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Ian Gibson provides the cover, showing an aged but lean Sam Slade putting P-A-I-D to two robots.
Tharg’s Nerve Centre and the mighty one plugs this prog, plus a slew of reprints (though we already got told about one of those last prog). There’s also a Judge Dredd laser scan, but it isn’t on the back page, as… well, we’ll get to all that. In answer to a reader’s letter, Tharg confirms that Ian Kennedy is not related to Cam Kennedy. Speaking of reprints, non-IPC reprints of 2000AD stories are advertised in the familiar Forbidden Planet ad for Eagle Comics – this time for Judge Dredd No 25 (Get Ugly) and The Stainless Steel Rat No 2.
Nemesis the Warlock Book V: The Vengeance of Thoth by Pat Mills and Bryan Talbot. Grand Dragon Mazarin presides over the trial of Torquemada, coming to the conclusion that Tomas is the true Torque. But they’re going to execute him anyway as his return could unsettle the people and destroy Termight. Whipped through the tubes, the Termight on the street doesn’t believe his pleas, though fellow prisoners Brother Gogol and Sir Evric (still in stocks after more than a decade) recognise his voice and look forward to Torque getting a roasting (on the Kelvinator Insinerator). Not only does Thoth have the power to drag people through time warps from the past but the warlock can also get an apartment with a good view of the burnings. Meanwhile the aliens mysterious pet is hungry and the tenant downstairs (who could have walked straight out of the Gothic Empire, or Bryan Talbot’s Luther Arkwright) is investigating their neighbour problems – for the pet is noisy and smelly… The narrative switches to the marriage of Nemesis and Magna, which I’ve already complained about as it isn’t ‘alien’ enough. Nem is wearing a bridegroom’s suit, Magna has a wedding dress and the marriage is marked by a ring. Just after the marriage is consecrated, Purity makes an emergency entrance, bringing news from Termight – strange time warps have been detected emanating from the apartment of Sir Hargan. Nemesis rapidly comes to the conclusion that such emanations could only be caused by a warlock and (correctly) that maybe Thoth is still alive. In that moment, Magna lets drop her psychic shield, a thought letting slip that she was involved in the attempted assassination of Chira and Thoth. By the end of the page, Nemesis has slain Magna and is preparing to head off to Termight. There’s a few good lines of dialogue so far this episode, but will they make it to the grailquote section? Ashtar bemoans that their marriage wouldn’t last while we find out what happened to that tenant in Termight and what the pet is. Or rather who the pet is, for it’s something that we’ve met before. No doubt if you’re interested enough to read this blog you already know it’s Satanus, but at the time I first read this I barely knew Satanus was, other than in the Eagle Comics reprint of The Blood of Satanus, which I’d have bought around March in the same year (this prog came out in September). Usually when part of the Old One Eye clan makes an appearance there’s a one or two page Flesh File – I guess it’ll appear later this prog or early next prog? Discussed on the Mega-City Book Club.
Cover star Sam Slade is on the case in Robo-Hunter: “Farewell, my Billions” by Grant / Grover and Ian Gibson. Starting by calling all the airlines and seaports in Tahiti, Slade suddenly realises that his yacht has gone missing. As they could have sailed anywhere Slade only has one lead, the robot which attacked him. Tracing the robot to a Fellini’s – a droid retailer in Manhattan (using some secret funds hidden in the toilet cistern), Slade reminisces about the events of Day of the Droids (which I wouldn’t read until a few years later). After a bit of threatening (and quite a lot of droid destruction) Slade gets the name of the buyer of the copper heavy from Tahiti – not that the name means anything to the reader… Still, the story’s heading along at pace.
Ah, there it is – the Satanus File – filling me in on the bits of the Old One Eye lineage I wouldn’t have known about so far. Episodes of Flesh had been reprinted in the 2000AD Sci-Fi Special, so I’d have read part of the stories. A brief two-page history lesson featuring Old One Eye, Satanus and Golgotha is written by Pat Mills (not holding back in aggrandising his creations) and illustrated by Ramon Sola, Mike McMahon and Carlos Ezquerra.
Judge Dredd: Get Smart by T.B. Grover and Ron Smith. Otto Sump is back, and with it comes an advert for the latest product! Smart Sweets, and with the advert comes Justice Department attention. Luckily (or craftily) for Sump, the advert may make people think that consuming the sweets might make one smart, but the advert doesn’t actually claim that. In the words of the investigating judge “it even points out you have to be stupid to buy the sweets”. Dredd tries to talk Sump in to withdrawing the misleading but legal product. While doing this three dummies (that’s how they’re described in the narration box) try to pull a heist on the Sump Accounts Department. It must be a smart idea, because one of the dummies was eating smart sweets at the time. Obviously this doesn’t succeed – partly because they’re dummies and didn’t think the plan through very well (one got killed by a juggernaut while they were crossing the road to Sump Labs) and mainly because Dredd was already on the scene. In the aftermath Dredd uses this as an excuse to bully and harangue Sump in to pulling the sweets off sale (pretty sure Dredd wouldn’t have been able to hold up the argument in a court though – and we know there are actually courts in Mega-City One, though it’s unclear exactly when they get used). Neat little one and done, despite the resolution basically being Dredd threatening Sump.
Not under the Tharg’s Future-Shocks banner, but Project Salvation! may as well be. It’s by Pete Milligan and John Higgins and starts with a giant comet heading for Earth (this was actually printed the year before Halley’s Comet made it’s last fly past – just saying). Obviously I’ve read this before, but I’d like to think I’d have worked out what the ending was by the end of the first page. So, this comet is heading for Earth, the President of the World makes a worldwide broadcast informing everybody that they’re perfectly safe. Meanwhile a powerful industrialist doesn’t believe this and gets a message from an underling that a whole load of politicians have secretly gathered at a desert complex named Project Salvation. The industrialist jumps to the conclusion that the politicians are jumping the sinking ship and preparing to leave Earth on a rocket. Through violence and bribery, the industrialist gets on to the ship just before it takes off. Once aloft, they find that the ship is empty of any other passengers. In the best tradition of the Future Shock, the set up takes two pages and – one page flip later – the punchline and shock takes up a half-page panel – the industrialist has stowed away on the biggest bomb ever made, designed to blow the comet up before it can reach the Earth! You can probably tell I like this short but sweet story?
…and the other half of that page is another showing for the Conan RPG.
Brian Bolland provides that Judge Dredd laser-scan that Tharg mentioned in the Nerve Centre. Dredd and Spikes are bound in ropes by The Brotherhood of Darkness in The History of Justice – The Cursed Earth: Progs 61-85. There’s going to be a few of these starscans and I’m not sure where they came from. Where they commissioned by Tharg or did the Titan and Eagle reprints have something to do with it? I don’t think this exact scene actually appeared in the prog…
Tharg the Mighty in Enter the Beast by T.M.O. (usually the editor of the day, so Steve MacManus?) and Carlos Ezquerra. Leaving for a tour of galactic comic conventions, Tharg leaves Sim-1 in charge, and tells the droid to prepare for the delivery of a new script droid. As the galaxy’s greatest comic has become too ‘soft’ The Beast is being brought in to add more punch, fire and zap. A crate arrives. You know that scene in ¡The Three Amigos! where the patrons of a rough canteen encounter a mean gunslinger and are prepared for the arrival of some of the gunslingers friends by the words “Some friends of mine will be coming here, I hope you will show them more courtesy than you have shown me – they aren’t as kind-hearted as I am” – and then the three amigos – three pampered actors who wouldn’t be able to handle themselves in a fight turn up? This is that, with added ‘mince’ sound effects when the crate is opened to reveal a flower-wielding, well-manicured and decidedly camp robot. In Sim-1’s words (after a few days of trying to toughen the robot up) the new arrival is a “big sissy”. When Tharg returns the mighty one immediately realises the wrong robot has been delivered – this one is Nigel, intended for fellow IPC comic, Jack and Jill (aimed at nursery-age children). Unfortunately for the rest of the editorial staff of Jack and Jill, Milton “The Beast” Shrimpton has been on the rampage in their offices for the past few days. Down in the Command Module (wonder what happens with the staff of Jack and Jill and other IPC magazines when the disguised starship which is Kings Reach Tower heads in to space?) The Beast is let loose on a typewriter in the script cubicle. And what was all this for (five pages, if you’re counting)? The Mean Team, starting next prog!
We’re up to the inside back cover and it’s time for that advert for reprints that Tharg mentioned at the top of the prog. This mixes Eagle Comics and IPC Magazines reprints – Eagle being the cover of Judge Dredd 23 showing Joe in Sov Judge garb (by Brian Bolland), The Best of 2000AD Monthly No 1 being a reprint of the Ron Smith Rex Peters cover to Prog 153 and The Judge Dredd Collection – the 1980s equivalent of The Daily Dredds – not sure, but other than the strip work by Ron Smith I think the main illo is by Garry Leach.
I’m not into Transformers so the back cover advert would have passed me by – for those interested the latest offerings are Shrapnel, Kickback and Bombshell. Took me a while to spot that they’re ‘Insecticons’, after trying to work out what the non-robot transformations were (they just looked like different-shaped robots on first glance).
Grailpage: there’s a few tempting pages, but in the end I’m going for Ron Smith’s centrespread (the space and colour always gives these an advantage) showing a page-height portrait of Otto Sump (the billionaire is strawberry blond, folks), a six panel vid advert and two judges discussing the latest offering. It’s going to be far too long until we see Sump again, unfortunately.
Grailquote: I was tempted by quite a few lines in Nemesis the Warlock, but how could I resist T B Grover’s Otto Sump: “Judge Dredd! My old buddy!” Judge Dredd: “I’m nobody’s buddy, Sump – least of all yours.” Gotta feel sorry for the deluded Sump.