Prog 36: Take ’em from behind – best way to kill those slimy aliens!

2000adlogo-originalPretty nice cover from Lopez, well composed from a tentacled slimy alien viewpoint and an ironic line from the humanoid (while trying to take the aliens from behind a tentacle reaches behind his back).

Big news this prog – even bigger than the return of the Harlem Heroes (in a new sport) and Belardinelli is that the bottom left hand corner of the first page has a Credit Card – so we can finally see who’s writing a story, and don’t have to guess who the artist is from here on in.  Except for all the pseudonyms, of course…  As for Inferno itself, aeroball has waned in popularity, even as the new sport of inferno has increased.  As with our introduction to aeroball with comparisons to football, boxing, kung-fu and basketball, we get a list of sports to compare inferno to – speedway, ice hockey, football and aeroball.  The former Heroes are invited to join the Washington Wolves, but don’t take well to it, finding it difficult to adapt to the pace and rules of the game.  Presumably they’re going to shape up by next week, otherwise they’re not going to get invited to a second game with the Wolves?

Another artist I’d have recognised without the credit card next, as Ian Kennedy takes to Invasion!  I’m a bit confused about the timing on this one – in earlier progs Savage was doing a tour of the UK (well, England, before he got up to Scotland).  This story is concerned with the Channel Tunnel so it’s strange that it wasn’t featured when Savage was in London and the South East.  An early panel explains how far he’s coming down from Scotland and the last panel explains that he’s going to go back up to Scotland (because obviously not enough Resistance members have sacrificed their lives for him yet).  Anyway, as mentioned, this one is about the Channel Tunnel, which was built by Volgs about ten years after the real one was constructed.  What better way to take out a tunnel than in a jump-jet?  Yes, that’s right – a submarine tunnel gets destroyed by a fighter plane…  Silly nonsense but entertaining, and obviously* Ian Kennedy draws a mean aircraft.  Oh, and the undoing of the Volgs is that they don’t just want to execute Savage, they want to do it in full public view for propaganda points – just like failed when Savage met Rosa…

A Kelvin Gosnell, Kevin O’Neill Future-Shock next, and a huge corporation finds out that our moon is actually as smooth as a billard ball.  I’m cheating here, as the twist ending is that our Solar system is being used in an astrally-sized alien game of a pool-like game.

The 2000AD Nerve Centre features the shock revelation that Tharg’s letter-writing robot needs to be repaired (I think he means letter-reading robot, otherwise where have all those prizes for reader’s letters been going?)  On the same page is the Supercover Saga featuring a space-farmer trying to take aliens from behind while an alien is about to take him from behind.  This space-farmer has gone made through isolation, and unlike the twist ending of some Future-Shocks, it’s not because he’s spent a minute or two in a locked capsule – he’s spent either ten years or ten decades alone (depending on which paragraph you’re reading).

Ironically the one story not to feature a credit card is Dan Dare, which just has its customary Art: Gibbons tag (thus ignoring Bolland and Gerry Finley-Day, I think).  The Space Fortress encounters a very vaguely Death Star-shaped satellite.  I say satellite, but it doesn’t seem to be orbiting anything, though it’s easy for me to pick holes in definitions like this when I can instantly check – a work-for-hire script droid in the 1970s wouldn’t necessarily have had that luxury.  I’m also not suggesting the ‘satellite’ was based on the Death Star – it’s a sphere, it has some sort of line going around the equator but other than that the greebles are nothing alike.  Dan Dare tries to be as non-threatening as possible, but loses one of his Eagle scout craft (and all crew) to the Star Slayer Empire.  Despite being all too ready to kill innocent people approaching and having more firepower than Dare, the Star Slayers then give an ultimatum to Dare to turn around and run.  Dare says one thing and does another, instead painting forty spacesuits black and leaving the ship while the Space Fortress leaves.

M.A.C.H.1 – I’m confused by this one.  Someone steals the secret of compu-puncture from a special house in the English countryside.  They’re electrocuted while doing so, but manage to throw the package containing a video-tape of the process to somebody on the other side of the electrified fence.  The bit that confuses me is that the person on the other side shows strong signs of already being compu-puncture hyper-powered.  Anyway, that’s the premise – as with the Invasion! story a few weeks earlier, we don’t see the identity of the person as the twist is that they’re female!  I guess it’s difficult to be surprised by something like that these days, though I’m sure there are some out there who would be…  It’s been a long time since I read this story so I can’t remember what happens, but it’s my guess that by the end of the next episode she’ll be dying in Probe’s arms.

John Wagner gets his first credit in the prog!  Along with Ian Gibson, who’s sneaked his signature in a few times already.  This is another story which made it into an annual during my first year as a Squaxx, so I’m very familiar with this one.  In fact, more familiar with the story than with the people and concepts that it’s lampooning – to whit the generations prior to the late 1970s from Teddy boys to hippies.  Dredd uses his infra-red headlamps to trace them underground (not called the Undercity at this point).  The Troggies have placed explosives at key points on the now-disused New York subway, destroying the whole of Mega-City One (you can tell how out of touch they are with modern life, as at its greatest extent, the New York subway only covers a small part of the Eastern seaboard of the United States…

The futuregraph on the back page is of Dan Dare’s Space Fort.  A few things stand out – the bridge is in a prominent position, common to much sci-fi, where it can be easily targetted by enemies, when it could easily be deep in the heart of the ship in a much more armoured position.  The other is the planet bomb – which is capable of destroying a planet.  I know how the whole Lost Worlds mission ends (and the following story begins) but can’t remember how the tale gets to that point, but imagine that the planet bomb will have something to do with it.  Dare promises us another futuregraph of the Eagle craft soon.

* obvious if you’re familiar with all of Ian Kennedy’s pictures of aircraft!

Prog 34:The Day the Earth Burned!

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A Trev Goring cover showing a London where the Old Bailey is pretty close to the Houses of Parliament.  Interestingly the two main figures on the cover are black – we’ve had a team of black characters right from the beginning, though the only Harlem Heroes cover I can think of featured Artie Gruber in a more prominent position than Giant…

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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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Prog 32: You will not defeat me, human! The Silver Cyborg shall destroy you and your planet!

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I was thinking that the art on this Supercover Saga was possibly Evi from a previous cover, but apparently it was provided by Trevor Goring who would later (much later) go on to do some fantastically atmospheric art inside the prog.  This leads me to wonder if Evi is a pen-name for Trevor Goring – all the letters are in the name…

The cover also finally promises Full Facts for the Futurefocus Postergraphs.

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2000 A.D. Annual 1978

2000adlogo-originalWhere to start?  Firstly, this was supposed to be the next prog, but a few pages in I noticed that there was an ad for the first 2000 A.D. Annual and after a quick search to try to find out what date it was published it looks like it was after the last prog I did a post on and before the one I was working on now (that post currently in drafts).  I’ve just thought – does that mean the first Dan Dare Annual came out at the same time?  Shall have to try to find out before going on to the next weekly.

Quite a few things have interrupted the Back Prog Hack since I wrote the previous paragraph.  The most significant is that I moved house.  It’s interrupted the reading, but I now have the possibility of access too all of my progs with the minimum of fuss (not quite yet, but it’s within sight).  The second snag is the nature of IPC annuals in the late 1970s.  I’m sure I’ve mentioned this somewhere before, but at the time the weekly prog cost 9p, i.e. a child’s pocket money, along with a pack of crisps and a few penny sweets.  The annual cost £1.00, a veritable fortune, and would be bought by parents or grandparents.  A weekly comic has to have some care put in to it as the person buying it would be reading it.  An annual is not read by the person reading it, so as long as it’s thick and has a shiny hardback cover the quality of writing and art doesn’t have to be up to scratch.  There would also be a fairly hefty chunk would be reprint material.  They weren’t entirely mercenary though, as IPC had a policy of not reprinting material less than five years old.  This presented its own problem though, as the pre-2000AD British comics had been in a bit of a stylistic stasis for decades (with notable exceptions for Action, Battle and other comics that had involvement from Pat Mills, John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra).  The lower standard of content has led to this blog hitting a bit of a wall – 2000AD was created in part as a reaction against the kinds of stories that are in this first annual.  If you’re reading this then I managed to get through it, so here goes.

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Prog 27: Have made contact with alien’s facial area… Composition… Flesh! Conclusion… Edible!

2000adlogo-originalThe title of this post comes from a great Bolland Supercover, a welcome change after a few lacklustre weeks.  The anatomical close-up of a frog and an astronaut’s face shows the kind of detail that Bolland will become famous for by the end of the next decade, especially on his covers for US comics.

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