2000 AD - issue 170

This is another post about an ancient and classic issue of 2000 AD. I have a 2000 AD page where I link to all the issues I have talked about so far on this site. This particular issue has a wonderful cover by McMahon, and it is one that is burned into my memory. It was this comic that persuaded me to buy an issue of 2000 AD again, after a long period of not bothering with it. It was the power of this cover by McMahon alone that got me to give the comic another try.

It has wonderful, deep colors, and dark shadows. The evil necromancer is lit from below and Dredd is being used as some kind of bizarre voodoo doll. It’s just great.

A Message from the Author

I write sci-fi novels that belong to a series called Dark Galaxy, which starts with Galaxy Dog:

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 available to buy from Amazon.

I remember being intrigued by the Stainless Steel Rat saves the world. It is drawn by Ezquerra, and there is action, but with this issue as an entry point it is difficult to figure out what is going on. The story contains the typical comic book tomfoolery, but one panel in particular stuck in my craw. We see a helicopter being flown upside down, and – because I was interested in aircraft – I was aware back then that only a few helicopters could spend any time at all upside down. One of them was the Lynx, which was in the news at the time. My young mind could accept time travel and a man called the Stainless Steel Rat single-handedly robbing an army base, but upside down helicopters, no way.

I already knew what the Mind of Wolfie Smith was about, having read a couple of episodes in Tornado, before it was gobbled up by 2000 AD, and I always thought it had potential. It certainly helps that this episode is drawn by Redondo. This episode is also a good way back in, starting in the middle of some action, but making it obvious what is going on.

This issue also has the great sci-fi short story, Killer in the Cab. I still remember how I felt, reading it the very first time: I was outside, alone on that asteroid, just like the space trucker in the story. It’s written by Alan Moore, and it is a gem. The art by John Richards is competent but not inspired in its designs for equipment. His anatomy is a bit off sometimes, too, but he uses light and shade effectively to suggest a dark moon, which is called Eight Ball.

The story is also full of CB jargon, which was taking the UK by storm thanks to the movie Convoy. It gives the story another little touch of authenticity that makes it hit home. The trucker needs advice on how to deal with his truck’s auto defenses, which aren’t recognizing him, and in fact are taking potshots at him, from what he calks a “lady trucker” with relaxed 1970s sexism. It turns out this lady trucker is actually a robot. He outsmarted a machine only because he was helped by a machine. It’s a good twist, and one I didn’t see coming.

I remember staring at the cheek of the robot lady trucker. It is intended to a have a sexy chrome sheen to it, that much is clear, but to me the dark reflection and bright highlights of her cheek didn’t look like chrome, they looked like a badly welded scar. It’s a tiny detail, one I completely made up because I misinterpreted the drawing, but it made me wonder about this robot’s life and her adventures.

All in all, it’s a great story, with a dash of sexism to be sure, but that intent was undercut for me by the artist’s ropey drawing skills. Instead of a sexy, chrome fembot, I saw a bashed and scarred space adventurer.

Then comes the reason I bought the comic, the story trailed on the cover, Judge Dredd. It’s great. It has alien monsters, voodoo, and spaceships. The set up is that there are some technical difficulties with visibility and the spaceship Dredd and his team are adventuring in goes down. Dredd goes out alone to face the mystic rulers of the planet, and the first monsters we see are called the watchers. They are kind of anthropomorphic snails, and I love them. I remember trying to draw them with the same menace that McMahon imbues them with, and failing miserably.

Dredd gets a shock when it turns out that, in AD&D parlance, these creatures have a breath weapon. In a scene reminiscent of the Prisoner TV show, next comes some transparent globes, and the story ends with quite a cliffhanger.

There is also a beautiful Action Man Space Ranger advert, drawn by regular 2000 AD artist Ron Smith, and it features ROM the Spaceknight. I had one of these figures, but not ROM himself.

This issue was pure nostalgia for me, and has to rank among my favorite, ever.

To end, just a reminder that the best way to support this blog is to buy one of my books. Simply go over to Amazon, or Kobo and get one.