2000AD and Tornado Prog 139: Danger! Danger! The ALIEN who came in from the cold!

Carlos Ezquerra signs this cover of an alien of indeterminate race climbs through what could be an airlock (the background looks like a planet seen from above, but if so the alien doesn’t need a vacuum suit). I mention that Carlos signed it because of all those L J Silver contributions lately…

Over the pages in Tharg’s Nerve Centre (looks like the name has stuck) the mighty one presents the first result of the ‘Design an Alien’ competition from a month or two earlier. The first ‘Battler of the Month’ looks similar to work by Phillipe Druillet (I’m not saying it has been copied, just that it could have been…) Tharg doesn’t print all submissions, though does credit a few that aren’t published and awards them Squaxx dek Thargo – ‘friends of Tharg’ – something that will later be applied to all of us who read 2000AD, not just the ones who have sent something of note in. The tharg picture this week is contributed by Philip Bond – presumably the one who will become famous in Deadline magazine, and later on take on the mantle of art droid… In other news – a reader reveals that Brett Ewins has been moonlighting as a record cover artist for Sham 69 on Hersham Boys. Tharg in turn reveals that Ewins has permission and also that the art droid is working on next year’s annual, on an 8-page story (I think this must be the robot judge one).

Judge Dredd: …The Great Plasteen Disaster! from Johns Howard and Cooper. This is entertaining enough, though a bit far-reaching for a one-off. Plasteen gets depicted as a cross between plastic and steel. Imagine if a bacteria that dissolved all plastic and steel suddenly started spreading through the city you live in – the after-effects would last for years. The end of this story has a mix of Dredd and un-Dredd-like behaviour. He stands aside to allow writs to be served to the billionaire who appears to be responsible for introducing the bacteria to Mega-City One, though I think he would have gotten involved once those serving the writs started ripping through an isolation tent (the spoiler is that the CEO has a plasteen heart, and so dies).

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2000AD and Tornado Prog 138: George has gone berzerk! Gotta blow him off planet – Aaaagh! Fighting-mad George – Colossus of Mars! See the ABC Warriors!

Mad George makes the cover, or Fighting Mad George as the strapline has it in this word balloon festooned offering by Mike McMahon.

Following last prog’s exciting news regarding The V.C.s, Tharg’s Nerve Centre this week really ups the thrill-power limits with news that Woman’s Realm has details on how to order a Gronk pattern.

Judge Dredd: Night of the Bloodbeast from John Howard and Gary Leach is going to make settling on a grailpage difficult as I already have an idea of what the centrespread is going to be, but Leach is putting in the best work of his career (up to this point) on this story. This makes a great addendum to The Day the Law Died and also makes for a better take on a traditional horror film than the waxwork story a few months ago, this tells the tale of a mutated Klegg who was left behind when the alien mercenaries fled the city (only to meet a hail of missiles). The couple that Urk (for that is the Klegg’s name) was billeted with choose to keep him to make money once feelings towards Klegg’s aren’t so fresh. Unfortunately for everybody involved, they don’t have enough money to feed the Klegg, and Urk breaks free, going on a killing rampage and ending up at a fancy dress party (giving Leach an excuse to draw lots of costumes). Next prog, the Great Plasteen Disaster!

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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 Summer Special

I’m trying not to do too much research into uncredited writers and artists, or disentangling the complex system of pen-names used by creators throughout 2000AD’s (and other House of Tharg publications) history. The reason for that is if I start then I’ll get caught in a rabbit warren of 1970s comic history, which won’t do this prog slog any good. Which is all a roundabout way to say that I hit Barney to identify Graham Cotton as the cover artist for this, the first (and only) Tornado Summer Special. You may recognise his style from about a quarter of the Starlord covers.

No Big Editorial as such, but there is a contents page, including a photo of Billy, Sam (short for Samantha, in case we get confused) and Percy. The photo has the ‘Heroes’ logo on the wall, so was probably taken before the comic was re-titled Tornado (unless they just forgot to take down the sheet of A3).

First up in this special is Wheels of Fortune. I have no idea what the thought process behind this one was, but it’s going to make me appreciate the weekly a little bit more. The setting is an international car race in France where the teams discover that every team apart from the Spanish has had their fan belts cut through. For some reason, this act of sabotage doesn’t lead anybody to cancel the race, or hold an enquiry, or get the police involved or anything. During the race a few of the teams come under fire from a sniper, which eventually affects every team. Again, the race continues as if nothing untoward is happening (alright, there’s a police presence, but I’m pretty sure that if a sniper took pot shots at cars in a race, the race would be suspended, even in the 1970s). The script doesn’t convey any sense of drama at any of this, reading like a filler story with well-established characters, though I’m not aware that it’s anything other than a stand-alone strip. The art’s good though, right? It’s adequate, but not inspiring. And I dearly hope that the artist took a leaf out of Dave Gibbons book, and did the lettering themselves as – being diplomatic – it suits the story and art.

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Star Lord No 5: This is gonna be a bad one, Hammer-Stein!

Kevin O’Neill depicts Ro-Jaws and Hammerstein surveying what looks like a spaceship crashing into a skyscraper (or starscraper, or whatever they’re called in Ro-Busters).

This week’s Mind Wars sees Na-Rutha control Arlen to force the ship to go to Earth. There’s a bit of confusion between artist and letterer at one stage, with the teddy-bear alien (Councillor Rashnik) seeming to say that he was given orders before leaving Earth to stop the twins from getting to the home planet, and that the ship would be destroyed before that happened – this was a conversation that Tilman had with Doctor Varn. Other than that, the ship under Arlen’s psychic control goes through an emergency ship division, which apparently all great human and Jugla warships are able to do, for some sort of safety and defensive measure. Despite all that safety and defence, the particular sub-division of the ship which Arlen, Ardeni, Tilman and Rashnik are on gets damaged during the division and they have to crash land. Fortunately the planet they touchdown on is on the planetary communications network. Unfortunately this means that Tilman can be given orders by Doctor Varn to kill the twins. I should probably have done this round-up in the fortunately-unfortunately game format…

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Prog 33: Dangerous Android at Large

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When I was a fresh Squaxx, hunting out back progs in the local comic shop this was one of the oldest comics I had for some time.  The cover is by Brendan McCarthy and Brett Ewins, who managed to sneak their names on to the cover.  I like both artists, though they both have a way to go before they create great art.  I actually had to look up which McCarthy it was, as (to me) the artwork here looks more like Jim and Brendan.

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