2000 AD Prog Slog

Friday, August 03, 2007

Prog 187

Recently, I have found that, after finishing an enjoyable episode of Strontium Dog, I turn the page and my heart sinks. There it sits like a bloated, thrill sucking obligation; The Mean Arena. It's a future sport strip where contestants play a brutal cross between football, rugby and some other games on the streets of Britain. The strip's protagonist is a guy called Talon, a top American player who has come out of hiding to help an English team in the third division.

I'm wondering why I feel so sick every time I realise I have another four paged episode of The Mean Arena to wade through. Could it be because I've never been a sports fan, (there's a surprise to you; a fully grown man blogging his experiences reading the first 1, 100 issues of a comic from his childhood doesn't like sport) that I am resistant to a strip in this genre even if it is violent and set in the future? Perhaps The Slog is beginning to get to me and I'm losing my patience with strips that I don't find immediately appealing?

To me, the game seems to have random rules which pop up to accommodate gaps in the story. For example, one rule enables members of the crowd to replace a team player lost in action. Another enables a sniper with a single bullet to shoot an opponent. I can't always tell one character from another and I never remember the team names. Sometimes, the moment I finish an episode, I can't recall a single thing that has happened in it. Previously in The Slog, strips that I've had difficulty with, I have either grown to like or, at least, reached some sort of resolution with. I am concerned with The Mean Arena that I'm not bothered enough about it for either of these things to happen.

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  • I can sympathise. Mean Arena wasn't one of 2000ad's best efforts, though I'd venture it's far better than some of the dross that appears from around prog 600 onwards.

    With Mean Arena, the main artist is clearly fired up initially, then his standard of draughtsmanship falls off sharply. Someone called Richardson? I can't remember.

    The effect that you mention: that of not being able to remember much about the strip you've just read. I can report feeling this with some of the more style-over-content stuff that appears later on.

    I'm not sure if it's age-related or not. I suspect it may be. I have little patience for strips that don't 'work' within the first few pages.

    By Blogger Ken Davidson, at 1:09 pm  

  • Hi Ken. It looks like The Mean Arena is around for a while so I might have no choice but to reconcile my feelings about it in some way. I think that I might share your opinion about some of the post prog 600 thrills but I guess we'll have to wait and see how I feel now when the slog gets there.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 4:01 pm  

  • My memory of 'Mean Arena' is diffrent. I absolutely loved the strip when it first appeared. It was a fantastic concept to me that it would be played throughout cities etc...and I loved Richardsons artwork and the hero had a cool name 'Matt Talon'!

    What's not to like?

    Although, I hated when the artist switched to Mike White and Eric Bradbury (I think). Both decent artists but unsuitable for the strip and then the writing got really lazy with the introduction of Matt's 'kid'.

    By Blogger Stephen Reid, at 8:58 pm  

  • lasy with the 'kid'? just wait till the last episode! Jeebus!

    you read it and wonder - ok, they just destroyed any credibility this comic EVER HAD

    By Blogger Drhoz, at 2:40 am  

  • Hi Stephen. You might be right. Theres lots of episodes to come that could win me over.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 9:57 am  

  • drhoz, now you've got me intrigued.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 9:58 am  

  • Gawd - I'd forgotten all about Mean Arena.

    I think I must have blocked the trauma.

    By Blogger Stavros, at 3:35 pm  

  • It's been years since I've read the Mean Arena and I can't really recall an awful lot about it. But from your precis, I'm guessing that the intention was to try to re-introduce Action's Death Game 1999 into 2000AD; sounds very similar, if not just as ruthless.

    By Blogger dmstarz, at 3:25 pm  

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