Ron Smith. Dredd. On the cover. As they should be. In this instance we’re getting a bit of a spoiler. Last prog we had Nosferatu (Write his name in blood!) showing that he could brainwash people and about to face off against Judge Mayall. This cover we’ve got Mayall shooting at Dredd – it wouldn’t be incredibly surprising to see Nosferatu brainwash Judge Mayall in the first few panels of this week’s episode…
Tharg’s Nerve Centre heralds the return of Nemesis the Warlock Book V (not a surprise, we’ve been told a few times already) next prog, but also reveals that Robohunter is also going to be returning. On top of that, Halo Book III is also on its way. Though as the latter two are both drawn by Ian Gibson, we’re going to have to wait a while for at least one of those. An earthlet asks whether the Spikes Harvey Rotten in the Mega-City 5000 is the same Spikes Harvey Rotten who went to The Cursed Earth. – though the biker looked rather different in the second story. I have my own (out-of-megaverse) theory about why the two depictions are so incongruous which I don’t think I’ve mentioned when I covered the two stories. M-C 5000 was primarily raced by the Spacers and the Muties (two bike gangs) – Spacers led by Zoot Smiley and Flash and the Muties led by Spikes and Bones. Bones gets killed pretty quickly and Spikes looks nothing like the Cursed Earth Spikes – M-C 5000 Spikes has dark hair and a biker beard while Cursed Earth Spikes has spiky blond hair and is smooth-shaven. Two Spacers look a bit more like him (well, one’s in a helmet, but at least the other is shown as having long blond hair). A little bit of re-lettering could probably switch the characters and bike gang names in the former story so they match up with Cursed Earth without two much trouble… Another earthlet spotted the triskele in the logo of the New Ireland Life Assurance Company. Unfortunately they’ve changed their logo in the intervening 36 years, so I can’t check on this – really inconsiderate of them. They’ve even demolished and replaced their HQ in Dublin, so I can’t even check the old logo on their building. Meanwhile Forbidden Planet are pushing the latest Eagle Comics – the first has a Bolland depiction of the end of the Apocalypse War (Dredd standing in the ruins of Mega-City One) and a Brendan McCarthy pic for Judge Dredd’s Crime File.
Strontium Dog: Slavers of Drule by Alan Grant and Carlos Ezquerra. King Larry might be Certificable, but the palace construction is solid, featuring murder holes at the entrance (or concealed blaster points, as Alpha calls them). These jerbooans (?) look similar to humans but appear stronger as Princess Polyp and Mij Keeble are of comparable size but Polyp has no problem dragging Mij to the bath (couldn’t quite identify it last prog, but it’s desribed as a straight-forward bath this prog), submerging her and keeping her under. Alpha and Sternhammer arrive on the scene just in time to see the prone body of Mij, drowned in the tub. Alpha’s pretty expert at reviving from apparent death (having done so enough times himself) and manages to find a heartbeat. Meanwhile the slaves
are revo have just turned up at the gates (though when we switch to the ramparts they’re still some way off – but they’re getting there).
Ace Trucking Co.: The Croakside Trip by Grant Grover and Belardinelli. The pirates (jackbuckers in trucker lingo) are attacking and for a moment I almost doubted whether the leader of the pirates was a trademark Belardinelli self-cameo. It looks a lot like the Roman artist, but a bit plumper than usual and wish lighter hair. He’s also got a small flower growing out of the bald bit on top. And his name’s “Cap’n Belardi” so that puts paid to any doubt really.
…and then a internal full-colour full-page ad for Midlands Bank (featuring the lamented Griffin)…
…before getting back to Ace Garp and that lugjacking as Jago Kain and crew take to the escape pods (though not in that order – it’s only when the pirates board that Kain deserts the ship). Back on Speedo Ghost and Evil Blood reveals his motives for helping Garp – he wants to get Garp stuffed so that he can basically use the trucker as a punchbag whenever he gets the urge. Garp has reservations, but Evil Blood convinces him… And with that, Ace Garp wins the race and the entire Yellow Line with it. Last episode next prog, I think.
Turn the comic around for a side-ways double-spread advert from the Department of Transport which suggests that all kids on bikes need to do to remain safe is keep their distance from cars – I wonder if there were similar ads in magazines of the era aimed at adult drivers to slow down and keep their distance from children?
Judge Dredd: Nosferatu Part 3 by T.B. Grover and Ron Smith. Write his name in blood! It takes two panels for Judge Mayall to be brought under the thrall of the alien spider. Judges Dredd, Lanford and Tippett arrive outside the lodging house as the landlady runs out to warn them that Judge Mayall has been taken over. It doesn’t take long for Dredd to incapacitate the mind-controlled Mayall and he rushes upstairs. Only to find the dead body of the landlady – Nosferatu (write his name in blood) was disguised as the landlady and is now long gone! Ten minutes later they find the dead body of a man in a nearby alley, his clothes stolen. The judges have little chance of catching him now. Flashback time and we go back to the scene of the alleyway murder. Nosferatu (write his name in blood) stole the clothes and the money of the victim, but took the visage of somebody else – an image on an advertising poster. Russell Muscle will be making an appearance in person in the next few years, though won’t look too much like the poster image, but never mind – it’s not as egregious as the Spikes Harvey Rotten mismatch. The shapechanging alien spider uses the money to escape to a sector far away where he goes to a dinette to contemplate his next move. As luck would have it the couple running the eating place are fans of Russell Muscle’s, wearing fake muscles (the idea being that muggers are deterred once they see what appear to be big muscles). The episode ends with Nosferatu (write his name in blood) revealing his true form and apparently about to either kill or brainwash the owner of the dinette.
Sláine: Time Killer by Pat Mills and David Pugh. This episode opens with more macrocosmic stuff but the important bit is that Sláine and the gang escape the Guledig. Dev-el babies Elfric merges back in to hu-man form Elfric and convinces the Guledig to have one last chance at defeating and/or capturing Sláine. Back on Pluke, Ukko teases Sláine, Sláine punches Ukko and Myrddin reveals their next destination – Gulag (I wouldn’t have gotten this reference first time I read the story), City of the High Cythrons. If you’re wondering what a High Cythron is – think Lovecraftian Elder Gods. Nest has been taken to the Palace of Experiments and is being led by a female Cythron who insists on referring to Nest as a sow. The pig metaphor continues as Nest tries to use the ring that Myrddin gave her to make the cythron help her escape. The cythron (I’m sure she’s going to acquire a name in later episodes, but it’s not revealed yet) removes Nest’s collar and lead – but only to chain her up (“Grunt twice if you understand”). Bad luck, Nest!
Rogue Trooper: Antigen of Horst by Gerry Finley-Day and Jose Ortiz. I had wondered how Milli-com managed to plant all those chem-mines under the spaceport (and actually, why chem-mines and not just normal mines) but no fear – Rogue exposits it all. Remember that Horst has only recently been abandoned by the Southers? Well, they predicted that the potential of the dragoid eggs as an immunisation agent would be discovered by the Norts, and that they would ship in large amounts of troops in preparation for an assault, so they planted the gas mines (containing phosgene number six – which affects all the Nort aliens but not the dragoids or Rogue) to massacre them when they landed. There’s a silly diversion with the bat alien who for no discernable reason is immune to Gunnar’s shots even at point blank range, but is subsceptable to the dragoid guns and then it’s time for Rogue to leave Horst with some dragoid eggs (he declines to tell the dragoids that he took some eggs). When they return to Milli-com the biochips are all set to be regened. Again. But what will happen to Rogue? We’ll find out later… So, that was Horst. There’s a few problems with it but it’s not quite as dodgy as I remember it. Jose Ortiz had a bit of a task, following up established regulars and also having to contend with the setting, allies, enemies and entire set-up of the strip having changed from the long-running series. How would I encapsulate Rogue in a single sentence? A genetically engineered soldier on the trail of the traitor general responsible for the massacre of his comrades, on a planet where only he can breathe without a suit. That seems to cover the most cogent points. The Horst storyline cuts out most of that set-up, though at least we still get a bunch of puns and new locations. Another shift was that the original series (other than the first few episodes) was split in to distinct stories, even when they tied in to each other, for example the Dix-I campaign and its aftermath. The adventures on Horst were in one long-running story just branded Rogue Trooper, but could have been split in to more discrete packages.
Hubba Bubba gets in on the gum adverts with Tangy Orange flavour.
Grailpage: David Pugh – Sláine. Or rather Nest as we get a glimpse of Durrington College (Stonehenge appears in the distance – never noticed that before).
Grailquote: Alan Grant (and John Wagner), Wulf: “…perhaps death vould be der best thing for you! There is something seriously wrong vith you people – wrong in der noggin!“