On this day, 8 July 1978: 2000AD (Prog 72)
On this day, 8 July 1978 … One of the most audacious, hilarious, eye-catching, thrill-powered covers produced by 2000AD in its near-forty-year history sees Judge Dredd in the greasy clutches of ‘Ronald Macdonald’, leader of the Macdonald Marauders – ‘Burger War’ soldiers locked in endless combat with the Burger King Vigilantes somewhere in post-apocalyptic Arkansas – in the middle of his classic Cursed Earth quest. Mike McMahon’s gutsy and dynamic artwork continues inside this, one of the infamous ‘banned’ progs of 2000AD, as Dredd and Spikes Harvey Rotten are taken captive in Macdonald City, see Ronald shoot a burger store table-cleaner for shoddy standards, and escape only to be recaptured by the BK ‘bozos’ and hung for being sided with the wrong kid of sandwich. At this point Joe and Spikes really wished they’d gone to Wimpy instead – to drokk with the tomato-shaped ketchup dispensers!
This month, Rebellion will be publishing this episode of Judge Dredd, plus three others (the first part of the ‘Burger Wars’ storyline from Prog 71, and the two-part ‘Soul Food’ storyline that followed in Progs 77 and 78), in Judge Dredd: The Cursed Earth [Uncensored] – the first time these pages will have seen print since a threatened lawsuit from the owners of Jolly Green Giant’s copyright forced IPC to print a full retraction to their monstrous representation of the big pea guy in Progs 77 and 78 and promise never to reprint them again. There had been – according to art editor Kevin O’Neill, interviewed for David Bishop’s Thrill-power Overload – no complaints from either McDonalds or Burger King, but it was deemed prudent to withdraw the Burger Wars from all future reprints of the Cursed Earth storyline also. Rebellion have thankfully decided that recent publishing law allowing the use of copyrighted properties for the purpose of parody means that the Cursed Earth can now be published in full for the first time ever, so this will be great to see, along with a new introduction to the volume by John Wagner. If stocks are still available you can ‘go large’ with the sumptuous signed bookplate edition that comes with an A3 poster of the lovely uncoloured Mike McMahon centre-page spread featured below. And extra fries*.
With all that excitement it could be easy to overlook the rest of Prog 72, which would be a shame because it’s a great issue from one of TGGC’s golden periods. MACH Zero brings down the roof on a circus-style freak show in a typically moody and inky Mike Dorey-drawn instalment of his lonely search for his lost son Tommy. Captain Villa and his companion, ‘semi-civilised Indian’ Anteater, continue their Ant Wars – a serial that would make a great box-set TV series. Bonkers Massimo Belardinelli artwork rescues a bonkers Tom Tully Inferno story (all good practice for his bonkers Roy of the Rovers Basran storyline eight years later), and Dan Dare fights the Sleetha – giant worms of Eden.