Category Archives: 2000ad

Skin advert in Crisis issue 28 (1989)

Issue 28 of the adult oriented political comic (only in the late 80’s eh?) ‘Crisis’ has an advert for a forthcoming story. Nothing much unusual in that, except this was an advert for a story that never made it to print in Crisis;

The reason was this – the publisher Fleetway, pulled the story after objections from the printers, who refused to print Skin. The actual reason is harder to determine, but the accepted version of events is that this was due to the harsh language in the strip. The fact that Skin was eventuallt collected and published in graphic novel form by Tundra Publishing, to little or no outrage shows that Fleetway and Crisis missed out on one of the most powerful British comic strips. More here;

http://www.thoseweleftbehind.co.uk/2009/11/skin-milligan-mccarthy-1990-1992.html

RIP – 2000AD Prog Slog (2006 -2010)

Paul Rainey’s wonderful blog is an example of blogging done right – a great idea (re-reading all the 2000AD ‘progs’ (ie issues) he read as a youth) executed with warmth, humanty and humour. The best writing not only entertains, but informs, with enough of the personality of the author coming through without being an exercise in narcissism. Paul Rainey produces great writing throughout the blog. You may have to excuse the odd spelling or grammatical mistake, but that is me being pedantic.

I meant to post my tribute to the ‘Prog Slog’ some time ago. When i returned to visit the site last week I discovered that Mr Raineys odyssey is at an end – he re-read his final prog sometime in May. And, despite a nagging thought that he could somehow ‘bend the rules’ that dictated the form and structure of the blog, he did what many would not have – he ended ‘Prog Slog’ in a fitting, natural way, when it was still vital, funny and entertaining. The man deserves credit for that.

What more to say? Well, if you ever read 2000AD in the 1980’s and 1990’s then this is a site I warmly recommend. If you have an interest in British comics, then I urge you to take a look. If you just like comics, take a look. For bloggers wanting to see a blog that is fulfilling, cohesive and with a ‘less is more’ approach, then you could probably take something away from looking at the ‘Prog Slog’. There was also a regular set of contributors to the comments column that provide further insight, opinion and information. I posted there once, but only to congratulate Rainey on a job well done.

Here is the link;

http://progslog.blogspot.com/2007/03/new-readers-start-here.html

I only have one problem. And that is this – when Paul Rainey wrapped up ‘Prog Slog’, there was an announcement in his final posting that the ‘Slog’ would continue on another blog site, by another blogger. Well, I was mildly curious and took a look but I am afraid to say that this new site does not benefit from the lack of Paul Rainey’s involvement, and is not being regularly updated, despite the author indicating in his last post that there would be further posts within the week. It is a pity that there is some tacit association with the ‘prog slog’, as it is not in the same league. I would advise you not to bother, but you may want to give this new site the benefit of the doubt.

Review – 2000ad prog 1670 (2010)

Well, that is the smuttiest cover I have probably ever seen (if you have better ones, send them in on a postcard to the usual address). The contents inside are generally thrilling (but nowhere near as smutty).

Dredd, in another of the episodic tales within the larger framework of the ‘Tour of Duty’ epic, is picking up a bit. ‘Dragons Den’ is not without it’s problems – the concept is a bit too fantastical for the general grittiness of the overall story (and I get the sense that some of it is intended as light relief from the political machinations going on at Mega City One – but it just feels out of place). However, things picked up in this installment, with Mackman in grave danger, Dredd all but beaten and an inspiring use of pre-atomic wars everyday objects making this Dredd episode one of the better ones of late. There is a scene with a great use of a culinder.

Stickleback is wonderful. Our man with the hook-nose and hunched back calls in favours from the Establishment to try to get to the root cause of all his recent trouble. What he finds out is frustrating and enlightening in equal measure, but shows to the reader Stickleback’s place in the grand scheme of things. As ever, Edginton’s script is deliciously ripe with dialogue and D’israeli does wonderful things with pencils. Victoriana at it’s most thrilling. Bravo!

Ampney Crucis Investigates….The End of the Pier Show has fantastic art, and Edginton again imbues the story with cracking period dialogue (this time post-war Britain). There is something faintly Lovecraftian about the premise, and it is engaging without being outstanding (or as entertaining as Stickleback or Dredd).

Nikolai Dante – Hero of the Revolution
seems to be imbued with the spirit of Frank Hampson and The Eagle, thanks to John Burns stirring artwork and use of colour. The story is equal to the illustrations, with tragedy at the heart of this episode, and enough action and events for the consequences to be felt for the rest of this series. Highly entertaining.

But, I am afraid I just cannot get in to ABC Warriors. I don’t know if it is Clint Langleys art style (which I love for Slaine) or the script. But something (or everything) is not engaging with me. The pages look too busy, there is an overload of information. I just don’t get it. Sorry. The cover is more entertaining than the strip.

Review – 2000AD prog 1667 (2010)

In the complete absence of any US comics being worth the time or effort this week – apart from Daytripper #2(Vertigo), which I need to get hold of, but also need to read issue #1 – I might as well review a title I get on a regular basis, but don’t really discuss – 2000AD.

At any given time since last spring (when Cradlegrave got me interested in the title again) there has at least been 3 strips at any one time that have been worth the admission price – and sometimes all of the strips have been great-to-brilliant. The current line-up, including Dredd in a mega-epic that could be his best in a long time, is pretty damn good.

Stickleback, with murky steampunk visuals from the excellent D’Israeli & saucy, sleazy, savage plotting from Ian Edginton, is a highlight. Ampney Crucis, also written by Edginton and with brilliant character visuals from Simon Davis, has a louche charm, with the mundane, cheap n’ cheerful seaside setting juxtaposed with a sinister turn of events, caused by heartbreaking motives. Crucis is a fine protaganist, with a great turn of phrase and a devil may care swagger seemingly only imbued in those of good British stock. In these 2 strips alone (Stickleback, Crucis) we get a celebration of the variety and thorough Britishness of 2000AD.

The ABC Warriors have returned, with Ro-Jaws making an appearance, but I don’t know if the hyper-realistic Clint Langley art, which I love on Slaine, is really doing it for me with the Warriors. Maybe I just remember the McMahon & O’Neill era with too mcuh affection. The art seems to overpower the (frankly very thin) plot. Or maybe the art is just too good for the plotting…. There is enough to make you want to read, but it is instantly forgotten. Not a great start for this new Warriors tale.

Nikolai Dante is simply rip-roaring and lovely and with art that reminds me of previous British comic eras, and its just a great way to round off an issue of 2000AD. A cheeky Boys-Own adventure for sure.

Dredd, by the way, is magnificent. Catch up with previous issues on clickwheel if you must, but ‘Tour Of Duty’ is absolutley gripping. Dredd & Rico, the Cursed Earth and a Chief Judge who has positioned himself into power through devious, criminal means (who hates Dredd..). Brilliant.

2000AD is still vital, an absolute pleasure to read and a well spent couple of quid.

Top 10 comic Titles 2009: Number 8 – 2000AD (Rebellion)

I came back to 2000AD in the Summer of this year, 20 years since I last picked up a copy. What attracted me was a cover;

it just got under my skin. 2000AD is a very British comic regardless of where the strips are set (space, future earth etc). The fact that they were embracing this Britishness by setting a story on a sink estate really got me interested. And Cradlegrave (the cover story that got its hooks in me) lived up to its promise.

For the first 2 issues you would not see anything fantastical or horrific, other than the horror that can be other peoples lives, as Cradlegrave is set in the Ravenglade Estate (nicknamed “Cradlegrave” after the ‘ravenglade’ sign loses a few of the letters and an enterprising soul renames the estate).

It is set somewhere in Lancashire. It follows the story of teenage Shane Holt, who has recently been released from Thorn Hill young offenders institution. What you get is a well paced drama of a young man coming to terms with life outside of the offenders institution and trying to stay on the right side of the law, avoiding falling into old habits, and negotiating that while keeping on the good side of best mate Callum. The detail that goes into all this is superb (and the devil is in the details) – like Shanes mom, whose idea of a celebration of his homecoming consists of a few ‘tins’ of lager and a night in front of the television.

As the series progressed at a slow burn, the intensity was suffocating, and John Smith (the writer) kept enough back while giving enough away to keep me hooked. Although it was over fairly quickly (12 issues – progs 1633 to 1644) it was quality, with superb detail provided by the brilliant art of Edmund Bagwell.

Elsewhere, the thrills were abundant;

Pat Mills’ Zombie Hunter ‘Defoe‘ in his third outing in the dank and diseased Queen of the Zombies (progs 1640-1649)

Shakara (progs 1650 to 1661). A mind bending tale of revenge with fantastical aliens – set in space!


Kingdom
in “Call of the Wild” (prog 1650 to 1661) tells the thrilling and darkly humorous future Earth adventures of genitically engineered Dog Soldier Gene the Hackman. Words cannot do it justice, as the writing and art are sublime. A real treat.

Strontium Dog ‘The Mork Whisperer’ – Wagner & Ezquerra & Johnny Alpha & lots of other Strontium Dogs (but minus Wulf). There is not a lot more to say than the combination of Wagner & Ezquerra is the fundamental key to this series success. While they are producing the tales of Johnny Alpha, success is guaranteed.

Finally, Judge Dredd in one of his customary ‘epics’. ‘Tour of Duty’ (prog 1650 onwards), while still ongoing, is already one of the all-time greatest epics. This follows on from “Backlash” in which senior, hard line judges wage a campaign to elect a new chief judge who will repeal the new (& controversial) pro-mutant laws. Their chosen candidate is Judge Dan Francisco, who in “Backlash” survives an assassination attempt by mutants. Despite the fact that Dredd discovers that the assassination was engineered by anti-mutant activists in order to increase support for their own agenda, Francisco goes on to defeat the Chief Judge, Hershey, by a landslide.

Following on from “Backlash”, “Under New Management” shows Francisco’s first day in office as the new chief judge. He quickly marks his mark, as he replaces the entire Council of Five, prohibits all mutant immigration, and instigates a policy of deporting all mutants already in Mega City One to 4 new build townships in the Cursed Earth. Deputy Chief Judge Sinfield assigns Dredd to oversee this operation, with Beeny as his assistant. It is this story that acts as a lead in to “Tour of Duty,” which started in the next issue.

The first episodes seem like a homage to the original ‘Cursed Earth’ epic, with Dredd and a small posse of Judges riding out into the irradiated Badlands, encountering hostility and dispensing Mega City One instant Justice. As the story has unfolded though, it becomes much more than a tale of a journey into the Cursed Earth – it is more like a series of HBO’s The Wire sent forward into time. There are numerous storylines (the tensions between the individual Judges, the task of resttlement of Mutants, the politics of Mega City One, an insight into the power the Chief Judge holds, and procedural drama such as Rico and his assessment of a rookie Judge) and they weave around each other effortlessly. This story – “Tour of Duty” – above all other stories this year in 2000AD, has been the most satisfying and the one I look forward to the most. It could be the greatest Dredd story…..time will tell. It, like Strontium Dog, is produced by the powerful Wagner / Ezquerra creative team, and in my opinion, Ezquerra is becoming the definitive Dredd artist with every prog. Top quality thrills.

I have returned to 2000AD and it is in rude health. There is quality in abundance, so much so that you can forgive the odd clunky or boring strip, as there is so much in each issue to absorb you. I am glad to have it on my pull list.

Review – Judge Dredd Complete Case Files 02 (Rebellion Books, 2006)

This second volume detailing the chronolgical adventures of 2000ADs star in the ascendant is a real eye opener. The shift in quality from the earlier Dredd adventures is powered by one major change – Dredd goes epic. Twice. Consistency is another factor to the rise in quality inside this volume. Just two writers (John Wagner, Pat Mills) and a handful of great artists (Brian Bolland, Mike McMahon, Ron Smith, Brett Ewins and Brendan McCarthy) produce over 300 pages of work, and there is very little in the way of filler.

The Pat Mills epic ‘The Cursed Earth’ (with more than a nod to Roger Zelazney’s ‘Damnation Alley‘) is first, as Dredd and a motley crew of aliens, punk criminals and Judges try to deliver a vaccine to the ailing Mega City 2, and this journey across the radioactive wasteland between the 2 Mega-Cities provides the breadth and scope for Mills imagination to run riot as devastated communities in the wastelands, mutated flying rats, and gambling-obsessed mafia judges are all encountered by Dredd.

By the time of the finale, when a robotic army (a legacy of the Atomic War attacks what remains of Dredds convoy, the pace is relentless and absolutley gripping. This is a tale of heroes and sacrifice, with artists McMahon and Bolland giving this tale a suitably epic feel to match the text. Apart from the ‘Apocalypse War‘ and ‘The Executioner‘ storylines, I don’t think any other Dredd story has gripped me as much.

John Wagner’s immediate follow-up, another epic entitled ‘The Day the Law Died’ puts a (plainly insane) Deputy Chief Judge, Cal, in charge of Mega City One after the brutal assassination of the ailing Chief Judge, Clarence Goodman.

What follows is a battle for the soul of Mega City One as Dredd, a fugitive framed for a crime he did not commit, leading a rag-tag resistance army against the dangerous, murderous Cal and his fearsome SJS troops (an obvious nod to Hitlers SS).

Like ‘The Cursed Earth’, in this second epic it is the most unlikely who step up to be heroes – for Fergee in ‘The Day The Law Died!’, read Spikes Harvey Rotten in ‘The Cursed Earth’.

‘The Day The Law Died’, while not as diverse and without the same amount of all-out action, is as gripping, though it does suffer slightly from the fact that there were several artists working on this arc (some McMahon, some Bolland, some Ewins / McCarthy, some Bolland / Leach, and finally, the introduction of the mighty Ron Smith to the Dredd art roster). It loses a little consistency, especially in the various depictions of Cal (McMahon giving him by far the most terrifying look of a lunatic, whereas Smith made him look dashing in a Frank Hampson / Dan Dare style. The finale, with Cal ready to put the whole City to sleep forever, while Dredd and his gang of resistance fighters race against time to stop him, is a classic.

So, in summary, this second case file is much better than the first compilation – in fact it’s a huge leap in quality, undoubtedly bolstered by the chronology which saw one epic follow another. The world of Dredd expands with the inclusion of some memorable characters – Tweek, Spikes Harvey Rotten, Judge Giant, Fergee, Judge Griffin – and we (thankfully) see a lot less of some others who were heavily featured in Complete Case Files 1 (Maria, Walter). Dredd himself is a lot less whiny, looks more grizzled, and in both epics actually comes across as a proper action hero. How Dredd is placed in these stories – as the saviour / hero of a whole Metropolis – suits the context. Things would change over the years, as Dredds position in his world would shift, but the stories in this volume of Complete Case Files place Dredd firmly as the man of the moment, unwavering in his faith in Justice and the right of the Judges to dispense it. And it really works well in these stories. In fact, it keeps getting better, as further ‘Case Files’ will prove. If you want an introduction to Dredd, and you are not bothered about being completist, then this is the volume to get – skip the first one, it is a bit of a chore to wade through.

My only gripe is that we don’t get the 2 (subsequently) banned episodes from the ‘The Cursed Earth’, or the bizarre, grovelling apology to the Jolly Green Giant in another prog after threats of legal action. We do, however, get a description of the Burger Wars and Green Giant episodes (but here below is the sort of stuff we don’t get to see, and a Dredd cover of 2000AD that details the ‘Burger War’);