2000 AD Prog Slog

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Sci-Fi Special 1988

This years Sci-fi Special has always been a bit of an enigma to me. For starters, why is there such emphasis on Tyranny Rex? Admittedly, she goes on to become a liked character but , at this stage, she’s only made one three-part appearance in the weekly and I’ll be surprised if that had her rocketing to the top of the readers poll. The story itself, by John Smith and Steve Dillon, occupies the comic’s lead position and isn’t any easier to follow than her previous appearance. Most mysterious of all is why Tyranny Rex occupies the cover spot exclusively. I was pretty critical of last years cover featuring moody headshots but at least they were all known characters. Dillon, who paints it, doesn’t even seem to try very hard to utilise the space left by the corner biased logo and although I’m sure the image itself, guest starring Woody Allen, is very witty, it’s not very witty to me.

Inside, this prog’s notable first is scripter Hilary Robinson who provides a Future Shock styled strip called What’s Up Doc? There’s a feature on the stage adaptation of The Ballard of Halo Jones, Grant Morrison writes a Venus Bluegenes adventure and the excellent Phil Elliot draws his only 2000 AD strip known to me in which Judge Dredd encounters Mega City One’s Greenham Common Women.
Now that I think about it, after twenty years, the enigma of this year’s Sci-fi special might at last be revealed to me; it’s got a girl theme. It looks to me as if most contributors have been given the remit to make their strips appealing to women. So, there’s an increased presence of female characters throughout. However, even though the artists have avoided drawing the characters to look alluring to adolescent males (big plus points there) the writers are predominately male and the stories, on the whole, therefore don’t feel particularly feminine. Essentially, the Venus Bluegenes strip sums it all up; it’s a Rogue Trooper story but with a woman in it instead. This explains why I was confused by this Sci-fi Special on both occasions reading it.

I say “girl theme” but it doesn’t run throughout. In fact, the Strontium Dog story begins with a particularly gruesome image of rotting mutants strung up on the edge of an alien town as if Brendan McCarthy’s painting is deliberately designed to repel any possible female readers. Still, I like it.

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