Zarjaz is, without a doubt, one of the most reliable and admired fanzines out there, based entirely on 2000AD characters with full permission from owners Rebellion. It’s a big responsibility, and one shouldered with aplomb by editor Dave “Bolt 101” Evans for some years now.
One nice aspect is the covers, usually by a respected 2000AD droid, and this issue is no exception. Halo Jones makes her first (I believe) cover appearance, beautifully illustrated by sometime art droid Dave Taylor. As usual it’s a wraparound, and as usual it does not disappoint.
Halo herself leads off the issue, and it’s a brave team that takes the character on, to be sure. To avoid problems with the iconic strip, writer Robomonkey147 sensibly gives us a story of young Halo, when she was still with her mum, dad and brother in the Hoop. It’s very well done, quite poignant and features excellent art from Daniel Reed. Later in the issue is another prequel strip in the shape of “Flesh – Leader Of The Pack”, which shows Old One Eye when she was, well, Young Two Eyes I suppose. A simple story that works well, it is boosted by some great dinosaur art by Ed Doyle, complimenting Alan Holloway’s script well.
Writer Graham Cannon provides a “Tales Of Mega City One” story called “Foolproof”, which is okay but nothing too clever, with nice art from Luke Haynes giving it a boost. There’s three of these twist in the tale type strips, as well as a Future Shock. “A Cold Heart” sees med Judge Koop acting a bit suspiciously, to say the least, and it’s a pretty decent story by Heath Ackly with effective visual flair courtesy of Dave Peloe. The final Mega City tale is “Small Fry”, about a guy who just can’t stay out of trouble throughout his whole life. It works well, with Tom Shapira’s script enlivened by Sam Weller’s dark art, and is certainly the best of the three. The Future Shock comes from writer Graham Cannon and artist Eddy Lyle, and concerns an alien ship having trouble with an escaped, and incredibly lethal, specimen. It works very well, and the art shines, with a final panel that should delight 2000AD readers.
To go along with the three Mega City tales are three Judge Dredd entries, making this issue two thirds Dreddworld. Now I like Dredd and understand why his world is the go to for many creators, but a variety does make for a more attractive issue for those undecided customers out there. “Anti Social Behaviour” from Dan Whitehead is a real stand out, and I’d say it’s definitely good enough for the weekly. A take on social media but upgraded to Dredd’s world, it’s clever, amusing and tightly written, with Ste Pickford ding a faultless job on the art. Next is “Dear Billy”, one of those Dredd stories where he doesn’t really feature much, as a female citizen goes in search of her obsession, the titular Billy. Again, it’s a neat story that works well, and again features some excellent art, this time from Sinclair Elliott, who draws a lovely lawmaster. Writer Chris Hallam certainly gets how a Dred one off should go – with violence and a smile! Finally, the last Dredd section is an essay rather than a strip, as Robert Frazer discusses the merits, or lack of, of Dredd’s first published story “Judge Whitey”, and his first story proper “Bank Raid”, kept away from the weekly and appearing in an annual four years later. It’s a good read, and definitely interesting for Dredd aficionados.
So once again the clever droids at Zarjaz have produced a first class fanzine that, if I’m honest (and I always am), anyone who has ever enjoyed 2000AD should read. Well worth picking up when it goes on sale this Sunday, 28th Feb.