2000 AD Prog Slog

Monday, March 02, 2009

Action Special

The Action Special is an interesting curiosity. A one off companion to 2000 AD, these are new stories featuring old IPC characters from the sixties written and drawn by Tharg’s new wave of creators. It means we have the Steel Claw painted by Sean Philips, The Spider written by Mark Millar and, shortly after his recent guest appearance in Universal Soldier, Kelly’s Eye by the same team of Alan McKenzie and Brett Ewins.

At the time, despite unfamiliarity with the characters being reinvented here, I thought the special was interesting and I was intrigued by the possibility that this could lead to a new regular comic from Fleetway. Crisis and Revolver were noble experiments but it seemed to me that a title modernising these old comic strips stood more of a chance of being successful. Upon my revisit, I suspect it wouldn’t have worked even if it had turned out that the characters Fleetway are using here actually legally belonged to them. The overall tone of the stories is flat and lifeless. The Steel Claw and Mytek the Mighty (with art by Shaky Kane) might look great but there’s little else to them. The Spider is overly sadistic and Kelly’s Eye forgettable. The only strip that has any vibrancy as far as I am concerned is Doctor Sin, by John Smith and John Burns.

Like I say, it turns out that this special was published by Fleetway under the mistaken belief that they owned the characters which is why we never saw anything more of them, mainly. DC now owns them where they have appeared in a couple of limited run serials but that’s about it. Wouldn’t it be cool if one day DC decided to do something more substantial and British with them rather than continuing to leave them as being under utilised.

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  • Bizarrely, I bought a copy of this from my local Oxfam shop on Saturday. Not had time to read it yet, but it was the Sean Philips art that convinced me it was worth 66p.

    By Blogger Peter, at 8:10 pm  

  • That cover! Amazing! Brendan McC?

    By Blogger Ken Davidson, at 9:20 am  

  • Some of these guys turned up in Leah Moore's Albion comic, right?

    Interesting that DC own the rights to all these old British characters. I guess they don't own DC Thomson characters, though. I'd love to see a no holds barred modern cynical 'Tough of the Track' ;)

    By Blogger dmstarz, at 1:18 pm  

  • Are you familiar with the work of Paul Grist at all?

    In his Jack Staff series, I get the impression that he's essentially re-working a fair number of old British comics characters to marvellous effect. Plus he's a comics genius with his storytelling layouts.

    By Blogger alexf, at 2:00 pm  

  • Peter, it wasn't a waste of money.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 5:50 pm  

  • Ken, yep. T'is be Brendan

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 5:51 pm  

  • dmstarz, or Plug realises that he's not nearly as atractive as he thinks he is.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 5:52 pm  

  • Alexf, I love Jack Staff! He's not just reworking those old IPC characters but also Marvel characters from the seventies.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 5:54 pm  

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