Issue 130 of 2000 AD was published way back on the 15 September 1979, and it has a classic cover. It shows headshots of the robot cast of the strip ABC Warriors. The robots are drawn by Mike McMahon at the height of his powers, and with just the few pen strokes available in each hexagon, he gives every robot a unique character.

I love the graphic-designyness of the cover, with a solid background of blue and an abstract pattern of hexagons dominating. I’m salivating to read the actual strip, just as I couldn’t wait to read it way back in 1979, when I was a kid. We have to wait though, because the first strip is…

A Judge Dredd story drawn by Gibbons that relies on outrageous Italian gangster stereotypes that have no place in any imagining of a future American megacity. At one point, one of the mob bosses says:

Don’ mess it up diss time.

And I groaned in annoyance. There is the nice idea that a head and brain can be kept alive and placed atop an android body, which is very pleasantly futuristic, but it is not enough to redeem the lamebrained storytelling.

The next story, Blackhawk, is so vanilla – despite having a black lead character – that I remember not being able to bring myself to read it back when I first read this comic book, at least four decades ago. And, all these years later, with the longer attention span and greater concentration of adulthood, I still can’t make myself read it.

I also remember that I didn’t mind the substandard episode of Judge Dredd, or the waste of space that was Blackhawk. I was only reading 2000 AD for ABC Warriors at this point. And ABC Warriors is the next strip… yay… but… not drawn by the same artist as the cover… boo.

I remember my disappointment at seeing the disciplined penmanship of Gibbons, instead of the sketchy brilliance of McMahon that we got a glimpse of on the cover. I soon got over my disappointment though, because it is a ripsnorter of a story by Pat Mills. It is about robot cows taking over Mars in the future, the way real cows have taken over our planet today. Each cow is a mini-robot factory that trundles across Martian wastes, eating soya beans and growing fake meat on their metal bones. I’m a vegan these days, at least I try to be, and I wonder if the seeds of this were sown way back then.

The story gets even better when a bunch of bigfoot-looking monsters turn up. Bigfoot was so popular back in the late 70s, it’s just amazing to remember. The story isn’t perfect. I suppose the writer was thinking of native tribes and indigenous peoples when creating this story featuring murderous bigfootalikes, which isn’t cool. These monsters are called cyboons and the writer’s attitudes to them are like those of writers of old-school Westerns, where the native Americans are portrayed as savages.

After ABC Warriors, the next stories, The Mind of Wolfie Smith, and Disaster 1990! are both a waste of space. But I will keep reading this thing as long as the ABC Warriors keeps appearing in it. Hopefully, Mike McMahon will be back on art duties – inside the comic book as well as on the cover – soon.

Galaxy Dog (Dark Galaxy)

Start Reading the Dark Galaxy Trilogy

Galaxy Dog is an epic space opera. What starts as an ordinary invasion of an alien planet, brings to light an ancient archaeological 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. This is the story of his rise, and the story of the fierce and independent woman and the feisty robot who help him.

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