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?

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