Prog 23 is here, and sees Brian Bolland back with one of his best covers to date. Brian gets his full name on the cover – I wasn’t paying attention in previous weeks so this might be a first. Only a matter of time before all art droids get proper credit boxes!
Apparently this cover was provided by Trevor Goring, who would later be responsible for some fantastic, atmospheric Future Shocks, and Kevin O’Neill, whose work on Nemesis the Warlock Book III was largely responsible for my continuing with 2000AD and reading comics past childhood. It’s pretty disappointing that this work together is so uninspiring…
This post has been in ‘drafts’ for nearly three months now, so probably about time I finished it and published…
The Supercover story on prog 20 is ‘The Man Who Stole the Stars!’, which is fitting as when I read this, on the day that his death was announced, it called to mind the late David Bowie’s songs ‘The Man Who Sold the World’ and ‘Starman’ (amongst other space-themed songs).
Over the page, however, we get the first instalment of a large-creature-based strip to replace Flesh with the polar bear Shako! Continue reading
As expected my slog got off to a pretty good start at the weekend but slowed to a crawl once pesky work got in the way.
Not the snappiest of cover captions there (I considered trying to edit it down a little, but want to see how WordPress reacts to such a long title). The other cover line was: “Who can tear a building to shreds with his bare hands? Answer inside…” by the 7th prog, any Earthlet who doesn’t answer ‘M.A.C.H.1’ hasn’t been paying attention. Good work from Massimo on his first proper cover (his art had appeared on Progs 1, 2 and 4, but only in the form of Dare’s head, or jostling for space with the promotional blurb and free gifts).
Over the page a splash of Paddington station, as run by Volgs. A pretty light episode on plot, but we see one of the units from the Red Alert / Futuregraphs in action (the Spyder Troops). In the last few panels it turns out that the Mad Dogs get their best intel from Volg-run propaganda, which gives the game away by letting Savage know about the Volg informant. Not the best strategy from the Volgans there…
On to Flesh where Old One Eye goes on the rampage, attacking through hate rather than for food. The other characters start to get slightly more dimensions to them – having his home city appears to have sobered up the Doc enough that he gets Carver and Reagan to stop fighting.
Before Harlem Heroes we have a pre-skinhead Weetabix advert (this one featuring the one true Doctor Who). In Harlem Heroes itself we have three pages which basically repeat the last page of the previous episode, showing us how little the Siberian Wolves care about their own safety next to the glory of Mother Russia. On the last page Giant find out his jet pack has been sabotaged, cue cliffhanger.
Dan Dare sees the spacer taming the living Axe, which always reminds me of the Polymorph from Red Dwarf (which made its first appearance over a decade after this story). What remains of his crew escape Jupiter to find the Odyssey is having problems with the Biogs spaceship, in a great panel that Belardinelli manages to cram into half a page of story.
The rest of the page is taken up with the omnipresent adverts for stamps and, after a break in the previous prog, a Thargnote sized Nerve Centre. I almost missed it, but the term ‘Borag Thungg’ makes it’s first appearance here.
Onwards to M.A.C.H.1 where Probe goes off to Bolavia (sic) to rescue a distinctly unappreciative British arms dealer, who quickly proceeds to order the guard holding him captive to arrest his rescuer. Probe gets captured due to showing those pesky emotions again and orders the computer to switch off his hyperpower in order to fool the guards. Not entirely sure why he couldn’t just have acted as if he was weak. Earthlings are warned not to throw secret police chiefs out of helicopters (or was it pulling down two thousand ton buildings we were warned against?)
In a week where we’ve seen a preview of a forthcoming Dredd story featuring a rebuilt Statue of Judgement (or possible building site thereof), in this prog we get the unveiling of the original Statue, still with a body of water behind it. Apparently it was built by the people, though I do wonder how it became the HQ of PSU in latter years (maybe something that happened during the reign of Cal – I don’t remember if any details will be given). One of the perps suggests Dredd is not human, a later scene is reminiscent of the film we do not mention, and we get a view of the Lawrod (though it isn’t named in this episode). I don’t recall whether we’ll get many details of the Lawrod, but a slide on the side seems to suggest it has a Lawgiver-style ammunition selection, though this one goes up to seven! One the back page we get an advert for the Flesh card game that will build up over the next four weeks, along with a distinctly un-2000AD children’s comic-style panel. Not familiar with those types of comic artist, so I wouldn’t know if it was provided by a famous Beano, Dandy or Whizzer and Chips artist.
Ian Kennedy returns to the Galaxy’s Greatest, though on Invasion! rather than M.A.C.H.1 this time. The nasty Volgs are going to publicly execute innocent civilians in retaliation for the Mad Dogs first attack. The place they chose to do this was Wembley Stadium (renamed Victory Stadium), and so Savage’s response to this includes football imagery. The song You’ll Never Walk Alone is used and I had to check it wasn’t Pat Mills on writing duties (though he was editor at the time, so perhaps he was in some way responsible for its inclusion?)
On to Flesh, and the main scene of interest to me is when Old One Eye accidentally kills her own son (not that she would have stopped if she’d realised). I suspect this is the first appearance of the original Satanus, before he was reincarnated in the 21st century. Shall have to compare scenes once I get to the Cursed Earth.
Facing the last page of Flesh is a fantastic splash page from Gibbons, of the Trans-Atlantic Tunnel. Lots of visual treats on the sides of the trucks and superliners using it. A racist commentator (who calls all of the Russian players Boris) notwithstanding, this is a pretty good episode.
Speaking of great art, Belardinelli is next on Dare, with our first view of the BIogs’ Base. Not sure the use of red, blue and black works that well – black and blue might have picked out the detail nicely but the third colour doesn’t work for me. Anyway, Massimo gets to draw lots of strange aliens, so all is good (and we get the first appearance of the Axe of Office).
The Nerve Centre is next with a (doctored) photo of Tharg, flanked by a couple of adverts for stamps (from different companies!) If I remember my Thrill-Power Overload correctly, this is Kelvin Gosnell dressed up as Tharg, terrorising a secretary.
Next up, M.A.C.H.1 fights for Himmler’s Gold. Neo-Nazis, actual Nazis and Stormtrooper skeletons crop up in a story which is pretty similar to every other tale we’ve had of the M.A.C.H.man.
Rounding the prog, story-wise, is Dredd coming up against Frankenstein 2, an transplant organ harvester. Dredd is in Sub Sector 6, rather than Section 6 now, so getting closer to current terminology. One of McMahon’s best panels to date on the third page (where Dredd is blinded, except he isn’t). Classic Dredd elements here – future crime, punchline and a comment from a mother to her child about how grim Dredd is.
Rounding the prog off altogether is a cut-away of the Harlem Heroes superliner provided by Kevin O’Neill, where we get to find out what those other satellite vehicles are (hover car and seven mopeds in addition to the helicopter, essentially).