Monday, June 2, 2014

Retro review - Prog 134

From October 1979 and still just twelve earth pence.

Brian Bolland provides an iconic profile on a cover that announces that Judge Dredd won top British comics' character at the Eagle awards, a category that seems have come and gone in the Eagle awards over the years. Inside Tharg's nerve centre announces the other awards 2000AD won and there is a rather odd letter demanding that it's a boys only comic and should never publish a story with a heroine. Halo Jones and Anderson: Psi Division stories are five years in the future at this point.

Judge Dredd: The Invisible Man by John Wagner, Ron Smith and Tom Frame.
Dredd investigates a series of crimes pulled off by an apparently invisible perp and resorts to fire extinguishers, riot foam and random shots from both of his Lawgivers to try and nail him. It's high class nonsense from Wagner with six pages of beautiful black and white artwork by Smith and some lovely images of Dredd in motion.

Blackhawk by Alan Grant, Kelvin Gosnell, Massimo Belardinelli and Jack Potter
I don't recall ever reading Blackhawk and still haven't picked up the trade papaerback. This story is from his lost in space era when the Roman gladiator was fighting weird aliens creatures. Blackhawk and a huge were-bear creature called Ursa practice their moves in their version of the X-Men's danger room before the hero prepares to go up against a real nasty. Belardinelli's human figures are pretty good here with more nice dynamic motion, but as ever it's his weird beasties that really deliver the business. Who doesn't want to see a gigantic armoured bear monster swinging an axe and picking off flying creepy crawlies?

A one page Flesh file recaps the descendants of Old One-Eye and sets up:
ABC Warriors by Pat Mills, Carlos Ezquerra and Pete Knight.
The colour centre spread launches Hammerstein and Co. on the trail of some rogue Tyrannosaurs which have been trained for man hunts. It's unusual to see Ezquerra doing the ABC warriors but his characteristic jagged black outlines look pretty good on Hammerstein's helmet, while the colour pages of dinosaur mayhem are just marvellous. Check this one out in the recently published Mek Files vol 1
The Mind of Wolfie Smith by Tom Tully, Vanyo and John Aldrich
Wolfie seems to be involved in the shooting of a low budget horror film but his psychic powers are picking up some real horrors. Four pages of more generic looking art here with a bad guy who seems to be Skeletor from He-Man. Bit of a dud to be honest.

Disaster 1990 by Gerry Finley-Day, Carlos Pino and Steve Potter.
The Invasion prequel serves up something that feels like an episode from the 1970s TV series Survivors as Savage and Bamber run up against a local Squire who rules his roost and doesn't take kindly to visitors. Not sure how this possibly fits in with the world of the Invasion strip (answer: it probably doesn't), so it's just another bunch of hard blokes with shootahs, and another minor thrill.
Ro-Jaws pops up on the last page to answer some more readers' letters and tease us with next week's line-up, and the back cover is a Green Cross code advert.

The cover and the first three stories are great but it really tails off towards the end of the comic. 
Pick of the Prog is the ABC Warriors two page splash, and the Whittle count of circular panels is a tragically low one and that's probably cheating because it's Dredd looking out of a porthole. But the Green Cross code man gets two on the back cover.

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