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2000 AD Prog Slog

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Star Lord 4


Even though Judge Dredd became the most popular strip in 2000 AD inside three months of its start, I would say that the gestation period during which the character and his world became close to being fully formed took around eighteen months at least. Even in the classic Cursed Earth story, currently running adjacent to Star Lord, Dredd can be seen being surprisingly fair minded and civil towards other characters.

Reading Star Lord for the first time, I am impressed at how established the characters, relationships and themes are this early on in the longer lasting strips, Strontium Dog and Ro-Busters. The friendships between the lead characters, Johnny Alpha and Wulf Sternhammer and Ro-Jaws and Hammer-Stein, are clear from the beginning, as is their roles and their objectives.

It's the cruelties that the characters have inflicted upon them that separate them from Dredd, who is the one to usually do the inflicting. Johnny Alpha has strangers shout "you dirty stinking mutie" at him in the street. Hammer-Stein is threatened with destruction at the hands of Mek-Quake, the walking robotic knackers yard, after saving a bus full of school children from a swamp full of mad crocodiles. Ro-Jaws is told by his owner that his personality, his best feature, is down to a malfunction in a data chip. Why can people be so cruel? Don't they know that it's nice to be nice?

5 Comments:

  • Hi, Paul,

    I've been reading Rebellion's Complete JD Case Files as they come out and you're right, it is odd to see how different some aspects of the character were way back then. I mean, I remember a lot of these from the first time round (being right there at Prog 1) but getting a concentrated hit like that after years of being used to him as he has developed it a bit weird - its like watching very early Trek where Leonard Nimoy allows Spock to smile occassionaly, you know it ain't right! Hell, JD even makes the occassional joke and his domestic arrangements with Maria and Walter just don't match the later character at all, but such is the nature of an evolving character.

    Really enjoyed the recent Strontium Dogs collection in the same vein as the JD Case Files, although one drawback to the B&W collection is the early Starlord stuff looks bad because it was full colour on better paper than 2000AD was then and it doesn't reproduce so well in the collection - you're probably getting it better than me there with the colour originals. Still, good to see Rebellion doing an 'Essentials' style series collecting these strips since not everyone is going to do the great prog slog like yourself (although hopefully your project will make more folks want to pick up these collections and enjoy some classic Brit comics).

    Best,

    Joe

    By Blogger Joe, at 12:55 pm  

  • ive just finished the Strontium Dog collection. wow ive waited 28 or so years to find out how some of those stories ended, only picking up a few of the early starlords at the time.
    StarLord really was a brilliant comic. Issue one is so unrelentingly bleak i cant imagine anything like that being created today (and for kids!)

    By Blogger Ben, at 3:47 pm  

  • Hi Joe. I like the design and approach to the Case Files (I include the SD and Nemesis versions in this) but I felt that the reproduction wasn't entirely up to scratch and that I really wanted to see the colour pages in colour again. As for the early, fetal Dredd: I tend to pretend that that didn't happen :-)

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 2:41 pm  

  • Ben, you're right about how bleak early Star Lord was. I thought the same of early 2000 AD. Especially surprising given that it stars the return of the wholesome Dan Dare.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 2:43 pm  

  • yeah i remember it putting a chill up my spine at the time, those suicide bombing robot things and the woman getting squirted with acid. i was chuckling last night at the strontium dog reprint in the story where he went to hell and was told that the gargoyle creatures were business men originally cursed to prey on the living as they had done in their former lives.. haha...
    Dredd shooting the collaborators in the apocalypse war was another rather bleak comic book moment i remember from childhood..
    everything seems so simple now (comicswise)

    By Blogger Ben, at 11:01 pm  

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