2000AD Prog 427: Anderson – Death or Glory? “Jusssticcce ssshall be done!”

Robin Smith was draughted in to draw last prog’s episode of Anderson Psi Division and this week this extends to the cover.

Tharg’s Nerve Centre has Tharg teasing the return of a popular character – more details later this prog…

Having been pushed to the back of the prog by Strontium Dog for the past few weeks, Anderson Psi Division: Revenge by Alan Grant, John Wagner and Cliff Robinson is back at the beginning – though only for the last episode! The judicial ambush works like a dream and Fire and Mortis are dispatched to a limbo dimension without much problem. Death takes a little more effort, but not that much more – being dispatched just as his spirit leaves the latest body he’s inhabiting. That all done, it only remains to rescue Anderson from being sent to Titan for twenty years – which is also wrapped up quickly as Judge Omar reveals he’s conducted a deep telepathic scan of Anderson’s mind, showing that the Dark Judges had been attacking her mind prior to her being lured to Deadworld. This episode doesn’t seem rushed, though it is a notably hasty wrap-up to the story. I suspect that there’s either some clearing the decks involved, or the shuffling of art droids may have been an influence. In all, a great debut for Anderson in her own regular series (and other than a few cameos in the main Dredd strip, my proper introduction to the character).

After a full-height half-page advert for Lone Wolf Shadow on the Sand (gamebook by Joe Dever & Gary Chalk) a similarly proportioned ad for The Big A starting next prog. I’m not sure but I think the picture chosen is from the last episode of the forthcoming story.

Sláine: Time Killer by Pat Mills and Glenn Fabry. Sláine gets a costume change, finally being persuaded to wear a hero harness. For the first time since Blackhawk, we get a full-on gladiatorial combat in the prog. It was mentioned in the first episode of the Time Killer sequence, but the High Cythrons are mentioned as stirring in their sleep – this will become very relevant later on… Mogrooth and Calgacus (another captive) have trained Sláine. So, an extended fight scene with commentary by the watching Cythrons and gladiators and some explanations of the gadgets that those in combat are wielding – some kind of magic flying blades and some spring-loaded skulls – as well as the hero harness that Sláine is wearing, which prevents him from exploding from the tremendous amount of power that the warped warrior is subject ot here. Which I don’t understand, frankly – because isn’t it Earth power which fuels Sláine’s warp spasms? But he’s not on Earth, he’s on Cythrawl. Whatever. Myraakothka sends a psychic instruction to Sláine’s opponent, an orgot (organic robot, remember) to cut the harness and cause Sláine to be torn apart from the warp. Next prog… By the way, in the real world Calgacus is a possibly fictional Caledonian chieftain who led an uprising against the Roman Empire around 83 or 84 CE.

Lots of adverts over the next two pages – I suspect one of the other stories which have been running is going to be dropped for a prog or two… The advert for The Judge Dredd Collection gets a re-run above ‘Fighting the Evil of Cobra’ for Battle Action Force while a preview of this week’s Dredd story has a blown-up panel (caption: “Control! Supersurf 7 now leaving this sector! They’re heading towards the centre pages…”) is sharing the other page with another gamebook advert – from Dave Morris Castle of Lost Souls and Oliver Johnson Curse of the Pharaoh.

Judge Dredd: The Midnight Surfer Part Four by T.B. Grover and Cam Kennedy. As long-term readers of this blog will know, I have a pet hatred of flash-forward openings to stories. I do make exceptions though – I like the opener to Fight Club which tells so much of the story in flashback that most of the audience have probably forgotten the beginning by the time it gets to the present time (and throws in some flashback humour when it does catch up). There’s also examples where the opener is effectively a centrespread starscan, such as the beginning of The Apocalypse War (which had the spoiler of a hole in Dredd’s badge). This centrespread has the opening moments of Supersurf 7 as the powerboards dive between the citiblocks at 200 kays per hour. In the story proper the organiser goes over the route, including a finale going against the flow in Manfred Fox Tunnel (the tunnel which Chopper tested himself on – with the flow – in the first episode). The organiser thinks that the judges will be closing in on the surfers shortly before this, though the panel after the race begins a watching bay reports their departure, so one would suspect it won’t take the judges that long to catch up with them. True enough, as they’re ‘shooting the O’ – a hole in an advertising hoarding Dredd turns up and gives the order to shoot to kill.

Strontium Dog: Slavers of Drule – Part Three by Alan Grant and Carlos Ezquerra. Johnny and Wulf hit the slave market on Planet Charn, kidnap the auctioneer and force him to guide them to a flesh farm to which the recent shipment of human slaves have been taken (for unspecified reasons human slavery is supposed to be illegal on this planet, though the natives like the taste of human flesh). It’s a straight-forward episode which ends in a frontal assault on the flesh farm – not much to say about it, other than it’s good stuff from this trustworthy team of creators.

No Rogue Trooper this week, instead we get Judge Grexnix by O. Stepaniuk and A. Jozwiak. Bit of an oddity this, basically a Tharg tale where an earthlet doubts the ability of Dredd, putting it all down to high-tech hardware. Tharg steps in and transports the earthlet to Mega-City One, dubbing him Judge Grexnix – and said earthlet is immediately crushed by a charge of fatties. Brushing himself off he attempts to respond to an alert from Control, though gives the order to his lawmaster to get to the scene before actually getting on the bike. He finally gets his chance to shine when he discovers some mutants trying to gain access to the city over the West Wall – though when they see his distinctly unjudicial, 1980s hair style, they realise he’s not a real judge. The moral of the tale is that it isn’t the uniform or hardware that makes a judge special, but their fifteen years at the toughest school on Earth.

Grailpage: I could pick quite a few pages from this prog but in the end am going for the unconventional cohice of A Jozwiak’s page where Judge Grexnix attempts to ride the lawmaster but it drives off without him leaving his leg in the air about to mount the vehicle. The same page also features a  Boing®er bouncing around the Mega-City.

Grailquote: Grant/Grover, Chief Judge McGruder: “…may I make one small request?” Psi-Judge Anderson: “Name it, C.J.” McGruder: “Would you please stop calling me “C.J.“?” Anderson: “You got it, baby!

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