Programme 49 (28-January-78)

This whole ‘cover story’ thing isn’t going to continue after Dan Dare’s storyline wraps up, is it? Because it would kind of suck if it didn’t.

Thrill 1 – Dan Dare (Finley-Day/Gibbons/Gibbons)
Despite my advice Dan did not use the old ‘threaten to self-destruct’ gambit, so as this issue opens, he finds himself and the crew dealing with borders. They don’t have the manpower to hold the invaders off for long, but Dan has a devious scheme to get rid of the StarSlayers once and for all!
Yup, he wants to use an atomic axe (I’m glad the Living Axe isn’t alive to see his former master stoop so low) to cut through the hull of a ship, leading to the inhabitants being sucked out into the vacuum of space!
Dan’s plan left out one key element, however – it seems he’s forgotten that all he’s trying to accomplish, basically, is to create a hull breach. Which is something that sapcesships, like their submarine predecessors, are generally designed to deal with. This proves to be the case, as skytroopers from another section of the ship hover out, guns blazing!
Dan flees back to the ship, and it looks like his luck is up, but then something shows up on the scanner! Something fabulous! We’re not allowed to know what it is, though. That will have to wait until next week!
Thrill 2 – Future Shock (Moore/Ferrer/Knight)
It’s the future, and Venus has been terraformed by humans, turning it into a beautiful garden world. One drawback to this? It attracts the jealous eyes of invaders from across the cosmos! In this case, giant fly-men, who blow up an artifical moon to demonstrate their power.
They demand submission from the humans, and the humans quickly kowtow, terrified of the aliens’ superior weapons. The alien leaders travel down to the planet to survey their new property. Croxley, the leader of the scientists, takes the aliens on a tour of the facility where they’ve genetically engineered plants big enough to feed the entire solar system. He’s especially excited to show the leaders one room, where they find-
Quick question: were those three guys the only aliens on that ship? Because, and I’m not an expert on interplanetary politics, so don’t take my word for it, but it seems like killing the top three men on a spaceship is a good way to get everyone else on the ship to nuke you from orbit.
Just saying.
Thrill 3 – Visible Man (Mills/Montero/Potter
We’re just three weeks into this strip, so a lot of time is still being wasted restating the premise. I respect my reader, so I won’t do that here. Instead, I’ll skip to my favorite image from this story, which happens slightly after Frank steals a suit from a scarecrow.
Desperate to find a way to blend in, Frank first breaks into a tanning salon (which leads to sunburned organs), and then makeup, which is much more effective. At least for a little while – while waiting at a bank teller’s window to withdraw his life savings, his sweat gets the better of it, leading the most hilarious thing I’ve seen yet in this comic.
(click to bigify)
Hilarious concept mixed with genuinely disturbing artwork! Excellent work, 2000AD!
BONJO (Kevin O’Neill)
Bonjo’s back to just three panels this week. Mach Aardvark gets into a fight inside Bonjo’s body, and his brain winds up being stepped on. Is this the end for Bonjo?
Thrill 4 – Judge Dredd (Howard/Gibson/Jacob)
Dredd’s stranded out in the Vacuum Desert, left there by the raddest raider that ever lived:
I have a deep and abiding love for hoverboards, which I attribute entirely to a few Judge Dredd stories that are going to happen a few hundred issues from now (the Chopper series, which was reprinted and colourized!) so it’s especially fun for me to see the first appearances of that particular technology in this strip. I know they’re not playing an important part in the plot or anything like that, but this is some of my favorite nostalgia.
Dredd manages to turn his bike’s radio back on, and has it carry him back into the city. When he arrives word has already gotten out that Dredd was killed by Butch, and he’s so shamed by his failure that he makes the ultimate sacrifice:
I’m pretty sure the gun is a ‘Lawgiver’, with a ‘Lawrod’ being the rifle. But other than that, I’m happy to see them using the classic ‘resigning’ gambit – in fact, I can’t believe it took them almost an entire year to get there.
Wait, can Judges resign? I know they retire to the Cursed Earth or the Academy, and you can go to Titan or be punished with the Long Walk, but can you just up and say ‘Yeah, I’m not going to be a Judge any more?’ and go home? Hopefully later issues will go into this with a little more depth.
Anyhow, Dredd gets a job cleaning up garbage, but proves so terrible at it that his robot boss fires him on his third day! If things weren’t bad enough, just then Butch comes looking for him, embarassed to have been spreading exaggerated rumours of the Judge’s death. Naturally it turns out the whole ‘emotional breakdown’ thing was a ruse to lure Butch out of hiding, and Dredd (sigh) non-fatally subdues the perp without further incident.
Then there’s just time for a surprisingly detailed (for early Gibson, anyhow) rendering of Dredd’s swearing-back-in ceremony before the credits roll:
(I recommend click-bigifying this one)
Seriously, that is really intricately drawn. But I don’t care. Because next up is the Lunar Olympics, one of my favorite Bolland stories ever.
Judge Dredd Kill Count (42)+0=42 Grrrrrr…
Thrill 5 – Invasion (Finley-Day/Pino/Knight)
It seems like the Mad Dogs have escaped to sea with the (not-evil) Prince John, and Georgi, the secret Volg. While everyone else is fairly satisfied that they’re in the clear, Bill suspects that there may be a Volg on board.
Really Bill? You think? Here’s Georgi, suspiciously returning after an unseen spy tossed a radio at Bill’s head:
Now here’s Vladimir Putin, wearing the uniform of a Russian sailor:
Yes, I know that Volgs are technically a Russian/Nazi hybrid, but I’m guessing that’s pretty much what their uniform looks like. And Bill doesn’t find it at all suspicious.
Adding tragedy to injury? When the radio was thrown at Bill’s head it managed to break Bill’s shotgun! That’s right, his shotgun, his iconic weapon of the past (nearly) fifty issues, is gone! Well, okay, he originally had a double-b, and he traded up, but still, where’s he going to find another shotgun on the boat to Canada?
Even more troubling? When Silk sees a signal light flashing from the crow’s nest! Instead of calling for help he climbs up himself to look, finding an American sailor there, already checking the light out. Not sure how the guy beat him there, but whatever, let’s move on to the important part, where Georgi climbs up behind both of them and:
Silk is thrown to his death! That’s right, the team of Savage and Silk is no more. Let’s take a moment of silence, while the remaining sailors bury the two dead men at sea.
And wonder just what Rosa’s plan is – since I’m sure Georgi picking them off one by one couldn’t have possibly warranted such nefariously self-satisfied cackling.
Thrill 6 – Inferno (Tully/Belardinelli/Frame)
Can Giant possibly be saved as he plummets to his apparent doom? I’m guessing yes, since the Hellkitten picked maybe the worst method of assassination ever – you’re trying to kill someone wearing a jetpack by making it cut out. Fine. Maybe you should do it at a time when they’re not surrounded by other people in jetpacks who could swoop in and save them? Or, as happens in this case, there’s a giant waiting directly below to catch him as he falls.
Everyone wonders where the shot could have come from – apparently no one remembers Pearly the hellkitten stepping out onto the field and pointing a giant glowing letter at Giant. In other news, it turns out that Pearly is a robot being controlled by the gambling syndicate!
As the game continues Pearly sneaks into the medical area, where the doctors are all to happy to leave the badly-injured player under the supervision of a suspicious cheerleader. Guess how that goes?
You know, I’m almost willing to give this whole storyline a pass because of the ‘cave-in’ pun, but then I remembered that Giant’s real name is ‘John Clay’.
So why is his grandson the judge named ‘Judge Giant’?
Dammit, Inferno, just when I’m starting to like you again.
Final Thoughts
Best Story: Visible Man – You saw that ‘stands absolutely still for a minute, then has no plan’ sequence, right? And it was happening to a monster! I can completely imagine that happening on an episode of Futurama. Great work, 2000AD.
Worst Story: Judge Dredd – There was a lot to love in this week’s Dredd – mostly his misadventures as an incompetant janitor – but I’m giving him a protest worst vote because of his steadfast refusal to kill anyone at all. Even the crook who left him to die in the desert! Come on, Dredd! That gun isn’t just a boot accessory, you know!

1 comment:

Vegan Accessories said...

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