Friday, March 28, 2014

Retro review - Prog 172

I can't resist an old Prog from the days when they were printed on loo paper and here is another find from Orbital comics' back issue bins. Number 172 from August 1980 when I would have been waiting for my A level results. Just goes to show that if you pay attention in school one day you could end up with a highly paid job writing comic reviews for nowt.

Cover is by Brian Bolland and it's another great image which is no real surprise because I'm only buying the covers that I like. From the Art of Judge Dredd book I learnt that producing those stretched pictures of Dredd and Hershey was not straightforward. Nowadays it would be a couple of clicks in Photoshop, back then Bolland had to do some art school stuff with an overhead projector. The grey haired Judge Lopez looks even more like King Carlos than usual.

The Nerve Centre has letters about a publishing gap caused by industrial action which meant several weeks passed between the release of Progs 164 and 165. Again the authors sound like they are older than the original target audience.

The Stainless Steel Rat Saves the World by Kelvin Gosnell, Carlos Ezquerra and Pete Knight
Continuing the adaptation of the Harry Harrison novel this has Jim DiGriz back in revolutionary France and having to cook up some improvised weaponry to take down a Harrier jump jet. More cool stuff with Ezquerra's beautiful black and white art and those characteristic jagged outlines. Plus there's a circular panel, or a Whittle as I believe we now call them.

The Mind of Wolfie Smith by Tom Tully, Jesus Redondo and Jack Potter.
More psychic shenanigans as Wolfie comes up against the police. Again the black and white art looks lovely on the newsprint. Classic British comics goodness.

Then Tharg pops in to announce the names of eighty readers who have won prizes in a birthday give away. All blokes so I guess they got part of the demographic targeting right.

Judge Dredd: The Jigsaw Man by John Wagner, Brian Bolland and Tom Frame
Another brilliant slice of Judge Child madness as Dredd forces Lopez to take Oracle spice to get a lead on their hunt. Lopez trips the light fantastic and they land Justice 1 on the planet Bedlam where the man Dredd wants is literally going to pieces.

A perfect moment from 2000AD's history. Wagner and Bolland give us total madness on the appropriately titled Bedlam. The details on the colour centre spread are particularly sublime.

The V.C.s by Gerry Finley-Day, John Richardson and John Aldrich
After the wonders of Dredd the next thrill is always going to have a hard act to follow. I remember very little about the V.C.s and the art is probably my least favourite in this Prog. I'd forgotten how Colonel Moore looks exactly like the face of Darth Vader, which we wouldn't get to see until Return of the Jedi in 1983.

Sam Slade Robo-Hunter by John Wagner, Alan Grant, Ian Gibson and Steve Potter
Ever wondered what a battle between robot gangsters and robot American footballers would look like? Ian Gibson shows that he can deliver his own brand of whackiness while Sam tries to hold onto the football shaped bomb. Goodness knows what Tharg was putting in the Droids' oil back in 1980, but it must have been powerful stuff.

And to round off a top quality issue the back cover has a fantastic Mike McMahon image of Dredd towering over his city.

Pick of the Prog has to be Dredd  and the Jigsaw Man, but what a line up!

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