2000AD and Tornado Prog 131: Whatever your crime Judge Dredd’s got a bullet to match! Armour Piercing High Explosive Heat Seeker Incendiary Ricochet

A Brian Bolland cover showing Dredd shooting towards the reader, with details of each bullet that the Lawgiver can fire: armour piercing; high explosive; heat-seeker; incendiary; ricochet. I thought it best to list them, as they’re not always exactly the same (the missing one is general purpose).

The Nerve Centre has Tharg calling for reader’s art featuring savage aliens for Tharg to fight. Meanwhile, one earthlet uses a calculator to spell the word HOLE with the number 3104. Other words that get printed are LIE, SHE and SHOE. Can you think of any other words?

Judge Dredd: Sob Story – it’s actually an untitled story but it can’t be called anything other than Sob Story. Otto doesn’t appear in this episode but mopads do, and Ron Smith turns in some fantastic cityscapes focussed on the highways and byways. John Howard brings us reality TV, 22nd century style as Sob Story encourages mega-citizens to share their calamities with Mega-City One in the hope that the viewers will send them money. Dredd gets involved because each contestant’s address is shown at the end of the programme, so that the viewers know where to send the money – meaning that everybody who watches an episode with a popular contestant knows that they are both a) rich and b) where they live. Dredd finds this out when a luxury mo-pad goes out of control (a mo-pad being a mobile pad, i.e. an apartment on wheels) and upon entry finds the owner long-dead in their swimming pool, the controls of the mo-pad set to auto-control for years. Trivia – there are eighteen million people living in mo-pads on the 13.25 billion miles of roadway. More trivia – Johnny Teardrop has a Bruce Forsyth-like chin, but more than that, the catchphrase: “Didn’t she sob well!”

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Dan Dare Annual 1980: “DARE to wingman – peel off! I’ve got to make the DEATH RUN ALONE!”

Another annual cover from Kev O’Neill. Nice colours though I’d have preferred it if he’d been working on more comic pages! I don’t think he’s got any more work on ABC Warriors, but it’s a long time ’til Comic Rock. The cover actually ties in to the first story, so I won’t go into detail.

The contents pages has a still from a sci-fi film or TV series (though nothing I recognise – something like Space 1999 or Blakes 7). As with the 2000AD annual, the only credits in this annual are those that the artists put on their own work – if I spot any signatures (or recognise art styles) I’ll mention it.

The Dan Dare story ties in to the cover. This is set before the Lost Worlds mission, and was probably written and drawn shortly after Belardinelli’s run on Dare in the weekly progs. The artwork doesn’t have the assuredness of pre-2000AD artists or the excitement of the punk generation artists and the best parts of the art are very derivative of other artwork – such as the appearance of Rok, which is very obviously copied directly from Belardinelli’s rendition, or some of hte spaceships, which look like they’re copied from Kevin O’Neill’s design which appeared on the cover. The story itself has Dare taking a break between SASA commissions where he encounters a captain who breaks under pressure and turns to piracy after gaining a reputation as unreliable. That’s about all you need to know – the cover is about Dare making a solo run on the pirate ship, which Rok ignores by gaining access to the ship and saving Dare’s life.

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Tornado No 9: He fought a lonely war with the white invaders who had plundered his people’s homeland… Warrior

A Warrior cover this week, albeit cluttered with frames from some of the other strips appearing. Uninspiring.

The Big Editorial has a couple of letters saying how great Tornado is plus a request for readers to send in jokes to make Sam smile. Sam’s the Lois Lane stand-in, if you’d forgotten.

Blackhawk is now taking place in the 1st century. I could swear it started off in the year 150, which would make it the 2nd century. Crassus attempts to kill Black Hawk in the practice arena by releasing a huge animal from the animal pens. Unfortunately (for Crassus) the animal in question is an elephant, which Black Hawk used to tame as a child (because they’re both from Africa, right?). The only reference to elephants I can find in Nubia is Elephantine Island (which is named for the shape of the island, not the local wildlife). Black Hawk’s next mission involves a long journey to the heights of Hazda to break one of the longest siege in Roman history. Now, the place they go is obviously based on Masada, though in the comic is called the Heights of Hazda (but still has Judean rebels). The only Hazda I can find is a tribe in the Central Rift Valley. Black Hawk is not welcome, not allowed to rest or feed his men and not given arrows by the Romans already present. He goes to his men to find the worst of the thieves. I’m left wondering if they’re going to be set to get food and weapons for his men from the Romans or something from the Judeans.

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Tornado No 2: Your Multi-role Maydaypack’s got Codes; Tests; ID pass and all you need to form your own T.T. units!

Like the cover to the first issue, No 2 has a few panels from the stories inside, plugs the free gift, then shows a photo of Dave Gibbons as Big E. Boring! (sorry, Dave).

The Big Editorial has another photo of Big E, this time flying over a cityscape (presumably the view from Kings Reach Tower, as that would be the easiest way to get a cityscape if you work in a comic based there) and another photo of the editorial team – including the old Heroes logo. Tharg lurks in the corner.

Victor Drago and the Terror of Troll Island! Part 2. There’s a bit more to go on this week. Drago and Spencer (or is that Victor and Spencer – we’re not told if Spencer is a given name or surname) – are on the lookout for the murderer of Moffat but this being the second of seven (I think) episodes, they obviously don’t find them (though we do see a pair of shadowy hands just before they dispose of the body). They stumble on to a stately home occupied by a famous crime writer, Edgar Hollis, who invites them to a house-party, room and board included. Almost immediately Hollis lets them in to the secret of his success – he has a team of ghost writers and doesn’t actually write any of his own books (they also get to meet all the actual writers). One of two butlers (no explanation is given to why Hollis has two butlers) comes up to Drago to tell him that ‘they’ plan to murder him. It seems a bit more interesting than the previous episode, though I suspect my enjoyment of this story (and future Drago stories) will hinge on how this one resolves – if it fizzles out without loose ends I don’t think I’d be able to maintain interest in future installments.

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2000AD and Starlord Prog 105: Judge Dredd is a Wotten Cweep Twue by Judge Walter Dredd Betrayed!

Bolland draws a classic Walter pic, giving away the contents of the comic somewhat by showing him wearing a judge badge. This is the Walter that will appear in later annual one-page stories.

The Nerve Centre introduces us to Big E (re-named from E-Man, as he had been a few weeks earlier), shaking hands with Tharg. This is not a spot illustration by an art droid – they got one of editorial to don the rubber Tharg mask and Dave Gibbons to get dressed up as a superhero! So, the next post after this one will be about issue one of Tornado.

Ewins and McCarthy show Walter cowering before Cal in The Day the Law Died! before carrying out Dredd’s plan – to betray him! Cal sends for the Badgemaker and, as shown on the cover, Judge Walter is appointed – Mega-City One’s first robot judge – take that, Mechanismo! Slocum questions Cal’s judgement in making Walter a judge and makes a big mistake – he calls the Chief Judge ‘crazy’. This is picked up on, and Slocum claims he was just worried. There follow the panels featured in last prog’s teaser page – featuring parodies of late 1970s TV personalities and talk shows – I’m a bit young to get them, but I thinkthey’re Frank Bough, Robin Day and Russell Harty. All too aware that calling Cal crazy was a huge mistake, Slocum has been keeping an eye on Walter, so is there to catch the robot red-handed when he attempts to steal a briefing tape. Too late though, Cal has him paralysed, molds his face into a smile and pickles him in vinegar before he can reveal Walter’s secret. Apparently this episode would have been half a page longer, but the image of Slocum pickled was censored in case children copied it. Copied getting a specimen jar large enough to put a human being in and enough vinegar to fill said jar. Censorship can be weird sometimes!

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2000AD and Starlord Prog 98: Onward, my beauties – sing while you slaughter! Slicey-slicey, oncey-twicey claw and fang’ll kill Dredd nicely!

Brian Bolland puts Kleggs on the cover, and they’re singing a song “Slicey-slicey, oncey-twicey Claw and fang’ll kill Dredd nicely!” (I didn’t need to type that out – just realised I’d already put it in the title of this blog post).

Tharg announces the hiring of AALN-1 in the Nerve Centre, produced by MACMIDROIDS. A reader submits a wordsearch (it took me 2 minutes 59 seconds to complete) and another reader complains about the (complete) lack of female judges, to which Tharg says ‘watch this space’ (not literally). (AALN-1 is Alan Grant, starting the long tradition of the assistant editor to Tharg being the actual human editor).

Brian Bolland takes the reigns of that Klegghound attacking Judge Dredd, or should that be lead? Dredd’s arm has been swallowed by the Klegghound, but it’s his gunhand – the Klegghound’s mistake! Judge Julio Fernandez is wounded bad and sacrifices himself to allow the others to escape. He looks and speaks like King Carlos – not the last time Wagner (sorry, Howard) will insert a parody of the long-term collaborator! Justice 1 makes its first appearance – as a hover-ship looking nothing like the starship we’ll later see (curiously drawn by the same artist). Bolland has some great moments depicting the madness of Chief Judge Cal as he blasts the roadway out of the Trans-Ohio tunnel (the location is important), leading Dredd’s roadliner to crash to City Bottom.

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2000AD and Starlord Prog 94: Citizens of Mega-City One, I sentence you to… Death! Can no-one stop the insane Judge Cal?

Chief Judge Cal glares out while pronouncing his death sentence on Mega-City One in this eye-catching cover by Mike McMahon. Possibly the first colour depiction of a Chief Judge, the gloves and shoulder pads are all red, rather than green or yellow…

The Nerve Centre is jammed full of letters this week, half on Ro-Jaws and Hammerstein the others on a variety of topics, including one who wants to see Dredd’s face in Prog 100 on the grounds that “Never, but NEVER have you shown us JUDGE DREDD’S face!” – I’d let that slide but they were very insistent. Dredd’s youthful face was shown in profile in The Return of Rico, alongside his brother on the shooting range. You can’t see much, but it does disprove both ‘Never’ and ‘NEVER’.

Judge Dredd in The Day the Law Died (Behold the Hordes of Klegg!) starts with one of those flash-forwards I dislike so much, and perfectly shows why they’re a bad idea. The splash-forward page shows Kleggs raining from the sky and shooting rifles. In the actual story, art duties are shared by Bolland and Leach and start with Dredd and his army of tutors and citizens driving Cal’s judges back to the Hall of Justice with Joe giving Cal an ultimatum. Cal responds cooly, telling Slocum that Dredd will get his answer in five minutes. If we hadn’t had that splash-forward page already we’d have no idea what Cal’s secret weapon would be, as it is we’ve seen it and it’s been given two names (Hordes of Klegg and the Curse of Cal). That aside, we get five page of rebellion, alien mercenaries and a finale showing Cal outlining how his earlier sentencing of the entire city to death will be carried out.

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2000AD and Star Lord Prog 86: This is it! The big one! Two sci-fi greats unite in a giant leap for mankind! Join them and smash the thrill barrier!

Dave Gibbons is cover artist for the ‘new’ comic of 2000AD and Starlord, with an ensemble of Big Hungry, Johnny Alpha, Judge Dredd, Hammerstein and Ro-Jaws.

p.s. I couldn’t find a ‘clean’ copy of the original 2000AD and Starlord logo (where both comics got equal billing), so I’m using the interim logo where Starlord starts to dwindle.

We have previously seen Judge Dredd quit the force and on another occassion declared dead, this time he’s under trial in Crime and Punishment. John Wagner’s pseudonym T.B. Grover is busy with Strontium Dog this prog, so John Howard takes over the writing duties while Brian Bolland does the best art of his career at the time this was originally published. The episode/mega-epic starts with a pet hate of mine – a flash-forward. I like an in media res as much as the next person, but not so much a single frame showing a scene from later in the story, then carrying on ab initio as if nothing had happened. Back in the 1980s the collected edition of this story was the first Titan collection I ever got, so I have read this story many, many times (at least the bits collected in Judge Caligula Book One – I didn’t get Book Two for some years afterwards). So what I’m saying is this story has nostalgia on its side for me, as well as great familiarity. If there wasn’t the flash-forward of the trial we could have had an even bigger splash page of Dredd’s return to Mega-City One and the welcome home parade. That’s my moan over – everything else about this episode is fantastic. The MC-1 that Dredd returns to is much more fully-formed than the one he left (either before he went to the moon or before he went on the Cursed Earth mission, seeing as he didn’t spend long in the city between the two). In the first panel of the story proper we’re introduced to Chief Judge Clarence Goodman (we’d met him before, but this was the first time the Chief Judge was actually named – remember, in the early days he was called the Grand Judge, and nothing more). We also meet Judge Cal and hear about the “feared SJS squad”. Dredd goes to sleep the moment he gets home (missing out on a party from Maria and Walter). That night Dredd is seen killing reporters at the Mega-Times for not giving his return to MC-1 enough prominence on the front page. Where a lesser story would fill the front page with lorem ipsum text, this goes into the details of how an A-list film star has married an alien who he met on the set of a remake of The Blob. It is left as an exercise for the reader to guess who the alien plays in the film… The Grand Judge might have been re-named the Chief Judge, but Justice Central is not the Grand Hall of Justice (yet). With Cal offering ‘advice’ to Goodman it isn’t long before Dredd is led on to the shuttle to Titan by SJS Judges Quincy and Schultz.

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Star Lord No 19: Mek-Quake kill 99% of all known robots!

I suspect the Lipsmackinthirstquenchinacetastinmotivatingood buzzincooltalkinhighwalkinfastlivinevergivincoolfizzin PEPSI advert must have been shown a lot in the 1970s – not only was there an ad for 2000AD a few months ago but this cover has a strapline of Circuitsmashingpiperippingmetalcrunchingdroidddestroying… MEK-QUAKE!!! It isn’t the only modification to a then-current advertising campaign, with ‘Reaches parts of the galaxy other sci-fi mags cannot reach!’ parodying Heineken (warning, the linked 1978 advert features a rather dated blacked-up actor playing an Australian aborigine).

In Mind Wars it takes until the end of a full two pages for Ardeni Lakam to get naked, this time for a decontamination shower along with Tilman. When it comes time to get dressed Kareela la Borzac – an old enemy of Tilman – appears and burns Ardeni’s clothes. If not for a few interjections from Tilman, the conversation between Kareela and Ardeni would have passed the Bechdel-Wallace Test (the conversation was about clothes). Meanwhile the Jugla Empire are on the lookout for humans on conquered worlds who match the general description of the deceased Arlen Lakam, so that, through surgery, he can be made to look exactly like Ardeni’s dead brother. Meanwhile meanwhile, Ardeni, Tilman and their Lenarthian friends are in a Lenarth prison cell though Ardeni has just been knocked unconscious by poisoned food, provided by Kareela.

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2000AD Prog 82: Alien Roots

Classic Bolland, showing Tweak in the alien slave market. For some reason those attending the market are throwing tomatoes at the slaves – would you mess up something that you were about to buy? p.s. this scene doesn’t appear in the comic!

Nerve Centre has a few letters from girls (curiously both in Ireland – which doesn’t even have a cover price) demanding better representation. Off the top of my head I can’t think when the next strong female lead will appear – Anderson is well over a year away and Ardeni Lakam only appears in Starlord. I agree completely that Lorna Varn is not a positive female character (so promising as well, appearing on the cover of the first prog with Death Planet).

Boots leads Sam Slade Robo-Hunter through what I will call Verdus city. It’s not long before the pair are surrounded by robocops shooting at them (even with Sam wearing Boots to run at 60 miles per hour). They finally escape when Boots jumps seemingly into thin air but actually to a far-off ledge. They make it to the Robotic Records Office, where the records clerk reveals where SJ1 is currently located and things appear to look up…

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