Friday, March 14, 2014

Terror on the Tube

Here's a lovely old back issue of the Prog that I picked up in Orbital comics last week. Prog 167 from way back in July 1980. I could easily find a better image of the cover on the internets but this is the actual copy with the charming (to me) newsagent's address note on the top.

Cover by Kevin O'Neill.
And it's a classic. This was supposed to be the first in a series of Progs linked to pop records so we have the record based title logo and the instruction to play this comic at 45 rpm. Plus we have an unmistakeable O'Neill figure and the Blitzspear shooting down the left hand side of the page. Lovely stuff.

Inside there is a letters page where a reader points out that robots in Robo-Hunter don't obey Asimov's three laws, and someone else complains about a letter in Prog 158 that apparently insulted the Labour party. It would seem that the readership was already more grown up then the original target age group.

Terror Tube by Pat Mills, Kevin O'Neill and Steve Potter
Although this was intended as a one off story all the basics that will go on to make Nemesis the Warlock are there. Torquemada wearing his distinctive mask tells the citizens of Termight to "Be pure, be vigilant and behave." The Blitzspear crashes through the weird transport tubes pursued by Torquemada's Terminators. And although we don't see Nemesis he does deliver his catchphrase "Credo" as he escapes to fight another day.

O'Neill's art shows a few hints of the weirdness that will come in the future. There's a disc jockey who is clearly based on Kenny Everett. And if the Whittle is reading this there's even a circular panel.

That's followed by a full page ad for the model Ford Capri and mini-figures from The Professionals TV show which looks fairly terrible but is probably much sought after on ebay these days.

The Stainless Steel Rat Saves the World by Kelvin Gosnell, Carlos Ezquerra and Pete Knight
Based on the book of the same name by Harry Harrison this has Slippery Jim DiGriz travelling back in time to defeat some bad guy's plot, but who cares about all that when you've got Ezquerra's classic black and white art to look at. It's another thing of beauty and there's another circular panel.

Judge Dredd: The Judge Child part 12 by John Howard (Wagner and Grant), Ron Smith and Tom Frame
Dredd gets the two coloured centre pages of the prog as the Judge Child quest takes them to another weird planet where there's a televised war game going on. Ron Smith draws some lovely aliens and their daft television ads. Meanwhile Dredd and Hershey head out on their Lawmasters leaving poor old Lopez to repair Justice One and moan about Dredd's dislike of his moustache.

Golden age classic Judge Dredd with Smith at the top of his game and Wagner and Grant piling on the weird stuff. War may be hell but is looks lovely here.

The Mind of Wolfie Smith by Tom Tully, Jesus Redondo and Jack Potter
A bunch of crooks get the title character to use his psychic powers to help them break into a military base. Wolfie Smith started in Tornado and came across to 2000AD when the titles merged. This feels like one of those much older British comic strips such as The Steel Claw or Kelly's Eye. The all star line up of artists continues with Redondo's blocky inks. Only four pages of story so not much to go on but again it looks fantastic on the old pulp paper.

Robo-Hunter by T.B.Grover (Grant and Wagner again), Ian Gibson and Steve Potter.
Another four pager as Sam Slade gets into trouble with a bunch of tiny robots but his comedy partners Hoagy and Stogie save the day and pull him to safety. Gibson's art looks a little sketchy when compared to the rest of the Prog but still provides some good comedy moments and glimpses of what he'll go onto do on Halo Jones.

And the prog finishes with a back page Kevin O'Neill colour image of a giant space squid attacking a spaceship.

Pick of the prog is tricky when you've got this many 2000AD legends but Dredd just edges out Terror Tube for me.

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