Programme 42 (10-December-77)


Alien zoo? Alien casino? Shrunken-down people? Who can say?

Thrill 1 – Judge Dredd (Howard/Gibson/Jacob)

Okay, Bolland’s gone again. It’s a dark day in Mega-City 1. Luckily that’s not where Dredd is. No, as this episode opens it seems that the ‘Triumverate’ (the ruling council of the moon, made up of authorities from the ‘Three Great Cities’ of North America) has made Dredd the Judge-Marshall of the entire moon! Which makes this the start of a series of western-style stories set on the moon!


Oh, and Walter stowed away in Dredd’s suitcase.

Dredd is headed for Luna-1, the huge domed city that dominates the moon. Pretty much everyone lives there, although there are a few small mining camps as well. Just as they’re about to land a missile fires at the ship! Someone’s trying to kill Dredd! Thinking quickly Dredd ejects some cargo and has the ship rapidly change course:

That’s right – Dredd saved their lives with a cargo box full of Christmas presents. I love that guy.

When they get to Dredd’s new official quarters Dredd and Walter find an adorable droid named Fred waiting for them. He proves to not be entirely sunshine and chocolates, though:

Dredd disarms the robot and demands that it reveal who sent it. In response Fred elects to just self-destruct. Which is a valid choice. He might have been more successful with the explosion than the axe, come to think of it…

Anyhoo, Dredd tosses him out a window, and now has to wonder just who’s in charge of the conspiracy to murder him! Which I’m guessing he’ll discover next week, based on the promised title “Showdown on Luna 1”.

You know, this has been, like, a lot of episodes in a row where Judge Dredd isn’t killing anyone. Just saying.

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

It’s time for the old two-page setup-twist structure, so let’s play!

Dan Aulnick is an inventor in the year 2073. He’s built a time machine so practical and simple that it can be charged by just plugging it into a wall socket! He decides to take a trip back to the stone age and have a look around, then be back before lunch.

Ready for the twist?

Did you guess it?

That’s right, he only built it with a power supply big enough for a one way trip… and in the distant past there’s no wall sockets to plug his ship into!

Time to find out who wins in a fight: Cavemen or Astronauts!

My money’s on the cavemen.

Thrill 3 – Invasion (Finley-Day/Clough/Knight)

Bill, Silk, and Prince John are on their way through the North, and they finally reached a safehouse where they can rest for a little while before continuinf to their next (extremely nebulous) destination. They’ve got an advantage in that they’re arriving in town the same day as a carnival, which has everyone distracted.

This proves especially valuable when the safehouse proves to have been compromised, and after killing a guard they’re able to disappear into the crowds. There’s no help to be found, though, as the entire resistance network in that area has been destroyed!

So the Volgs feel safe at the circus, which their commander feels is markedly inferior to their Nazi national circus. Bill and the boys find themselves cornered as they sneak through the circus backlot. They’re rescued by Nessie, who’s currently working as the carnival’s bearded lady. Finally they’ve got a place to hide out, and plan their next step – which I’m guessing will be an attack on the Volg command members who are attending the circus.


Okay, that’s absolutely a fun story. But it’s in no way representative of the cover. What the hell, people. It would have been so hard to do a cover of people jousting on the backs of flies?

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

Dan leads the Drone insect soldiers in a rebellion against the StarSlayers, blasting tanks and blowing away soldiers. The resistance goes incredibly well, so well, in fact, that the SS have no choice but to deploy the shining star!

Hitman shoves an SS helmet onto Dan’s head, protecting him from the hypnotizing light of the star. When reinforcements arrive they find that everyone but Dan is locked in the trance state… including Hitman!

Will Dan be able to rescue his men from the mind-wipe? I’m guessing we’ll find out soon.

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

American sub the ‘Charlie Brown’ launches its nuclear warhead from the middle of the pacific. At that same moment Probe’s capsule lands in a field near the space centre!

You know, I thought there was going to be a race against time to save Probe’s life here, but after busting out of the capsule he simply escapes from the Russians by running a hundred miles away from the scene in an hour. In that same hour the missile closes in on the base, but it’s shot out of the sky by an earthbound version of the Russian death ray!

Determined to get rid of the site before they can use the laser to protect themselves from further nuclear weapons, Probe breaks into the facility and sabotages the reactor, then flees out into the hills to watch the explosion.

While watching the site burn he sees a second cruise missile on the way to finish off the laser. Probe leaps on top of it and, with the help of his computer, reprograms it and steers the now-defunct missile back into the Ocean. Later on Probe will be rewarded for his success by a letter from the President of the United States, and yet another ticking off from his boss, Sharpe.

The question of how the Russians feel about their top-secret research site being destroyed by a nuclear explosion when, coincidentally, a nuclear missile had been fired at it from an American submarine, is left oddly unexplored.

Thrill 6 – Inferno (Tully/Belardinelli/Nuttall)

My prediction proves accurate, and the man with the see-through head proves to be Louis Meyer, the team’s smart guy.

Remember how his mental powers used to allow him to project visions into people’s minds? Well now he’s able to telekinetically cause his mannequin-body to move without any kind of power pack. So the Heroes have another member for the team!

But they can’t field an Inferno team without two more bikers and a Cave Man – luckily ‘Junk’, who used to play for the Wolves is happy to join, along with the Wolves’ former mechanic. They even bring in Moody Bloo, the old Wolves Cave Man!

Wait, so the Wolves don’t exist any more? What about the owner? Their stadium? Isn’t there money in this sport, and a governing body? Can a team just disappear one week, and another one pop up somewhere else?

I’d find all of this a lot more plausible if the Heroes convinced the owner of the Wolves to let them field a new team (the ‘New Harlem Heroes’, presumably) under the umbrella of his franchise.

Yet it actually is as simple as sending off a request to the League HQ, and the ‘Harlem Hellcats’ are immediately allowed into the sport, albeit at the bottom of the ‘fourth tier’. They’re going to have to work their way back up to playing the big boys.

Now, with Rip Venner, ex-judge, joining their team at the last minute, the Hellcats are heading off to play ‘Shafer’s Sickles’. And I’m left wondering how joining the league is supposed to clear their names or find out who rigged the game.

Or where they’re going to get the money to fix up their stadium.

Final Thoughts

Best Story: Judge Dredd – Yeah, this moon stuff is going to be good. I’m almost completely sure of it.

Worst Story: Inferno – I’m suffering from a weird mixture of boredom and confusion. Time for some befuddled yawns.

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