2000AD Prog 442: Sam Slade: Robohunted! “Shoot heem op!” “Yup!” “Yup!” “Yup!” “Yup!” Blat! Blat! Blat! Blat! Blat!

2000AD logo
Prog 442 cover, art by Ian Gibson

Semi-automatic podcast reading here.

Ian Gibson brings forth another Robo-Hunter cover, featuring Slade diving for refuge from an army of Hoagy’s who are being egged on by Robostogie.

Tharg’s Nerve Centre which beseeches Squaxx dek Thargo not to mess around with fireworks, which is funny for reasons I’ll go in to later… Meanwhile a reader points out that Betelgeuse is the armpit of the cosmos (because the star appears in that position in the Orion constellation).

Messing about with the format we’ve gotten used to in recent weeks, Robo-Hunter: “Farewell, my Billions” by Grant / Grover and Ian Gibson by taking primary position in this week’s prog. Things really move along this episode and it feels like it’s all coming to a head as Slade avoids being killed by the army of Hoagies (who are more of a threat to themselves than they are to the robo-hunter) and finds himself in the Sin City casino where he’d initially caught up with the droids. The action hots up and Slade takes to a speedboat chase after Hoagy and Stogie in the yacht they’ve stolen. Looks like things are over for Hoagy as Slade shoots the robot through the head – though this isn’t the first time Hoagy has been deconstructed.

Follow Rogue’s Firework Code… I’m not sure exactly what date this blog post will be published (I’d hazard a guess some time mid-November 2021) but it’s being written on Friday 5th November, so this page is very appropriate, giving warnings to avoid injury on bonefire/fireworks night. Between the Nerve Centre and this page we get given a few stats, 1984 seeing 770 people injured by fireworks, of which 21 people were injured and one killed by home-made fireworks.

Adverts – Dungeons & Dragons (again) and Battle Action Force, featuring a John Cooper pic of ‘Duke and his Action Force team’. For those uninitiated (i.e. too young or living in another country) Action Force were the British version of G.I. Joe, but in classic Star Wars figure size (from what I understand the literal British equivalent of G.I. Joe was Action Man, similar in scale to Barbie or Sindy).

Ah – here’s the reason for the switch in positions – the opening of Nemesis the Warlock Book V: The Vengeance of Thoth by Pat Mills and Bryan Talbot features Satanus on the verso page breathing a fireball at the Grand Dragon’s tube tank on the recto page (not sure the word ‘tank’ really applies, but I’ll stick with it until something better comes up). I missed it at the time, but Thoth casually mentions that the destabilisation process of making the Black Hole and White Hole on either side of Termight collide, obliterating the planet and causing planets light years away to be sterilised by the radiation. This is going to lead in to a few books of Nemesis lasting up to the end of the decade! But Thoth is distracted by Satanus’ howls of pain and as the tyrannosaur returns to normal size the pair retreat in to the Time Wastes (first time they’ve been mentioned, but we’ll be seeing a lot more of them). Seth still bleeding and lacking temporal shielding, Nemesis, Purity and Torque head off to the warlock’s Necropolis hide-out to be greeted by Ro-Jaws, who teases us with mention of a new ABC Warrior. After five years of adventures with Nemesis and Torque, we get to see the face of Tomas for the first time. The reunion between Tomas and Candy doesn’t last long though, before Tomas attacks Nemesis, enraged at the news that the warlock was involved in the deaths of their sons, Barb(arossa) and Pan(dora). Discussed on the Mega-City Book Club.

Your annual treat! – that advert for the 1986 line-up of IPC annuals features again. Here’s the list: Tiger; 2000AD; Grange Hill; BMX; Angler’s Mail; Battle Action Force; Shoot!; Eagle; Judge Dredd and Roy of the Rovers.

Judge Dredd: Mega-Man (A New Superhero is Born!) by T.B. Grover and Ron Smith. The next prog box from the previous week’s episode mentioned a superhero but I knew it was far too early for Fairlyhyperman to make an appearance. A few pages in and I’m remembering how this story goes. As the said superhero starts fighting crime across the Mega-City (over the course of a few hours), the judges correctly deduce that Megaman has a robotic exo-skeleton under their costume and a jetpack under their cloak. Cross-referencing jetpack, cybernetic and costume retailers, they identify a resident of Periwhite Tower. I only got this reference today, not having been a reader of US comics (except Swamp Thing) first time I read this (Perry White is the editor-in-chief of the Daily Planet in Superman comics). Dredd makes short work of the vigilante and once they get the perp out of the exo-skeleton to reveal a weedy frame Dredd calls for an all-channel newsteam to put paid to any idea of copycat vigilantism. There’s a passing mention to Russell Muscle – the second appearance after a showing in a bill poster in Nosferatu (“write his name in blood”). About time the real Russell Muscle made an appearance, I think…

Tharg’s Future-Shocks: It’s the Thought that Counts! by Pete Milligan and Steve Dillon. Three pages long and the first establishes the setup – an alien civilisation preserved the ultimate weapon in a ‘timeproof plasma-hive’ with which an agent of Westopia hopes to win the war against Eastonia. Their companion agent (we find out through thought bubbles) is an Eastonian agent planning to kill the Westopian agent once they’ve located the weapon. By the end of the second page the Westopian agent is pondering what a helmet does while the other messes about with anti-matter throwers and telekinetic blitzers capable of making mountains disappear. Turns out the helmet is the ultimate weapon, because it lets the Westopian agent read the mind of the Eastopian double-agent. This week’s shock was much better told than the ‘making crime a thing of a past’ story.

Mean Team by “The Beast” and Belardinelli. Keller has quit the match leaving Henry Moon (the psychic senser in the body of a panther) to capture the flag. The Swamp Dragons must be getting whiplash with their about-turns as they surrendered to Bad Jack, realised they were still in the game then found themselves being attacked by the panther (which prompts them to give up the flag again). But the focus of the story is on Bad Jack and Richman Von who are having a conversation about why Keller did not accept the flag. In parallels with similar scenes illustrated by Belardinelli in Blackhawk and Sláine, a young child is kidnapped from their home and taken off to become a slave (alright, that’s not quite what happens to either Blackhawk or Medb but I only claimed it had parallels). Young Jack Keller does a Medb in being kidnapped and does a Blackhawk in being trained for a death game. It should be noted that seven-year-old Jack is kidnapped from ‘Earth-land’ by a spaceship. Why this should be noted will become clearer in future episodes. Meanwhile the flashback goes on to reveal what this has all been about. While still in pit-school, young Jack had a conversation with Richman Von and was (jokingly) offered his freedom if he scores 5,000 kill-points. We’ll find out why this is jokingly told next episode, I believe.

No mention in the Nerve Centre, but the combination subscription / next prog page has a Jose Ortiz panel of Rogue Trooper promising that the genetic infantryman will be arriving in Milli-com next week.

Dredd and Anderson – A Thrill of a View – this is a starscan parodying the film poster for James Bond: A View to a Kill, courtesy of Robin ‘Psmith’ Smith, taking advantage of free time from no longer being art editor by flexing their drawing muscles.

Grailpage: almost one page but technically two, once more the intro to this week’s Nemesis by Bryan Talbot takes the grailpage spot. This’d be a centrespread if it was Book III or Book VI, but we’ll have to go for a diptych.

Grailquote: TB Grover, parodying the lines designed for Superman radio plays, first mega-citizen: “Is it a bird?” second mega-citizen: “What’s a bird?” First mega-citizen: “Is it a bat glider?” third mega-citizen: “Nah! It’s some clown in a cape!

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