2000AD Prog 440: 2-Ton Tony Wants to Go Out… “Fat chance!” “It can’t be done!” “Shut up and push!”

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2000AD Prog 440 cover, art by Cam Kennedy

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The fatties are back, and this time Cam Kennedy joins Mick McMahon, Ron Smith and Carlos Ezquerra in showing us the latest misadventures as Two Ton Tony Tubbs takes to the cover. Though maybe they’re not two tons yet? I’ll find out in the story inside.

Tharg’s Nerve Centre is dominated by news of the impending returns of Rogue Trooper, Strontium Dog and The Ballad of Halo Jones Book Three. Tharg also plugs “a brand new comic art form never before seen in the universe” – this is presumably Sláine The Tomb of Terror (which will feature game play elements after each week’s episode) though could also conceivably be an early hint at Diceman, coming next year. Meanwhile in the reader section synchronicity strikes as one reader begs for a back prog shop in Belfast while another earthlet writes in with details of Harry Hall’s Bookshop in Belfast – how’s that for luck?

Nemesis the Warlock Book V: The Vengeance of Thoth by Pat Mills and Bryan Talbot. Candida rages against Nemesis in a rather nicely appointed library just as Nemesis appears behind her (seemingly teleporting in, which he’s done a couple of times now, notably in Sir Hargan’s tent on Ygdrassil. Candida is so upset about the deaths of her children that she doesn’t even notice, and instead has a quick flashback. She caught the eye of the Grand Master when being shown around a new housing estate, which used magnetic suction to use all six faces of a one-room flat for the entire family. A montage (and parody of Charles and Di’s wedding) later and the couple are married. Life is idyllic at first, though after the accident in the teleporter things take a turn for the worse. Tomas’ ‘grandfather’ Nostradamus is sneaked in to one scene, as is Murcalla de Torquemada, Tomas’ mother. Looking up the spelling of the latter, I noticed from The Family of Tomas de Torquemada that Candid wasn’t looking too happy in those pre-teleporter days either – maybe it was just a bad day when that portrait was taken… She finally sees Nemesis and tries to leave (no doubt to summon Terminators) but Purity blocks her way – time for some hand-to-hand combat while Purity subdues ‘Candy’. Nem and Purity manage to talk Candy in to following their plan to rescue Tomas and the following day the plan is put in to action. There’s a nice little touch of Tomas’ reaction to the blitzspear coming to his rescue which I’d never noticed before! It’s not entirely clear whether Tomas is going to allow Nemesis to rescue him, but the bait has been taken by Thoth and Satanus anyway. (any questions are dispelled by the next prog tag: “The unholy alliance!” Discussed on the Mega-City Book Club.

Starscan – The History of Justice – The Luna War: Prog 51. Brian Bolland is back, showing a Sov Judge facing Dredd in the game of war. Continuity error – Dredd is wearing the trappings of a Mega-City One Judge, instead of a Luna-Citi marshal.

Robo-Hunter: “Farewell, my Billions” by Grant / Grover and Ian Gibson. Surrounded by Hoagies and Stogies, Slade is confronted with the idea that he’s dreaming and that none of this is real. If that is the case, then Slade may as well reclaim all his money, no matter how many robots have to get shot up in the process. We get an inkling of the real plan here as three stogies egg on the “old Sam Slade”, “greatest robohunter een all the steenkin’ world”. Then Slade gets knocked out from behind by a human hand waking up some time later in a ‘hospital’ surrounded by human nurses. They’re the only humans around though as Mr Goyah (anagram of Hoagy) arrives, declares Slade incurably insane and removes the screens, revealing an entire hospital ward full of Hoagies…

Advert: IPC trots out its 1986 annuals: Tiger; 2000AD; Grange Hill; BMX; Angler’s Mail; Battle Action Force; Shoot!; Eagle; Judge Dredd and Roy of the Rovers.

Judge Dredd: Magnificent Obsession Part One by T.B. Grover and Cam Kennedy opens with a splash image stretching across the centrespread, giving Tony enough space to frame his entire family. Similar (but not exactly the same as) the opening to Citizen Snork, this story makes it clear that it isn’t the usual law enforcement Dredd tale and so it opens with big news in Mega-City One – the food shortages are over and the fences segregating mega-citizens over 300 kilos are coming down! It’s not quite that simple for everybody though, as One Ton Tony has put on a bit of weight (despite the strict diet regime) and can’t get out of the door. Two large to return to his old apartment, Cousin Vance lets the family have some space in his Moto Repair garage, and it is there that Tony announces his plan to the family – now that the food rationing is finished, the Fatty of the Year Contest will be coming back, and when it does Tubbs wants to be ready. He wants to be the world’s first two ton man. Winning the contest won’t be the end in itself (even though it has a fifty thousand cred prize) – the sponsorships will be worth millions, enough to set the family up in luxury thereafter!

Tharg’s Future-Shocks: Prisoner of Conscience! by Pete Milligan and Barry Kitson starts with somebody else getting their freedom, but this is a prisoner and the freedom is through taking advantage of a lucky meteor strike to escape a prison planet. My future-shock senses are already alerted by this apparent luck. The streak continues with a ship that is easy to acquire and a landing on a planet full of hospitable and welcoming natives. After spending weeks with the natives they start to die from flu, caught from the escaped prisoner. Their one hope would be for the prisoner to call the authorities to vaccinate them – but this would mean going back to prison, so the prisoner just lets them all die. That’s two pages down – what’s on the shocking last half-page? This is all a virtual simulation – he’s let the primitives die ten times and failed his parole test! I think I may have guessed this was a simulation (as we’ve seen with stranded victims of shipwrecks before), but not that it was a parole test.

…and the other half of the final page of the shock is the advert for Dungeons & Dragons we’ve seen previously.

Mean Team by “The Beast” and Belardinelli. Time for the Grand Final of the Galactic Death-Bowl Championships! We already know that the Mean Team are going to win, because that’s what it said on the splash page of the very first episode – in fact, it also gave away that it won’t be remaining a future sports strip for the duration, but let’s pretend we hadn’t been told that bit. Unusually (and much to team owner Richman Von’s chagrin) Keller is setting up a five-man defence, leaving only Moon and Keller to take on the entire enemy team. The reason for this is points – if Keller kills five opponents in hand-to-hand combat then he’ll get the requisite 50 points needed to reach 5,000 kill points over the course of his 15-year career. We’re not told yet why this is relevant, but Keller warns Moon off from letting animal instincts take any of his kills from him. The commentator breaks the fourth wall in the last panel by telling the ‘viewers’ to “be here next prog!”

The inside back cover has 2000AD-related adverts – the first a Cam Kennedy panel from next week’s prog, a Forbidden Planet / Titan Books ad featuring a Steve Dillon (I think) cover to Judge Dredd 6, which contains Shanty Town and finally IPC’s The Best of 2000AD Monthly No 2 (Rogue Trooper).

One more page, one more advert as the back cover shows off Transformers: Dinobots, namely Snarl, Slag (!), Grimlock and Sludge.

Grailpage: once again, Bryan Talbot’s opening to this week’s Nemesis the Warlock, showing an angered Candida in the library as Nem appears in a cloud of smoke and light, just as the flashback is about to begin.

Grailquote: Pat Mills, Tomas de Torquemada: “Keep away from me! I’d rather burn!” Nemesis: “I would prefer that, too – but I need you as bait!” tied with TB Grover, Little Tone Tubbs: “You can eat me if it’ll do any good, dad!” Tony Tubbs: “Very kind of you, little Tone – but I hope it won’t come to that!” Honorary mention to ‘The Beast’, Bad Jack Keller: “You know the game plan – get lost!” (in the sense of hiding themselves in the arena).

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