From 2000AD's first year 1977 here is a slightly battered but still lovely Prog 32. The cover image is by Trevor Goring and has nothing to do with any of the strips inside. Still a fab picture though.
Invasion by Gerry Finley-Day, Mike Dorey and Bill Nuttall.
A new Invasion story starts with Bill Savage in the Scottish highlands trying to get rid of the dread Volgan Colonel Volgaska only to end up a prisoner himself. I have no familiarity with Dorey's work but his thick blacks and detailed faces are pretty good, although Savage does seem to be leering quite a lot. And there are two whole Whittle circular panels in the first five pages.
Judge Dredd by Robert Flynn, Mike McMahon and Tony Jacob.
Dredd attends the opening of Komputel, Mega-City One's first completely automated hotel, and is typically suspicious of computers and robots. He is, of course, proved right when halfway down the second page Komputel starts killing residents and Dredd has to break in and do what he does best. Again the writer Robert Flynn is a new one on me but it's interesting how even in these early stories Dredd demonstrates his distrust of machines taking over the functions of men and women. It's curious that these themes would come back many years later in stories like Mechansismo and ManDroid. No circular panels here but some lovely giant McMahon boots.
Shako by John Wagner, César López Vera and Jack Potter.
The giant Polar bear that led the CIA such a merry dance as they tried to retrieve the capsule of a deadly virus that it had swallowed. Just four pages of lovely black and white art by López Vera as Shako discovers some of those nasty men clubbing Seal pups and restores the balance of nature in bloody fashion.
Dan Dare by Gerry Finely-Day and Dave Gibbons
Thirty two progs in and Dan Dare is still thought to be the main event and gets the colour centre spread. Dare's men are lured into a celebration dinner with some Roman emperor style aliens who turn out to be Vampires. Fortunately Dare has kept his wits about him and leads the escape back to their ship the Eagle, and how lovely to see the logo of the Eagle comic on the fuselage. A quick space battle and all that remains is for Dare to sign off by musing that the Vampires bit off more than they could chew. Boom boom!
MACH 1 by Pat Mills, Carlos Freixas and John Aldrich.
John Probe is in backwoods America to investigate a UFO landing where it turns out that aliens are forcing "white stuff" down human throats to take over their brains and lead the invasion. So nothing suggestive going on there, at least not until Alien's oral rape two year's later in 1979. Meanwhile the flying saucers use flame death rays to mop up the uninfected and Probe is caught in a cliffhanger which looks set to give him a close encounter of the final kind. A bit of 1970s paranoid alien invasion mixed with the bionic man and all fairly gruesome too.
Tharg's Future Shocks: Excursion by Peter Harris, Horacio Lalia and Jack Potter
The first two pages of a Future Shock with some loathsome thrill seekers time travelling to witness great catastrophes. Next week they head for the Salem witch hunts and you can see where this is going.
The last two pages have an advert for a 4T Spacefone communicator which looks like a crap joke shop scam, then there is a text piece explaining the cover image before some adverts for Tiger comic and the Valiant annual, and that's it. Dan Dare deserves its centre spread for Gibbons art which is clearly well above even McMahon at this stage, and thus easily wins pick of the Prog. Meanwhile I'm left wondering why there were so many great Spanish artists in British kids' comics at this time. Maybe the upcoming Future Shock documentary will tell us more about the Spanish invasion.
The Whittle panel count is four but there are some very funky shaped panel lay outs in Dan Dare as well.