The race between Ace Garp and Jago Kain has begun and is commemorated in this Belardinelli cover has shades of Prog 172’s Anything to Report, Lopez? (though the reasons for distortion are utterly different). Belardinelli, of course, at his best when illustrating the bizarre.
Tharg’s Nerve Centre has the focus on Nemesis this prog, heralding the forthcoming Nem Book V: The Vengeance of Thoth, as well as some more immediate appearances from Termight. In letters the pronounciation of ‘Slain’ (sic) comes up once more. The customary ad for Eagle Comics (Judge Dredd as a sov judge by Bolland and the Judge Dredd’s Crime File featuring bodies turning up in unexpected places (also by Bolland)).
Strontium Dog: Slavers of Drule by Alan Grant and Carlos Ezquerra. While the slave revolt distracts the guards, Johnny and Wulf free the Keebles, though it looks like the slave revol is going to be put down until Johnny intercedes. We find out how supersitiouus the guards are when a number 4 cartridge brings down the king’s head (apparently the kingdom is now lost – aided by the slaves, given new heart). Wulf points out that the slaves will have a bit of a problem escaping the planet – but Johnny needs to head on over to the palace to free the Keeble daughter anyway – in his words “maybe we can have a personal word with King Larry while we’re there”. Great stuff, this is how you tell an adventure story.
Roy of hte Rovers gets a rerun of the ‘Mega City 1, Melchester Rover 2’ advert – nice when adverts are tailored for their audience (wasn’t enough to convince me to get a football comic though). Facing that is a full-colour ad for Hollywood chewing gum. I just about remember this brand – it had better flavours than a certain more famous brand. I think I mentioned this on a previous appearance of this advert, but the flavours were: strawberry; peach & apricot; raspberry & blackcurrant; lemon; spearmint and cola.
Nemesis the Warlock Book V: Ego Trip by Pat Mills and Kevin O’Neill. Eamonn and I discussed this on the Mega-City Book Club last year (speaking of which – should probably be recording the next one soon). I shall resist re-listening to that recording until after publishing this post to avoid influencing whatever I have to say about this story now. This six-pager relates the tale of Henry Sprutenburg, a filing clerk at the Temight Registry of Deaths, dealing with the cases of death by natural causes (incredibly uncommon in Termight, compared to the numbers involved with, say, death by torture, executions, massacres, suicide, alien attack, genocide and the like). Have I mentioned how wide the streak of dark humour running through this series is before? I’m mentioning it now. Henry has no ambitions, no ego, agrees with everybody and this seems to get him by fine, in the world of Termight. Meanwhile… Torquemada is chasing Nemesis along with a squad of Terminators. An editor’s note says “* before his accident in the teleporter and death on Britannia” – this was probably the first reference I’d ever seen to the teleporter – funny that that event happened in only the second story and third episode of Comic Rock / Nemesis the Warlock. It’d be a few years after this before I actually found out what that was all about. Anyway, Nemesis seeks refuge from the Terminators by possessing the body of Henry. Using Purity Meters (looking like gas meters) Torque tracks down the possessed Henry and storms his apartment. The spirit of Nemesis warps Henry’s body, temporarily turning the luckless Termite into a warlock, which Nem uses to escape and hide somewhere else to regenerate. Henry is left to face the wrath of Torquemada, his body permanently wrecked by the brief possession and has nothing left to look forward to other than torture. It’s around this time that I realised that Nemesis wasn’t necessarily the good guy, just because the protagonist opposed a really bad guy, Torquemada. Any ideas that Nem is a freedom fighter working to free Termites from misery (as we may have gotten from Comic Rock or the breakout from Book I) are long gone now. There was that moment in The Gothic Empire when Nem said he was going to turn Earth into a charnel house, but that was in the heat of the moment after learning that Thoth had been killed (speaking of which, Thoth will be back in a month or so). He’ll be murdering children next…
Judge Dredd: Nosferatu Part 1 by T.B. Grover and Ron Smith. Thanks to Conrad at Space Spinner 2000 I can no longer hear the word Nosferatu without the words “Write his name in blood” accompanied by power chords going through my head… This starts off with a double-page spread close-up of the title character (which I don’t feel is entirely justified – would have been better to get straight in to the story and then have the reveal towards the end). It’s bordered by lots of images of skeletons, spiders and victims. As to that story… Dredd is called to a bombsite where a body has been found. The victim’s insides have been liquefied and sucked out. To emphasise this, they were on their way to a chub-in (presumably a flab fan) which contrasts with the skeletal remains. Time for a flashback and we find out that Citizen Hurd has returned to Mega-City One after years away from Earth (on board a shuttle named Ambranektra – which appears to be German for ‘amber nectar’). Finding lodging the megacitizen is revealed to be a human-sized anthropomorphic spider alien named Nosferatu (who worships Ragnos). A bit hungry after the voyage (can’t go killing fellow passengers as it draws attention), Nosferatu wastes no time in finding a victim and we get a description of how spiders eat (liquidising the insides of a carcass and then sucking up the soup).
Ace Trucking Co.: The Croakside Trip by Grant Grover and Belardinelli. It’s not long before Ace Garp kicks in the booster burners, resulting in the speeds which cause the intense G-forces resulting in the scene on the cover of this prog. Jago Kain in the Yellow Line flagship, the Yellow Snork is not worried though – after all, they only have to make one trip to Speedo Ghost’s two. Evil Blood is still keen to hang around to witness Garp’s death, but is rather disappointed to learn that the ‘illness’ (remember it was a fake diagnosis given to Garp by a doctor paid off by Kain) will not exhibit any signs of pain. As they approach the meteor belt Garp surprises the rest of the crew by continuing to take it at warp speed (there’s a rare panel with upside-down lettering at one stage). Feek is not happy…
Rogue Trooper: Antigen of Horst by Gerry Finley-Day and Jose Ortiz. One of the bio-chips is utterly convinced that the dragonid eggs that the Norts stole are the same eggs that the G.I.s are searching for (based on scant evidence). They’re right of course, but that’s only for narrative reasons… Cue the attack by the Nort ro-rats, backed up by the Drom race (the camel centaurs) and that bat alien, who gets named by Nort High Command this episode (Fleeder, if you’re interested). Fleeder is the one who manages to take down Rogue, using a stun-sphere. You may expect the Norts to kill him, or imprison him. Nope – when he comes around he finds himself tied down at Port One (a massive spaceport) next to the store of eggs. A gloating rhino-alien monologues the plan to Rogue (somehow knowing that Rogue was a) searching for the eggs and b) exactly what the G.I. wanted them for). The Norts have their own use for the eggs, to immunise their combat troops against the effects of travelling at warp speed enabling five battle-fleets to beam through space and obliterate Milli-com – though it’s not explained how the Norts know where Milli-com is. Oh, and when the flagship lands the retros will incinerate Rogue (the biochipped equipment has been taken away).
Kevin O’Neill is back with a back-page starscan of Torquemada to celebrate “The Eagle Awards favourite comic villian of 1984”. Torque is not happy at being called a villain in a rare starscan with a word balloon…
Grailpage: for the amount of detail and the view of Torque Reach Tower it has to be Kevin O’Neill’s opening page of Ego-Trip – pure lures, hate patrols and more.
Grailquote: Grant/Grover, Feek the Freak: “DEFINITE NO HEE-HEE!“