2000 AD Prog Slog

Friday, June 19, 2009

Prog 847 07/08/93

Closest thrill to being the odd one out in The Summer Offensive is Slaughterbowl if only because it’s the single strip written by John Smith, otherwise tonally it fits in perfectly. In it, quiet, unassuming Stanley Modest is convicted of the murder of 96 people, including his own children. Still apparently reeling from the death of his kids and the shock of his conviction, Modest enters the annual Slaughterbowl competition to raise funds to pay for an operation on his comatose wife who has Huysman’s Disease. From the name alone you can guess what Slaughterbowl is like. Entrants are normally desperate, sadistic convicts who race riding dinosaurs whilst shooting at each other with heavy artillery. Not the sort of place for someone like Stanley at all, you would imagine.

Slaughterbowl is the sleeper thrill. One of Smith’s accessible strips, the story of a seemingly innocent and unassuming man bullied and despised by the world, who might yet be proven to be a great competitor and, dare I say it, guilty is very compelling. Paul Peart’s art is strong as well; deceptively simple with clarity of line.

Another young, dumb and full of fun strip is Maniac 5 by Mark Millar and Steve Yeowell. America deploys its maniac robots against an alien invasion; machines operated remotely by soldier Frank Bullock. However, once the aliens are defeated, Bullock, thought to be too dangerous, is shot by his superiors. But Bullock’s consciousness is still alive and exists in the ferocious body of Maniac 5, now heading for HQ, bent on revenge.

This is what 2000 AD should be like. Great ideas put out there in a non-precious way, morally ambiguous heroes who may or may not survive until the end of the story, over the top scenes of violence, great one-liners, fantastic art and good jokes. I’m really enjoying The Summer Offensive.

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  • I'd totally forgotten about Maniac5, but now you mention it, I remember it being cool.

    By Blogger Kevin Levell, at 5:20 pm  

  • The Summer Offensive was an interesting time which is never a bad thing in 2000ad. Personally I enjoyed Manic 5, Millar best work in 2000ad possibly. While Slaughter Bowl is far from John Smith's best work it fits with the tone of the rest of the work. Its almost as though Smith had to compremise his normal intelligence to fit in with what Morrison and Millar were trying.

    I missed the last one so I'll add that while I enjoy Big Dave its that rarest of things for me a story that doesn't fit in 2000ad. I love the diversity of 2000ad and never normally understand when people say something isn't a 2000ad strip, the comic is big enough to support just about anything. Big Dave is the exception that proves that rule for me!

    By Blogger Colin, at 8:54 pm  

  • Is any of this awesome collected? I demand a giant-sized Summer Offensive Archive Edition! Also: Please.

    By Blogger Reds, at 4:20 pm  

  • Slaughterbowl was reprinted in an 'Extreme Edition' a couple of years ago - you should be able to buy it from the 2000 AD website.
    'Really and Truly' is collected in a massive Hardback book which reprints a whole bunch of designer/artist Rian Hughes' work.

    The other stuff, no. I have an idea that Morrison and Millar aren't big fans of 2000 AD so there may be some difficulty reprinting a lot of their work, most famously including Zenith.

    I liked the Summer Offensive just fine, except for the rather silly Dredd story.

    By Blogger alexf, at 10:10 am  

  • Thanks alexf!

    By Blogger Reds, at 11:03 am  

  • Kevin, it IS cool.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 5:33 pm  

  • Colin, I think Big Dave fits in to The Summer Offensive issues. How it fits in to later progs when it returns, I can't recall. We'll see.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 5:35 pm  

  • Reds, Really and truly is in the Rian Hughs books which looks beautiful. As for the rest; collections seem no brainers to me.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 5:36 pm  

  • Thanks Alex. Yes, I get the impression that Morrison and Millar had a falling out with 2000 AD in the end. I'm fascinated to learn the details.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 5:37 pm  

  • I think Morrison gave up on 2000ad when he got the Justice League gig as it would have been paying way more money.

    Plus there was the whole royalties issue over Zenith which has lead to reprints of Zenith phase 4 being stuck in a legal mess for years.

    Maniac 5 always struck me as Millar ripping off old Jack Kirby strips like OMAC but I've never seen millar as being a particularly original writer. At the time of the summer offensive he was riding on morrisons coattails

    By Blogger Derek, at 6:24 am  

  • Hi Derek, your assesment of Morrison leaving 2000 AD might be right but Millar seemed to leave around the same time. I'm not familiar with Kirby's Omac (one day, I will be hopefully) but Millar, I think, has a strong sense of pop.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 5:39 pm  

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