2000 AD Prog Slog

Monday, July 06, 2009

Prog 865 11/12/93

In Book of the Dead, Judge Dredd goes on a cultural visit to Luxor where he learns that his invite wasn’t made to improve relations but because the local judges want to add his genetic purity to the essence of the immortal Ankhhor and make him whole again. Well, we didn’t see that coming.

Some Slog readers who comment regularly here have referred to this story as being the one that ultimately drove them away from reading 2000 AD. Having just re-encountered it, I don’t see entirely why. Sure, it’s a story that doesn’t seem to go anywhere but there have been several adventures in the past by more respected Dredd that have been equally flat. In fact, Day of the Dead still has enough moments, such as Dredd’s “soft landing” at Resyk, for it not to read like a disaster. Joint writers Grant Morrison and Mark Millar might have been coasting when they wrote this one but I find it hard to be overly critical of it as it doesn’t seem to come from a particularly cynical place. In fact, I almost respect its attempt to introduce something new to the world of Dredd, even if it is a bit rubbish.

In Timehouse, a new thrill by Peter Hogan and Tim Bollard, a family try to clear up anomalies in time by moving creatures of myth, such as Big Foot, aliens and Father Christmas, to places where their presence no longer creates contradictions. It’s an okay idea that, if Alan Moore had been writing, would have been over and done with inside five pages of Future Shock. Instead, its run for six weeks so far, and consequently, reads overly twee and inoffensive.

I’m worried that Hogan is more Neil Gaiman than Alan Moore. The time travel is more fairy tale than pulp sci-fi and all of the characters are nice and seem to get along well. There’s no place for this sort of thing on 2000 AD. This is where grim faced law enforcement officers fall into buckets of guts. It’s not where Santa turns up for a party with a bunch on cuddly sasquatches in a forest.

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  • I see what you mean about Timehouse not fitting in with 2000 AD, but at this point in history it was a lovely contrast to the excess violence of the current Dredd story.

    I think I have a particular dislike for Book of the Dead because at the time it seemed that people really liked it. Of course, I didn't have access to blogs and message boards in those days, so I'm basing this entirely on what Tharg said, and the fact that it got collected as a trade paperback. Maybe most readers thought it was a bit silly back then, too.

    I did like the Egyptian Judge design, even if a more realistic future egypt is likely to be muslim rather than Isis/Osiris in outlook. Realism is of course not the point.

    By the way, your comic series 'There's no time like the present' really is rather good. More people should know this.

    By Blogger alexf, at 12:39 pm  

  • The Book of the Dead wasn't the worst thing I ever read but it certainly didn't help keep me hooked to 2000ad.

    I think by that time I had a stored up antipathy to anything with Millars name on it after Sam Slade and his earlier Dredd efforts.

    I didn't like the art either, I know Power has gone on to great things with Star Wars concept work but at that time it was just more painted work and I was sick of it by that stage.

    Book of the dead was more like the straw that broke the camels back, not the lead weights that had preceded the straw.

    Timehouse was a nice break from the angst from what I recall although it probably would fit more in the Victor or Hotspur comic that 2000ad. Bollard had a nice style but didn't fit with the house style of 2000ad at the time.

    By Blogger Derek, at 3:42 pm  

  • Thanks for the nice comments about TNTLTP, Alex. As for Day of the Dead; I seem to remember it being really bigged up at the time which perhaps didn't help a story that, in the end, pretty much just bobbed along.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 5:40 pm  

  • Hi Derek. We probably disagree about Millar as my entry today demonstrates. I think we agree that his Sam Slade was misguided but, overall, I would say his understanding of Dredd was more accurate than, say, Ennis'.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 5:43 pm  

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