2000 AD Prog Slog

Monday, January 05, 2009

Sci-Fi Special 91 & Judge Dredd Mega-Special 4

The most noticeable thing about this year’s specials is the artwork. It’s as if all of the American publishers have gone, “Thank you very much but we’ve got enough of your creators now”, and 2000 AD has been able to replenish its talent stock. Overall, the art looks very strong even if the covers appear a little dull.

There’s no fooling myself about the new tone of Sam Slade Robo-Hunter anymore. Return of the Puppet Master by Mark Millar and Simon Jacob reads like a Stephen King short except with robots instead of demons. The real revelation comes at the start of an article on the history of the strip where Mike Butcher admits that this new version is a return to more “serious elements” and the “hard-edged lunacy… of the original episodes”.

There’s a preference for the new creator droids this year until the back of the fourth Judge Dredd Mega-Special. There’s a noticeable improvement in writing quality between Love Story II Futile Attraction and everything before it. John Wagner and Ian Gibson’s rhythm and sense of farce is refreshing compared to the school boy horror that seems to be the dominant theme of the two specials.

My favourite strip, however, appears right at the end; Judge Planet by Peter Milligan and Shaky Kane. Jack Kirby never got to do a Judge Dredd strip but this is the closest we could ever hope to get. This is Dredd mashed up with The Fourth World. Wonderful.

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  • If I was Tharg, Shaky Kane would be a regular in 2000AD to this day. His work on the short-lived BLACK STAR FICTION LIBRARY proved he could do a turn as a straight-forward storyteller too, if the mood took him (shame the scripts on that comic didn't deserve the glorious art).

    By Blogger Mark, at 8:16 pm  

  • Definitely. Soul Gun Warrior is an underappreciated gem for Paul to look forward to this year.

    By Blogger Peter, at 11:51 pm  

  • Mark, is the Black Star Fiction Librabry a self published thing he did? I agree. I don't get why we don't see more of him around.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 5:29 pm  

  • Peter, now I'm confused (see my previous comment)... Clearly, I've forgotten more about ninties 2000 AD than I thought.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 5:31 pm  

  • Shaky Kane is one my favourite art droids of all time too. He turned me on to the brilliance of Jack Kirbys art and you can't say better than that.

    The Soul Gun Warrior story and its follow up were works of demented genius...there was meant to be a volume 3 I think but it never emerged.

    I got issue 1 and 2 of the Black Star Fiction library (I think that was all he did) and that was great too, nice to see him do a longer form story. Its tragic that he's no longer involved in comics.

    By Blogger Derek, at 9:49 pm  

  • Yes Paul, Black Star was self published. If i recall correctly it was around 2001 or so and he got some funding from his local council for some promo work he did for them and used the money to put out Black Star.

    It was a magazine size glossy magazine of 30 odd pages (and they were quite odd!) but very good. I think he moved on to childrens books since

    By Blogger Derek, at 10:14 pm  

  • Thanks, Derek. I have a copy of something else he self published around somewhere that time which collected his A-Men strips (and other stuff, maybe). US comic sized.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 5:44 pm  

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