Programme 50 (4-February-78)


So the cliffhanger was resolved on the cover on the next issue. Daring stratagem, Dan Dare. What is this ‘Space Cruiser’ of which they speak? I’ve never heard of such a film!

Thrill 1 – Dan Dare (Finley-Day/Gibbons/Gibbons)

That’s right – in a twist that everyone saw coming, it turns out that a group of StarSlayer ships have been comandeered from the slave worlds, and they’re able to make short work of, um, the entire StarSlayer fleet.

Now it’s just a question of finding and taking down the Starslayer Dark Lord – which Dan has to do immediately and alone, because if the Dark Lord gets away… um… they’ll have to kill him later? The stakes aren’t exactly well established at this point. Dan quickly locates the Dark Lord on the side of the ship, and then-

Without some serious cliffhanger cheating there’s no way Dan can get out of this. He’s like a thousandth of a second away from dying.

Although they seem to have an awfully long time to speak to one another as the star flies…

Thrill 2 – Visible Man (Mills/Montero/Potter)

The Visible Man continues to be an oddly recap-intensive strip, with the entire first page devoted to second-person narration, all directed at Frank, the main character. It’s a full page of rhetorical questions, with just a single piece of information: that Frank’s going to visit his girlfriend to see if she can help.

Then the second page is still more recaps, with Frank flashing back to the evil doctor Burnard’s plans for him (watching how viruses work, so as to better fight them). Other than the striking image of Frank crumpled into a syringe:

This is two new pages without any real new content. Come on, Visible Man, you’ve got to do better than that.

Finally something happens when Frank visits his girlfriend Marie, who reacts to the discovery of her boyfriend’s translucent skin in the only logical fashion. A lot of screaming. Which unfortunately attracts the attention of the downstairs lodgers, one of whom has a gun! Marie’s apologetic about the whole thing, but Frank winds up shot in the shoulder and tossed out a window.

Okay, so maybe almost nothing happensin this strip, but damn if I’m not loving the art.


It’s a single-page feature where Walter answers questions writtenabout Judge Dredd! Except he doesn’t for the most part. A kid asks about Dredd never reloading, and he tells them to check out the diagram in issue 34, and then he flat-out refuses to answer a question about how Dredd’s face got mangled.

Thrill 3 – Walter the Wobot (Collins/Gibson/Frame)

It’s a cute one-pager about Walter getting ready for an invitation-only fancy dress party. Yeah, there’s nothing special about it, other than general adorableness.

Thrill 4 – Future Shock (Cruden/Cooper/Knight)

In the high-tech future of the 21st century there are still bratty kids, it seems. But now, instead of being watched over by portly English nannies, they’re watched over by giant robot protectors. They’re no fun at all, it seems, programmed to never let their charges out of arm’s reach. So as little Lee wanders through the wasteland, whenever he wants to climb a tree or jump in a river, the protector just pulls him back.

Then Lee makes the questionable decision: he ventures into the ruins of a nuked city where Mutants reside! Then falls through the floor of a building along with the Guardian!


The Guardian robot isn’t able to crawl out of the basement, and neither can Lee – because every time he tries, the robot drags him back! Looks like the mutants will be eating well tonight!

I mean, assuming they eat people. We don’t actually know much about them.

Thrill 5 – Judge Dredd (Wagner/Bolland/Jacob)

It’s time for the First Lunar Olympics! Which, as you may imagine, pit the Cits of the world against each other in amazing competition!

You know, I’ve probably read this story a hundred times, and I don’t know if I ever noticed the other flags before. In addition to Sov-Cit and Luna 1 (representing the best athletes from Megs 1, 2, and Tex-Cit, not doubt), there seems to be delegations from a Brit-Cit, a Jap-Cit, and a flag I profoundly don’t recognize. Moon and three stars? Is that a Turk-Cit?

Anyhoo, on to the games – contestants are only allowed to be 20 percent bionic, so the Judges carefully scan them to make sure no one is cheating.

Yes, that guy is extremely cheating. He’s ushered away by two Sov-Cit Judges, who Dredd doesn’t like the looks of:

Can’t share his opinion, I’m sad to say – I love the Sov-Judges’ costume design.

Then it’s on to the games – and in the tradition of the strip’s love of mildly satirical messages, we quickly discover that the planners of this event really didn’t take into account that all the events would be taking place in a low-gravity environment. They run out of ladder for the pole vault, the shot puts fly off into the crowd, and the combined hoverboard/ski jump event… well, you can see that for yourself:

(I practically insist you bigify this)

With the medal count tied, it all comes down to the 100 meter dash. The obvious favorites are a Luna-1 sprinter with a aerodynamic skull, and a Sov-Cit sprinter with bionic thighs. Yeah, I’m pretty sure I know who I’d be betting on. And it looks like a good bet, too, with the Sov runner, Zilch, taking the lead until-

An excitable Luna-1 citizen in the crowd kills him with a laser! Dredd rushes to the source of the blast, where he finds the two Sov-Judges already holding the killer, about to summarily execute him! Dredd’s having none of that, so he attempts to shoot the gun out of the Judge’s hand-

After that botched diplomatic incident, the Sov-Judges have no choice but to declare war! And you can kind of see where they’re coming from, really – assassination of an athlete, killing a Judge. Dredd wouldn’t put up with this sort of thing, would he?

What does this whole ‘War’ thing mean? Find out next time! But I already know. And - spoilert alert - it’s awesome.

Judge Dredd Kill Count (42)+1=43

I don’t care if it was an accident, damn it. He killed someone, and that’s enough.


Oh, it turns out ‘Space Cruiser’ is what they called that anime about the Yamato in its UK theatrical release. That’s wholly unimportant compared to the final episode of…

BONJO! Which I’m presenting in full, for reasons that will quickly become clear.

God bless that living axe. Where will he turn up next? Will there be a ‘The Living Axe’ continuing series? If only!

Thrill 6 – Invasion (Finley-Day/Pino/Frame)

With the boat nearly at the Sunny shores of Canada, it’s finally time for Colonel Rosa to spring her trap! It’s going to have to be a good one to sideline Bill and take the Prince alive, though.

That night the Royal Yacht appears, inviting Savage and the Prince over for the last leg of the journey. But when they arrive-

It turns out to not be the yacht at all! And she brought along Nessie, who’s not dead yet! But Bill and John aren’t beaten, either. John grabs a gun and holds it on Rosa, knowing full well he’s too valuable to shoot. Savage uses this opportunity to jump overboard and swim back to the neutral ship for help. But when he arrives he discovers that every single person on board as been killed by Georgi! Now it’s Bill’s turn! Can he survive the attack of the giant Nazi?

I certainly hope so, since it seems next week is the last part of the story! Bill’s going to need one hell of a scheme to pull this one off – although just not killing Bill when she had the chance was a pretty bone-headed play on Rosa’s part. So at least he’s got the fact that he’s up against morons working for him.

Thrill 7 – Inferno (Tully/Belardinelli/Nuttall)

Just before Pearly, the Hellkitten with the computronic brain, can kill Giant she’s interrupted by Louis, who, if you’ll recall, has such incredible floating-brain powers that he’s used them to animate a see-through manniquin for himself.

Her attempts at murder interrupted, Pearly runs out onto the pitch, where she’s hit by an Infernoball and has her head knocked apart. Everyone discovers that she was secretly a robot, and is understandably confused by the revelation.

Yeah, ten minutes should be plenty of time to sort this out.

True to form, rather than request an investigation or stoppage, or even any attempt to collect evidence on the people who are behind this attempted murder, the Hellcats insist on resuming the game immediately, and taking out their frustrations on the other team. This leads to a quick lead in the points, but also to some soul-searching by Giant. He worries that all of these assassination attempts are going to turn his team-mates into intensely brutal players!

If it did, could you really blame them?

Final Thoughts

Best Story: Judge Dredd – Bolland at the top of his game drawing a hilarious futuresport story. Seeing as I’ve only read this collected in a comic I have no idea how many more parts there are to the story – please let it be more than one. Also, since this is the first appearance of Sov-Cit judges, does that mean Brian Bolland designed the uniform? Because that would be amazing. And also make perfect sense.

Worst Story: Inferno – Come on, guys – I know that this is maybe the worst-regulated sport in the history of humans battling with each other in non-fatal competitions, but there has to be someone, somewhere whose job it is to look into the fact that people keep trying to kill members of this team in order to fix games, doesn’t there? Especially when those incidents are happening on the pitch?

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