2000 AD - issue 123

Here we go with yet another post where I return to a comic book of yesteryear. I’m reading 2000 AD all over again, and I have reached issue 123 in the process. If you don’t happen to have a copy of issue 123 of 2000 AD, don’t worry, you can download some scans from the massive archive of classic old British comic books at Britishcomics.Wordpress.com.

This issue was published on the 28 July 1979, and I have started suggesting music of the era to listen to as you read this ancient comic book. This issue, I suggest you listen to the Bee Gees. The Bee Gees were on the Spirits Having Flown Tour at the time. It was their most lavish and successful tour during the height of their popularity. It was the hottest summer tour since The Beatles in 1964 and the band leased a custom Boeing 720 jet at a cost of over one million dollars with a specially designed logo on the exterior of the plane. The set list included, Tragedy, Night Fever, Stayin' Alive, Massachusetts, How Deep Is Your Love, and Jive Talkin. With the music playing, it is time to take a loo at the comic book.

It has a very nice cover, with Dan Dare in action against a wing of jet fighters. I am not loving the red border that is being added to every cover during this period, but the art is great. Inside, the Father Earth story continues in Judge Dredd, again drawn by Bolland, and his disdain for detail is on show again. The robots he is drawing for this story look like the tin man from The Wizard of Oz. They are just metal tubes and abstract shaped details. There are a lot of blank disks on these robots, doing duty as eyes and joints. There is a strange election, that is a mix of the futuristic, as citizens push a button at home, and the archaic, with a television broadcast hosted by Robin Day. He was a regular fixture on all BBC general election night TV from the 1960s until 1987. His incisive and sometimes – by the standards of the day – abrasive interviewing style, together with his heavy-rimmed spectacles and trademark bow tie, made him an instantly recognizable and frequently impersonated figure. Bolland’s strange caricature of the man is very beautifully drawn, but later his drawing of a futuristic power station is just a group of vertically aligned tubes with no detail alone.

My gripes about Bolland’s art aside, the story itself is intriguing. It is still entirely unclear what the cult leader bad guy wants, or how the mayhem he is causing all hangs together. I can’t wait to find out. Next week we are promised something called The Holocaust Squad, and I remember being very impressed by that idea when I was a kid. They obviously deal with things where the word disaster just won’t cover it.

The post continues below. If you are enjoying it, why not check out the sci-fi novels I write. They belong to a series called Dark Galaxy, which starts with Galaxy Dog. Here is some of Galaxy Dog's blurb:

What starts as an ordinary invasion of an alien planet brings to light an ancient archeological site of huge importance. A young man called Knave makes a life-changing discovery there and rises from a lowly position as an infantry trooper to become a player among the powers of the galaxy.

The entire series is ripsnorting space opera in the style of Doctor Who and Blake's 7, and they are available to buy from Amazon. Just click the link and take a look.

Next comes a report on The Spaceman and King Arthur. Reading the report, apparently written by our favorite cigar-chomping sewer robot, Ro-Jaws, I saw that the movie has Rodney Bewes in it.

Seeing this has given me a hankering to rewatch a couple of episodes of the show that made him famous, Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads, but I must resist and continue with the comic book nostalgia, not TV nostalgia.

Disaster 1990! is next, and I’m not a fan. There is some beautiful art, though, as the hero continues to drive round a flooded London in an amphibious vehicle.

Next comes a full page add for Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, which went on release in London from July 26. It was originally made as a television movie pilot, but Universal Studios opted to release the film theatrically several months before the subsequent television series aired.

Then comes the ABC Warriors strip, and the next robot Hammerstein has to recruit is Deadlock, a sort of medieval knight robot. In order for Hammerstein to meet Deadlock, his space base has to come crashing to the planet’s surface. As soon as that happens, Hammerstein and Deadlock can fight, but that duel will have to wait until next week. The two color pages of this story are an interesting experiment by the artist, O’Neil, where he paints the action with much less than usual in the way of line work. I don’t think it works. I think the best thing about O’Neil is his line work.

 Deadlock is one of my favorites of the ABC Warriors, and I love everything about him, except his stupid little bike. I wish he was driving something a little bigger and more macho.

Then comes Project Overkill, a story I had completely forgotten about, but one I’m enjoying very much, this time around. In this episode Harris has the cybernetic bomb put into his neck by Overkill removed, surgically. The project retaliates by telling a threatening looking operative called Number I04 to kill him.

Next comes Dan Dare, and it is great. This strip has been moving very slowly for a long time, but now Dare has his own spaceship, a special energy blaster gauntlet, and a sidekick, and he is actually flying round and journeying through the galaxy. It is a great change of pace, and I’m very pleased to see it. This issue, Dare visits Topsoil, an artificial world inside an enormous tube. It’s an imaginative idea, along with the fact that it has fallen on hard times and become a slum. This is the sort of sci-fi I love and I’m glad Dan Dare has finally got there. I’ll be back next episode to see what happens next.

Before we wrap up here, just a reminder that the best way to support this blog is to buy one of my books, so why not go over to Amazon, or Kobo and see if there is one that catches your fancy.