Programme 30 (17-September-77)


I’m not sure what’s going on here, so I’m definitely going to be reading the story closely. I’m not sure whose art this is – it looks a little like a Bolland, but there’s no signature. When will the credits start?

Thrill 1 – Invasion!

With the Nazis hot on their trail after the liberation of Glasgow, Savage has taken refuge in the highlands. Sadly, the highlands just aren’t high enough to get away from the Volgan air force! Save comes up with a daring scheme – using himself as bait, he runs out into the open, sure that the Volg jet will follow him right into some power lines!

Then it’s just a matter of fleeing into the woods while a couple of random soldiers sacrifice their lives to delay the Volg troops.

That’s it. Yeah, not much happened this week.

Thrill 2 – Judge Dredd

In a hundred years, Kennedy airport will have kept its name, although now they call it a spaceport. Arriving at that spaceport is a mysterious man in a coat and hat neatly obscuring his face. We don’t need that to recognize him, though, since he’s happy to narrate all about himself for our benefit.

The mystery man (Rico) heads over to a vid-phone terminal and calls justice central. He’s got a message for Judge Dredd. From Judge Dredd! That's right, it’s Dredd’s long-lost brother, Rico Dredd! Dredd gets the news while he’s blasting apart a couple of hoods, and leaves the scene the second the survivors have surrendered. He rushes home, knowing that Rico will be looking to settle their old score.

He’s in for a surprise when he arrives, though. Rico has rigged the environmental controls so that it’s freezing cold inside, with almost no oxygen! With Dredd on the floor, gasping for air, Rico decides it’s time for a flashback!

Yup, Rico had the potential to be the greatest Judge of all time, but then he had to go and throw it away, taking bribes and running a protection racket! And even though is brother Joe owed him everything, Joe turned him in. Which led to Rico being sent to a mining colony on Titan for twenty years! In order to work there comfortably he turned into a monstrous cyborg!

Interestingly the predictions of 2000AD were a little off here. Not that it would be possible to physically alter someone so that they can work in a vacuum, but rather that Titan is a vacuum environment at all! In fact, Titan is one of the most earth-like objects in the solar system, with oceans, seasons, rain and the like. The atmosphere is mostly nitrogen, but hey, at least it’s there.

With his story told, Rico’s ready for the showdown. He gives Dredd his gun back and prepares for the draw. Rico had been the fastest gun in the justice department but, as Joe says, twenty years on Titan slowed him down just enough to give Dredd the edge. With his brother dead, Dredd picks up the body and carries him to the morgue – other Judges offer to help, but Dredd responds with a tasteless joke that kind of kills the tone of the story-

Then things wrap up with the chief judge opining about the peculiarity of it all. Joe and Rico weren’t normal twins, you see – they’re clones of the same person, genetically identical in every way. So how did one end up so bad, and the other so good?

But that’s a question for another time…

Judge Dredd Kill Count (37)+1=38

Thrill 3 - Shako

The Russians are here! They’ve used lassos to tame the mighty beast, succeeding where the Americans had failed. While the struggle dies down, the KGB boss walks over to Jake and begins to gloat. It seems that the Russians don’t know what’s in the bear – they just know the Americans want it very badly, so they came after it as well. Perhaps the Federal Government putting an open and public bounty out on a specific bear wasn’t the greatest plan.

Shako is hoisted onto the nearby Russian ship, and the KGB make their departure, leaving Jake, Buck, and redshirt alive. Things are looking grim for the old yogi – or they were, until one of the Russians, ‘Sergei’, proves almost unbelievably stupid. It seems that he’s frustrated that he was unable to kill an American on the trip, so he’s going to salve his bloodlust by killing an American bear with his bare hands!

It goes exactly as well as you’d think it would. Sergei and another soldier are torn apart, and now Shako is loose on the Russian ship – who knows what mischief he can get into now!

Which brings the total number Shako’s victims to have died ‘real slow’ to 2 out of 26, or roughly 8%

Thrill 4 – Dan Dare (?/Gibbons)

This week Dan finds himself up against the most preposterous threat yet – the planet of the killer sentient dust devils! Searching for a missing colony-ship, they find they earth-like planet that the settlers had planned to make their home. Once they hit ground they’re attacked by the preposterous foes I mentioned earlier.

After retreating back to their small landing craft Dan and company find themselves attacked by the ground itself – it seems the entire surface of the planet is a giant silicon-based life form. Which is a great twist for two reasons. 1: I haven’t seen it before. 2: It leads to this picture, of a Russian man fighting wind and sand with an axe.

They burst open the ship’s water tanks, turning the sand into muck for just long enough to call another ship down. Another mystery has been solved, and another death-planet identified. The Lost Worlds are getting found at a respectably speedy pace.


I don’t know what I was expecting from that Supercover, but a story about penal reform in the distant future wasn’t anywhere on my radar. Good work, Tharg.

Thrill 5 – MACH 1

Apparently someone at 2000AD didn’t think MACH 1 was sci-fi enough, because this week he’s chasing down a UFO! It’s shot down on the opening page, and then quickly found by a local kid named ‘Simon’. No one believes him about the spaceship, and he’s viciously abused by his father for ‘telling tales’.

Probe even doesn’t show up until the third page, which has to be some kind of a record for this strip. He goes undercover as a lumberjack, hoping to draw no suspicions to his investigation. I guess they want to keep the whole ‘UFO’ thing under wraps. When he brings up the subject at dinner Simon tries to mention his knowledge, but just winds up with another beating for his trouble.

He can’t stay quiet forever, though, and when Probe saves Simon’s life from a falling tree the next day, he feels sufficiently indebted to Probe to lead him to the UFO. Unfortunately Probe was followed from the camp by all of the lumberjacks, and while he tries to figure out how to open the featureless metal saucer, they manage to sneak up on him!

So, here’s the big question – will it actually be aliens, or some kind of a hoax? I’m going to be optimistic and bet on aliens.

Thrill 6 – Future Shock

It’s the distant future, and a group of spacemen are closing in on the home planet of a mysterious race who tried to take over the galaxy, and was destroyed in the attempt. Now all that’s left, many years later, are memories, and the death star guarding their solar system. Seriously, a Death Star.

Luckily the death star doesn’t work well any more, and the explorers are able to make it to the conqueror’s home world – the helmsman asks the captain why it wasn’t destroyed when the conquerors lost. One theory is that the galactic alliance had run out of resources, but there was another theory… one that is revealed in our twist ending-

As a new feature here in the reviews, I’m going to let you guess what the twist ending is, because between the synopsis I’ve offered and that illustration, you should have enough information to figure it out. So don’t scroll down to the next image until you’ve finalized your guess.


As we learned from Futurama and Planet of the Apes, the twist is always ‘turns out it’s man’ or ‘turns out it’s earth’. Hell, this is two Future Shocks in a row where where it 'turns out it's earth'.

Final Thoughts

Best Story: Judge Dredd – No contest here. Dredd gets some backstory and character development, we find out he’s a clone, the world of Mega-City 1 grows. Other than that horrible joke, this story’s a classic.

Worst Story: Invasion – Nothing happened this week. Seriously nothing.

Programme 29 (10-September-77)


You know, this cover is wonderful enough that it would lead me to once again wish that there were an actual story inside the issue where this happened. I would, had this basic thing not already happened in both Judge Dredd and Dan Dare.

Thrill 1 – Invasion!

With the first battle won, Savage and Silk lead their men out of Glasgow, hoping to make an escape before the Volgs can regroup. The volgs are moving faster than anyone expected, though, arming a group of mad criminals with flamethrowers and sending them to block the roads.

Savage has a daring, if somewhat confusing plan. He lines a row of firetrucks in the street and then extends their ladders, the idea being that as the flame troops approach the trucks the Mad Dogs will be able to jump down into the middle of their ranks, at hand-to-hand combat range. Of course, this plan requires not one of the flame troops to bother looking up during their approach. Incredibly, this happens, and the flame troops are quickly subdued.

The Mad Dogs quickly disguise themselves as the flame troops and head back to the Volg base – the disguise works just long enough for them to get into the Volgan motor pool. All the guards are burned alive, and the Mad Dogs make it out with a few armored cars, which will no doubt help them kill more Nazis!

Thrill 2 – Judge Dredd

It’s time for sci-fi to once again handle the thorny issue of prejudice! This week’s target? Robots! Those ‘neon knights’ are the KKK of hating robots, you see. Every night they drive around, killing any robots they happen across. What’s interesting about this story is that they set it up as being a follow-up to the robot rebellion storyline. The action of Call-Me-Kenneth have turned large sections against robots in general, and this has led to brutal violence against both robots and the humans who would protect them.

Now that’s what I call some social commentary.

Things get personal for Dredd when the next robot attacked is his butler, Walter! But it’s not a quick execution for the speech-impeded droid, no, when the Klan discovers that he’s a Free robot they realize that destroying him is tantamount to murder, so it’s something they’d better do more privately.

Of course, killing that guy in the last scene actually was murder, and they didn’t get squeamish about that, but whatever.

Dredd randomly happens across the Klan’s meeting place while he’s visiting a graveyard for Judges killed in the rebellion. He’s captured while investigating, but manages to convince the Klan that he’s on their side, what with him being the one who actually stopped the rebellion and all. Of course it’s just a ruse, designed to give Dredd enough space to get to his weapons.

Wow, that’s a nasty shot – am I crazy, or is that the back of that guy’s head being blown out through his hood there?

Even with Dredd’s accomplished murdering there’s just too many Klansmen to be killed. Dredd decides to fight smart and tackles their leader, quickly tearing off his face and revealing him to be a cyborg!

Dredd recognized the sound of a synthetic voicebox, and played his hunch. I’m glad the hunch was good, or that might have gotten very bloody indeed. Cowed by the fact that they were following a dirty cybo, the rest of the Klansmen surrender without incident.

Judge Dredd Kill Count (31)+6=37

Thrill 3 - Shako

It’s time to reinforce a few urban legends her at ‘Shako’, as the bear gorges at the edge of a cliff, standing with his mouth open as lemmings commit masss suicide over the edge. I don’t know why I was expecting realism from a comic strip glorifying the murderous exploits of a great white bear, but this is a little disappointing.

The feast doesn’t last long, though – Buck Dollar (Eskimo Naturalist), Jake (one-armed jerk), and Dobie (redshirt) are following his trail closely by dogsled. When they get close enough to see him Dobie cuts the dogs loose, which leads to a brutal battle between beast and beast.

Dobie wants to take a few rifle shots at the yogi during the fight, but Jake stops him – apparently the virus capsule is so virulent that if it’s hit by a bullet ‘Half of America’ will be killed! I’m not sure how that would work (just how airborne is this thing?), but it’s a decent threat to keep the story going.

The fight finally wears Shako to the point where he has to sit down to protect himself from the dogs, making him a still target. But before Jake can finish him off, the dogs are executed… by Russians! That’s right, the Russians know about the capsule too! Oh, this is going to be trouble next issue…

Shako killed no people this weed, which leaves the total number Shako’s victims to have died ‘real slow’ as 2 out of 24, or roughly 8%

Thrill 4 – Dan Dare (?/Gibbons)

Dan and company don’t have to wait long for the action to start in their intersteller mission to ‘the lost worlds’. Almost immediately they come across the ‘pioneer’, one of the missing ships, with its crew nowhere to be found! Audio logs (are you listening, System Shock 2?) tell the story of how the crew thought they spotted glinting treasure on the surface of an asteroid and went to investigate, then never returned!

The mystery of the disappearance is solved almost immediately, when Dan’s ship is swarmed by claw-handed winged insect-men who can breathe and fly in space!

Wait a minute… insect men who fly through the vacuum of space… I’m a little rusty on my Lovecraftianism, but aren’t those Bya’khee? Also, how do flapping wings work in space, where there’s nothing for them to push off of?

These primitive monsters are no match for Dan, though – while they were able to slaughter the crew of an exploration ship relatively easily, Dan’s got a combat cruiser on his side. They fire up the engines and make a speedy getaway, but that’s not enough of a resolution for Dan, so he spins around and fires a few nuclear torpedoes into the asteroid, blasting it to pieces, killing all the remaining Bya’khee.

Which seems like a bit of an extreme response. Wouldn’t a beacon with the message ‘monsters live here, stay away’ have been just as good, and not involved the extermination of an intelligent race?

I guess that’s just not how Dan Dare rolls.


Thrill 5 – MACH 1

When we left Probe he was in a bit of a pickle. He’s on a Russian space station, thousands of miles from the missiles that America is about to launch at strategic Russian sites!

There’s only one option – a kamikaze strike, ploughing the space shuttle smack into the missile launch site! Unfortunately Tex has something to say about that, since, even with a hole in his heart, he’s proved amazingly resistant to death. Just how is he so strong? Two hearts. Yup. He was in a plane crash, and when he was patched up they dropped a second heart in there. I’m not sure how that keeps all the blood from flooding out of the hole in one of the hearts, but it’s as good an explanation as any.

After a desperate fight Probe manages to stab Tex in the second heart as well, then he rushes back to the controls. The plan? Ram the missile as it approaches the edge of the atmosphere, causing it to fly directly back at its launch site.

No, really.

It works exactly as planned, even to the point that the warhead doesn’t detonate! Probe’s shuttle crashes into the ocean, giving him a chance to break free and swim to safety. With the military instillation destroyed Probe takes a moment to thank his lucky stars that the mad general only bothered to fire the one missile.

Thrill 6 – Future Shock

After four years in space, trying out a new ‘warp’ engine, two astronauts land on a planet that looks suspiciously like earth. Right down to the branded cattle and cowboys roasting food at a fire! But when the astronauts approach, they discover that the cowboys are terrifying lizard-men! Friendly lizard-men, though, albeit ones with odd feelings about the humans’ intellect.

They share a meal by the fire before parting ways, with the humans explaining that they’re eager to find their way back to Earth. The lizard-men don’t have the heart to tell the astronauts the twist. That their ‘warp’ drive didn’t take them through space… it took them through time!

Man, that is a creepy image. Maybe the creepiest we’ve seen so far in this comic. Ick.

Final Thoughts

Best Story: Judge Dredd – That was some fine social commentary there, Judge. Look for another appearance by Dredd in this spot next time, based on the ‘next time on’. Let’s just say the rest of the issue would have to be pretty fantastic to top that story…

Worst Story: Shako – Much as it pains me to finally put Shako in here, I just can’t abide that whole lemmings nonsense.


Programme 28 (3-September-77)


Now, despite the Dive Mistress’ claims of safety, this picture is the exact reason why I won’t go scuba diving.

Thrill 1 – Invasion!

The battle of Glasgow has started, with wave after wave of Scots rushing the Volgs and engaging them in hand to hand combat. A local homeless man runs up to help-

Ah, it’s our local themed character. Anyone wants to lay bets that he’ll sacrifice himself heroically before the story’s done? No, I didn’t think so.

The story quickly moves that way as the mad dogs rush to cut off the Volgs at the old Football stadium. They spin the floodlights around and shine them on the approaching Volgans, blinding the troops as the mad dogs open fire.

It’s a decisive victory, except for a final attack by a Volgan mortar team. Savage is shocked to see a huge ‘globe grenade’ rocketing towards him and Silk. Just then Jock Steel runs in to kicks the mortar shell away.

I’m not sure that’s how mortar shells actually work, but at least he had the opportunity to put the old cleats back on. Inspited by Jock’s sacrifice, the Scots quickly rout the remaining Volgs, much to the chargrin of their commander. He’s so angered, in fact, that he decides to crack open the local maximum-security prison and send them in to kill their fellow Scots.

Thrill 2 – Judge Dredd

Picking up where last week’s (largely missed) story left off, this one also concerns Dredd’s final training of a Cadet. Here’s a shocker that I missed in the lost pages last week – the Cadet is named Giant. And he’s the son of Giant, the main character of Harlem Heroes! So this confirms that both those stories are taking place in a single, coherent universe. That’s a bit of a surprise.

When their latest call takes Dredd and Giant to the old Harlem Heroes stadium to break up a kidnapping, Dredd decides to let the kid go in and handle things on his own. Which he’s more than capable of doing, given that he’s the blaxploitation judge! Yeah, seriously, that’s why he exists.

There’s one perp left, hiding in the rafters with a kid and a bomb on a short fuse. Giant handles it according to family tradition, by strapping on a jetpack, grabbing the kid, and throwing the bomb into the goal-post. Dredd congratulates Giant on a job well done, and we move immediately to his graduation ceremony, where an important fact is revealed:

Yeah, the original giant really, really didn’t age well. I mean, I know he’s got to be around 80, but wow, father time really took a bat to that guy, didn’t he?

Judge Dredd Kill Count (31)

Thrill 3 - Shako

It looks like things are finally coming to a close for the old Yogi – the hospital massacre has drawn enough attention that the Americans have finally gotten their act together, and grabbed some spears to keep Shako cornered until they can find guns. Unk, Shako’s little buddy decides this would be a great time to ruin everything, though, and shatters the window behind Shako with a rock, giving him a chance to escape.

Miraculously Shako doesn’t immediately eat Unk, and instead wanders off into the night, looking for less sympathetic prey.

He finds it in two oilmen, Frenchy and Dan, who think being high atop a pipeline will save them from Shako. Haven’t they been reading this thing? Shako quickly piles up enough snow that he can clamber up to the top of the pipeline, and the men scatter in fear.

Shako captures and cripples Frenchy very fast, then tries to track Dan down. He finds the oilman cowering inside a pipe too narrow for Shako to enter. While this might have seemed like a good idea at the time, Shako doesn’t take being foiled well, and elects to fill the end of the pipe with snow, so Dan will run out of air. Then he turns back to Frenchy, and devours him alive.

The triumph of Shako’s victory is somewhat hampered by a cutaway to some of Unk’s deeper thoughts on the situation.

Two things – I find it a little odd that he doesn’t consider himself an American (he’s like 10, and Alaskan statehood was like 25 years earlier). More importantly, though, this is another issue with a damaged page, so I’m not exactly sure how Shako escaped the village and made it to the pipeline. So it’s possible that he killed Unk on his way out of town. We may never know. But we’re only going to be counting the deaths I’ve got evidence of.

With Dan being suffocated to death, one of the slowest arctic deaths there is, that brings the total number Shako’s victims to have died ‘real slow’ to 2 out of 24, or roughly 8%.

Thrill 4 – Dan Dare (?/Gibbons)

Dan Dare’s back! That wasn’t a very long absence, was it? It seems that the head of Dan’s Space agency needs him for a vital mission – he has to explore… the lost worlds! A mysterious section of space full of unimaginable horror. Ships have tried to map it, but none have ever returned!

You know, Dan would probably have an easier time with this mission if he had a better weapon than a hand-blaster. I don’t know, maybe some kind of a living axe?

Dan immediately agrees to the mission, but only on condition that he get to pick his own crew. He doesn’t want a bunch of military officers, he needs survivors who have seen the worst space has to offer and survived it. So where’s he going to find them? Certainly not Mos Eisley.

What’s Dan’s plan? He heads to the diviest bar and picks a fight with the nastiest son of a bitch there. The target is a giant Russian named Bear. Dan picks a fight with him, beats him up, and then tells everyone else in the bar that if the near wants to settle things, he should come to the spaceport. He pulls the same confrontation/recruitment thing with ‘Hitman’, a guy whose gun got fused to his hand when he was caught in a vacuum, and ‘Pilot’, the world’s greatest taxi driver (he also used to be a starship pilot).

The three of them show up at the spaceport at sunset, and find out that Dan had pissed off dozens of other men as well. A starship lands right in front of them, and Dan pops out and offers them all a place on the ship – for the best paying, most dangerous job they’ll ever have. Absolutely everyone joins up just as quickly as Dan did, which gets the setup out of the way in a single issue, meaning that it’s time to set a course for adventure!

Thrill 5 – MACH 1

The recap is nice enough to let me know about the story we missed last issue. Probe is co-piloting the new shuttlecraft into outer space, along with Tex, a spy! Of course, Probe doesn’t know that yet.

He is suspicious, though, even moreso when something goes wrong with the shuttle and Tex suggests that he go out and check. Probe gets confirmation of his fears when Tex fires up the shuttle engines with him still outside. Tex isn’t aware that his would-be citim is hyperpowered, though, and able to hold on with no trouble.

When the shuttle arrives at a Russian space station Tex unloads his troopers and attacks it, shutting down the Russians’ early warning system. Their plan? Fire a rocket into the heart of Russia, setting off World War 3!

Not if Probe has anything to say about it! He drifts out of his hiding place and starts slashing away at his opponents’ suits, condemning to the horrible death of having the air sucked from their lungs by vacuum.

Probe kills most of the terrorists, but Tex proves more tenacious than most – he even drops a hint that he’s more special than he may have appeared. He radios to his partners on earth that the warning system is down – so now they can launch ICBMs whenever they want, obliterating the Russian defenses! This puts Probe in one hell of a pickle – how can he stop a missile from being launched thousands of miles away?

Find out next time!


Who’s up for another supercover?

Why do people insist on genetically engineering mosters with giant claws? Aren’t blobs of undifferentiated muscle mass good enough for science any more?

Thrill 6 – Future Shock

It’s the year 5000 and war has been going on for as long as anyone can remember – one side is robots, the other side… genetically engineered animals! Which is the twist. Also there’s a reference to the fact that humans may have gone extinct at some point, which makes this story the profoundly sad tale of robots and animals still fighting a war that they didn’t start and have no real reason for continuing.

Oh well, at least they’re adorable, right?

Final Thoughts

Best Story: Judge Dredd – What can I say? Blaxploitation + Judge Dredd = Quality entertainment. You heard it hear first.

Worst Story: Nothing. This was a completely competant week of 2000AD. Invasion moved, Harlem Heroes is over, Dan Dare is now being drawn by Dave Gibbons… all is right in the world, I guess is what I’m saying.


Adventures in Fake Journalism: Terminator 3

While not journalism per se, or in any way, really, I wanted to feature some incredibly half-assed work on the part of some graphic artists working on Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.

Midway through the film the Terminatrix finds that its main weapon, some kind of plasma blast cannon, has been damaged, and she has to select a replacement from a surprisingly large number of options.

Here's the first-

There's little picture of the weapon's arm configuration on the left side, then the name of the weapon in the middle, and some description about it below.

Let's zoom in on that part, shall we?


The Two-Hundred-Forty-Third Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

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Oh, superstitious natives, you're always so easy to bedevil!

And let's not forget the part that monocle power played in this!


The Two-Hundred-Forty-Second Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

On some level I'd like to call out the confusion between sumo and jiu-jitsu, but then I noticed the skin tone assigned to the 'Jap Wrestler', and decided that's what we should all be focused on.


The Two-Hundred-Forty-First Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

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You know what's extremely interesting, Dollman? The fact that the diary writer realized that there was a limit to the amount of text people snooping through his thoughts would be willing to read, so he increasingly moved to pictographical representations of his own life story.


The Two-Hundred-Fortieth Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

This is - officially - the worst way of haunting someone.


The Two-Hundred-Thirty-Ninth Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

What kind of clock is that? How did Midnight get in there? Did he bring it with him to the crime scene at that club? Is that something he does?

Have they changed him into a character who can travel between any grandfather clock?


The Two-Hundred-Thirty-Eighth Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

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Oh, Archie, you nearly managed to strike a blow for equal rights!

For the record, the use of 'women' here is a bit of an exaggeration - while there had been a few female Representatives at this point, when this comic was written there had just been a single female Cabinet Secretary, and while there had been five female Senators, only one was elected, with the rest serving out their dead husbands' terms.


Scavenger Part 2 - The Evidence That Wasn't

Scavenger is terribly written. I think I've established that well enough. There's one part I didn't focus on in that last article, however, and it is, in its own way, the absolute worst part of awful novel Scavenger. The big twist.

Okay, quick refresher - Mark killed three families and made it look like the work of a deranged serial killer so that people wouldn't notice him killing his own family, who he hated. Then Scavenger picked up the torch and murdered his own family, and then a fifth family a few months later, hoping to draw law enforcement attention away from himself. Both attempts succeeded, and then Mark wrote a book about the murders. Scavenger read the book and became convinced - based on the text within, that Mark was the original 'Family Man', whose crimes he had copied.

Then, for reasons that aren't ever entirely clear, Scavenger decides he wants to expose Mark's crimes via an elaborate game that has him running to the various crime scenes and getting punched repeatedly by a giant in a duster.

Again, it is not a good book.

Scavenger goes to an FBI agent who was obsessed with the case with his theory about Mark, and enlists the man's help in his scheming. It seems that Mark accidentally revealed something while writing the book that identified him to Scavenger as the perpetrator - and that information is convincing enough to the FBI agent that he's willing to risk his career (as well as imprisonment - the scheme is hugely illegal) to go along with Scavenger's plan.

What is the information? Prepare yourselves, because when I actually read the book for the first time years ago, I re-read the passages explaining Scavenger's flash of insight a dozen times, hoping to make sense of it, but all I ever managed to do was give myself a headache. So here it is:


The Two-Hundred-Thirty-Seventh Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

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Even the menacing giant rabbit is annoyed at Phantom Lady's refusal to wear a mask of any kind.


Programme 17 (18-June-77)

Cover: Man, this had better happen in the issue.

Thrill 1 – Invasion!

That’s right, slavery is back! Ex-army Brits are sold to collaborators and officers at an auction on Petticoat Lane! Also, apparently Collaborators have to wear an armband with a big C on it.

Bill Savage is having none of this, of course, but he doesn’t have a plan for how to take down the slavers. But with the special talents of one ‘Fingers Frampton’, a well-known pickpocket, perhaps there’s a chance!

The next day Bill and Fingers sneak into the slave auction by clinging to the underside of the slave wagon. How they got there is anyone’s guess. Next, Fingers bumps into the slave warden and steals something. He hands it off to Bill quickly, but since jostling is puncishable by death, Fingers is shot immediately.

During the improptu execution Bill is busy with the warden’s keys, unlocking the prisoners, who then leap to attack the guards! The warden immediately calls in the armored car from the street – it’s interrupted by Silk, who’s in a nearby wrecking crane, which he uses to crush the vehicle!

Bill, Silk and the slaves escape, and Bill explains that it’s not sad that Fingers died, because he had radiation poisoning – at least this way he got to go out doing something important! Although I can’t help but wonder if the whole attack was a little overthought. The entire guard contingent of the slave market was five guys and an APC. Seems like the Mad Dogs could have just shot the place up and saved the day a whole lot more easily. It’s not like they have to worry about hitting the crowd – it was clearly established that the only people there are collaborators and Nazi officers.

Thrill 2 - Flesh

Earl Reagan is lying in the spiderweb, freshly bitten by a giant spider. It seems the getting bitten by an incredibly large spider is as immeidately fatal as one would assume, and Earl is able to suck the poison out of his own arm quite easily. Then he plays dead to lure the spider into a false sense of security, then stabs it in the brain when it gets too close.

After extracting himself from the cobweb Earl stumbles into the Time Displacement room, where survivors are being loaded onto the timeships to make their getaway. He’s surprised to see Claw helping load the ships, so he goes to check it out. Naturally it turns out that Claw had an ulterior motive. He’s loading gold into the ship! Why they have processed gold bullion in the past is unclear, but unimportant. Claw and Earl get into yet another fight, this one ending with Earl thrown out of the ship and Claw slamming into the control console.

The time field activates and Earl is pulled into another ship just in time. Less lucky are Claw, whose ship malfunctions because of the damamged console, and the three guys from the cover, who are grabbed by the dinosaur just as they’re pulled into the future! As a result of all this mishegoss there’s one hell of a mess in the future when three ships arrive instead of four, and next to one of them stands, well, this:

I know this is the second image of him this issue, but that’s just how much I love this little monster. Also, note that the characters had names on the cover, but here they're just a twisted beast.

Thrill 3 – Harlem Heroes (?/Gibbons)

Before the game with the Gruber’s Gargoyles can even begin Artie (disguised as Gargs chief Joe Mugglie) hurls an aeroball at the Heroes, claiming that his robot arm ‘malfunctioned’. Of course, the only malfunction was that he missed!

As the game begins in earnest, watching from home is the villain, who they’ve stopped even pretending that they’re hiding his identity. Between the glasses last week and the hairline this time around, it’s like they want us to know it’s Ulysses Cord. I mean, it can’t be anyone else, but still, this is really obvious.

After one of the Gargs is injured by an intercepted ball and another sidelined for using his full robotic powers a time-out is called, Artie realizes it’s time to pull off the kid gloves… figuratively! As he and Giant rush for the same pass, Artie pops hidden claws on his right hand and prepares to slash!


There are some more future predictions in the letters this week, with one kid suggesting that in the future robots will do all chores, and by paid by sliding money into slots in their chest, and another concieves of a dystopian future where everyone lives in houses without windows (so it’s harder to break in!) and looks outside with X-ray glasses. He doesn’t seem to think that it’s a bad idea, but the widespread availability in this future of X-Ray glasses it means that there’s no privacy for anyone, anywhere, at any time.

Thrill 4 – Dan Dare: Space Hyper-Hero (?/Belardinelli)

As Dan frantically struggles inside the glass sphere, trying to keep the flesh maggots from eating him, Rok notices his Laser Sword lying on the ground near feet. He grabs it and kills a guard, then breaks Dan out of the sphere! They take a moment for Rok to dine on a few of the maggots, then attack the aliens in force.

It goes surprisingly well, even going so far as to get the Mekon thrown off of his chair, which apparently he gets all of his power from. Before Dan can finish him off the Two of Verath rush in, guns blazing. Dan, Rok, and Cap try to escape, but once they come across a locked door Cap panics and tries to surrender. He’s killed when wild blaster fire hits a statue of the two, and it falls on him. The fate of his amoeba buddy remains unkown.

Backed into a corner, Dan and Rok have only one option left – to jump into a chasm opened by the impact of the statue… but what lies in the inky blackness below them?

Thrill 5 – MACH 1

The story opens with a plane crashing into a mountain. It’s no ordinary plane, though – it was carrying Kestrel nuclear missiles which somehow were not destroyed when this happened:

Probe and a team of SAS operatives are dispatched to retrieve the missiles, and somehow manage to arrive at the exact same time as a group of ‘Eastern’ soldiers. Probe makes quick work of them while his partners are still landing, and then they quickly lash the missiles onto a sled and start down the mountain.

Even though Probe delayed the other side by dropping the remains of the plane onto them, the enemy major is able to rally and gun down the rest of Probe’s escorts. Probe skis down the mountain alongside the sled, but when he comes under more fire it careens out of control, and heads straight for a narrow crevasse! It’s up to Probe to dive ahead of it and use his body as a human bridge for the 500 pound missile to slide across!

Doing so has put Probe in an awkward position, though, left sprawled over a cliff as the enemy Major skis up with an assault rifle. He makes the universal mistake of talking instead of shooting, though, giving Probe a chance to kick him over the edge of the cliff.

Then there’s a quick wrapup as the missile is loaded into a truck at the base of the mountain. Probe is tiring of being the only survivor in all of these missions, and he’s grown suspicious of the fact that people had to die because a computer (this time the navigation computer in the airplane) malfunctioned! So, deep down, are these computers really helping people, or just making things worse?

Hey, look! It’s a parallel moral to what’s going on in Judge Dredd at the moment! Neat!

One problem, though – Probe claims that he’s always the sole survivor. But he usually goes off on missions alone, and we’ve seen him resuce people a multitude of times. So where’s the melancholy coming from?

Thrill 6 – Judge Dredd (?/Ian Gibson)

And speaking of technology gone awry, it’s time for Call-Me-Kenneth’s last stand! Badly wounded last issue, Ken has fled to the Meg-Oil fuel refinery to get the delicious oil he needs to heal himself!

Dredd arrives just as Ken steals a Texas City oil hovership. The workers are throw off and killed, but Dredd manages to climb aboard at the last moment. His bullets may bounce off Ken’s damaged from, but Dredd has one ace left up his sleeve – they’re on an oil tanker!

Bursting a main and coating Ken in oil, Dredd jumps off the ship and lights Ken on fire with an incendiary bullet! Ken gets one last moment to scream before the ship explodes:

I am really going to miss that guy. Even though his next line was ‘Top of the world!’ You know, because he died in an oil tank explosion? Yeah, pretty lame, I know.

Oh, and Dredd is saved from falling to his death by some firemen with a hovernet.

The story’s winding down, so it’s time for an awards ceremony! To reward them for bravery in the face of tyranny, Dredd’s three robot-factory buddies, Howard, Stewart, and J70/13 are awarded pleasure circuits! That’s right, robots are incapable of feeling pleasure. Naturally humans wired in the ability to feel pain, so they’ll scream when lashed with laser-whips or set on fire, but pleasure? Why would they need that?

Oh, and of course they still have to go back to work the next day. Sure, they can feel pleasure now, but they’re still the property of the robot factory.

Damn, that is some messed up reward system they’ve got there.

Things go notably better for Walter, who is awarded his freedom! And what does he elect to do with that freedom? Become Judge Dredd’s full-time robo-servant, of course! I can’t wait for the hilarity to ensue when the solicitous robot starts to butt heads with Dredd’s eye-talian cleaning lady! In fact, I don’t have to wait, because that very thing happens on the next page.

I’m right there with you, Joe.

Yeah, now that I’ve seen a second issue of it, I’m sure this is Ian Gibson’s art.

Final Thoughts

Best Story: Judge Dredd – It was a great wrapup to

Worst Story: You know what? Another good week. I won’t call any of these terrible. But Mach 1 and Invasion! were borderline.

Programme 16 (11-June-77)

Cover: Oh, MACH 1, your trips to America are proving quite eventful, aren’t they? First you save New York from a nuclear zeppelin, and now you’re somehow going to be involved in a situation where the Capitol building is teleported into the Atlantic? Oh, yes please.

And, just a note here, I don’t care how surprising a place it is for a building to turn up, if your plane hits the building, it’s not attacking you. That’s like saying those planes were ‘attacked by’ the World Trade Center.

A building is only ‘attacking you’ if someone physically picks it up and throws it at you.

Now I’m thinking about Ninja Blade. Beautiful, beautiful Ninja Blade.

Thrill 1 – Invasion!

It seems that the Volgs, acknowledging that they’re just not up to catching a lorry driver who hides on an island that’s basically in the middle (http://maps.google.ca/maps?q=isle%20of%20dogs&oe=utf-8&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&hl=en&tab=wl) of the city their occupation is based in, have resorted to offering a bounty on Bill Savage’s head. Along with two other resistance leaders we’ve never seen before. Apparently they work the midland.

It’s nice that they show the conversion rate (and that deuts- sorry, VOLGSmarks are worth more than three times the british pound!), but since this is the second time we’ve seen the suggestion of people being paid by the Volgans to kill or betray the resistance, it makes me wonder exactly what those traitors will be spending the money on. What’s the economy like under the Volgan invasion? Are businesses open again? Schools?

Those aren’t the types of things that concern Bill Savage, of course. No, he’s more interested in teaching those dirty Volgs a lesson by ambushing one of their supply convoys! The Volgans are furious, but they’ve got an advantage Bill doesn’t know about. They’ve broken the resistance radio codes! And what’s the best way to exploit that? By letting it slip that an incredibly valuable convoy (anti-air weapons, high-ranking POWS) will be going through an area at a certain time, then listening in as the resistance plans their attack, then set up a reverse amush to slaughter them all!

Yes, that would be a good plan. Which is why the Volgans, naturally, don’t think of it. No, they have a better plan… hire a private bounty hunter named Quarry to kill all three resistance leaders personally!

How did these people ever conquer England in the first place? I’m amazed they were able to find England. With their operational track record it seems more likely they’d have wound up invading Baffin Island. Now I’m picturing this exact comic strip, except the main characters are all seals. Time to call Hollywood!

Savage gets a radio call from the other resistance leaders. He’s to meet them alone at an inn out in the middle of nowhere. Natually, he goes. Arriving to find the other leaders already dead, Savage ducks out of the way just in time to dodge Quarry’s high-powered rifle round.

That’s Quarry. I can only assume that travel restrictions have kept him from going on safari for a few months, and he’s become a traitor just so he’ll have something to hunt.

Savage has a plan to get out of the cottage alive, though. He’ll set his shotgun on automatic (which, apparently, you can do) and have one of the corpses fire it out of the window by squeezing the trigger with his dead hand. I don’t know, doesn’t it seem like the recoil from the first shot would, at very least knock the corpse’s hand loose, if not throw him out of his chair entirely?

The plan works, and Bill, knowing that his car has been destroyed, runs out the back of the cabin. You know, this is the part of the Volgs’ plan that really doesn’t make sense to me. How could things have possibly gone worse if there were an entire regiment of troops surrounding the building, as opposed to one deranged big-game hunter in a zebra-striped Land Rover?

Quarry didn’t even think to bring a driver along, so he’s stuck firing a pistol with one hand while steering with the other. Not a great combination for accuracy, that. Seeing his salvation up ahead, Savage pulls his own wanted poster (which apparently he took from the cottage?) out of his pocket and throws it at the Land Rover. In what has to be the luckiest throw in the history of people throwing things, the single pieces of paper flattens out on the Land Rover’s windshield, exactly blocking Quarry’s line of sight. By the time he clears the poster away (with his hand – apaprently he’s too tough to just use the wipers) Quarry discovers that it’s too late – he’s been murdered… by irony!

“It wasn’t the fall that did it. It was irony killed the beast.”

Ah, Quarry. He forgot one key thing – the word Quarry has two completely different definitions, and that’s the kind thing that writers can’t resist exploiting! It’s just sad that he realized only too late that he was the villain in a poorly-written action strip.

Also starring in that strip are the Volgan high command, who receive a letter from Bill the next day, mocking them for their inability to kill him. Of course, they deserve to be mocked this time around. Would it have killed them to send along a little backup with Quarry? Or just put a bomb in there or something.

Do you even want to win the Invasion, guys?

Thrill 2 - Flesh

It’s the apocalypse at the Trans-Time base! Raptors are running everywhere, eating boxes of packaged meat, spiders are pouncing on anything that moves, and Old One-Eye is focused on tracking down that one human she’s pissed at. Not that this stops her from killing every other available human in her path, of course. Hell, even the poison spiders crawling all over her can’t stop the old hag!

She doesn’t have to wait long for the confrontation, as Earl leaps onto her head, attempting to stab her in the brain with the electric prod he’s used to put her eye out nearly two weeks previously. One-Eye’s too fast for him though, and with a shift of her head, Earl winds up falling into her mouth. Things look bad for our ‘hero’, but he’s saved by the writer’s woefull misunderstanding of the relative strength of a dinosaur’s jaw muscles as compared to a human’s legs.

Proving that there’s no situation so bad that it can’t get worse, the Flesh Controller picks just that moment to grab One-Eye with his fleshdozer, hoping to drop her and Reagan into the grinders at the same time! It doesn’t go quite as planned, though – Reagan falls through the hole in the floor into the spider pit, where he gets bitten! And One-Eye proves too heavy for the Dozer! One-Eye tears the cockpit open and devours the FC! It looks like… the dinosaurs have won!

And the comic’s copy editors weren’t doing there job!

Thrill 3 – Harlem Heroes (?/Gibbons)

It’s time for a third-round match for the Harlem Heroes, this time they’ll be playing Gorgon’s Gargoyles, a team of bizarre monsters! Seeing their horrific faces, Slim remarks that they can’t possibly be human – Giant reveals that they aren’t! Apparently since that summer special it’s become commonplace for fake people to play the sport. As a result, an entire team of ‘android robots’ assembled by ‘computronic surgeons’ has made it this far into the world championships!

Amazingly, this leads to us finally getting a new Aeroball Rule: “59 - Computronic players must reduce their energy output to human levels during the game.” Of course, ‘human levels’ is an incredibly vague term with no clear meaning. Do they have to be an average polayer, or can they all have the output of exceptional players? To use Heroes terms, could they each be as nimble as a Hero and as tough as a Flying Scotsman? And, power level reduction or not, isn’t the fact that the robots are made of metal and plastic going to make them supernaturally resistant to the kung-fu that human players use on them? Or is there a separate rule about how they have to fake being injured?

While the rest of the team practices for the game, Giant and King have a conversation where the old-timer mentions that the rest of the team seems to be playing like they haven’t got a care in the world. Giant explains that he’s trying to keep the whole ‘someone is trying to kill them’ thing on the Q.T. for the time being. Which seems like an incredibly dangerous thing to do – don’t the players have the right to know that, in addition to the dangers of Aeroball, some madman is out there trying to kill them? Also, didn’t they think something was up when that guy shot at them with a rifle and then crippled Sammy? I’d like to have been there for the bus ride home afterwards, when the other players tried to ask about the gun-toting killer cyborg and Giant explained that it wasn’t anything worth worrying about.

Speaking of that cyborg, in the next scene Artie is back in his doctor’s office, this time getting a new face! But whyever would he be doing that? Oh, they tell us right away, after Artie asks when he can take the bandages off.

Way to kill the mystery, there, Ulysses Cord. Whose glasses those clearly are. There’s only one character in this strip who wears glasses, and look, there they are. Then it’s on to a confusing introduction of the Gargoyles, at their own stadium.

Yeah, I’m not really sure what those fans mean. They ‘refused’ to wear nu-faces? Aren’t they robots? How much choice do they have in the matter? More to the point, it’s not like those monster faces just kind of happened. These guys were BUILT to look like that, weren’t they? So they could be a monster-themed aeroball team? If that’s not what the story is trying to get across, I’m going to be even more confused than I already am.

Missing from that group is ‘Joe Mugglie’, the Gargoyles’ captain, who’s still lounging in his apartment, which apparently robots are given, rather than just storing them in a box somewhere. There’s knock on his door, and he’s surprised by a bandage-wearing man, who reveals himself to be… Joe’s Evil Twin!

So that’s something they said back in the 70s? Weird. Or at least in the 70s idea of what the mid 21st century would look like. Oh, and this has to be the least impressive plastic surgery job I’ve ever seen. See what muggly looks like? Now take a look at what Artie used to look like:

Not exactly Witness Protection Program level alteration, is it? Artie quickly destroys Joe and then heads over to the stadium, where he finds his ‘team’ waiting to help him take on the Heroes. But little do they know that he’s going to make sure this is the last game the Heroes ever play!

The Aeroball Rulebook (making its triumphant return!)

The Aeroball Rulebook:

16 - Only a Squad Leader can call time out, and only if two or more players are sidelined by injury.
28 – Don't touch the score posts.
59 - Computronic players must reduce their energy output to human levels during the game.
? - Don't kick (or punch?) people in the back of the head.
? - No sandwich tackles (?)

Thrill 4 – Dan Dare: Space Hyper-Hero (?/Belardinelli)

Captured by the Mekon, Dan, Rok, and Cap are taken back to their secret base – which it turns out is inside the planet, which is actually hollow, and gets light and heat from a floating magnetic core in the middle! There’s a twist!

Dismissing Rok’s (it’s certainly not a) light saber as a bizarre, useless toy, Mekon introduces Dan to his interrogator, which leads to the second greatest panel to have ever appeared in this comic-

I assume I don’t have to explain why that’s the second best thing ever, right?

Dan refuses to be seated in the chair, going so far as to grab one of the gun-headed guys by the barrel and swinging him around like a club. It’s all for naught, though, as he’s captured by the Two of Verath and forced into the chair, where the blob slithers all over him.

Its power? To find out things from your mind and make them play on its skin like a movie screen! Which is actually a little scary. Watching the screen the Mekon discovers that Dan actually is his arch-Nemesis Dan Dare, after cryonic storage and reconstructive surgery. The Mekon immediately plans to kill Dan in the most horrible way he can devise – by sealing him in a glass ball with carnivorous worms that keep their victims alive for years while slowly devouring them!


The letters page, populated entirely by communication from nitpickers and fanboys, is always fascinating to me, both because I find the letters endlessly entertainging, and because, had I been born much earlier in England, I would likely have been one of the children wrting those letters. They’re generally not worth referencing specifically, but this week’s page has a wonderful piece of art I just had to reproduce:

This comes from a Steven Abrahart of New Malden. He was inspired by the fleshdozers of ‘FLESH’ to create the ‘fishdozer’, which works by walking through the oceans on extendo-legs, shocking fish to death with lasers, then scooping them up and proccessing them inside to be shipped out to ‘hyper-markets’. Which will seemingly all be TESCOs.

And what year is this amazing future supposed to take place?



Oh, and proving that the editors of 2000AD were still trying to figure out exactly what the nature of the comic was, when another writer suggested that instead of six 5-page stories there be three 10 page stories each week. ‘Tharg’ responds that if enough fans write letteesr in agreement, that’s something that could easily happen.

Thrill 5 – MACH 1

Oh my god I was completely wrong. It seems that the cover was misleading – the Capitol Building actually was attacking John Probe’s blackbird fighter!

Except it’s not the Capitol at all… it’s a secret base with electromagnetic guns that scramble Probe’s computer and hover salvage-ships that rescue him from the water when the plane crashes. Who is responsible for all this?

That’s right. His name is Adolf, he said ‘and (they) called me crazy!’, and he built a submergable base that looks like the Capitol building to mock the Americans. All in a single panel. Wow.

When Probe wakes he finds himself tied to a table. Adolf is planning to dissect him to find out the secret of the Compupuncture Hyperpower! Probe decides he’s not going to sit around waiting for that, and breaks out of his restraints! Running down a hallway to where he assumes Adolf must be (despite having no idea where he is or what the building’s layout is), Probe finds himself chased by a heat-seeking mini-missile! Using his super-speed Probe tricks the missile into hitting a steel door. Wait, didn’t he do that exact thing in a plane a couple of weeks ago?

In another amazing coincidence, it turns out that random door was the one that led to Adolf’s office.

Adolf gives Probe the standard option – work for him or die! Probe comes up with a thrid option, grabbing a mirror and using it to reflect Adolf’s electron ray! With Adolf dead, all that’s left is for Probe to kill all of the henchmen, who he calls ‘Slant-Eyed Vipers’ by lowering the Capitol even further until the pressure crushes them, while he’s able to swim to safety!

It’s funny, I didn’t even realize the henchmen were supposed to be Asian.

Nope, still can’t see it.

Thrill 6 – Judge Dredd

It’s showdown time here in Mega-City 1. With the robot factory shut down, all that’s left to deal with are Call-Me-Kenneth and the Heavy Metal Kids he’s brought with him to attack the hall of justice!

With no hope of winning in a frontal attack, Dredd and his loyal robot sidekicks Walter, J/70 and Howard the maintenance robot, take a jet up to weather control. Their plan? To create a deadly localized electrical storm that will short-circuit all the killer robots! One problem: Creating electrical storms over Mega-City 1 has been illegal since 2012!

Hmm. I’d think the bigger problem would be using the weather control system to create an electrical storm at all. When you’re building a whether control system, is that a setting you should really put in there? More importantly, how was there a time between the technology being invented and electrical storms being declared illegal? This seems like an incredibly egregious example of the law following technology.

After running the circuits through Walter to facilitate a short-circuit, Dredd starts the electrical storm, giving Mega-City 1 the first lighting it’s seen in 87 years! The lightning strikes the Heavy Metal Kids, driving them insane, then shutting them down… but not before they hammer Ken pretty badly!

By the time Dredd arrives at the Grand Hall of Justice the war is over. The last of the rebel robots are being rounded up. There’s only one piece of hanging thread left over. Ken’s body is nowhere to found!

Final Thoughts

Best Story: Dan Dare – It was a close one this week, with MACH 1 putting in an amazingly crazy showing, but that blob was just too wonderful to overlook.

Worst Story: Invasion – Stupid premise, lame execution. Even the jaw-dropping ‘ironic’ fate of the villain couldn’t save this with its absurdity.