2000 AD - issue 143

I write a lot about a classic comic book called 2000 AD, that is still going today. Reading it back then was a very formative experience for me, and I have a 2000 AD page where I link to all the issues I have talked about on this site already.Today I am revisiting issue 143 of 2000AD, which was published 15th December, 1979 and would set the reader back the princely sum of 12 pence, Earth money. According to abbafansblog on 15th December 1979 Abba's "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!" entered the charts in Austria where it spent 14 weeks reaching number 2 which gave the group their biggest hit since "Take A Chance On Me" reached number 1 the previous year. So to get that authentic late 1970s feel while you are reading your comic book, put on Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! as you flip through the pages.
The Stainless Steel Rat is the cover star if this week’s comic book, in an image created by Carlos Ezquerra, which I’m quite pleased about because this strip is growing on me. It’s a little old-fashioned and anachronistic, even for a story from a British comic book of the late 1970s, and that is because the novel it was based on a story first published in 1957 in Astounding magazine. But the story moves fast and is full of entertaining ideas and action, which makes it very deserving of its cover spot. The image shows Slippery Jim, the Stainless Steel Rat, punching out some goon, and Ezquerra is great at drawing action. You can see Jim leaning into the punch, and that the goon is out cold before he even hits the ground. It’s cartoonish violence, but suits the tone of the character perfectly.

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.

The first story in 2000 AD this week is Judge Dredd by John Wagner, with art by Ron Smith, and the future lawman is still fighting a bunch of spiders. They have been menacing the irradiated wastes outside the walls of Mega City One for weeks, but now they have actually entered the city.
I must admit, after tiring of this spiders story, I’m now interested to see what happens this issue.

People are evacuated in front of the spiders, but the city can’t find a way to defeat them. They decide to destroy a whole city block to try and deal with the menace, and this is very nicely drawn by Ron Smith, an artist who is capable of producing truly great drawings, sometimes. We see a fleet of saucers dropping clusters of bombs, and then buildings collapsing leaving a huge crater, all in just a few comic book panels.
After Judge Dredd there is an advert for Star Trek the Motion Picture, with a poster that I have always thought is strangely colorful. Why are the crew hidden behind a rainbow?

Next comes the V.C.s, which is drawn by Cam Kennedy again, so I guess that makes it worth reading. It starts with the hero of the story dropping to the surface of Pluto to help two comrades. It’s nicely drawn action, with one particularly lively panel showing the action from over the shoulder of the main character as he crouches on high ground above the shooting.

There is another panel with an interesting scene where rock, which on Pluto is just frozen gas, explodes into geysers when it is hit by gunfire. That is a very nice sci-fi detail that elevates this episode of a very ordinary future war story to another level.

Captain Klep is next, and even though it is as humorless as usual at least this week it makes fun of the British upper classes, which I always like. Then after Klep we get the Stainless Steel Rat, adapted by Kelvin Gosnell from the novel by Harry Harrison, with art by Carlos Ezquerra. This issue some criminal is secretly building a battleship. At the start of this weeks episode, we see the spaceship lifting off, and it is a beautiful creation, worthy of Chris Foss.

And then another beautiful design turns up about half way through. Both are quite abstract and organic, as usual with Ezqurra’s drawings of technology, but they are very pleasing spaceship designs. The second one has a nice striped paint job, that works well in black and white.

All good things come in threes, which Ezquerra proves with a third truly great spaceship design, a fuel tanker with huge, globular tanks called Ogget’s Dream.

The Mind of Wolfie Smith, by Tom Tully, comes next. I have to be in the mood for this story, but I did enjoy the episode in this issue. It has a demon in it, with local villagers being turned to dust.

I also usually hate the next story, Blackhawk by Alan Grant and Kelvin Gosnell, which usually has quite fanciful art by Massimo Belardinelli. This issue, however, the art duties are given to Ramon Sola, and his heavy, brutish style suits the story much better. Belardinelli draws Blackhawk’s sidekick as a cute teddy, but Sola draws a hulking monster.

The issue is rounded out with a cutout Starlord Guide to the Galaxy which isn’t great, but I do like to see Starlord in any capacity. I started reading sci-fi comic books with Starlord and he will alays have a soft spot in my heart. 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.