2000AD Prog 433: The Sweet Taste of Justice! “Come here, food!”

For two week’s running, Ron Smith illustrates a Judge Dredd cover, again depicting a scene from the latest episode of Nosferatu (write his name in blood). Something else it shares with last prog is a word balloon. You don’t get so many of those these days, certainly not as many as in the eighties.

Tharg’s Nerve Centre gets right down to business by highlighting that this prog contains the last episode of Ace Trucking Co (and thus it was intended, at the time). Timely answers to questions asked by earthlets include “I don’t know” to a query about why there isn’t a Judge Dredd TV series (as of 2021 in development by Rebellion), when is Sam C Slade going to be released from the health farm – “soon” and is Bryan Talbot going to be back with Nemesis soon – “yes”.

Sláine: Time Killer – Gulag by Pat Mills and David Pugh. I included Gulag in the title as it’s in bigger letters and a different font to the rest of the lettering… Pugh opens the episode with a view of the city of Gulag which is pretty much a necropolis. In case we hadn’t been paying attention so far Mills gives us a concise round-up of the setup – the cythrons are collecting prana from humans to allow the High Cythrons to awaken, break through the ray barrier (?) and infest the stars (because Earth is their prison). A number of them are named and a quick search on the internet suggests that Mills made up the names, except for one who seems to be named after Grímnismál, a poem about a disguised Odin. Myrrdin explains all this to Sláine and company. Should have mentioned – there were some shadowy shapes behind Nest last episode and this time around Myrrding explains what they were (there’s lots of explaining this episode). They’re sluaghs – shadow creatures formed from the dreams of the High Cythrons. Speaking of Nest, she’s still trying to use the talisman that Myrddin gave her to influence her cythron jailer. After a close call with some micro/macrocosmic jargon it starts to work and the cythron introduces herself as Oeahoo (no wonder I couldn’t remember her name) and takes her on a tour, including a room where naked human barbarian types are kept in a state of rage permanently so that their auras can be drained of prana three times a day. She almost gets herself free, but then the cythron scientist Myraakothka makes a reappearance and threatens the experiments to come. Can Myrddin and Sláine rescue Nest in time? Will there be some other snag that arises along the way? What do you think?

The Midland Griffin Savers from last prog gets another showing. 7-17 year olds opening an account with £10 stand to gain sports bags, dictionaries, folders, maths sets, a magazine and a ‘home bank file’ (another folder with a savings book and space to put statements).

Strontium Dog: Slavers of Drule by Alan Grant and Carlos Ezquerra. On their way offplanet, Alpha gives the slave revolt a helping hand on breaching the citadel walls. The royal family make a break for it – jarringly making for the Daihatsu (it’s not a car – it’s a hovercar thing). It takes two days to get back to Smiley’s World and reunite the Keeble family. After some awkward vestiges of anti-mutant prejudice from Mrs Keeble Johnny decides the job isn’t entirely over (much to Wulf’s chagrin, he just wants to get back to their cabin). Alpha sends a message to the Doghouse and puts out a bounty on informatino on Black Gumbs and the slavers. Three weeks later a message comes through – Wulf and Johnny are off to the planet Spittoon this time. Nothing much to say about this episode other than the story is certainly hurtling towards its conclusion.

Competition Results Service! The Henshin Robos and KP Alien Spacers. Collectively there are 35 winners. I skimmed through them but no famous names jumped out at me.

Judge Dredd: Nosferatu: Write His Name in Blood! by T.B. Grover and Ron Smith. Last episode Nosferatu escaped to Sector 218. This episode over in Sector 219 and seventeen days later the judges discover the latest four bodies to be dumped by the shapechanging alien spider. Another talent is also revealed – Nosferatu are negative emitters – they can’t be detected by Psi-Division. Luckily there is a creature which can pick up negative emissions – Garrhounds. There’s certainly some parallels with Kleggs and Klegghounds here… Dredd put in an order for some a few weeks earlier and they’ve just arrived (and I thought delivery times these days could be bad). There’s a quick resolution to this one – the Garrhounds trace Nosferatu down to the Stale Bagel Dinette, the alien tries to escape, Dredd folllows, Nos takes a hostage, Dredd uses ricochet to kill him and everything is resolved. Oh, except those brainwashed victims are still brainwashed, and judging by the authorities on the home planet of Garlokk – who have been trying for three thousand years – there’s no cure. Still, six dead (not five, like the narration box says) and three brainwashed is a small blip in the Mega-City. Which is highlighted by Dredd’s next call from Control – 34 corpses found in a skip.

2000AD Reservation Coupon by Robin Smith tops a page with The Judge Dredd Collection at the bottom – the first collection of Daily Star strips (but missing a few weeks, unlike the more recent Daily Dredds from Rebellion).

Bryan Talbot provides another promo starscan for Nemesis the Warlock Book V: The Vengeance of Thoth starting in Prog 435. Like the colour internal Talbot starscan a prog or two earlier, this one is also in colour and has a pretty complete cast list (but not totally complete – Grand Dragon Mazarin is missing). Shown are Torquemada, Thoth, Nemesis, Candida, Hammerstein, Purity, Magma, Ro-Jaws, Mek-Quake, Blackblood, Hitaki, Mongrol, Mad Ronn, Joe Pineapples, Deadlock and *sniff* Grobbendonk.

More advertising, starting with a Justice Dept Warning to “Be a wise guy: be waterwise!” This is the aquatic version of the Green Cross Code or the Country Code (which I didn’t know had been renamed / replaced by the Countryside Code in 2004). That all only takes up the top half of the page – the rest is filled with a colour advert for Yamaha portable keyboards.

Ace Trucking Co.: The Croakside Trip by Grant Grover and Belardinelli. This is it – the final episode. Ace gets the deeds for all 313 ships of the Yellow Line, and he doesn’t intend to keep them – well, as far as he knows he’s going to die in five hours time – but he’s not going to give them to his crew either. Instead he returns them all to their previous owners – most of whom had been tricked out of them by Jago Kain. One nose-chomping later (yep, Ace Garp bit off Jago Kain’s nose) Garp says goodbye to his lugmates. We’ve not seen G-B-H’s huge space helmet (big enough to hold his luscious mane of hair) but we do get massive teardrops as he waves farewell. Ace gets past Evil Blood (by quickly biffing Evil on the chin and running for Speedo Ghost) and escapes on the nightlight flight. Not that Evil knows what that means – but Feek enlightens him – it’s the trucker’s farewell – Ace is going to fly Speedo Ghost in to the heart of a star. Jago is present to hear this and reveals that Ace wasn’t actually dying after all (as we readers have known from early on). Feek desperately tries to contact Ace, but it’s no good, the tucker is already too close to the sun to pick up the signal. At least G-B-H is on hand to punish Jago. And for good measure Feek joins in. As does Evil Blood. At least that’s something… Grant and Grover were tired of writing Ace Trucking Co, so they meant it – Garp is dead, never to be seen again…

A back cover advertisement features The Barratt Sherbet Gang push their wares (Dip-Dabs, Big Dippers and Sherbert Fountains).

Grailpage: a double grailpage prog this time. Opening the prog was David Pugh’s vistas of Gulag, the City of Dungeons – if Sláine had been on the centre pages this would have been a great double-page centrespread. As it is we get two single-panel pages of buildings and I think I’ll pick the first, showing buildings which remind me of Sumerian ziggurats or vaguely meso-American pyramids. Meanwhile at the other end of the prog Belardinelli does a sterling job on the last page of the last episode of AceTrucking Co as the Speedo Ghost melts in the heart of a star – the letterer Starkings joins in by having his last worsd also melt (along with the word bubble they’re in) – “Ten ten, never again!”

Grailquote: Grant/Grover, Ace Garp: “Ten ten, uffy buddy. Been a pleasure truckin’ with ya.” Feek the Freak: “Not can say same for you, Ace. Been one long pain in egg! All same, Feek miss you.” Ace: “What can I say, G-B-H? We had some good times eh, big buddy?” G-B-H: “Did we? When?”

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