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.

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