is for the 2000AD Sci-Fi Special 1985.

Judge Dredd: 99 Red by T.B. Grover and Ian Kennedy. First time on Dredd for Ian and the last story he’ll illustrate for the prog (in fact he’ll only be back twice more to this day – both times on wraparound covers – once in 1985 and again thirty years later in 2015. Ian is currently in semi-retirement and continuing to illustrate the odd Commando cover as far as I know. Dredd and Judge Sleever are on duty at Speaker Square. We’ve never seen the location before, but if you’re familiar with Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park then you’ll be familiar with the idea of people standing on soapboxes and saying their piece. This one has something to say about how judges are more like jailors than guardians (presaging the democracy storylines, which are still some way off). Sleever takes exception to this. Skipping to the end, Sleever goes on a rampage due to the stresses of working on the streets, using his lawmaster to get past Dredd and go off on an anti-crime spree. This is interrupted by an emergency radio message from Chief Judge McGruder, which prompts Sleever to head her way (which allows Control to get a radio fix on the errant judge). It probably won’t surprise you to find that Dredd is first on the scene and without much difficulty subdues Sleever, ready to be taken off the streets. Narration tells us that (within days!) laser surgery could put him back on the streets (because all that experience is too valuable to throw away).

Rogue Trooper: Antigen of Horst by Gerry Finley-Day and Jose Ortiz opens with Gunnar whining about their situation, as per usual. Through some binnox, Rogue is directed to a column of Nort alien marching some Souther alien ally prisoners (incidentally we can see the insignia of one of the prisoners – not one I’ve seen before, kinda like a star flash). I like Ortiz’s artwork but I’m afraid I don’t like his aliens here – as they’re basically bipeds with animal heads as Nort rhinos are marching Souther horses, big cats, dogs and bears. Funnily enough I really like Meltdown Man, though the anthropomorphised animals in that have a reason to be bipedal. Not so here. Anyway, one of them makes a break for it and is chased by Nort rhino-aliens. Of course the alien is running towards Rogue’s hiding place. Against the biochip’s advice Rogue kills the rhino but is too late to save the dog-headed alien, but scavenges the Nort corpse for a disguise, ordering Bagman to start up a translation program to complete the deception. As they join the column, Rogue reveals the ruse in whispers – the star flash insignia is for the Souther Biowarfare unit – as the horse-head would have been involved with genetic research they’d know about the antigen (and if not, then neither would anybody else).

Strontium Dog: Big Bust of 49 by Alan Grant and Carlos Ezquerra. We’ve had the build-up. We’ve had the scene-setting. Now it’s time for all-out action as Darkus and the Howlers attack while Wulf and Johnny more than adequately defend. Meanwhile fellow mutant bounty hunter Middenface is watching the action a little too closely, as he’s supposed to be watching alien Xen the Brainwraith’s latest host. And that’s where we leave Middenface as we see Johnny finish off Darkus before heading back to Middenface…

The sci-fi special got a centrefold pin-up of Halo painted by Ian Gibson and Gibson is back with a back cover laser scan of Toby, stalking through a torn wall in pen and ink.

Grailpage: David Pugh’s page of Myrddin and the others arriving on Cythrawl featuring a great view of Crom Cruach being milked or something – definitely some sort of farming going on.

Grailquote: Gerry Finley-Day, Gunnar: “Face it Rogue – you’ve no idea where to look! You don’t even know which zone the antigen’s in!” – whining as ever!

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