The title of this post comes from a great Bolland Supercover, a welcome change after a few lacklustre weeks. The anatomical close-up of a frog and an astronaut’s face shows the kind of detail that Bolland will become famous for by the end of the next decade, especially on his covers for US comics.
Dave Gibbons provides the first and only Harlem Heroes cover. I’m not sure that Inferno makes any covers either – unusual for such long-running series. The cover in question depicts the events of the last frame of the story. I’d question whether it should have appeared on the following prog, but that will be given to the first ever Dredd multi-part story.
Into the prog, and Invasion! begins with a flashback to the third day of the Volgan occupation and the sinking of the British Navy (including all ships and crewmen). The story is a typical ‘trained soldiers fail but untrained lorry driver manages to outwit everyone’, which is getting a bit tired already. A very jingoistic end with North Sea Oil saving the day (not just any oil, you see).
This week’s episode of Flesh marks the first use of the word ‘prog’ in the intro text: “Last prog we left Old One Eye – the monster Tyrannosaur – in a pit of spikes.” We meet the annoying 23rd century brat Orville Wainwright, who doesn’t survive the episode (following from Dredd’s censored panel last prog we get another censored panel with Orville’s grisly death at the hands, or jaws, of Old One Eye.
Harlem Heroes begins and ends with a) Artie Gruber and b) circular panels. On their return from Moscow, the Heroes superliner manages to squeeze through the narrow streets of Harlem though before long they’re off to play against the Aztec-themed Montezuma Mashers. The fans here were masks which, we are told, concealed the hideous, revenge-hungry face of Gruber, with his robes concealing a multi-part flamer gun which he quickly assembles without anybody around him noticing.
Dan Dare has Commander Monday falling for the paper-thin bluff and so he attacks our ‘space hyper-hero’ before Dare whispers the plan to him. The Biog ship seems to be able to communicate to the humans telepathically, but I guess it’s a one-way link. He’s allowed to approach the Odyssey, and once they are in contact, Dare tells the Odyssey to divert all power to the warp motors, tearing a hole in the side of the Biog ship. With no explanation they find the massed star fleets of Earth awaiting them outside, though the Biog fleet is also approaching, so not quite as welcome a sight as they would have wished for.
Facing the last page of Dare is an advert for some Batman toys, with a one-page strip from British artist Frank Langford, who was best known for romance comics, a few Doctor Who stories and The Angry Planet (published in the 1960s and no relation to the Tornado story from a few years after this prog).
John Cooper is back on M.A.C.H.1 in a John Wagner-scripted episode where Probe is stopping a civil war erupt in to World War Three. Cooper’s depictions of a war-torn city are very effective, evoking images from civil war news coverage. Right at the end we’re told that the bane of Probe’s thoughts is a ‘series six computer’ and the next story features a ‘K’ series robot as we get the defacto prologue to The Robot Wars.
Good artwork is provided by Ron Turner though unfortunately his old-fashioned stylings (with his earliest work appearing in 1949!) never fit into the punk-era 2000AD and a good proportion of his work printed by Tharg was actually reprints from older comics. As for the story itself we get introduced to the interestingly-named Judge Diablo, though we don’t find out much about him before his demise, other than he apparently enjoyed watching a robot committing suicide. Best introductions? We meet a Heavy Metal Kid, and Dredd pulls down his helmet respirator. Reinforcing the ties between stories, we get the Transatlantic Tunnel Interpass which ties in to the newly-opened tunnel’s appearance in Harlem Heroes a few progs and 49 years earlier.
Oh, and there’s eight more cards for the Flesh game on the back cover (again, to play it you’ll have to cut off the last page of Dredd).