Tharg knows he has a hit on his hands as Midnight Surfer gets it’s third cover in five weeks (appearing every second week so far). I think the only thing stopping it from getting a fourth cover is that the next episode may be the last, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Oh, and Cam provided the art.
Tharg’s Nerve Centre points out that this week’s replacement for the first Anderson Psi Division is the return of Ace Trucking Co and doesn’t want to give the ending but the title of the new story is The Croakside Trip. There’s also news of a comic in the Netherlands called Campus – though it isn’t clear whether this is an original comic in Dutch or one of many translated editions of IPC material that were common in the eighties (and you try finding out information on a sci-fi comic called ‘Campus’ – considering how many comic conventions take place on educational campuses).
Strontium Dog: Slavers of Drule by Grant/Grover and Carlos Ezquerra. More straight-forward but well-executed storytelling as this episode opens with a bang (as do the barriers around the flesh farm) as our favourite Stronts find the imprisoned humans in the battery shed, where they’re being force-fed to fatten them up. Of course, the ones that Johnny is actually looking for aren’t there – they’ve been taken on to a slave market. Marching the freed humans back to town, Johnny gives the slave auctioneer the task of repatriating all the captives to their homeworlds (luckily all this was against the laws of the planet, so the auctioneer would have some trouble wriggling out of it).
In case of emergency – break glass – this is a starscan by Bryan Talbot and I think makes for Talbot’s first work on the lawman. Pretty sure this has been reprinted a lot, so you’d probably recognise the pic of Dredd pointing his lawgiver through a broken window, the jagged glass acting as a border. I wonder if Bryan drew this based on some practice he got in on the next book of Nemesis?
Facing that colour page is a colour advert – Woody Holly says… a whole bunch of stuff about Hollywood chewing gum. I remember getting this – more interesting flavours than certain other brands of chewing gum (the six flavours available were Strawberry; Peach & Apricot; Raspberry & Blackcurrant; Lemon; Spearmint and Cola).
Over the page is another advert, this time in black and white and for an IPC publication – Mega City 1, Melchester Rovers 2! (it’s for Roy of the Rovers). I’m not in to football, though gather that the acquistion of this character by Rebellion a few years ago has generated a fantastic amount of interest in Rebellion’s Treasury of British Comics.
Sláine: Time Killer by Pat Mills and Glenn Fabry David Pugh. Sláine gets on with the action this episode (except for a little bit at the end) as , at Mogrooth’s instruction he manages to master his warp spasm for the first time – filling in on the lost education which he missed out on when he was banished from his tribe at the age of sixteen. Breaking out the other gladiators (I’ve not mentioned this, but from their appearance they look like they come from a variety of time periods, including indigenous people of the Great Plains and Samurai), Sláine chucks a leyser cannon in Mogrooth’s direction though Myrddin sees that the tide of battle is likely to go against the humans and uses magic. Which results in that little bit of non-action at the end where the macrocosmic balance is shifted in the Guledig’s favour and is used to allow Elfric to materialise. Got that? Time for a big fight next prog!
Judge Dredd: The Midnight Surfer Part Five by T.B. Grover and Cam Kennedy. Like Sláine this is an action-packed episode which the others have been leading up to. There’s not a whole lot I can say about it, it has to be read to be enjoyed. Great use of new Mega-City locations to act as a race course, a couple of deaths from the terrain (Dak Goodvibes and Johnny Cuba) and one of the captured skysurfers gets the truth drug administered – giving Dredd a heads-up on the finale of the course – the Manfred Fox Tunnel.
Ace Trucking Co.: The Croakside Trip! by Grant/Grover and Belardinelli. Ace is back! And if the first page is anything to go by, for the last ever trip out! And to go a little meta for a bit – that was the intention, behind the scenes, as Grant and Wagner had gotten bored of the series. That’s all I’ll say about that at this juncture… Meanwhile, Ace Garp has an incurable disease giving him about five days to live (give or take an hour or two). This puts such a downer on his day that he barely reacts when Evil Blood turns up to kill him. After being appraised of the situation, Blood decides to forego killing Garp (it won’t be worth it if the trucker is ambivalent towards his fate) and instead sticks around in the hope of seeing his agonising death throes. Garp decides to drink himself in to a stupor though an encounter with Jago Kain gives new purpose to his (limited) life – to give the owner of the Yellow Line his comeuppance and finally to bite off his nose… Quite a set-up for a final story!
Rogue Trooper: Antigen of Horst by Gerry Finley-Day and Jose Ortiz. The next zone along for Rogue – and the one which contains the antigen-containing eggs – is a desert. Roll out old Earth tropes, such as pyramids (these appear to be naturally occurring pyramid shaped dunes) and camels. The camels are ‘the Drom race’ – obviously named after dromedary camels (I wonder if there’s a ‘Bac race’ somewhere with two humps? This new alien race are essentially camel centaurs, which I don’t think I’ve seen anybody else, despite a good few years being exposed to role playing games. By the way, the ‘human’ part of the Droms are dressed in the archetypal clothing of the Arabian peninsula… Wiping them out in short order, Rogue spots an alarm-beacon and knows other Nort forces are going to be converging on the area. Bagman suggests the “old G.I. trick” – yep, the well-used standby of burying himself under the surface. But somebody else has beaten him to it – a reptilian Nort alien ally, and this one has teeth – and a bite that is poisonous (remember, G.I.s are immune to all Nu Earth poisons – except that one at the North Pole. Though the amount of times he’s been exposed to that Polar poison I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s built up a resistance to that as well by now). Anyway, while the Droms dress like (stereotypical) Middle East soldiers, the reptiles look a bit more like British soldiers going on safari (no pith helmets though). The episode ends with Rogue face-down while Helm bemoans that the poison might be fatal.
…and it’s time for an advert to round off the prog, this one for Trans Formers – new Dinobots. For those in the know, Snarl, Slag (‽), Grimlock and Sludge.
Grailpage: Glenn Fabry’s opening page to this prog’s Sláine consists of three panels – the first has Sláine being possessed by the spiral force of earth power, threatening to tear him apart in this place, the second has the warped warrior following Mogrooth’s instructions to try to control it and the third has Sláine achieving that control. There’s a real feeling (even before Sláine’s eyes glaze over with earth power) from the posing of the body in the middle panel that the power is being directed.
Grailquote: Gerry Finley-Day, Bagman: “No time to run, Rogue – all you can do is pull the old G.I. trick… dig deep and let them ride over you!” – that’s an understatement!