PROG: 144 – Ro-Jaws – The Inside Story
Script: Pat Mills
Art: Kevin O’Neill
Letters: John Aldrich
Plot: Ro-Jaws is feeling unwell, a fact Hammerstein suspects may be down to having eaten the war droid’s missing war medals. After trapping his hand while trying to examine the contents of Ro-Jaws’ stomach he eventually takes the ill robot to a robo-garage. The mechanic deploys a team of ‘Thunderbots’, tiny singing robot repair droids, into Ro-Jaws system. Faced with a sea of sewage and waste in Ro-Jaws’ guts the Thunderbots take decisive action, exploding in his stomach
Ending: The explosion causes Ro-Jaws to throw-up Hammerstein’s war medals and he promptly gets beaten up and dumped in a trash can by the angry war droid.
Thoughts: The Inside Story is one of the great curios of 2000AD. It was the first time a one-off tale had appeared under a non-series banner outside of the Future Shock branding, but is in total contrast to any of the other stories printed as Ro-Jaws Robo-Tales. Whereas the rest of the short series (2o stories across the Prog and specials / annuals) would be ‘Future Shocks-with-a-‘bot’ as introduced by Ro-Jaws instead of Tharg, this is a straight character comedy piece featuring two well-established characters taken out of their usual dramatic story context. Ro-Jaws & Hammerstein were clearly a hit with the reader, used in editoral branding such as ‘Ro-Jaw’s Laugh In‘ (Readers Jokes) and ‘Guide To Robots‘ (Info Booklet), but this tale was unique in moving their love-hate rude banter from an aside in their action stories to being the focus of the strip itself. In a way it relates to Ro-Busters the way Terror Tube & Killer Watt does to Nemesis The Warlock; part of its world but slightly askew. It seems a shame it was left out of the recent The Complete Ro-Busters although it had featured in previous Titan collections. The story itself, a rare Pat Mills outing in these one-off stories, is quite astounding; full of profanity, belching, throwing up and even the most obvious masturbation cock-gag ever seen in 2000AD. In the anarchic hands of O’Neill and Mills it is, naturally, one of the greatest things to have appeared in the Prog. The art is packed full of rewards for the attentive reader, a small picture of Deadlock on a wall, ‘C3PO was a Hume‘ (human) graffitied in the background and volumes of comedy robot designs through-out. The script is similarly wonderful; rude, funny, constantly inventive with language, and seeped in the Ro-Jaws and Hammerstein tradition of ‘daft nerks‘ and cockney robo-speak. At all times knowing what it’s audience is and at all times knowing how to make them laugh. It certainly is a world away for the last Future Shocks‘ weeping child and lament for good parenting.
Thrill-Power?: Off the scale. There is no twist, shock or even dramatic denouement. Ro-Jaws gets dumped in the bin we knew he’d end up in from the very first time Hammerstein asks has he eaten the precious war medals. But the three pages it takes for him to get there will be a sumptuous treat for anyone who ever took to these classic 2000AD characters.