2000AD celebrates 45 years in 2022

By Luke Williams

2022 promises to be an expensive year for 2000AD completists.

In February, it’ll be 45 years since Tharg first unleashed the self style “Galaxy’s Greatest Comic” and scourge of thrill suckers 2000AD on unsuspecting Squaxx dek Thargo.

Launched in the era of hatched match and dispatch, 2000AD was never expected to survive to the titular year  2000,, absorbing two of it’s in house rivals along the way, outlasting it’s spiritual ancestor Action, and surviving many trials and tribulations, from printers strikes to disinterested publishers., it’s featured significant work of many  world famous creators, such as Alan Moore, Brian Bolland, Grant Morrison, Garth Ennis, Mark Millar, Dave Gibbons, Simon Bisley and of course is the first home of “Judge Dredd”

To celebrate, Rebellion, the publishers of 2000AD have scheduled a series books and collections throughout 2022, as revealed on their website. The releases are to be  accompanied by a series of social distance friendly signings and events focussing on some of the legendary creators to have graced the pages of the comic in its 45 year history and the publication of some previously overlooked spin offs.

The story and inventory focussed side of the release extravaganza kicks off in February with the publication of the 2000AD Encyclopaedia. Written by Scott Montgomery and described as “the first ever comprehensive and definite encyclopaedia of the world of 2000AD”, compiling details and summaries of every series published in the weekly and its monthly companion comic Judge Dredd Megazine. Judging by the press release, it is likely to be a compilation of the encyclopaedia instalments  given away as the “floppy” with current issues of the ‘Meg, in much the same way as Thrillpower Overload  was compiled (admittedly with amendments and added material) from the articles written by former 2000AD &  Judge Dredd Megaazine editor David Bishop.

Featuring the work of 45 artists, 45 years of 2000AD is published in May. From the description this is essentially an art book of interpretations of the characters from 2000AD by such luminaries who have not contributed or contributed little to the House of Tharg including  David Aja (Seeds, Hawkeye ), Michael Allred(Madman, X Statix) , Rachael Stott (Doctor Who); and more established 2000AD contributors such as Mick McMahon (Judge Dredd, Slaine, Last American), Kevin O’Neill (League of Extraordinary Gentleman, Nemesis The Warlock), Chris Weston (The Filth, The Twelve), and Henry Flint (Judge Dredd). Many of the creators listed so far have already contributed covers, pin ups, or strips work to 2000AD. The book is described as a “brand new collection”, rather than ” brand new work”, so at least some reprint is expected. Either way, it should provide some fresh interpretations of 2000AD characters.

In September, and arguably long overdue,  Rebellion collect the short lived DC Comics Judge Dredd : Legends of The Law, the companion title to the equally short lived Judge Dredd of the mid nineties published  in anticipated success of the 1995 “Judge Dredd” movie and we all remember how that turned out.

Kicking off with “The Organ Donors” by John Wagner, Alan Grant, Brent “Astro City” Anderson and Jimmy “Everything” Palmiotti.. Legends of the Law follows the format of the Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight series published and soon to be relaunched by DC, where rotating creative teams tell self contained multi part stores, a series of miniseries.  Alongside Wagner and Grant the 13 issue run attracted writers such as Dan Chichester, Pat McGreal and John Byrne and early artwork from Tommy Lee Edwards and 2000AD mainstays Anthony Williams and Nigel Dobbyn. Although set in the “DC” Dreddverse, the “LOTL” strips were more in keeping with “traditional” Dredd than Andy Helfer and Michael Avon Oeming’s Judge Dredd. From memory, the Wagner and Grant run is a safe bet, the Chichester / Williams / Lanning run in “Trial by Gunfire” is a good effort, but the others are an unknown quantity. Unfortunately, US writers and Dredd don’t usually mix well as the IDW and Helfer / Oeming series have proved.

Rebellion celebrates the contributors to 2000ADs success with a series of creator focussed collections.

For art fans there are collections of the work of the two artists who laid the foundations for the look of Dredd’s world.

February sees the release of a deluxe oversized compilation of the one of the greatest artists to grace the pages of 2000AD in the Brian Bolland Apex edition, compiling facsimiles of Bolland’s original art from his run on Judge Dredd.

Following in October will be the Mike McMahon Apex Edition, a compilation of his celebrated 2000AD work on Judge Dredd, ABC Warriors and Slaine  and one of the most respected and innovative artists to have worked on the comic.

Both books will feature high resolution scans of original art. As is customary with many of Rebellion’s releases, standard editions will be available through comic stores via Diamond Distribution or, tantalisingly, an exclusive edition through the 2000AD webshop. These promise to be something quite special.

Co creators of the cultural icon and star of the comic Judge Dredd,  John Wagner and the late, great Carlos Ezquerra each have a creator focussed collection released in March and May respectively, designed to honour them as creators of the companies most recognisable IP.  No further details are given, but Rebellion have previously released a Carlos Ezquerra collection and it is unclear whether this would be a continuation of the previous collection, a new edition, or a completely new title.

In March and capitalising on the high profile and critical success of his run on Immortal Hulk for Marvel, Rebellion collects Al Ewing’s best Judge Dredd work in “Judge Dredd : Blaze of Glory”. Ewing is one of the new generations of writers who have been able to follow in the footsteps of Wagner and Grant, with a distinctive but consistent take on the character. A selection of Ewing’s Dredd work has been reprinted previously in the Judge Dredd Mega Collection volume 87, but this volume appears to refer to different collaborators.

Last but not least, Rebellion publishes The Best of Gerry Finley Day, in August. The creator of many series in 2000ADs golden age period, such as Meltdown Man and Rogue Trooper,  Finley Day is considered by many fans and fellow creators as being overlooked in the history of 2000AD. There is no indication of content, but the examples of Finley Day’s work given by Rebellion “Blackhawk, The VCs, Fiends of the Eastern Front, Dan Dare, Ant Wars, Harry Twenty On The High Rock”  give a sign of what is likely to be compiled, “Dan Dare notwithstanding.

There is no doubt there is some unmissable material here, but confirmation of brand new material would have been welcome.

2000 AD 45th anniversary publishing schedule

February

The 2000 AD Encyclopedia

Brian Bolland Apex Edition

March

The Best of John Wagner

Judge Dredd: Blaze of Glory

May

The Best of Carlos Ezquerra

45 Years of 2000 AD

August

The Best of Gerry Finley-Day

September

Legends of the Law

October

Mick McMahon Apex Edition

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