Best of 2000AD Volume 1 : ComicScene Review

Review by Luke Williams

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The original “The Best of 2000AD” was this reviewer’s introduction into 2000AD then reasonably short history. Initially an anthology, it reprinted “Nemesis the Warlock Book One”, some classic “Dredd” and “Strontium Dog” early Dave Gibbons “Rogue Trooper” stories and some now legendary “Future Shocks”. A lovely compendium of strips to help ease new readers into the weekly Prog’, and no doubt a great money spinner. “Best of 2000AD” later shifted slightly, reprinting complete runs of classic strips, kind of the Judge Dredd Megazine floppy (R.I.P) of its day, later it transmogrified into Classic 2000AD and was later replaced by 2000AD Extreme Edition; all of which were kind of like 2000AD The Ultimate Collection but on crap paper, a larger size, and considerably cheaper.

So, in a very long winded way what your reviewer is trying to say is that 2000AD are never shy to repackage their older material for a new audience – or, an old audience that is willing to double, triple or quadruple dip (guilty).

To be fair, the difference here, is that this package is aimed firmly at the US market, a market 2000AD  has struggled to penetrate, despite the Tharg alumnus that have gone onto to superstardom across the Atlantic. Accordingly, there’s a good mix here of well known strips, lesser known strips, but produced by well known creative teams.

American comic format sized, billed as the ultimate 2000AD mixtape and behind a stupendous cover by Jamie McKelvie it’s much like its incarnation from the mid eighties : a mix of serials and complete stories.

As you’d probably expect, “Judge Dredd” kicks things off with a typical, though highly entertaining “day in the life” of MC1 strip from John Wagner and early 2000s Dredd mainstay Kevin Walker.

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“Brink” the Cthulhu meets Blade Runner by Dan Abnett and Ian Culbard is the spine of the book, running in instalments across the 6 issue series. A horror mystery set in the confines of a series of space stations where the remnants of humanity exist rather than live, claustrophobic and unnerving : a modern classic.

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Unsurprisingly, “Halo Jones : Book One” gets it umpteenth reprint. Anything with Alan Moore in it will sell, sadly what has been presented is the colourised version, Barbara Nosenzo’s muddy, murky, hues smother Ian Gibson’s fine line work, not helped by the reduction in the page size.

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It wouldn’t be a 2000AD anthology without Johnny Alpha. What Rebellion serve up is a Wagner / Ezquerra post revival  “Strontium Dog”(though pre resurrection), played for laughs, starring Kid Knee, Wulf and enough gun play and time bombs to keep any SD fan happy.

“Anderson : Shamballa” is probably the strip’s critical peak, the late and much missed Alan Grant using the strip as a vessel to explore his interests in the occult and fortean. Occasionally, Ranson’s references jar a little, but overall it’s a brilliant, self contained strip, which nevertheless has ramifications for the development of Anderson and sadly emphasises how the strip has since stagnated.

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John Wagner and the unusual combination of Brendan McCarthy, Jamie Hewlett and (Steve?) Whitaker collaborate on the second Judge Dredd strip. McCarthy is an unsung hero of Dredd, and his unusual samurai winged helmet version is always welcome, Tharg has never really worried too much about artistic continuity.

Finally, episode 1 of Alan Davis, Jamie Delano and Mark Farmer’s short lived revival of “D.R. & Quinch” and their agony page rounds out the package.

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With future editions promising “Nemesis The Warlock” and “A.B.C Warriors” it does live up to its claim of being the “ultimate 2000AD mixtape”, but some of the weirder material needs to go in there, perhaps some John Smith craziness  : “Firekind”, “Cradlegrave” or “Leatherjack” are all classic one off serials. Being aimed at a different market, it’s able to excise the filler that the Ultimate Editions and JD Mega Collection seem bound to publish for completeness rather than quality. Perhaps it is a little expensive, but otherwise much like its ancestor it’s a well rounded and comprehensive introduction to the world of 2000AD.

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