Saturday, February 28, 2009

Prog 3 - Judge Dredd

The problem Pat Mills faced with Dredd initially was creating crimes for this Lawman of the Future to deal with. That's why he rejected 'The Bank Raid' script. It was too ordinary a crime for Dredd to deal with.

This chapter, 'The New You' was written by Mills and was McMahons second drawn strip. McMahons first Dredd strip was 'Frankenstein 2' from Prog 6.

From the splash page we learn that New York is now part of Mega City 1. There's a dangerous criminal Scarface Levine...and he's on the run. He reckons that by getting his face changed he'll be able to escape detection from the law. The face change clinics are really a great concept. Wagner would later have some fun with this idea when Dredd has one of his 'moon' adventures. The criminals in that story have their faces changed to resemble classic comedians.

Levine forces 'A New You' face change clinic staff member to change his appearance and minutes later he's back on the streets. But Levine is arrogant. He realises the 'law cameras' can't identify him and decides to pull one over on Dredd. (The law camera have the words 'Police Control' on it, obviously Judges haven't taken total control of the law yet.)Big mistake...Dredd recognizes him. Levine panics and races away. Dredd pursues him.
Another point of interest is that Dredd's bike is now referred to as a 'Lawmaster'.
Dredd manages to jump on top of the speeding vechicle. Levine tries to shoot him off...but he is no match for Dredd and the judge administers justice. Dredd hops back onto his lawmaster before Levines vehicle crashes. Notice Levines face in that last panel above. Initially he was drawn with the bullet going through his head but because of the recent fallout over 'Action' it was censored and the ending of the strip was changed. Dialogue was altered so that Levine was slowly dying from the shot and he would be put into a timestretcher jail instead of just being blown away by Dredd. Dredd explains to Levine how he knew it was him, even though his face had been changed.
and we end with a classic Dredd line.
I say 'end' even though there is one more page. The last page was drawn by Carlos Ezquerra for the rejected pilot 'Bank Raid'. Mills thought that the artwork was so good that it would have been a shame to waste it and it was also on the back page of the comic which would have been in color. So, it would make for a great poster of what Mega City 1 looked like. He wasn't wrong. It's a great piece of art...and it has another classic Dredd line.
You'll notice the kid eating the ice-cream with his mom. From the 'Bank raid' script the kid tells his mom that he wants to be a Judge when he 'grows up' and she says 'Hush Tommy! and for goodness sake don't drop any litter or you may never grow up!'

Another reason why Mills tacked this page on was to give the impression that Dredd's pursuit of Levine was no big deal and he carries on his patrol as if it was nothing new. It's all just part of everyday law enforcement when you're a Judge.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Prog 3 - Mach 1

We're treated to two strips of excellent artwork this issue by Massimo Belardinelli.
Belardinelli would hit his stride later drawing strips like Inferno, Meltdown Man and the absolutely hilarious ACE Trucking Co. Oh, and I actually like his Slaine work.

The latest MACH 1 story opens up with a flashback of a NATO battleship sinking to it's watery grave. Some days later MACH 1 and his superior Sharpe arrive with recovery vessels at the scene of the ships last reported spot. But there's a fishing trawler there. Probe asks Sharpe why the British Navy doesn't intervene. Sharpe replies that they don't want to risk an International incident if the trawler does turn out to be a harmless fishing vessel.

No, this investigation is a job for MACH 1!

Probe dives into the water. No wet suit for this guy! Wet suits are for wimps!
As he nears the 'trawler' Probe notices that the men on the trawler are armed. It's just as Sharpe's a ruse. But why and who could be behind it?

There is no way that MACH 1 can get aboard the ship, there are no holds for him to get a, he gets onboard...
...dolphin style!
Once onboard, Probe sees that the 'trawler' is trying to raise the NATO ship to reveal it's secrets and that he wouldn't be surprised if the 'trawler' crew are the ones that sank the ship in the first place.

He decides to stop them from recovering the ship by blowing up the engine room. But he's stopped in his tracks! He's grabbed by a 'trawler' crew member in a power assisted diving suit!
A fight ensues! No matter how hard Probe punches the does no damage. The divers suit is made from high-stress titanium can!

MACH 1's computerised brain tells him that there is no solution to beating his assailant. This pisses him off...he gets mad and the extra adrenalin enables him to overthrow his opponent.
He throws the diver into an electric cable and the diver is fried instantly!
Knowing that his actions have alerted the rest of the crew, Probe makes his way down to the engine room.
He breaks the Oil lubrication pipe...forcing the engine of the ship to seize up and blow it to kingdom come...but the computer tells him that it may come with a price...his life!

On fire from the explosion...Probe jumps off the ship and swims to safety! The ship explodes and Sharpe is not pleased. He reminds probe that he was sent to 'investigate' not 'annihialte'. It won't be the first time Probe and Sharpe have a disagreement.
We end on an omnious note that God help us 'If ever MACH 1 turns against us...'

Nice episode. Nice artwork and the script develops the relationship between Sharpe and Probe. The relationship turns frosty at times and eventually leads to a breakdown between both parties.

Check out the 'please don't imitate this at home kids!' box. Love it!

Prog 3 - Dan Dare

The thing from Jupiter goes on a rampage!
Commander Monday wants it dead...Dare thinks otherwise.

He attacks the creature, trying to subdue it...but it has enormous strength!
The strength of a Super-Nova Star!
Dan figures that it's weak spot must be it's 'horns', he pulls on them. Which leads me to the the hell did he know that? The writing is so bad on this strip, it's actually amazing! I'd love to see Frank Miller rewrite this as 'All Star Dan Dare'!

Anyways, Dan's crazy move works and the creature is knocked unconscious. What a stupid place to put a weak spot. They could have picked anywhere, but no, they go for the most visible place...the 'horns' on it's head!
Looks like the creature had an orgasm. Well, so would you if you had your horn pulled!

With the creature unconcious they move it to the medic bay where doctor Ziggy Rodann (Seriously, that's her name!) examines it. She comes to the conclusion that the creature was biologically engineered because of it's strange physiology. The thing has no mouth and can communicate telepathically, it also has a brain three times the size of a normal human and it has built in solar panels on it's stomach that replenishes it's energy!

And it also has...extra muscles. Which leads to our crazy named doctor stating the obvious!Which, again, leads me to another question. How would the good doctor know the muscles are extra if she's never seen a creature like that before?

Dan and Monday decide to find out whereabouts on Jupiter the creature came from but not before the doctor decides to throw an insult at her commanding officer. The next two pages are of Dan, Monday and crew entering a craft to go land on Jupiter. Nothing much happens on the two pages, just descriptions of what type of craft they're using and the strangeness of space...yadda, yadda, yadda!

But we can't leave the strip without a cliffhanger, and the last panel provides it. As the craft approaches Jupiters's hit by a jovian radio storm!
And that's it till next time.

I can see why Dan Dare was the weakest strip in the 2000ad line-up. It's written so badly and Dare himself doesn't seem to have any good characterization. It's such a disappointment. Even though 2000ad would later try and revamp Dare again with a Dirty Dozen/Star Trek take, and yet again with a Superhero take, it's not hard to see that Dan Dare in 2000ad is like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.

It would become even more obvious as the strip went on in comparision with other strips.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Prog 3 - Harlem Heroes

Enter The Baltimore Bulls!

Giant has got a full team at last and now they face their first opponents since the road liner crash. What could be a bad sign of things to come judging from the splash page is, an aeroball team is comprised of seven members, yet here, we only see the roll-call of five. Doesn't bode well for the two 'missing' team-mates. Maybe or maybe not. Time will tell.

The Bulls make their impressive entrance and to add an extra bit of spice to the game...the Bulls are an all cop aeroball team!

Zack is obviously on edge because he's playing against a team comprised of cops. Again we're reminded by the fans about the impossible odds the Heroes face.
The game starts and already Zack has lost his discipline.
He breaks formation and crashes into Giant giving the advantage to the Bulls. Just as the Bulls are about to score...Conrad King blocks the shot...but at a price! He has hit the electric prods around the score holes and must spend three minutes in the 'Penalty Pen'.
King is pissed! Zacks recklessness is going to cost them the game!
Giant takes control of the game. He intercepts the ball and goes for an air-strike...but the ball bounces off the rim.
How the heck can they afford such a big screen in the slums!!!

Anyhow, Zack picks up the rebound by kicking a player in the back of the neck and punching another one in the face, all the while hurling insults at the cops!

He shoots! He scores!

But, it's disallowed. Apparently you can do all sorts of violence in Aeroball except kick a player in the back of the neck. It's a dirty foul and now Zack has got the cop team pissed! After the fracas, the game restarts. Zack, eager to please snatches the ball from the Bulls again...but this time he's going way to fast and it looks like he's going to end up kissing the arena floor in a blazing ball of flame!
More predictable and fun stuff from Tully and Gibbons. You could just tell from Zacks attitude in the last chapter that he's going to be a handful for Giant to get some discipline into. And that the opposing team is a team of law enforcers, doesn't sit well with Zack either, considering his run in with the law and the fact his old man is in jail.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Prog 3 - Flesh

We left last issue with young ranger Joe fighting for his life against a Pteranodon. A couple of rangers in an air buggy see Joe is in trouble and shoot the winged dinosaur down. As the creature falls, it lets go of Joe, who hits the ground with just his ego bruised.
But the air buggy crew aren't paying attention, for behind them a massive dinosaur has them in her sights.
The huge tryannosaur she-devil makes easy work of the rangers and their vehicle.
After she snacks down on the fallen rangers, she turns her attention to Joe. Joe can't believe it! After his lucky escape in the air...he is now going to be Tyrannosaur food!

The tyrannosaur has the rookie's legs in her mouth when the calvary arrives in the form of Earl Reagan on horseback. Earls only chance to free Joe from the creatures jaws is to strike a goad into the head of the dinosaur...he succeeds and takes her eye out in the process!
And of the great villains in 2000ad history is born...Old One Eye!

The rookie thanks Reagan thinking that they've killed the brute. Reagan tells him to forget it and that they'd better get moving.

Reagan decides to take a detour to Carver City because Joe's legs are bleeding badly and he needs a doctor. His crew start moving the herd of Alamosaurs towards their new destination.
(What the hell is a 'kronj' town? Looks like someone misspelt 'crazy'!)

Reagan has made a bad error of judgement...he thought he killed the Tyrannosaur pack leader...he was wrong...and Old One Eye would be AVENGED!!!
Pretty fun installment with lots of action and the introduction of 2000ad royalty...Old One Eye. Her son and grandson, Satanus and Golgotha, would later give Judge Dredd and the ABC Warriors a few headaches. It's really fantastic that Pat Mills will eventually create a 2000ad 'universe' by tying in Old One Eye and her brood into other strips.

Also interesting is the notion of a city of time travellers set up in the prehistoric period. You just know that that's just asking for trouble down the road.

Prog 3 - Invasion Bonus!

Here's an added bonus! The page with all the info on the Free wallet with this Prog!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Prog 3 - Invasion

What a fantastic 'splash' page! You can tell the artist used photo reference but he uses it so good compared to a lot of artists working in the industry today. He didn't just trace the reference...he enhanced it. There's a huge difference. To see some examples of enhancing photo-reference, check out Eisner nominated artist Steve Bryant's blog.
Steve is great at showing how to properly use reference without using it as a crutch.

Back to our story. The Volgans are continuing their brutality on the general populace. Savage is in hiding in a room above a cafe watching tv. The face on tv is Simon Creepton, Creepton is the mouthpiece of Volgan propaganda.
As Bill is watching the 'news' a group of men approach the cafe. The leader of this gang is the shadowy figure that was following Savage from last episode. The cafe owner tells the men that Savage is in the room overlooking the cafe.

As they approach the room, Bill notices their shadows under the door. They crash into the room, pull back the bed sheets...Bill isn't there! Only pillows!

Savage has got the drop on them.
The ringleader explains that he is Lieutenant Silk, he's been watching him and he's come to recruit Savage for the resistance. Savage declines.

Unknown to Savage and co, at that same time a Volgan patrol arrives. The cafe owner has turned them in. Bill takes care of them with a little help from Silk and gang.
After the Volgs are wiped out, one of Silks crew tries to grab Savage's gun but Bill jams the idiots hand in the gun barrel. Bill realises how desperate they are to get him to join and he changes his mind...but if he's going to sign up, he wants things done his way!
Not a bad episode. We're reminded again why Bill is so single minded in wiping out Volgans and now that he's part of the resistance, he can take his 'revenge' to even greater extremes.

With Savage now part of the's time for some organised bloodshed and mayhem!

Prog 3 - Cover

Nothing much to say about this cover. It's very average...then again, there is a tyrannosaurus eating a cowboy on the cover!

This issue came with another, and the last, free gift. It's a decoder wallet. It was commonplace for british comics to do this. I remember DC Thomson doing the same thing with 'Bullet' and 'Warlord'. Fun gift. At the schoolyard you were either a 'Bullet' or 'Warlord' wallet carrier. Strange rivalry when I look back on it because both publications were published by DC Thomson.

2000ad at the time didn't have a 'rival'. It was the only sci-fi comic I can remember until 'Starlord' came along.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Prog 2 - Judge Dredd

The first appearance of Judge Dredd occurred in Prog 2 because it was in development hell for a year and wasn't prepared for the first issue...which worked out fine for Pat Mills because it gave the readers another reason to pick up Prog 2.

A few things to notice here...It's New York and not Mega-City One yet. The text also says that the Judges were elected by the people to enforce the law. I always understood that the Judges took over to fill the power vacuum left by President 'Bad Bob' Booths Atomic World War fiasco. I don't think they were voted in at all.

The image of the Judge on the bike is a lifted piece of artwork from the original unpublished Dredd pilot 'Bank Raid' by artist and co-creator Carlos Ezquerra. The badge on the judge, if you look closely, just reads 'Judge'. It was decided later that the badges would have the Judges individual names on them so you could tell them apart. It wasn't caught in time for this splash page.

From the 'splash' we are infromed that there are a bunch of criminals holed up in the direlict Empire State Building. A judge is approaching to take them of the criminals is afraid. 'Whitey' quiets him down with a great piece of dialogue 'Judges can bleed too!'. It is a perfect summation of how tough and near indestructable these 'new' law enforcers are. They're a special breed.

On page two Whitey is planning on killing the judge. One of the gang is hoping that the Judge approaching is Dredd, that Dredd is the 'toughest of the Judges!'. It's clear from the second page that Dredd is a name to be feared in the criminal world. His name is mentioned three times on this page before we actually see him.

Whitey kills the judge but is disappointed to find out that it's not Dredd but a Judge Alvin that he has murdered.
The scene changes to Justice HQ where we see Dredd in conversation with the Chief Judge.
The Chief Judge at this time is Chief Judge Goodman although here he is just called 'Grand Judge'. From the 'Grand' Judges dialogue we find out that Dredd is a damn good Judge. Crime is down because of him.

As they are talking a report comes in that Judge Alvin's bike has returned with Alvins dead body tied to it. There's a note attached to the body. It reads 'Who you gonna send against me now, punks. Judge Whitey.'

The 'Grand' Judge is mad as hell, he wants to bomb the building,that Whitey and gang are in, off the face of the earth!

Dredd steps in. He wants to go it alone.
Later, Whitey and gang hear the siren of the bike of another Judge come towards the building. Whitey is going to bag himself another Judge. But the bike is riderless. It's on automatic. It's just been a decoy.

Dredd appears behind them and takes out the gang.
Whitey, he leaves to last. Dredd punches Whitey knocking the judge helmet off his head. 'You committed the most odious crime of all, Whitey - killing a judge!'

Dredd has sentenced Whitey to life. Whitey is unrepentant. He tells Dredd that no prison can hold him and he'll bust out. He hates the Judges and all that they stand for. But Dredd isn't going to send him to just any old, Dredd is sending him to Devils Island for life!
On the last page we see Devils Island in all it's glory! The 'Grand' Judge thinks that Life on Devils Island is a stern sentence but in all reality the Dredd of later strips would just have executed Whitey for killing a judge.

What's interesting about the last page is that Dredd is hanging badges of the fallen on a wall..and there aren't many of them. The Judges weren't the dominant force here as they were in alter issues. In fact in later strips from this early Dredd's seems as if there are just a handful of Judges and the Police weren't totally phased out yet.

It's interesting to note the 'Grand' Judges comment to Dredd about going out like Alvin because Goodmans days would be numbered. He is assassinated in 'The Day The Law Died!'.

All in all, a quiet opening for a character that would go on to be 2000ads most popular strip. Wagner and Ezquerra, co-creators of Dredd, didn't write or draw this strip. Wagner and Ezquerra had some issues with management at the time and walked away. Wagner would later return with his first Dredd strip 'BrainBlooms' and the magnificent 'Robot Wars' to take back over his creation. Ezquerra did have a Dredd story in the can before his falling out with management...but wouldn't come back to drawing Dredd until years later with 'The Apocalypse War!'

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Prog 2 - Harlem Heroes

The Heroes have been decimated after the road liner crash. Only three remain to carry on. (Four, if you count Louis Mayers brain!) Giant , Slim and Hairy are working out in the stadium when their game is interrupted by an old man. After an insult by Slim, the old man won't give the ball back until he shows this young punk some moves. And show him he does...
But that ain't no old man! Giant recognizes the old guys aeroball moves...thats retired veteran Harlem Heroes player Conrad King!

Conrad has heard out the Heroes troubles and has come out of retirement to help the team.
Giant needs three more players to complete the roster for their next game. So, the Heroes go to the Sky Slums of Harlem (where the current crop of Heroes where discovered) to see if there are any players good enough to compete.

We're informed that there are more than nine street levels to this futurisitc Harlem. That's a lot of slum!!! How depressing! The only hope for youth there is probably playing aeroball...then again, they can't be all that poor if they've all got their own jet-packs.
At the make shift stadium they encounter a young punk called Zack Harper who gatecrashes on the game that the Heroes are watching...
But there's a problem. Harper is using an illegal homemade jet pack. The jet pack has a blow out and it's Giants quick reaction that saves Harper from falling to certain death!
After saving him, Giant calms down the crowd that Harper gatecrashed on. Giant gives them his word that the kid won't bother them anymore. Harper thinks that Giant is going to turn him over to the cops but Giant has other plans. He sees a lot of potential in Harper and decides to give him a try out back at the Harlem Heroes Stadium..

The kid is a natural. Slim voices concern over the kids track record with street gangs and that Harpers old man is in jail for armed robbery. I guess Slims theory is that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Giant is willing to give the kid a break though and Zack Harper becomes a Harlem Hero.

Another turn of good fortune for the team is two players, Chico and Sammy, who were loaned out to another team, after hearing about the crash, are coming back to help out.

Now Giant has a full squad of seven players they can continue their pursuit of glory in the World Aeroball Championship...but first they must get by The Baltimore Bulls. We end this chapter with the Heroes forming their trademark 'H'.

Tom Tully is a master writer of sports stories. He's included every cliche possible and it's all summed up in the last panel... a rookie, two reserves, a forty year old veteran and opposition fans heckling the Heroes.

What's not to love!