McMahon’s cover introduces us to Las Vegas Judge Fingers and Dredd in front of a huge fruit machine (albeit one with death’s head symbols instead of fruit)!
The 2000AD Nerve Centre tells us that Dare is going to face the Doomsday Machine in this prog (recognise the name but the story eludes me for the time being). Tharg reveals that Tweak will be accompanying Dredd for the rest of the journey across the Cursed Earth (are you supposed to reveal that supporting characters will survive to the end of a story?) and that Walter will be back soon, presumably in a series of one-page strips.
Slade is being carried through the experimentation complex – and is fully drawn by Ian Gibson now. Slade and Kidd are stripped and examined by medical robots, who it has to be said look rather similar to the drones from 1972 film Silent Running. Ardeni Lakam may get naked at the drop of a hat over in Star Lord, but Sam Slade provides the (enforced) male nudity over in 2000AD. The word ‘Drokk’ get used by Slade… After a bit of pseudo-science the captive Robo-Hunter adjusts his blaster to cope with the hard metal which Verdus robots are made from and escapes – next prog promises a riot!
This cover is basically a rehash of the end of last week’s episode of Planet of the Damned, with Flint about to do battle with a black knight on the back of a mammoth in front of a fortress. This very red painting could have graced any Conan-esque fantasy novel of the last fifty years. Flint also looks a little like He-Man, though I think this is a few years before whichever toy company it was came up with that idea.
Starlord doesn’t have enough space this issue for a full Star Fax so has a narrow strip at the top of this week’s Mind Wars to tell us about the Hell Planet boardgame (and how he hasn’t finished writing the rules yet). If the last episode was inspired by Star Wars (with our protagonists approaching Mos Eisley to organise transport off world in a cantina) then the similarities continue, after a brief case of misinterpreted greetings. Tip – if an alien race looks like an apex predator then their greetings will probably look like an assault. The Solar Saint (Millenium Falcon) leaves Yu-Jubum just before it gets destroyed (Alderaan, anyone?) and is immediately pursued by Federal strike ships (Star Destroyers). Even some of the dialogue has parallels (even if the meaning is opposite). Compare and contrast: “The old Solar Saint was built to outrun local planetary space police forces, not a Federal battle fleet!”; “I’ve outrun Imperial starships. Not the local bulk cruisers mind you, I’m talking about the big Corellian ships now.” Anyway, the battle fleet attacks and the Lakam twins use their powers to hold out for a while, but in the end they have to be rescued by a Jugla suicide attack, just before they head off into trans-light drive (hyperspace).
The cliffhanger for Dan Dare resolves in the same way I predicted (but hoped it would not). Dare tells Bear to go for his gun and the five fakes try to wrestle the real Bear for his real gun. As Bear is best known for his great strength and bear hug I’d hoped it would be some way other than the method used to unmask DoppelDare from earlier. Nice use by Jack Adrian of the planet bombs mentioned in the Space Fort cutaway from a few months earlier – again it makes me wonder if the ideas were introduced for the cutaway or pre-written into the weekly story and part of the brief for the postergraph.
MACH One goes pretty much how I’d expected, with Probe being chucked in a pool and insta-frozen. We find out that while his reaction were slowed, Probe’s hyper-acu-reflexes allowed him to prevent the wound from the thrown knife being a fatal one. The mafia have stolen a dolphin to lead them to a secret research area, while Probe (having de-iced himself by raising his body temperature to dangerous levels) follows a different dolphin to the same area.