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2000 AD prog 437 cover

Mean Team was a science fiction comic strip which first appeared in 2000 AD prog 437 and ended in 2000 AD prog 541. It was written by 'The Beast', a pseudonym for the partnership of John Wagner and Alan Grant, and drawn by Massimo Belardinelli.

In the words of the first episode, "In the annals of the sport of Death-Bowl, no names stand higher than the all-galaxy champions of 2882-2886, the Mean Team — and their captain Bad Jack Keller, who set an individual kill-point total that would never be equalled.

This is their story — and the story of the cruel twist of fate which led them to be branded outlaws... and took them back to battle the satanic forces that ruled the long-abandoned desolation of planet Earth.

In a galaxy crying out for new thrills, the art of Death-Bowl has stood the test of time. For over 400 years it has remained the number 1 spectator sport.

Now, by the year 2886, its all-action spectacle is being broadcast to 600 worlds — and its heroes are acclaimed by trillions."

Death-Bowl took place in a replica of a city. It ended when a team's flag was captured, when the team with the most points won. One point was awarded for maiming, one for capturing, five for killing and ten for capturing the flag. The points were doubled when any of these resulted from hand-to-hand combat.

When the team's owner refused to grant Bad Jack Keller his freedom after he'd reached 5,000 kill points, Bad Jack retaliated by killing him. The team then made a run for it, hijacking a spaceship and flying to Earth, where they crash-landed and were promptly attacked by a centaur. Hilarity ensued.

The members of the Mean Team were:

  • Bad Jack Keller, who was abducted into slavery at the age of seven, spent 15 years playing Death-Bowl and became the first player in the history of the game to get 5,000 kill points. He did it because his owner had promised him his freedom when he reached that total. Jack later discovered that he was in fact an indestructible robot designed to bring about world peace (or something). Anyway, he was last seen decapitated by a spaceship from the galactic security patrol, so he can't have been that indestructible.
  • Mungo, a criminal who chose a career in Death-Bowl as an alternative to capital punishment (killed when corrosive element in atmosphere of Earth made his gun explode).
  • Amok, a 'Beester' captured in the third Orb World and sold into slavery (killed by spaceship from galactic security patrol).
  • Henry Moon, a psychic who sold himself into Death-Bowl to pay off his divorces. When his body was destroyed by a booby-trapped flag his brain was transplanted into the body of the team mascot, a panther. A vocal synthesiser allowed him to talk. He was the only member of the Mean Team to survive their original series.
  • Steelgrip, a robot (disintegrated when they landed on Earth, which had become inimical to all machines).
  • Bilk (killed while trying to escape).
  • Hammer (killed by spaceship from galactic security patrol).

Mean Team appeared in 2000 AD progs 437 to 447 and 525 to 531, 533 to 535 and 537 to 541. The first eleven episodes (Death Bowl) were written by Wagner and Grant, and the remaining fifteen (Return) by Alan Hebden.

The strip eventually spawned a sequel, Survivor.

The Team[]