Programme 48 (21-January-78)

Another impossible-to-comment-on cover. Thanks, 2000AD. I appreciate the extra story page, but what I’d appreciate even more is a cover featuring Judge Dredd punching Dracula in the mouth while saying ‘Fangs off, creep!’
Although that will probably never happen.


New Theory Video! Gilmore Girls This Time!

Yup, I'm gradually learning more and more about this whole theory video thing - this time it's about Gilmore Girls - specifically Lorelei's bad habit of drinking and driving!



Game of Thrones Theory Video!

That's right, I was inspired to put together a video explaining a Storm of Swords theory which I became obsessed with in the last few weeks! Check it out.... if you dare!

Yeah, I'm a little fixated on those books.


The Next Day: The Boy (2015) Edition

That's right, it's another episode of The Next Day! And this time, it's also a movie called 'The Boy', which I agree is a little weird!


Next time, a movie not called The Boy!


Don't try to Gaslight Count Vardulon

So anyway, this happened on this week's TheAvod-

So that was fun.

Sorry for the absence - I'll be back soon with more videos!

Check back this weekend for another 'The Next Day', and next week for a new video project!


There's a Legit Error in A Feast For Crows

And this isn't one of those mistakes in character, like when Martin forgets an eye colour, or an unreliable narrator like Sansa's kiss - this one is just a mistake.

Here's the relevant text, from the second-last Cersei chapter, from the torture of the Blue Bard (real name Wat)-
"His father had been a chandler and Wat was raised to that trade, but as a boy he found he had more skill at making lutes than barrels."

A chandler doesn't make barrels - chandlers make candles. It's coopers who are responsible for barrels.  I can't imagine any way this could be a code or something otherwise meaningful, so it looks like it's just something which slipped by Martin and his various editors.


Here's something that bothered me in A Feast For Crows!

So there's this part in A Feast For Crows that really bothers me. Which is doubly upsetting because that's my favourite book in the series - my favorite chapters are Theon's from A Dance With Dragons, but looked on as an overall work, I put FFC at the top.

One thing really bugs me about it, though - there's a line that takes me right out of the book. It's not one of the jokes or references aimed at one of George's friends - I learned about those long after reading the books, and they're largely so subtle that they don't bother me at all. No, this quibble is about language.

Here's the relevant line from the text-
"He brought them the gold they asked for, but they hung him anyway."
"Hanged, Ami. Your father was not a tapestry."

It's an old joke, it's funny and it works, but it still bothers me. Westeros is a fake, continent-sized version of England in an alternate version of Earth (or a terraformed planet in the distant future, depending on who you ask), and as I'm reading the books, I enjoy the various strange flights of language and zoology. They call forts 'holdfasts', and there are still Direwolves and Aurochs wandering around. "Sir" is spelled "Ser".

When Martin has gone through such trouble to come up with so many little ways to reinforce the idea that his world is strange and different and unique, to have one criticize someone's grammar in such a modern way is just puzzling. I can accept dragons and ice vampires with zombie henchmen, and time traveling trees, and psychic wolves, but for some reason, the idea that the people of Westeros, speaking in their common tongue, have the exact same weird rule about using different forms of the past tense of 'hang' to describe people and things is a step too far, and pulls me right out of the book.

Next time: A legit error!


Tales From the Golden Age of Comics!

It's another new feature here at Castle Vardulon! Check out the video below in which I take viewers on a journey through one of my favorite Golden Age Comic Stories!

New Video Project! The Next Day: The Boy (2016)

That's right, 'The Next Day' is back - in video form! The stars of TheAvod bring the aftermath of prominent horror films to life, or at least audio!

The first installment is 2016's 'The Boy'!


Simpsons Math!

I'll present one of my favorite moments of Grandpa Simpsons nonsense, from the Critic Crossover Episode "A Star is Burns":

I'd never given the line much thought beyond what a perfect example of old-timey gibberish it is. Then, listening to the radio one day, I heard reference to a Hog's Head being a size of barrel used in liquor production. Naturally this meant it was time for some calculations!

I couldn't find an official exact conversion, but it seems that the hog's head is about 60 gallons, While a Rod is a little over 16 feet.

This means that, the way Grandpa likes it, his car uses up 60 gallons of gasoline to travel 640 feet. This works out to 480 gallons of gasoline per mile traveled, or 0.002 MPG.

Does Grandpa drive a cruise ship? Or some kind of rocket?


Programme 37 (5-Novemeber-77)


Now this is the kind of Supercover I like. Crazy, inventive, a promising an unexpected story inside. Is it the future? Is it space? Both? Only time will tell!


Programme 36 (29-October-77)


Are the supercovers just not trying any more? This is just the story of a spaceman fighting tentacle monsters. Where’s the fun in that? I mean, other than the obvious. What happened to the giant pigeon-eating robot that crushed London?


Programme 35 (22-October-77)


I’m confused. Do the UFOs think that I-beams are human? This had better be one heck of an explanatory story.

Thrill 1 – Invasion!

Bill Savage has taken a break from his cross-country journeys to hang out in a Scottish cave with some other resistance men. You’d think that him hanging out in one place for a while, generally being awesome all the time would have the Volgs routed from Scotland within a few weeks. It hasn’t happened yet, though, so Bill’s called in some reinforcements. Lumberjacks! Sadly the woodsmen are cantankerous, and their leader picks a fight with the oilmen who make up the rest of the Scots resistance fighters. Rather than just telling them to grow up and fight the nazis, Bill suggests that they have a boxing match the next day, out in a field with totally open sightlines.

Someone tips off the Volgs about the fight, and they roll in to arrest and hang the fighters. Silk runs back to base and informs the rest of the resistance men, who rush to the nearby prison in the hopes of mounting a rescue that wouldn’t be necessary if the two men hadn’t been so weirdly prideful about their opposing careers.

A plan is quickly hatched to make good use of both team’s strengths. First they roll flaming oil barrels at the wall of the fortress, and then use the cover of the black smoke to rush the walls. What do the woodsmen bring to the table?

And that’s why you don’t fasten a wooden pole against the wall of your fortress. Once inside the resistance men are easily able to gun down the Volgs and rescue their prisoners. With the fortress destroyed and the Volgs defeated, Savage is ready to admit that the whole ‘tipping off the Volgs’ thing was his idea. Because somehow he knew that the Volgs would capture his men leading to a team-building exercise in rescue. And not just, you know, execute them.

But I guess that’s why he’s Bill Savage, and I would have been killed in the first ten minutes of the Volgan invasion.

Thrill 2 – Judge Dredd

When we last left Judge Dredd, he’s cornered famed bank robber ‘Mutie the Pig’, who turned out to be his good pal Judge Gibson! (Presumably named after the artist on this story, Ian Gibson) So what happens next? Things get stupid. Really, really stupid.

After Dredd recaps last week’s plot (faked death, faked funeral, real arrest), Gibson makes a plea – don’t send him to Titan, they way he did Rico. Instead, he wants to settle this whole ‘murderous bank robber’ thing like they settled disagreements back at the academy. Which, if this picture is to be believed, involved a boxing ting a buzz-saws attached to strings.

Or maybe futuristic deely-boppers. It’s hard to tell.

Dredd somehow agrees, as if this is a personal grudge that needs to be settled, and not just a regular crime. They head to the hall of justice for their duel, which takes place on the shooting range. It’s pretty standard stuff, although we learn that the only way of stopping a heat-seeker is by shooting another heat seeker, so that they’ll collide. Which is actually pretty clever, come to think of it.

The one interesting note about this fight scene is that the whole thing is narrated by the Principal of the school, the eyepatched Judge Griffin, making his first appearance in this issue:

The idea of the guy calmly explaining the strategy involved in a fight to the death gives the scene just the right kind of creepy vibe that it needs, signalling that Dredd is going to, at some point in the future, stop being just an action strip and start having some actual messages.

Also, and this is a minor thing, at the end of the story Dredd paints over judge Gibson’s name on the honor roll from their graduation year. That year’s listing was Dredd, Dredd, Hunt, Wagner, and Gibson. Dredd’s already killed two of those other four guys (in suspiciously similar circumstances, I might add) – will we ever get a look at Wagner and Hunt?

Judge Dredd Kill Count (38)+1=39

Thrill 3 - Shako

It’s a few days since Shako ate Jake, and now he’s getting hungry again. So he saunters over to an Eskimo village and starts pawing through the dump, looking for anything edible. In an amazing coincidence this is the exact village that Eskimo tracker Buck Dollar has stopped at in his search for the Yogi. Hearing about the bear’s whereabouts Buck dismisses his well-armed escort, announcing that he’s going to take down Shako ‘the Eskimo Way’ – with a single harpoon!

Um… Buck… you remember the capsule in his gullet, right? The one you can’t risk puncturing without destroying the world? Are harpoons really accurate enough that you want to risk it?

It seems so. The harpoon doesn’t kill Shako, though, just horribly injured, giving him a chance to maul Buck before retreating to lick his wounds.

The CIA men come to rescue Buck, but he announces that he’s too far gone, and wants to use himself as bait for Shako. He has the CIA men dig a hole in the garbage pile for him to hide in, so that Shako will have to come at him from the front. Wait, isn’t this the exact scheme that got redshirt killed? How is it going to be different this time? Oh, because Buck’s using a bazooka, which won’t freeze up the way a rifle might.

Wait, Buck’s bringing a Bazooka? Isn’t the entire point of this story that they can’t just recklessly shoot the yogu because he’s got a doomsday device sitting in his stomach? What the hell do you think a bazooka is going to do to it, morons?!?!

Apparently we’ll never find out, because the strip ends one moment after Buck shoots Shako in the chest with a rocket, extremely killing him.

Yeah. That’s it. And adding insult to injury? According to a rhyme at the bottom of the page, next month the Harlem Heroes are going to be back for more Aeroball Action.

God damn it.

With Buck Dollar’s brutal, gradually fatal mauling and suffocation, that brings the total number Shako’s victims to have died ‘real slow’ to 3 out of 44, or roughly 7%. A pretty pathetic figure when compared to the 100% statistic we were promised.

Thrill 4 – Dan Dare (?/Gibbons)

After the disaster that was the last issue of Shako just about anything would cheer me up, and Dan Dare does just that. By being a thing. Dan and his landing party are besieged by living trees, and everyone blames it on Haley, who created bad luck by beating up a space monkey. Which, need I remind you, is a major no-no.

This shame leads Hale to volunteer for a suicide rush against the killer trees, hoping that they can make the smaller trees flee by blowing up the largest tree, which is presumably the leader.

The guess proves to be accurate, since the smaller trees happily sacrifice themselves to block the incoming fire and grenades of the spacemen. Haley knows there’s only one way to make up for the bad luck, and sacrifices himself by letting the big tree grab him before pulling the pins on his grenades.

With the king tree blown to ‘matchsticks’, the other trees clear out, giving Dan a chance to call in a rescue craft.


Weird story this week, huh? No twists, no weird premises, just a pretty run-of-the-mill sci-fi action tale. And one that didn’t really reflect the contents of the cover that well, either.


Thrill 5 – MACH 1

The mystery of the high-tech Solar Station at the top of Everest is revealed: It’s a Tibetan Army instillation, built to melt the Himalayas, thereby flooding all of India!

Wait, is that how flooding works? I’m confused. Wouldn’t they be just as likely to flood themselves? How could they guarantee that the water would only flow one way down a mountain range?

Anyhoo, their scheme is undone because the latest British climber they’ve taken hostage is none other than John Probe, the MACH Man! He quickly frees the other mountain climbers and fights his way through the facility, destroying the solar focusing device, and then he bodysurfs down the side of the mountain!

That’s not the high point of this adventure, though. No, that comes when Probe, near the bottom of the mountain, finds himself surrounded by Tibetan soldiers with only one weapon at hand – the frozen corpse of a dead mountaineer from the 1924 expedition!


With that little bit of corpse-desecration over with, Probe and the other climbers are able to flee the country with no further interruption from Tibet’s armed forces. I’m not exactly sure how that works, but let’s go with it.

Actually, my biggest question in this issue goes to the Tibetan government. You know, you’re the Tibetan government. If you don’t want people stumbling onto your secret solar weaponry research facility at the top of Everest, stop letting people climb it. It’s your mountain, you can just put a sign in front saying ‘no access’.

You deserved to get taken down by a fake cybernetic James Bond.

Thrill 6 – Future Shock

Kind of a weak story this time around. “The Ultimate Warrior” tells the tale of a bizarre ice planet where two warring factions have been fighting for over ten thousand years! 10,529, to be exact. The story mentions that number a couple of times, actually.

One side, ‘Topan’, is led by Ross, a ‘Warrior King’, who dispatches his genetically-engineered Ultimate Warrior Peron to finally win the war once and for all. How’s he going to do it? By using his superpower – a deadly gaze that kills anyone he looks upon!

After killing the entire enemy army single-handedly (or I guess two-eyed-ly, if you want to be niggling about it), and returns home to a hero’s welcome. At which point Ross has him killed, for fear that Peron’s popularity will threaten his own rule.

And that’s the end. There’s no twist to speak of, other than the fact that Ross kills Peron with a mirror (get it? Because his looks killed people! Not sure how the science of that worked…), which is so weak as a twist I didn’t even give you a chance to guess it.

Final Thoughts

Best Story: MACH Man – This has been such a disappointing issue overall that I was tempted to just not award a best story. Then I remembered Probe clubbing people to death with a human icicle, and I relented. Also I’m interested to see the layers they’re adding to Dredd, now that he’s been around for more than half a year.

Worst Story: Shako – What the hell, Shako? You just threw out the premise in that last issue. The entire story had revolved around that frigging virus capsule, and then we never find out what happened to it? Come on! That’s just insulting. Who cares if he died well? What happened to the populations of Russia and Canada?


Programme 34 (15-October-77)


Expanding sun? Solar flare? Put your guesses in now! Also, do the non-white featured players indicate that this is London’s near future?


Programme 33 (8-October-77)


You know, I always knew that Jason X was ripped off from somewhere. And here it is.

Also, it’s nice to see another signed picture, this one by McCarthy and Ewins. I’m not exactly sure who they are, but if memory serves from that time Dredd had to investigate a murderous family who was killing tourists in Atlantis and feeding their corpses to giant manta rays so they could bribe a doctor to keep their mutant son a secret, at least one of them is named ‘Brett’.

You know, when we get to the story whose plot I just spoiled in like two years, it’s going to turn out that these weren’t even the artists on it.


Scream Season 2 Retrospective

This season, if nothing else, could be presented as something of a masterclass on how to lose your audience. Emma spent every episode whining and being withdrawn, Audrey spent the whole season actively hurting the police's chances of finding the killer because she didn't want people to get the wrong idea and think she knew about the first spate of killings beforehand. And it only gets worse from there...


Programme 32 (1-October-77)


I don’t know. He seems pretty confident, but I’m taking the odds on the human, even though they’re 15-1. I like a long shot.

The Last Episode of Scream Season 2 is Now Live

Which means I'd better get my predictions in now before I risk seeing any spoilers. I'm not planning on watching the final episode until tonight, but there's always a chance I'll have it spoiled between now and then, so here goes-

I'm pretty sure Keiran's the killer. I know I have a spotty record of predicting these things at best - I mean, I called Piper in Season 1 way earlier, but Harper's Island and the Mentalist had me completely fooled. Although I maintain that Harper's Island cheated pretty severely - although I have no intention of relitigating that here.

Alright, so here's my reasoning-


Programme 31 (24-September-77)


So folks, what’s the twist here – did the spacemen travel to a planet full of giant insects, or did their spacewarp magically shirnk them so that when they returned to earth the mosquitos merely seemed gigantic? I’d suggest that they went to the future where radiation from nuclear war had caused all the insects to become gigantic, but they just did that twist, so it’s not too likely.

Thrill 1 – Invasion!

Silk and Savage have headed for the hills, with a Volg divison hot on their heels! As ever the Mad Dogs are underequipped, wading through knee-high snow while ski troopers hunt them down, but they’ve got one thing on their side the Volgs don’t – British stubbornness and ingenuity!

One ingenious plan – they know that in all of the Volg’s ski training they never learn how to stop suddenly, which gives Bill the chance to do this-

And this!

The rest of the Volgs finally stop and call in for some snow-cat backup, ready to crush down the wall of the chalet that Savage has taken refuge in. Putting that ingenuity to use once again, Savage notices a few sets of mountain lion tracks leading to the back of the building. He lures the snowcat back to the den, and the Nazis find themselves mauled by good old British Lynxes!

With an appropriately ironic fate dealt to the snow-cat drivers, Silk and Savage head out once more, and finally link up with the Scottish resistance, who live in caves, well out of sight from the Volgan air patrols. Who knows what kind of mischief they’ll get up to with some backup? If this is true to form, the kind of disasterous mischief where a poor plan by the local commander gets almost everyone killed, and Savage has to rush in and save the dregs at the last minute.

You know, it just occurred to me that we only ever got two secret messages for that code wheel. What the hell, Invasion?

Thrill 2 – Judge Dredd

It’s time for another callback here at Judge Dredd – we just saw the fallout of the robot rebellion, and now we’re checking in with Whitey, the villain from Dredd’s first case way back in issue 2! When we last saw him he was left on Mega City 1’s ‘Devil Island’, a prison that stands above a massive highway intersection, where all the traffic runs at 200kph! Of course, if that traffic were to ever stop, you could just climb right down since, in an unusual move for a prison, Devil’s Island doesn’t have any walls or guards or sensors or anything like that to stop people from leaving.

So it’s just a matter of Whitey getting the brain who works in the machine shop to build him a machine that can change the weather machine’s programming remotely. Suddenly the Big Meg sees its first snow-storm in decades! All over the city traffic grinds to a halt, leaving Whitey free to jump down onto a suddenly safe roadway. After killing his scientist friend, of course – Whitey can see no possible advantage in having dozens of people escaping at the same time. He thinks he’s got a better chance of getting away if he’s the one and only criminal on the loose.

I’m beginning to see why he was so easy to catch in the first place.

Dredd rushes to the scene of the escape, but his bike is useless in the snow… at least until he finds Whitey’s discarded chains, which he wraps around his tires for traction! Meanwhile Whitey has killed a guy and taken a woman hostage, so he’s not wasting any time with the whole ‘continuing evil’ thing.

On his modified bike Dredd quickly catches up with Whitey, but Whitey proves too fast, managing to shoot Dredd in the arm with the gun he stole from one of the invisible guards while escaping. Apparently prison guard’s guns don’t have ID-locks the way judge’s guns do. I wonder why? Even though he’s a little injured, Dredd manages to defeat Whitey in the saddest way possible.

Yeah, that was a snowball. How dispiriting. Dredd then switches the sunlight back on and takes Whitey back to Devil’s Island. Which means this was an entire Judge Dredd story where he didn’t kill anyone at all.

Sigh. I was expecting something a little bigger from the Return of Whitey.

Judge Dredd Kill Count (38)

Thrill 3 - Shako

Picking up the death count for the issue is Shako, who quickly slaughters every single person in the mess hall that he wandered into last time. Which just goes to show you – always carry a gun when eating lunch on a Russian spycraft.

Shako doesn’t eat any of the soldiers, though – because he smells something much more delicious on the deck above. It seems that the Russian Spy Ship is disguised as a whaler, and there’s a prime sample of whale flesh on deck at the moment! Shako runs for the whale, in the process knocking a man down a chute into a vat of boiling blubber. Which is an extremely disgusting way to die. Ick.

The KGB rush onto the deck and drug Shako with a dart, but before they they can get him below deck American choppers fly in – it’s Jake’s backup, ready to bring the fight to the Ruskies! They chain the sleeping Shako to one of the helicopters and fly off – but the Russians aren’t going to take that lying down! Their commander radios another neaby whaler, which happens to have a harpoon on the bow…

Now, that wasn’t the helicopter that Jake was on, so we’re not through with him yet – but Shako’s in trouble, since he’s still chained to the chopper as it heads to the bottom of the arctic sea!

Big week for Shako, mauling and melting 11 people! This brings the total number Shako’s victims to have died ‘real slow’ to 2 out of 37, or roughly 5%

Thrill 4 – Dan Dare (?/Gibbons)

Things get weird for Dan this week, as his ship is approached by a fleet of heart-shaped spacecraft, all of whom broadcast messages of peace and love. They insist that Dan follow them back to their plane twhere they can be welcomed as honored guests, so long as they don’t bring guns. Dan’s wary, but convinced of the fake romans’ good intentions when he discovers that their planet’s main continent is actually shaped like a valentine heart!

Once they’re down on the planet Dan learns the downside of hiring a group of disreputable criminals for your crew when two troopers attempt to chase after some hot roman tail rather than proceeding to the formal welcoming ceremony. Dan beats them up with a heart-shaped wall plaque, then heads to the dinner.

While everyone else partakes of wine and song, Dan notices the two troublemaking crewman sneaking off with the ladies from earlier. Proving that he’s absolutely determined to keep people from enjoying themselves, Dan heads out after them, only to discover the two men lying dead in an alley… with their hearts torn out!

It seems that the roman’s aren’t heart-obsessed because they’re so in favor of peace and love, but because they’re all vampires, who love devouring the hearts of their human visitors! How will Dan foil them now that his entire crew is drunk and stuffed with food – and let’s not forget that his ‘entire crew’ seems to be like twenty guys. Not really enough to deal with a planet of the vampires, is it? Guess we’ll find out next time!

Thrill 5 – MACH 1

As I’m sure you’ll remember from last prog, John Probe was dispatched to Macon Coutny Georgia in order to find a crashed UFO – he succeeded in his mission, but before he could crack it open to find out what’s inside, he was waylaid by rednecks who, confusingly, think that the UFO is the work of the devil.

Their plan? Use a bulldozer to lift up the UFO and put dynamite underneath it! Wait, if the UFO was in a place easily accessible by BullDozer, how was it so hard to find? Anyhow, Probe proves too strong for the BullDozer, but his show of strength convinces the rednecks that’s he’s some sort of Satanalien!

Despite the fact that he just flipped a bulldozer with his bare hands, the Rednecks decide that they should try to take Probe on in combat. It goes really badly for them. Their leader is gutted with his own chainsaw and the gunmen are knocked over by thrown logs, but Probe can’t stop the last of them from detonating the dynamite that was left lying next to the UFO! That’s right – the dynamite was already wired to detonate, even before they’d gotten it in the place they wanted it. Not the best plan, but hey, they’re redneck.

Much like all of their other decisions, the dynamite proves to have been a bad one – it ‘wakes up’ the UFO, which blasts all the remaining rednecks with a heat ray! Only Probe and Simon survive – Probe dispatches Simon to summon the government’s troop, while he himself explores the inside of the UFO, which now has a suspiciously open door. It proves somewhat disappoing, as all that remains of the crew seems to be some mush left on the floor. Were all the aliens splattered in the impact, did they escape, or is there a third, more terrifying answer?

We’ll discover next time, because a distress signal beeping on the UFO’s dash has attracted reinforcements!


You know, I’m a little disappointed by the lack of a twist. Also, I don’t know what a ‘Marrow’ is in the story’s context.

Thrill 6 – Future Shock

It’s the 23rd century, and earth is dangerously overpopulated! We see the story through the eyes of a scumbag desperate to leave the planet and head to the ‘paradise planet’ that the global government has started advertising as a place where the overpopulated masses can take refuge! Tickets are free, but it’s first-come first-serve! So how’s our scumbag going to get one?

By running over people, of course! A friend of his even hired muscle to bully people out of their tickets! When the scumbag gets to the counter he sees someone bribing the ticket officer to get on the flight! The scumbag finally muscles his way onto the flight, which begins the long trip to the paradise planet. Weeks later they’re ready to beam down-

Time for the twist, so get your guesses ready…

It’s not a paradise planet at all! It’s a frozen wasteland, and like Australia before it, the government has decided that only scumbags will be tough enough to tame the wilderness, so they set up a system of going to the planet that assured only scumbags would get the tickets!


Final Thoughts

Best Story: Dan Dare – I don’t think Dan Dare’s made a single appearance in this section since the death of the living axe, but what can I say? I enjoyed the planet of the vampires.

Worst Story: Future Shock – Yeah, that wasn’t a very good twist, guys. Where was the alien zoo?


Programme 27 (27-August-77)


Yikes. That’s just… unsettling…


Programme 26 (20-August-77)



It’s not a Boland cover, but I’ll go ahead and admit it: I’m curious about the Satan horde. Also, I recently discovered that if you click on images here on blogspot you can view a bigger version of the image than the one that appears in the post. Who knew? o anyone who was having trouble reading the supercover story will now be able to get a better look at them.

Thrill 1 – Invasion!

It seems like a week can’t go by without those dirty Volgs coming up with another devious invention to impress the brits. This time it’s a super-fast boat! Yeah, I’m not impressed with it, either. But Bill thinks it’s important enough to bother with blowing up, so here we go.

He and Silk head into a random boathouse looking for a craft they can take out onto the water for the attack, and in an amazing coincidence, they just happen to run across the ‘Warbird’, the British boat that broke the water speed record in the 80s!

It seems that Tharg was a little too optimistic about this one. The water speed record was broken by an Aussie in ’78, and the 500kph record hasn’t been topped since.

Accompanying the boat is Robb, the watercarft’s pilot. He’s given up the fight, and Bill and Silk can’t shame him into helping out. That night the Mad Dogs plant limpet mines on the side of the ship, but are instantly found out by the Volgs. They attempt to flee, but the Volg superboats are just too fast.

Just then Robb changes his mind about helping out, and races the Warbird into a suicide run against the Volg boats, destroying both of them. The Mad Dogs are so impressed by the sacrifice that they take over a Volgan radio station and broadcast the new water speed record across the nation. Which is a nice message, but it seems like if Bill had come up with a better plan than ‘Rowboat vs Destroyer’ then the old guy wouldn’t have had to sacrifice himself.

Bill Savage – always willing to let someone else take the fall for his mistakes.

Thrill 2 – Harlem Heroes (?/Gibbons)

Remember how the Aeroball world championship was about to start? Yeah, I don’t so much care either. It’s only interesting insofar as Ulysses Cord has booby-trapped their jetpacks.

During the whole first half of the game Cord anxiously awaits and explosion that doesn’t come. He’s puzzled, and when he goes to visit the Heroes in the dugout, he notices that Giant’s pack is smoking. Fearing for his life, he turns tail and runs! Giant is hot on his tail, though – will both of them blow up next week? Somehow I doubt it.

Thrill 3 - Shako

When we last saw Shako he was devouring the sheriff and the sheriff’s wife in a small Alaskan shanty-town. We return to him as he makes short work of the schoolhouse’s food store. Outside a group of CIA agents and hunters scour the village, looking for the killer bear.

What they don’t know is that the bear has a friend in the form of Unk Sumak, young Eskimo lad. He takes an instant liking to the bear and ushers him to the safety of the schoolhouse’s book cupboard. Because what trouble could he get into there?

Oh, right, if Unk doesn’t let the bear out or tell anyone he’ll kill the teacher. Well, don’t worry. I’m sure it won’t be too much trouble getting a new schoolmarm to fly three thousand miles up there. You know, after she finds out the last teacher was eaten by a bear.

As the children run away screaming Unk leads the killer bear under the hospital which, ironically, is the very place that Jake is trying to escape so that he can join the search for the Yogi!

With the schoolmarm dying so rapidly, that brings the total number Shako’s victims to have died ‘real slow’ to 1 out of 17, or roughly 6%

Thrill 4 – Future Shocks

This weeks’s Future shock is a creepy little affair called ‘Food For Thought’. It concerns a group of fishermen out looking for fish, or as they call it ‘brain food’. What’s the twist? They themselves are pulled up by monstrous aliens who eat human brains! Hilarious.

One interesting thing about the aliens-

I recalled those names as the sounds that the bizarre mutants made that time Supreme saw the nuclear-ravaged future (yeah, I’ve read Supreme a lot…). It obviously wasn’t a coincidence, so I looked it up – turns out that ‘Squa-Fon’ and Spa-Tront’ are apparently things that creatures yelled in monster comics from EC.


It’s the first Supercover sequel, and it’s something of a doozy, with the humans of Mega-City 1 inviting alien bounty hunter to exterminate the entire race of mutants who attacked them. Is there a twist? Click on it to read and find out!

Thrill 5 – MACH 1

Continuing his habit of being sent to wildly odd locations for strange reasons, Probe heads to South America to look for a missing archaeologist. What does he find there?

Yeah, some random guy from issue 4. Weird coincidence, huh? Krall traps Probe in a chamber with a low-frequency sound generator, but by pushing his hyperpower to its very limits, Probe manages to break through a stone wall. He’s about to go after Krall when something… odd… happens.

Yup, it’s chariots of the gods again. Probe figures that a spaceship must have crashed thousands of years ago, causing the Incas to build a religion around it. Okay, makes sense. But why is it taking off? Probe has a theory about that, too – the low frequency sound flipped the switch from ‘off’ to ‘on’. Makes as much sense as anything, I guess.

Probe can’t fight the giant alien robots, so as the Iranites are slaughtered he leaps off the spaceship and plummets the 90,000 feet back to earth! Landing safely in a mud lake, Probe survives the ordeal and the story ends without anyone commenting on how Probe’s entire worldview has just been shattered by discovering aliens are real. In fact, his British bosses don’t believe him about the aliens at all. I suppose the top of a pyramid disappearing doesn’t count as evidence in Sharpe’s world.

Also, the story ends with a ‘don’t try this at home’ disclaimer. So remember, kids – if you find yourself on an Inca spaceship leaving earth, don’t jump off it.

Thrill 6 – Judge Dredd

A little more future shock from Judge Dredd this week, as a man named ‘John Nobody’ goes to a place called the ‘Dream Palace’, where people can enjoy fully lucid waking dreams. Interestingly, this issue features the first reference yet to the people of the future being largely idle, working, at most, ten hours per week.

This Nobody likes the dream palace because it allows him to live out fantasies of blowing up buildings and killing huge numbers of people. What’s his motive? He doesn’t like his name. Seriously. That’s his motive. More on that later.

Dredd is called into justice central to hear about a crime spree. All of Nobody’s crimes are coming true. Of course, Dredd doesn’t know who’s behind them, or have the slightest idea where to start looking. In an amazing coincidence Dredd happens to drive by the Dream Center after leaving the Hall of justice, and an employee flags him down. She reports Nobody’s disturbing dreams, and tells Dredd about a new one he just came in for that morning – it involves Nobody bombing the justice day parade… which is happening right now!

Dredd arrives just in time to hop on Nobody’s hovercar, crash it into a float of the statue of justice, which causes the sword from its hand to fall and impale the crook. A happy ending for everyone. Except for Nobody, and all the people he killed.

Now, a little more about the motive. Do they not have name changing in the future? Because he could have just changed his name. This is as stupid as that woman’s motive for hating Spider in Transmetropolitan. She was sick of people on the street recognizing her as an (unwilling) porn star. Hey, lady, you live in a dystopian future where body modification is the norm. Buy a new face.

Judge Dredd Kill Count (29)+1=30

Final Thoughts

Best Story: MACH 1 – Shako was a little silly this week, what with the helpful Eskimo lad stepping up to save the bear. I was more impressed by the Inca spaceship.

Worst Story: Harlem Heroes – Thank god there can’t be more than like three stories left.

Also, this was the first week of 2000AD’s postergraph series – which we’ll take a look at when it’s complete.


Programme 25 (13-August-77)


I’m confused – is this a supercover set in the world of Judge Dredd? Because that would be a change. Or maybe it’s a different Mega City? Anyhow I’ve got no clue who the artist is this time around. The buildings look a little Ian Gibson-y, but I wouldn’t swear to it.


Programme 24 (6-Aug-77)


The second Kevin O’Neill feature here in the pages of 2000AD. It’s still just a single page, but it’s an impressive enough one that I’m not going to complain about it. As for the story, I’m at something of a loss. Perhaps a chariots of the gods thing, with ancient astronauts inspiring cave paintings?


Programme 23 (30-July-77)


Brian Bolland’s done it again. I find this cover especially wonderful, for reasons that won’t be apparent for quite a while. Let’s just say that, in some very key ways, this image is kind of a dry run for one of Bolland’s all-time great covers.

Also, having men grow out of you is not a great kind of plague to have.


Programme 22 (23-July-77)


It’s the fourth supercover, which is, once again, not drawn by God-Among-Artists Brian Bolland. This time I’m actually going to guess what the story is, based solely on the cover. It’s probably about a peaceful alien who comes to earth and then gets misunderstood and hunted because he looks ugly, allowing them to have a ‘message’ in their hundred-word story.


Programme 21 (16-July-77)


Way to drop the ball there, Supercovers. You weren’t a great idea in the first place, but at least the questionable concept was propped up by the brilliant renditions wrought by the greatest comic book artist to have ever lived, Brian Bolland. So what do you go and do? You got someone else to draw the cover.



Programme 20 (9-July-77)

Cover: It’s number 2 in our series of supercovers, but I’m not going to complain this time. Oh, sure, it’s doing nothing more than plugging an interesting premise that the comic is going to do absolutely nothing with, but I don’t care. Why? Because I recognized the way those people’s clothes were drawn. Only Brian Bolland draws clothes like that. A quick scouring of the image uncovered this in the bottom-right corner:

I looked over last week’s cover and sure enough, it was also a Bolland. Guess I’m just not familiar enough with his robots and dogs.

So even if the whole concept of the Supercover is a little weak, I’m impressed that the editor of the magazine (Tharg, I suppose) was smart enough to choose the best possible artist to draw them. I’m not going to go too in-depth into Bolland here, though – I’ll save my worshiping of the man’s work until he actually starts drawing actual stories in the comic.


Programme 19 (2-July-77)

Cover: Is there any way this issue can possibly top the cover? That’s a warbot who’s dropped his gun so that he can better protect an adorable dog! The only way this could be better is if that robot went on a kill-mad frenzy to protect the dog, like Christian Bale and his puppy in Equilibrium. I can't remember, did Christian Bale cry like the robot or not?

Thrill 1 – Invasion!

Things have gone very badly for Bill Savage and his Mad Dogs. Their numbers depleted and their home base destroyed, they’ve been forced to look for refuge with the pompous Brigadier General and his remnants of the British Army. This safe haven comes with a price, though, as the Brig forces the Mad Dogs into basic training, in the hopes of turning them into ‘real soldiers’.

Look, I know the point of this part of the strip is to remind everyone how useless the establishment is compared to a reg’lar bloke like Savage, but come on – do you really expect me to believe that the secret resistance in an occupied country goes on ten mile formation marches in matching uniforms?

It seems like you’d get a better storyline if you showed the advantages of the army’s approach as well as Bill’s, so that it might seem like there was a little bit of hope for the British resistance as a whole. Not that Bill Savage and his pal Silk aren’t great and all, it’s just that I’m skeptical about the chances for Britain’s future if they’re the only two people in the country who aren’t morons.

Quickly rankling under the yoke of authority, Savage steals a military vehicle and drives off, looking for trouble. Which he quickly finds, in the form of of a Volgan road crew about to execute their slave laborers.

Savage is having none of that, of course. He flips on the pavement layer and runs over the Volgans, then quickly recruits the would-be victims to his cause. He’s not exactly treated as a conquering hero when he gets back at base, though. The Brig wants him brought up on charges for striking his sergeant and stealing the jeep, but Bill merely laughs at him and leaves, taking Silk and the slave labourers with him. So they’re off to more adventures around the country, killing fake Nazis! Who knows where they’ll go next? Liberate the coal miners of Newcastle? Kill the Volgans occupying the midlands? Visit whatever topical thing happens in Ireland? The possibilities are endless!

Thrill 2 - Flesh

Logically the strip should have ended last week, with Regan escaping to the future and the trans-time base destroyed. There’s one big loose end left to pull, though – just what happened to Old One-Eye?

She died. It was 65 million years ago. And she was already over a hundred years old. Of course she died.

In fact, the majority of this issue acts as a requiem for the old hag, telling the story of how, knowing that her life was coming to an end, she journeyed to the Tyrannosaur’s graveyard join all of her ancestors. Fighting off scavengers and defeating heart attacks through sheer force of will, she makes it to the top of a mountain, her triumph complete.

Amazingly, even though the next three panels depict her having a final heart attack, falling off a cliff to her death, then becoming fossilized in sandstone, that’s not the end of the story!

We pick up the tale in the near future (to publishing date, of course) of 1983, where we reveal the big twist – all the amazing trans-time adventures 65 million years in the past… were taking place in England! Maybe not the most accurate paleontology, but we’re not looking to these stories for their educational value.

We abruptly move to a fancy dinner party, where the head of a museum is entertaining a group of scientists… inside Old One Eye’s ribcage! Wait, just how big is she? Because she never seemed this big:

Over drinks, the scientists discuss the strangest thing about Old One-Eye – inside her skeletal ribcage was the complete skeleton of a man! The lead scientist dismisses this as a carbon-dating error, since humans lived at such completely different times. This, despite another scientist’s persuasive argument that his son used to read 2000AD, which featured a story about men in the future using Time Travel to kill dinosaurs! A, self-referentialism, ever since Don Quixote went to hell and met that unauthorized sequel you’ve been a key source of comedy.

The mystery goes unsolved by any of the scientists, despite their access to futuristic mid-80s technology. Before the episode ends, we’re treated to one more kill, as the lead scientist is so sure of his superiority to dinosaurs that he’s comfortable climbing into the skeleton’s mouth. Unfortunately, in doing so, he knocks away one of the bars that is ‘keep the jaws apart’. Now, I’m not a paleontologist, but I’m pretty sure that when they put fossils (or plaster fossil replicas) together there’s nothing elastic trying to pull the jaws together. If you knocked a rod away, wouldn’t the jaw just fall off?

As opposed to, you know, snapping shut and rearing up triumphantly?

Anyhow, that’s the end of Flesh, making this the first serialized 2000AD story to reach an endpoint. Who’s going to be next? Harlem Heroes, Invasion, MACH 1? Obviously not Judge Dredd, but it’s got to be someone, right?

I’m going to lay money on Harlem Heroes – of the remaining stories it’s the one that’s the least episodic, meaning that now that the finals have started, we’re probably only ten or fifteen issues before things wrap up, and the villain (Ulysses Cord) is revealed in the shocking twist ending.

Tune in next time for the start of a brand new story: SHAKO! Which, if my fuzzy memories of colour 2000AD reprints are to be trusted, is about a killer Polar Bear on the loose in the Arctic circle! I can’t wait!

Thrill 3 – Harlem Heroes (?/Gibbons)

When we left the Harlem Heroes, Artie Gruber, cyborg assassin, was throwing a ball to Giant, hoping that the booby-trap in it would kill his foe. But Giant has other thoughts on the matter – despite the fact that he didn’t know he was being thrown a bomb, he elects to let the pass go right by him into the hands of Dale Parker, a random player who has never had a line.

Oh, Dale – you never got a line, but you do get a profoundly ironic thought bubble:

Just before exploding:

For the record, ‘What the-‘ is the correct thing to say when someone explodes next to you.

Once again proving that Aeroball has the worst referees in sports, the fact that a metal ball full of helium just exploded with enough force to blast a man to pieces isn’t enough to convince anyone that there’s anything fishy going on. The Heroes agree to continue playing, and decide to use their hatred and frustration to their advantage.

The game turns vicious as the Heroes forget about points and focus entirely on crippling their opposition. Giant calls a time out and tries to talk away his players’ tempers. Hairy, who’d nearly decapitated a Gargoyle with a ‘missed’ shot, points out, rather persuasively, that since the opposing team is made up entirely of robots, it doesn’t matter how badly they’re taken apart.

The episode ends with the Heroes’ fight being broadcast all over the world, much to the pleasure of the still-unidentified Ulysses Cord, who announces that his plan will be a success in any event – if Artie kills the Heroes, he wins, and if they turn into violence-mad killing machines, he also wins! But what can that possibly mean?

Here’s something a little odd – instead of the normal line of text at the bottom of the story, plugging the next installment, there’s another ad for SHAKO!

They’re really pushing this thing, aren’t they? Good for them. Also, he's a polar bear with monstrous strength and giant claws. Somehow I doubt all of his victims 'die real slow'. But I guess we'll have to wait and see. Actually, you know what? That's the new thing I'm tracking - the percentage of Shako's victims that 'die real slow'. Look for that next week!


Oh, what the hell. Remember that cover? That amazing robot-and-his-dog cover? It’s not a story in this issue. It’s actually just a ‘Supercover’! What’s a ‘supercover’? Good question. It seems that instead of coming up with an interesting cover based on one of the stories inside, they’ve just put a random cover on the thing and justified it with a two hundred word short story in the Nerve Center.

Because reviewing it would probably wind up using more words than the story itself, I’m just going to present it here for your enjoyment. Or enjoyment-ish, because, well, yeah…

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

Dan Dare, flying the Two’s stolen spacecraft, is in the process of escaping from their centre-of-a-sun hideout along with his light-saber-wielding certainly-not-a-wookie pal, Rok, the space-dog. Once they’re out of the range of the guns, Dan takes a moment to rifle through the onboard computer files. In there they discover a terrifying secret about the Two…

You know, I’m usually pretty snarky about Dan Dare, but this is just a great idea. Between this revelation and the amoeba whose crime was so alien that human words didn’t exist to describe it, I’m really liking the specific sci-fi ideas being presented in these stories, of not the execution.

Oh, and also the living axe. The poor, dearly departed living axe. I love that guy.

They uncover another secret: The Mekon has planted a miniature nuclear bomb in the Two’s chest as part of a clever scheme. How clever? He’s hypnotized the Two so that they’ll screw up a pirate attack on a well-guarded space liner, knowing that they’ll surrender and be brought right into the central chambers of the galactic council, where the bomb will destroy all galactic government!

Wait… what? Is that what they normally do with criminals? Bring them into the galactic council chambers? I can’t remember the last time an arrested bank robber was brought before congress as part of their court case.

Also, do they not have suicide bombers in the future? You’d think with all the high-tech weaponry that everyone has on them that full body scans would be a standard part of every arrest.

Once again, Dan’s going to have to save the world, because the world is far too stupid to save itself.

Also, it seems that next week we’re going to find out why SHAKO is the ‘world’s most wanted monster’. You know, this story is going to have to be pretty great to justify the ads.

Thrill 5 – MACH 1

There’s an intriguing splash half-page this week, introducing us to the newest problem that Probe will be sorting out:

It seems that the British Mining Company have recently purchased this pacific island, and, to quote the narrator, are quickly turning it from a ‘paradise into a hell on earth’! Wow… is John Probe going to be fighting an evil corporation for environmental reasons? That’s great! Sure, the foreman there is a bit of an over-the-top lout, but at least the story is finally covering a contemporary issue, as opposed to just random espionage-themed super-heroics.

Or is it? Right after that opening panel which introduces the people I’d assumed were the villains the story takes a turn. Out of the jungle walks a Japanese soldier, one that still thinks the second world war is going on! Wow. That’s the second really crazy thing to happen this issue. Third if you count the story about the robot with the dog who’s going to die really soon. So this is a story about John Probe fighting a sixty-five-year-old man? Remember, MACH 1 takes place in the late 80s, so at the time of the story WWII has been over for more than forty years.

At least the old man has traps on his side. Probe doesn’t get more than a few feet into the jungle before he’s fired on by remote-controlled tanks, whose 40-year-old shells work just fine, thank you very much. He easily dodges the tanks, but then winds up running headfirst into a barbed-wire noose that snatches him into the air.

The soldier comes out to check on Probe, and then quickly loses to him in a fight. It’s only after seeing Probes hyperpower in action that Tanaka (the last soldier) understands that the war is over, and he quickly commits seppuku to avoid the disgrace of having to surrender.

Probe then walks away, angry that a man had to die all for a few tons of phosphate-enriched soil that the British arms industry needs.

Um, John, if you’re not on the ball with the exploitation of this island for the good of the military-industrial complex, why don’t you do something about it? Have you forgotten that you have superpowers? Because right now it makes you look like someone who’s perfectly fine being an accomplice to the destruction of the environment so long as he gets to bitch about it.

Typed the man working with a computer chock full of toxic chemicals that will seep into the water table for the next hundred years. Then again, I don’t have superpowers.

Thrill 6 – Judge Dredd (?/Cooper)

First things first – there’s an artist listed this week! Yay! I’m not sure who this ‘John Cooper’ is, but I’m extremely happy he signed his work.

Anyhoo, on to the story.

Judge Dredd is driving through the city on a bright, moonlight night, which Dredd refers to as a ‘mugger’s moon’. Not sure exactly what that’s supposed to mean. Sure, a bright moon would let muggers see their prey more easily, but wouldn’t their prey also be able to see the muggers, and avoid them? More to the point, does it ever really get dark in Mega City 1? Shouldn’t it be one of those future dystopias so lit with artificial sun that shadows can’t exist – therefore making the shadows in men’s hearts all the darker?

Or maybe he’s just referring to Full Moon Mania, and they call it something different in the future.

Proving Dredd’s prediction almost psychically prescient, there is, in fact, a mugging going on just nearby. A hapless citizen is running from a group of thugs when he sees a classic 20th-century automobile approach. The driver doesn’t bother to stop, despite the man’s pleas, and the victim is so desperate in his attempts to escape that he even grabs onto the car’s exhaust pipe, hoping it will drag him to safety. It doesn’t, though, leaving him at the gang’s mercy.

Dredd rolls in on his bike moments later, though, and quickly dispatches all three muggers with a single heat-seeking bullet, which pierces each of their hearts in turn.

I’ve never been exactly clear on how the heat-seeking bullet is supposed to work. Beyond ‘seeking body heat’, that is. How does it know to track the muggers, and not kill the muggee as well? And how does it know to stop after hitting the third guy? Hopefully there will be a technical diagram sometime in the near future that lays all of this out for me.

With the muggee rescued, there’s one bit of business left to take care of – track down the driver who abandoned him in his time of need!

Dredd quickly catches up with the classic auto and pulls it over. The driver protests that fleeing from a crime scene without calling the cops or offering assistance isn’t a crime, so he can’t be charged with anything. This is kind of a surprise to me – isn’t dropping litter on the street a serious crime in Mega-City 1? You’d think not reporting a crime would be equally bad. Either that or watching cartoons while driving.

Dredd agrees that the man can’t be charged with a crime, but points out that his classic car is putting out dangerous levels of pollution. It seems that when the muggee grabbed his exhaust pipe a clean-air regulator broke off, and now the car isn’t street legal! Dredd does the only sensible thing and blows the car up, then drives off with one of his trademark quips-

Early Dredd really was a softie, wasn’t he? I mean, the Dredd I know and love would have blown up the guy’s car then cited him for littering and blocking a road with the wreck.

That ends the comic, with one final ad, this one promising that Shako makes ‘King Kong look like a pet chimp!’ Which actually seems like a weak analogy, given how many stories you hear about pet chimps viciously attacking people.

Judge Dredd Kill Count (20)+3=23!

Final Thoughts

Best Story: FLESH! - I don’t care if the final sting was cheesy, I like the classy wrap-up of FLESH. I’m not saying that I ever empathized with Old One-Eye, but it was certainly satisfying watching her last day on earth.

Worst Story: MACH 1 – Huge disappointment this week, as a comic that looked like it was going to cover something interesting just wound up being pro-arms manufacturers destroying nature. Dan Dare - you're just lucky your lazy plotting was overshadowed by MACH 1's general terribleness.

Oh, wait - am I allowed to pick that totally mislead cover? Because if so, I want to pick that.