2000AD Annual 1979

Kevin O’Neill provides the cover featuring two green aliens one threatening a woman in a skin-tight spacesuit and another being shot by some kind of cyborg. Thankfully the image stands on its own – i.e. there’s no Supercover Saga copy inside the annual to detail what’s going on.

On the contents page is what might be another commissioned cover featuring a manually-controlled giant robot scooping up cavemen.

The first story is The Biggest Game of All! written by an unknown writer and drawn by Marzal Canos, according to Barney. Ray Bradbury wrote A Sound of Thunder in 1952 (and popularised the concept ‘butterfly effect’ though that term isn’t introduced until the following decade). The set-up is similar and has been used in many short stories and even Future-Shocks down the years. A big game hunter travels to the past in order to bag a dinosaur. The narrative points out that in some universes (such as the ours, where Trans-Time go back to farm dinosaurs) you can mess about in pre-history as much as you wish without any ill-effect in the present, but in other universes any change will have repurcussions down the ages. The dinosaur the big game hunter has gone to kill has been seen in the time-viewer to fall off of a cliff and die in ten minutes time, so what happens to it before will have minimal effects. The big game hunter Kirst quickly shows that he doesn’t want to kill a brontosaurus that was going to die anyway, but instead kill a tyrannosaur – more than that, he attacks the Time Safaris guide and kills a tree lizard, just to make a point. In the best tradition of Flesh he quickly gets killed by a tyrannosaur while the others on the safari manage to escape back to their time machine. They don’t manage to escape successfully though, as the slaughtered tree lizard was the ancestor of apes and thus the human race. I first read this story when I was about eleven or twelve (managed to get the annual from a car boot sale with my dad on a summer’s day).

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2000AD Prog 81: Dan Dare Guardian of the Galaxy

Art honours go to Dave Gibbons and is the one with Dare swooping towards us in a space suit above a planet.

In the Nerve Centre, Tharg plugs the new series of Flesh in an answer to a letter about the Loch Ness Monster (and gives away the ending – or at least gives a big hint to how it will end). Another letter demands the return of The Visible Man – just goes to show that if you ask for something you’ll get it – I wonder if the author of that letter was still reading 2000AD 35 or so years later?

We rejoin Sam Slade, Robo-Hunter, as he meets the robotic residents of the apartment and finds out what Sims are – simulated humans. According to the Verdus robot’s programming, humans are superior to robots in every respect, so the humans who have arrived on Verdus can’t be true humans, as they feel pain, are not as strong as robots and are not as intelligent as robots. Slade goes to sleep while the robots in the apartment argue over what to do with Slade and Kidd and has a problematic dream involving robotic late 19th / early 20th century caricatures of black slaves and the return of the borderline stereotypical depiction of Chan. Luckily, Slade wakes up to find that the apartment robots want to send him to SJ1 – Smoking Joe, the robot who was originally sent to Verdus to build other robots and settle the planet.

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Prog 39: Get it through your thick skull, Earthman… we don’t have pointed ears!

Looks like Ewins and McCarthy again with a fairly eye-catching cover, probably their best yet. Off the top of my head it’ll be a few years until they become truly excellent artists, so I’ll shut up about it for the time being.

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Prog 38: Killer rock!

Did I mention that I think Trev Goring can do great, atmospheric artwork that induces feelings of tension and distrust? Unfortunately this cover is not well-suited to such a style. The space snake creature is a fine enough design though the spaceship is a sphere with legs. Colour does nothing for this image (trying to imagine it in black and white makes it better). p.s. Trev is still active and attending conventions, though I don’t know what his current style is.

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