Star Lord No 15: Earth Star-Squad hit by Droon! No Survivors!

As the title suggests, this issue has a Timequake cover, with the Droon drawn by Alberto Salinas. As it’s easy to forget, Droon are huge – about twice or thrice as tall as humans, and this one seems to be carrying two laser swords. If I was a bit older I’d have an idea of how prevalent laser swords were before Star Wars, but I’m not, so I don’t.

Mind Wars! While Tilman meets with his rescuers/kidnappers Ardeni continues to be hypnotised by the bird, who she asks to provide her with clothing (so despite earlier hints it looks like she isn’t a nudist). Yilik is waiting outside and asks Ardeni to get in to his car (calling a vehicle on an alien planet a ‘car’ in the year 3000 isn’t very futuristic, is it?) though their destination is the bottom of a flight of stairs leading directly from the villa she’s been staying at, so that was a wasted journey. Ardeni is introduced to the giant eagle who rules the hypnotising birds. Tilman and the Lenarthians break the birds concentration, allowing Ardeni to take a dip (to clear her head). It’s a bit unclear what happens next – the upshot is that the birds’ hold over the humanoids is broken and a mindblast is visible from 20,000 light years away on Earth and also wherever the Jugla homeworld is. Freed of mind control the Vegan Belle can now be repaired, but this week’s cliffhanger is that Stellar Federation and Jugla war fleets are both heading to the Chaotic Zone.

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Star Lord No 14: Doomsday is just around the corner for Carl Hunter in Holocaust!

This is another mystery air-brush style cover – almost certainly by the same artist as the Issue 11 Mind Wars cover. It shows a besuited man pointing a revolve, helicopters and a formation of traditional flying saucer UFOs. The new series is called Holocaust and the concept looks pretty straight-forward.

First story – Mind Wars. Was the Vegan Belle destroyed last episode, in the heart of the sun? Of course note – instead, Ardeni nullified the gravitational pull of the star, allowing momentum to fling the starship 20,000 light years away into the Chaotic Zone. We take two brief interludes – one of what looks like a balcony high above (the capital) city on Earth where the controller is professing his beliefe that the Vegan Belle somehow escaped and that Ardeni must be located for the future of the Stellar Federation. Over on the Jugla homeworld, the Supreme Cosmol is overseeing the reconstruction of his palace, and keeping tabs on where Ardeni is. Meanwhile, Ardeni is taking a shower. I haven’t mentioned before, but just about every second or third scene we see of Ardeni she’s swimming (skinny dipping), having a bath, lying in bed (au naturel) – must be a Vulcrugon thing. This time is justified for the story though – narratively it lets us know that the shower isn’t working properly, which is due to nothing working on the ship since the sun jaunt. Luckily there’s a planet nearby where they can look to get repairs done (and at that moment a friendly face appears on the vid-screen welcoming them to the planet). Unluckily it’s a creepy planet without any other spaceships at all in the spaceport. They’re offered villas to rest in while their ship is repaired, gratis. That’s one luxurious villa each. Nothing suspicious going on there. Also the autarch of the planet, Yilik, is always surrounded by a flock of birds. Unlike Ardeni, Tillman can’t sleep, and makes use of his restlessness to explore the planet, pretty quickly stumbling over a spaceship graveyard, atop which is the Vegan Belle. This prompts an attack by a bird that has been spying on him, though it’s a short-lived attack as the bird is killed with an energiser (looks like a blaster pistol). His gratitude towards his rescuer is rewarded by being shot by the mysterious energiser holder. Meanwhile Ardeni wakes up and goes to have a bath! While in the bath a bird comes along and starts to hypnotise her – she might be the most powerful being in the galaxy, but she spends an awful lot of time under mind control…

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Prog 68: Ssssssssss Clay, now you’re gonna… DIE just like A…Artie!

Dave Gibbons provides this prog’s cover – the first time he has drawn Inferno (even though the story features characters he designed for Harlem Heroes).

The Nerve Centre prints the the top stories, as voted for by readers. In first place is Judge Dredd, 2nd is Dan Dare, 3rd Inferno, 4th MACH 1, 5th Future Shocks, 6th Walter the Wobot and 7th Colony Earth. I may dispute Dan Dare and Inferno, and the odd Future Shock is better than others, but I can’t dispute the rest of that list.

MACH Zero starts with The Three. Steve McManus taps into mythology with Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil to create the leaders of London’s tramps and vagrants. There’s a real Victorian feel to this episode – in fact, other than Cousin George’s stunt costume and a few low-cut dresses later on in the episode it could almost entirely be set in the 19th century. CG continues to deceive Zero while Gimpy looks to be in serious trouble outside a theatre.

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Prog 45: Dan Dare greets the galactic New Year

2000AD’s first New Year’s Eve brings a Brian Bolland cover of Dare holding the future-British flag, ready to greet the ‘galactic new year’. At least it was mostly drawn by Bolland – the original had Dare looking off to the side but a managerial / editorial decision was made to have him look straight on. There’s something very Robin Smith about the eyes on Dare’s head, though I don’t think there’s been any other sign of Smith being involved with 2000AD yet. Earthlets wouldn’t have had long to snap up this prog – thanks to bank holidays it would only have been on the shelves from Wednesday to Saturday!

Judge Dredd, 22nd Century Futsie. I was going to start off writing about the second appearance of a Futsie, or how JD doesn’t appear until midway down the third page, but then I noticed something strange about the credit card. The lettering and names of the script and art droids are in one hand and the name of the lettering droid is in another. Flicking through the comic, the same happens with Invasion! Weird, especially as there was a missing credit in a previous prog, by the person who physically would put the credits on the page. Anyway, on with the story – if we didn’t get the idea that Mr Moonie needed to be investigated before (and Judge Dredd seems not to have taken the hint yet), this time we meet an employee of the oligarch, who we see where’s a KKK/Neon Knights-style head covering. One of the other employees predicts that the employee, Arthur, will end up in an alleyway full of blaster holes. He actually succeeds in working through a month’s worth of backlog in one day, finishing just before day and year’s end at midnight, though one of this stupid colleagues (possibly the same one who predicted Arthur’s forthcoming death) knocks all of his paperwork on the floor and the destraught Arthur goes futsie. Arthur’s son (also called Arthur) recruits Dredd who knocks the deranged Arthur out so that he can received medical treatment (rather than just shooting him dead, which is presumably what would have happened if one of the other Luna judges had gotten to him first). The prediction of a premature death almost comes true, but Dredd against two thugs isn’t much of a contest, though it is an excuse to see the hover bike in action (it loses its ventral gun when Gibson draws it – be interesting to see if it reappears when McMahon or Bolland draw it again). We get the promise of meeting Mr Moonie next prog, along with Dredd being in colour. Over the page is an advert for next week’s prog, including the cover which – in an Eagle-style turn of events – will be the first story page of Dan Dare. Though the advert is before this week’s Dare episode, so we already have an idea of how this week’s episode will end before we’ve gotten to it – good planning, droids!

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Prog 40: Secret of the microverse

O’Neill draws the Secret of the Microverse, which immediately brings to mind Fantastic Voyage – wonder what the twist is going to be? There’s a few good creature designs in there but the cover is a bit busy for me.

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