1.9.16

Programme 37 (5-Novemeber-77)

Cover:

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!


Thrill 1 – Inferno (Tully/Belardinelli/Nuttall)

When we left the Heroes they were having a hell of a time of it, mostly because they didn’t bother to learn the rules of the sport they signed up for before actually playing it.

They’re quick studies though, and before you know they’ve learned the ins and outs of hitching a ride on the back of a motorcycle to speed into the score zone, and deflecting their foes’ grappling hooks to avoid being captured.

Yes, the game of inferno is very stupid. So stupid that the motorcyclists regularly drive up the walls of the arena and do circuits during the game. So let’s move along.

The Heroes win the game, and become fan-favorites in the process. The story doesn’t waste any time introducing us to the villains of the piece, a pair of corrupt gamblers who like to fix Inferno games:

The immediately plan to bribe/threaten the Wolves Manager into throwing a few games. You know what? As contentious a relationship as I’ve had with the Heroes in the past, I’m ecstatic that they’re not going to jerk us around with an endless, pointless, mystery this time.

Thrill 2 – Judge Dredd (Wagner/McMahon/Jacob)

Restating the incredible underestimation in scope that appeared last time, Dredd begins by explaining to the audience that the Troggies have spread explosives throughout the ancient ‘subway tunnels beneath Mega-City 1’. By which we can only assume he means the old New York subway system – but since New York is just a tiny fraction of the size of – you know what? I said I was going to let this go, and I am.

Dredd pulls the second oldest trick in the book to escape from custody – he fakes a fight with another prisoner and then lets himself get punched over near some laser drilling equipment. After slicing two troggies in half he’s off to save the day!

Yes, you’re not seeing things. Apparently the subway cars of old New York are still totally functional (despite having a city built over them) to the point that even the lights on board them work just fine. Dredd uses these lights to blind all the troggies at the destruction ceremony, giving him a chance to keep Willy from pressing the detonator without having to actually kill anyone else.

So the Big Meg (or at least a small fraction of it) is saved, and the Judges are now going to be eternally vigilant of the Troggy threat. Or possibly they’ll just never be mentioned again.

Judge Dredd Kill Count (39)+2=41


Thrill 3 – Invasion (Finley-Day/Pino/Frame)

Savage waits by the shore with the rest of his resistance men for the arrival of the regular arms shipment from Canada, but when it arrives it brings with it a surprise passenger… King Charles’ son, Prince John! It seems the noble snuck aboard in the hopes of seeing Britain again. That seems incredibly selfish and troubling, especially when a Volgan jet arrives and blows the sub out of the water, stranding John in old Blighty, where thousands of Nazis are looking to catch him as the ultimate PR coup!

Suddenly Silk and Savage find themselves with a new mission – getting the young Prince back to the safety of Canada!

Not a lot of story this week – but I assume they’re setting up something huge, so who’s complaining?

THARG’S NERVE CENTRE

Screw you, Supercover story. If you want to know why, click on it and read for yourself. But you’re better off not.

Thrill 4 – Dan Dare (?/Gibbons)

You’ll notice the odd credits at the top there – despite all other stories getting a full credit sheet, Dan Dare still only has an artist listed. Weird, huh? Is it because these colour spreads were done so far in advance and they didn’t want to alter them when the new policy came in? I guess we’ll see in an issue or two, when it’s been a month since they started actually listing the writers, artists and letterers.

The black-spacesuit attack on the Not Death Star goes really well, allowing Dan and company to quickly overwhelm their opposition and take control of the doom sphere. The garrison leaders has a few threats left to utter with his dying breaths. He explains that the Starslayers have an empire spanning a dozen worlds, each with a native populace ground under their heel.

This kind of stuff is basically catnip to Dan, who announces that their next mission is to take their single ship and overrule twelve entire planets full of heavily armed psychopaths. I understand his crew’s skepticism at the idea, but I’m excited by what this means for the continuing serial aspects of this strip.

Before any hard and fast decision can be made about their plans Dan’s Space Fort is attacked by a set of SS battleships:

That’s right – the doom sphere got off a distress signal before the crew was mercilessly slaughtered. Dan’s oddly pleased with this development – it means that he doesn’t have to spend any more time convincing his men: They’re already at war with the Starslayers!

Thrill 5 – MACH 1 (Hebden/Lozano&Canos/Potter)

Probe picks up just where he left off – chasing down the MACH-WOMAN (or MACH 2, I guess). They run down into a subway platform, and the merciless female tries to delay Probe by pushing a child onto the tracks in front of an upcoming train, certain that his western sentimentality will force him to intervene.

Her amateur profiling proves accurate, and the time it takes him to save the kid and stop the train without hurting anyone gives MACH 2 a chance to set up a trap further down the tunnel. Finding himself at gunpoint, Probe does the natural thing – he grabs a jackhammer and throws it at the crate she’s standing on. This leads to a wrestling match, as he tries to knock the gun (a ‘silenced’ revolver misidentified as a Browning Hi-Power) out of her hand. Probe gets her on the ground and is ready to put her lights out for good, but then he hesitates and winds up thrown aside.

MACH 2 grabs the gun and moves to shoot Probe, but can’t bring herself to do it – despite the computer in her ear telling her to complete the mission, she can’t forget that Probe went easy on her when he had no reason to. This, it seems, is motive enough for her to surrender and volunteer to defect to the west.

Well, that was easy, wasn’t it?

After a quick check of her programming and abilities, Sharpe sends both MACHs back through the iron curtain, on a mission to destroy the east’s MACH plant once and for all!

They head back on the amazingly un-stealthy method of a public train, which leads to them being cornered by an indeterminate country’s secret police:

Okay, that’s just wonderful.

Thrill 6 – Future Shock (Flynn/Ewins&McCarthy/Aldrich)

In the distant future of 2142, all of humanity’s needs will be tended to by helper robots – but now and then the robots go wrong, and need to be repaired! Which keeps the robot repairmen busy. At least it does until someone invents a self-repairing robot!

Knowing that they’ll soon be out of a job, Darryl and Zak, who may or may not be sterotypical gay leathermen, based on their dialogue and choice of outfit for infiltration, which seem more like something catwoman would wear-

Also, note the ‘Map of City’
-decide that their only option is to blow up the factory and kill the inventor! Which seems like a really fast jump to criminality to me, but I guess the future’s morality is alien and awful.

They succeed in shooting the doctor in the head, but then find themselves attacked by the prototype self-repairing robot! What’s the twist? Find out next time – this is a two-parter!

Final Thoughts

Best Story: MACH 1 – It’s rare to see MACH 1 in this position, but I’ve got to say I enjoyed how incredibly fast this story is moving, and the attempts at widening the mythology of the MACHverse are appreciated.

Worst Story: The Supercover Story – Screw that thing. Seriously.

2 comments:

busterggi said...

Well considering that we humans are reading this kinda takes the suspense away.

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