12.1.19

Programme 40 (26-November-77)

Cover:
I know what the secret of the Microverse is. It’s that it was drawn by Kevin O’Neill. And then ripped off by Marvel.

Thrill 1 – Judge
Dredd (Wagner/Ward/Jacob)

There’s an annual tradition in the future – a deadly Motorcycle race spanning the entire length of the super-sized city. That race? The Mega-City 5000, so called because five thousand bikers take part, vying to deliver honor to their gang for the rest of the year.

The two gangs are led by
Zoot Smiley and Spikes ‘Harvey’ Rotten. Oh, cool – that’s going to be an important name soon. Although he’s going to be drawn differently.

Really, really differently.

The bikers don’t care who they run over or off the road, which means the Judges have to do their best to stop the race by setting up roadblocks. Which the bikers believe they can cut through like it was ‘
Synth-Marge’, which is I guess what they call margarine in the future.

How do they manage it? A rookie judge hopes over the barricade because he’s so excited to beat up some bikers, and winds up knocked unconscious – this leaves his riot shield perched at just the right angle to use as a ramp!

The judges manage to stop a large portion of the bikers, but the leaders and a few of their men make it through – they won’t be stopped until the next installment!

Despite the vicious
clubbings, we don’t actually see Dredd kill anyone, so the kill count remains at 42.

Thrill 2 – Future Shock (Lock/Goring/Knight)

In deep space a group of miners are looking for the rock full of gold or lead that will make them rich enough to retire in luxury. They’
ve got to be careful, though, because old space legends tell of asteroids that turn out to be giant space-eggs!

So guess what they run into just moments after the story opens?
And that’s not the worst of it – the ‘SKRAA’ is the space monster calling for its mother… but does it want its real mother, or has it imprinted on the mining ship?

Find out next time!

Thrill 3 – Invasion (Finley-Day/Dorey/
Nuttal)

The boys have been running for weeks, and things are getting desperate. They’ll only be able to stay under the radar for so long before the
Volgs catch up with them. Luckily the exiled Brits have a plan – use the Canadian navy to draw the Nazi fleet away while sending a single warship to pick up the Prince.

Their plan left one thing out of the equation – that there was a
possibility that planes as well as other boats can attack Canadian vessels.



The people in the Nazi jet eject, but that
doesn’t save them, as Savage is waiting below to blast them like clay pigeons. Savage then sends a message back to Canada – he’ll be handling the escape plans from now on.
THARG’S NERVE CENTER

Ah, the fantastic journey. Although that
doesn’t make a lot of sense – I mean, what, they didn’t understand it was a possibility that the guy could have died during the operation? Isn’t that a planned-for expectation in every surgical procedure?

Thrill 4 – Dan Dare (Finley-Day/Gibbons/Gibbons)

It seems that the Dark Lord we met last time has an incongruous ultimate power (based on the name) – he plans to subdue the uprising on planet
Minia with a ‘Shining Star’, an impossibly bright and hypnotic light that renders resistance fighters unable to defend themselves from the attacking StarSlayers!

Other than Bear, who was still hanging out with the slaves, the rest of Dan’s crew are busy repairing the space fort, well out of the Shining Star’s range. This allows them to beat back the attacking
Starslayers rather easily – they’d assumed that they were going to be dealing with club-wielding miners, not a state-of-the-art attack craft.

Dan and company grab Bear from out of the crowd of hypnotized criminals, then blast off, making good their escape. One problem – they don’t know how the rebellion was stopped so abruptly. Which means their next goal is to figure out why Bear is suddenly an SS-loving zombie, because if they can’t stop the technology, there’ll never be any chance of overthrowing the Empire!


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

There’s trouble up in space – American satellites are being shot out of the sky by a mysterious satellite killer! In a seemingly unconnected mystery, John Probe is telling him to be at a
rendez-vous that very afternoon.

When he arrives out in the field it turns out to be a
meeting that only the MACH Man could attend – a helicopter that comes zooming by with its ladder hanging down, and he has to jump into the air to grab on.

It seems that the American Air Force needs Probe’s help. They think the Russians have developed a ‘death ray’ that can fire through vacuum, destroying spacecraft! So why the hush-hush grabbing of Probe? It seems both the CIA and MI6 don’t believe the theory, and don’t want to both with the expense of checking it out. So the RAF and NASA are recruiting the best spy/pilot they can find for the job. And in a cutaway we learn that Sharpe
isn’t at all happy with that particular development.

He
expresses this displeasure by having an operative drug Probe and his rogue CIA liaison on the way to the shuttle. This doesn’t phase Probe, of course, who’s still aware enough to break a window, sucking the gun out, disarming the agent and putting Probe back in control.
After arriving safely in America Probe climbs into the experimental one-man jet and blasts into low orbit. Up there he finds the satellite wreckage, and it was clearly destroyed by something nastier than a meteorite. But were the Russians responsible? Probe sees a Russian space capsule floating through space, about to be shot by what’s clearly the death ray device! Can he save the day? Let’s find out next week!

Thrill 6 – Inferno (Tully/
Belardinelli/Nuttall)

Things are going badly for the Washington Wolves. Now that they’
ve been drugged with LSD all the bikers have crashed and the Cave Man is trapped in a killing frenzy. According to the commentators this means that the team is going to have to forfeit.

I’m not sure about that rule –
shouldn’t the fact that half of the team has been drugged lead the refs to stop the game and begin an investigation? Thus voiding all bets on the game?

That’s one of the reasons that people fixing games tend not to poison entire teams.

Apparently rules are stupider in the future, though, and the Wolves have lost the game. The Heroes
aren’t taking it lying down, though – they rush into the locker room area to confront their manager, Charlie Vance with the chewing gum theory. He reacts in a predictable fashion:

Vance rushes out to the parking lot and jumps into his hovercraft, but when he turns it on the ship immediately explodes!

Yeah, because that’s not suspicious at all. Everyone on one team winds up drugged and incapacitated, and their manager is blown up. What bookie on earth would ever pay off that bet?

Of course, there’s still the matter of the five thousand dollars that have been secreted away in the Heroes’ possessions. You know, if Charlie
hadn’t pulled a gun he could have just told the cops that the Heroes spiked the gum – he freaked out because he was confronted with the idea of it being turned over to the cops – but wasn’t his plan to frame them? Shouldn’t he have just had the cops search the place, and let the cops come to their own conclusion?

Which is what happens – so how are the Heroes going to get out of this one?

More importantly, though, why would a single bookie ever pay off a bet made on this game? You know the term ‘All bets are off’? It was invented to deal with situations exactly like this one.

Final Thoughts

Best Story: Judge
Dredd – It was the first appearance of Spikes ‘Harvey’ Rotten. If you don’t know why he’s important right now, believe me, you will soon enough. (Actually I have no idea when the story that features him is going to come up.)

Worst Story: Weirdly, I
didn’t actually have a particular problem with any of this week’s episodes! Great work, 2000AD!

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