After 45 years and a loyal following of Earthlets whose love for nostalgia means they will lap up re-reading the recently announced same stories in multiple formats you’d be forgiven if you didn’t realise 2000AD do embrace producing new books from current material too.
I recently picked up ‘Hershey’ by Rob Williams and Simon Fraser, ‘Dreadnoughts’ by Michael Carroll and John Higgins, ‘Megatropolis’ by Kenneth Niemand and Dave Taylor and ‘Slaine Dragontamer’ by Pat Mills and Leonardo Manco
I nearly didn’t get Hershey. Having not read 2000AD for a while (I’m not even sure if Hershey was Chief Judge when I left) I don’t really have any affinity with the character or her relationship with Dredd. Her death seemed like a landmark comic emotional moment but her reappearance seemed like a sell-out! Whilst I do like the writing of Rob Williams and been supportive of Simon Fraser’s work for a while there wasn’t a WOW factor for me in wanting to get this. More a mild interest following the fall out of the Small House (again a story I found difficult to grasp without a full understanding of the Characters and nuances that led up to it). So overall it felt a bit workmanlike but I’m putting that down to my approach to the book than the creators talents.
Slaine too I don’t really have an affinity for. I was there for the beginning of the character but missed many of the other series. I always prefer the touches of humour in Slaine rather than serious plot and glorious blood and guts. I’m also partial to a good catchphrase and Slaine has aplenty I’m familiar with in this – from Kiss My Axe to another beating for Ukko. The artwork from Leonardo Manco is top notch and reminiscent of classic Trigan Empire with a modern edge. It’s an end to the character and I thought it worthy of picking up just to capture that moment but it is a strong story in its own right. A fitting end to the saga and I will pick up Pat Mills book ‘Kiss My Axe’ to enlighten me about the years I didn’t read his exploits in 2000AD which May peak my interest further.
Dreadnoughts by Michael Carroll and John Higgins is superb. It is so slightly uneasy and glorious to be living through a time when you think the Judges could be a vision of the future. This back history feels a little too close for comfort and the gritty realism really adds to that. Higgins work is not as stylised as I remember it, but that isn’t a criticism. At times you could pop in a few appearance of Batman in between the political and police ‘Gotham’ style scenes the art is that good and the tone is that tight. This story has received a lot of love and it’s easy to see why. I felt a little short changed that the story didn’t cover the whole page count with a slightly linked back story appearing at the rear. A minor detail to a great book.
Finally I lapped up Megatropolis. 2000AD does Elseworlds / What If… where the familiar are reworked in an alternative version of Mega City One. You may not get all the past references if you don’t read 2000AD but I had enough to to make be go ooh, aah, alrighty then! it is a new world with fabulous Art Deco skylines and 30’s/40’s fashion fused with a futuristic look which makes it overall fabulous. A stonking mystery at the heart of it all makes the story a joy from start to finish. This, Dreadnoughts and the final Slaine have the WOW factor and I enjoyed them immensely.
As for the 2000AD 45th celebrations I love the idea of the specials but as I shake off nostalgia (blame the late Alan Austin memoir for shaking me out of my comic infused mid life crisis) I’m starting to put my money into exploring new work that excites me as 2000AD did in my teenage and early twenty something years. But do fill your boots if the works of Bolland, McMahon and Ezquerra excite you.
I have picked up the Christmas issues of 2000AD and Megazine (as I do every year). I probably will pick up Treasury Comic Collections from titles before I was born, the Citadel from John Wagner feels like it should be missed , 45 artists working on 45 2000AD character interpretations, the Dredd American Comic reprints (as I’ve never read them), the Best of 2000AD US collections (to make up for the lost 2000AD ‘years’) and I’d probably recommend a Lawless collection to anyone. However my active decision to go cold turkey on the retro will mean I have a few pennies to put into current creators rather than, well, probably not the creators who did the original work in the 1970’s and 80’s but publishers who own the rights. But, y’know, that Gerry Finlay Day collection reminds me I haven’t read ‘Harry Twenty On The High Rock’ since the progs so I might pick up a 2nd hand collection at a good price if I find one!
Let us know what you think of the collections mentioned, the 45th anniversary specials, the Christmas issues of the Prog and the Megazine and all things 2000AD by writing a reply in the comment section below.