Harlem Heroes

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Harlem Heroes
Publication information
PublisherIPC Media
First appearance2000 AD #1 (February 1977)
Created byPat Mills
Dave Gibbons

Harlem Heroes is a British comic strip that formed part of the original line-up of stories in 2000 AD (February 1977). Inspired by the popularity during the 1970s of kung fu films and the Harlem Globetrotters, Harlem Heroes was devised by Pat Mills, employing elements from his Hellball comic strip, and scripted by Tom Tully. Initially, the series was to have been drawn by Carlos Trigo but the Spanish artist was replaced by Dave Gibbons prior to the first issue's publication. From issue (or "prog") 25 Massimo Belardinelli drew the concluding episodes of the first series and would be retained as its regular artist for the strip's reinvention as Inferno.

Harlem Heroes[edit]

By the year 2050,[1] the game of Aeroball has swept the world! It's Football, Boxing, Kung Fu and Basketball all rolled into one! Players roar through the air wearing jet packs (controlled by buttons on their belts) and score "air strikes" by getting the ball in the "score tank". One of the top teams is the all-black Harlem Heroes![2]

Summary [first series][edit]

Having made it through the preliminary round of the World Aeroball Championship, the Harlem Heroes' team bus crashes, killing all but four players. Louis Mayer, his brain alone surviving the tragedy, convinces his three fellow survivors, 'Slim', 'Hairy', and team captain John 'Giant' Clay, that they can still win the championship title.


2000 AD progs 1–27, 2000 AD Annual 1978, 2000 AD Annual 1979 (29 episodes)

Timeline: 21st Century, usually placed in 2050[3]

"The Sport of Tomorrow" – Prog 1 (1 episode)
"Harlem Heroes" – 2000 AD Annual 1979 (1 episode)
"The Baltimore Bulls" – progs 2–5 (4 episodes)
"The Siberian Wolves" – progs 6–8 (3 episodes)
"The Montezuma Mashers" – progs 9–11 (3 episodes)
"The Flying Scotsmen" – progs 12–15 (4 episodes)
"Gorgon's Gargoyles" – progs 16–21 (5 episodes)
"The Bushido Blades" – progs 22–24 (3 episodes)
"The Teutonic Titans" – progs 25–27 (3 episodes)
"The Berlin Blitzkriegs" – 2000 AD Annual 1978 (1 episode)
Pat Mills, Tom Tully (prog 1)
Tom Tully (progs 2–27)
Dave Gibbons (prog 1, Harlem Heroes pages 1 – 4), Carlos Trigo (prog 1, Harlem Heroes page 5)
Dave Gibbons (prog 2–24)
Massimo Belardinelli (progs 25–27)


Inferno is the violent sequel to Harlem Heroes. Set in the bloodthirsty arena of Inferno, an even more barbaric updating of Aeroball, with the addition of players on motorbikes (and gameplay similar to that featured in Rollerball), sportsmanship is gradually replaced by sensationalist violence and the desire for bloodshed and death on the field. Declining in-game values are shadowed by terrifying levels of boardroom corruption: their own manager, tiring of the Heroes' clean-cut image, is determined to get rid of their contracts, by taking out a contract on his own players. The scene of the Heroes' violent demise is a baroquely ruinous former casino called The Crystal Maze (a metaphor of the human mind, and a title later recycled), rendered in darkly gothic splendour by Massimo Belardinelli.


2000 AD progs 36–75 (40 episodes)

Timeline: 2078

Tom Tully
Massimo Belardinelli

Judge Dredd[edit]

"Never mind, Citizen Giant. Look at it this way—you've lost a son but Mega-City One has gained a darned fine Judge."[4]

The Academy of Law[edit]

Judge Giant senior graduates from Mega-City One's Academy of Law, much to the delight of his proud father, John 'Giant' Clay.


2000 AD progs 27–28 (2 episodes)

Timeline: 2099

John Wagner
Ian Gibson (part 1), Mike McMahon (part 2)

Whatever Happened to John "Giant" Clay?[edit]

Judge Dredd Megazine #216 (1 episode)

Timeline: 2126

Gordon Rennie
Rufus Dayglo

Wear Iron[edit]

The rise and fall of Inferno is described in chapter 3, as background for a crime. The post-Atom War society was desperate for decadent sport but the events of Inferno ("the Hellcat Murders") would kill it, with Hellcat fans not returning and the average fan afraid they might get killed next.

Judge Dredd Year One: Wear Iron (2014)

Timeline: 2080

Al Ewing

Harlem Heroes[edit]

A revival of the first series in name only, unrelated to Dredd.

Summary [second series][edit]

2000 AD progs 671–676, 683–699, 701–705/745–749/776–779/928–939 (49 episodes)

Timeline: 2109

"Harlem Heroes"[edit]

2000 AD progs 671–676, 683–699, 701–705 (28 episodes)

Michael Fleisher
Steve Dillon and Kev Walker (parts 1–16, 18–21, 23–26)
Steve Dillon and Simon Jacob (part 17)
Steve Dillon (part 22)
Simon Jacob (part 27)
Kev Hopgood (part 28)

Death Sport[edit]

2000 AD progs 745–749 (5 episodes)

Michael Fleisher
Geoff Senior

Grey Ghost Overflight[edit]

2000 AD progs 776–779 (4 episodes)

Michael Fleisher
Ron Smith

Cyborg Death Trip[edit]

2000 AD progs 928–939 (12 episodes)

Michael Fleisher
Kev Hopgood and Siku


  • Harlem Heroes episodes 8 and 9[5] make reference to Mega-City One, the vast megalopolis patrolled by Judge Dredd.
  • Judge Dredd is the graduating officer of Judge Giant senior.[6]


  1. ^ It is unclear when exactly the first series of Harlem Heroes takes place. 2078, the year that Inferno is set in, contradicts the generally accepted view that its predecessor takes place in 2050.
  2. ^ Quoted from Harlem Heroes "The Sport of Tomorrow", 2000 AD prog 1.
  3. ^ The captions in early progs refer to aeroball taking the world by 2050. This was the only date given
  4. ^ Quoted from Judge Dredd "The Academy of Law", 2000 AD prog 28.
  5. ^ Harlem Heroes 2000 AD prog 8, page 4.5 and prog 9, page 1.1
  6. ^ Judge Dredd "The Academy of Law", 2000 AD prog 28

External links[edit]