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2000 AD Prog Slog

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Prog 1164 06/10/99

Congratulations to Hayden Nash who has won the 2000 AD script writing competition. Although, it should be noted that this script doesn’t conform to the 2000 AD standard. Normally, the writer writes the script and then the artist draws the strip from it. In this case, the art already existed in the bottom of a draw in Tharg’s office. It’s Steve Dillon art to an unpublished episode of Hap Hazzard from ten years before to which the script has long since been lost. So, in this era of austerity where all on-file strips have to be run, even those only half finished get to see print. In fact, turning wordless comic art into a script writing competition is an act of genius on behalf of Tharg, or should I say David Bishop… or Andy Diggle?

I entered this competition and may I say, Nash’s entry is probably much better than mine. It’s very clever in places with strong lead-ins, characterisation and dialogue. It actually reads like an episode of Hap Hazzard, only better written. My only criticism is that it ends on a cliff hanger that, as far as I’m aware, never gets resolved. A really clever writer would have scripted it to look like the conclusion but I imagine, like me, Nash is hoping he’ll be called back to wrap the story up.

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Prog 1162 22/09/99

I’m not sure where we are in the current Judge Dredd epic. 2000 AD has this practise at the moment where, every now and then, no matter how long the tale is, announcing that the episode that you are reading is part one to an implied new story. Not so long ago, a ‘new’ Judge Dredd story picked up exactly where the previous episode had apparently ended; with Orlok the Assassin hitting Joe in the chin. I’m not even sure what the overall story arc is called, although later on I seem to remember it being titled Doomsday. When The Pit ran, it was sub divided into smaller story runs but at least the epic’s title icon was still present making it clear what you were reading.

Muddying things even further is the fact that Doomsday is, as far as I’m aware, running consecutively in The Megazine. Unlike previous epics that have done this, this isn’t officially a crossover. In fact, at the time, it was promoted as being the same story told from two different view points. A reasonable compromise between commercialism and story telling you might think, but does it make sense?

My answer is sort of but not enough. In Doomsday, or whatever it’s called, Dredd is dragged of to what’s left of East Meg One to answer for his supposed war crimes. By the time he escapes, he learns that crime lord Nero Narcos has taken over Mega City One with a robot army. Dredd’s team of Anderson and volunteer Brit Cit Judges set about freeing the city.

Enough of the information is there for it to make sense but there’s a feeling of having missed a lot of it. Further more, the pacing feels wonky, as if John Wagner has had to hold himself back a couple of times for fear of moving ahead of events in The Megazine and then suddenly accelerating to catch up. There’s also been a heavy rotation of artists, most of whom have been great, but the look of the supporting cast have been inconsistent. The result is a Judge Dredd story that’s harder than usual to invest it.

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Prog 1160 08/09/99

The third and final (as far as I’m aware) Mazeworld book concludes this prog with Adam Cadman waking from his coma and returning to Earth with the devil inside him. Earlier he had been journeying to the heart of the maze only to learn that he was the very demon he was searching for while on Earth, over enthusiastic doctors experimented on his brain and sawed off his hand.

Early episodes of Book One saw art robot Arthur Ranson design the page as if the panels made part of the maze themselves, but he quickly dispensed with this practice. Indeed, as the story progressed, his work seemed to become loser. That’s not to say that his art hasn’t continued to be absolutely brilliant throughout but it’s given the impression to me that initial enthusiasm very quickly gave way to pragmatism. Three sixty paged books is a lot of work after all.

The emotional signifiers in Alan Grant’s story have been affective. Cadman’s journey from apparent bad man to good man, the character’s almost palatable internal wrestling with what he has done and what he is fated to do and the medical profession’s total lack of ethics have all been involving. However, the flaw for me has been the fantasy aspect of the story. The world and Cadman’s journeys to and from it have been ambiguous. Like in his Anderson PSI Division, because boundaries aren’t clearly defined, when something exceptional happens, such as Cadman bringing a demon back with him to Earth, I resent feeling that I am expected to just accept this. In a black and white strip reproduced on news print paper for a cheap price I can accept all of this but in a high end pricey comic reproduced on cover stock and where the creators own the rights I expect more for some reason.

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Friday, April 23, 2010

Prog 1157 18/08/99

In Rose O’Rion, aliens kidnap the master thief’s sister and blackmail her into stealing a space folding device. She manages to do so by successfully boarding a spaceship parked in the heart of a sun. However, it’s all one big double cross. It looks like the aliens don’t have her sister after all and they’re using the device to launch an invasion by warping into Federal Space. Of course, one of the reasons Rose is so good at what she does is she trusts no one and so, hopefully, has a few tricks up her sleeve to save the day.

Like DR and Quinch starting out as a one off Future Shock before her, Rose O’Rion has been promoted from a single Pulp Sci-Fi to her own thrill. To be honest, Pulp Sci-Fi often feels like a testing ground for on-going thrills just as much as it is about pop ideas. I’ve developed a soft spot for strips written by Kek-W who often reminds me of a more accessible Pete Milligan or John Smith. Rose O’Rion itself feels even more traditional a thrill than I would expect from him, it not looking tonally out of place had it run during 2000 AD’s first four years. Andy Clarke and Dylan Teague’s art is detailed when it needs to be and is always professional. The story telling always comes first and it’s a relief to see a female character not being drawn with huge knockers, exposed arse and getting in to impossible positions where you can see both at the same time. This is definitely a thrill in which the character and creative team show a great deal of promise.

Update: In yesterday’s entry, I speculated that the D in DUR referred to in Downlode Tales probably stands for Downlode. Well actually, it stands for Department; Department of Urban Racketeering. So, there you go.

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Prog 1155 04/08/99

Item: Last prog saw the return of classic art robot Mike McMahon drawing an episode of Judge Dredd. Even though he’s produced very occasional work for The Megazine over the last decade, it must have been at least fifteen years since he drew anything for 2000 AD. His art continues to be amazing, although it might now look a little eccentric to newer readers unfamiliar with his work. Personally, I love it and if he’s back contributing regularly it almost makes all the tits, asses and sex issues of recent years worthwhile. Almost…

Item: Advertised on the back of last prog was the 2000 AD year 2000 diary. It seems an obvious idea so why limit the quantity to just 2000 copies? On the surface, the over reliance on the number 2000 looks like a missed opportunity to me. Except the diary retails for £29.99 which seems a little pricey to me. On top of that, the £29.99 doesn’t include the cost of post and packing. They’re charging an extra £3.25 for that. Which, if you think that eBay in 2010 won’t allow comic sellers to charge more than £2.75 for P&P is an amazing price for over ten years ago. I remember seeing the diary at comic conventions and thinking that it looked disappointing. But, you have to remember I was pretty much out of love with 2000 AD by that time.

Item: Sinister and Dexter are back, rotating as characters in Downlode Tales. Sinister has put together a team of professional assassins called the Whack Pack and is investigating the murder of Queenpin Demi Octavo while Dexter is helping the police to bring order to the city. He’s aiding a special unit called ‘DUR’. I don’t know what the U and R stand for but I’m pretty sure that the D stands for Downlode… or Dexter… or duh…

In this prog, Dexter opens up emotionally to Weld, telling her that he wants to bring peace to the city. He thought he could do this by killing people for money but that didn’t work so now he’s helping the police to see if that will do the job. It’s funny he should mention that because for a while, I thought I could bring peace to Milton Keynes by robbing Post Offices and kidnapping children. Unfortunately, that didn’t work. So now I do voluntary work for charity. Hopefully, that will contribute positively in some small way.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Prog 1153 21/07/99

For the last few weeks, 2000 AD has been running quotes from Heat Magazine across its cover. ‘High on irony, low on camp.” “The requisite blend of wit and darkness.” I’ve read many copies of Heat Magazine in dentist waiting rooms over the years and let me tell you, it’s hard to imagine a feature on 2000 AD ever having appeared in it. Mind you, this is just before the start of Big Brother so perhaps all these celebrity obsessed publications of the time have to crawl around for something to write about.

Earlier in The Slog, I felt able to contextualise the progs I was reading, remember what was happening around the time they were published, because usually I had read them before. Now, however, because this is the first time I’ve encountered this final run of issues, I don’t have that insight. So, when the comic runs quotes from Heat Magazine across its cover it’s hard to think of it as anything other than the cynical and opportunistic trash-mag it is today. For all I know, it might have been an entirely different beast in 1999.

It’s nearly impossible to forget, however, how excited everyone was about the new Star Wars film The Phantom Menace. This prog features a page long review which I can’t be bothered to read properly but does feature Cyber-MATT suggesting seeing it at least three times so you can assimilate all of the movie’s information. I don’t blame Cyber-MATT for thinking this, after all, many of us were so enthused by the prospect of the film that the idea it might be shit was difficult to comprehend. What strikes me as interesting about the presence of this review is, in a way, it’s 2000 AD turning full circle. It started out as a publication exploiting the success of the original Star Wars film (now re-titled A New Hope) and it’s still here, to wave hello now that the ugly-faced franchise has returned. Haven’t they changed?

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Prog 1151 07/07/99

There’s nothing quite like a re-launch prog except, these days, they seem to be happening less and less frequently. There was a time when a re-launch seemed to happen every twelve weeks, but now… well, I can’t remember the last one. Instead, we get these progs that look and smell like a re-launch but actually they aren’t. For example, last prog was a special 48 paged long issue and featured a twenty paged Judge Dredd episode, part one to Devlin Waugh Chasing Herod and a ten paged, self contained Nikolai Dante. Except the Dredd story was the latest part of The Trial and the Devlin Waugh episode was a follow on from the previous prog’s prologue. Seventy five percent of a prog featuring mid-stream stories do not a re-launch make. In this prog, there are four thrills altogether, suggesting it’s week two of a re-launch roll out, but only two of the thrills are new stories. This prog’s Judge Dredd episode is titled Trial of Strength Part 1 as if it’s a brand new story. However, it picks up exactly where last week’s episode ends with Dredd and Orlok the Assassin brawling. (It feels as if these two have been fighting with each other for weeks now). I appreciate that a re-launch probably requires the height of editorial coordination but faux reboots like these just make me think that Tharg isn’t as bothered as he used to be.

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Prog 1149 16/06/99

I’ve remarked here before at being impressed at how prolific artist SB Davis is but even he seems to be pushing it a bit with his current work on Judge Dredd The Trial. His art here really does look loose and sketchy. Dare I say it even looks only partially done? Davis is better known for his painted work in 2000 AD but on this occasion he’s opted for good ol’ fashioned ink. The result is pretty baron and, often, depressing looking. The colour is provided by Charlie Adlard, who also has a reputation for producing quality work quickly, so it makes me wonder if this episode was drawn in an emergency.

Despite the shaky start to this prog, the art overall is amazing. Siku draws a sword and sorcery themed Pulp Sci-Fi and although loose and sketchy it never looks hurried. One of the masters, John Burns, paints a particularly strong Nikolai Dante story where the masked rogue liberates some citizens from a slave ship and, seemingly, encounters his mother. Callum Alexander Watt’s art on a Downlode Tales one-off is the most impressive work I’ve seen him do. In fact, it’s stunning and reminds me of Geof Darrow. Finally, Steve Yeowell is back, this time drawing a new Devlin Waugh adventure. Yeowell has occasionally worked in a looser style recently so it’s great to see him back producing more substantial work here.

I don’t suppose I should be too surprised that the artwork for 2000 AD continues to be strong. At this time, there isn’t much of a British comic industry anymore, certainly not one comparable to the seventies or eighties, so it makes sense that all of the new and established comic artists are going to approach Tharg with their portfolios. Great art, normally, and reproduction, more recently, isn’t a bad thing for a comic to have.

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Sunday, April 18, 2010

There's No Time Like The Present part 12

I am interrupting normal Slog service to announce the release of part 12 of my long comic, or ‘graphic novel’, There’s No Time Like The Present. This is an exciting issue for me because after years of hard, and some not so hard, work it features the penultimate episode.

Now available for £2.50 from my
website using Paypal or contact me here for alternative methods of payment. If you’re unfamiliar with my comic, then there is more information, including a preview, here. All previous parts are still available and can be purchased from my shop here. All prices include P&P to UK destinations.

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Prog 1147 02/06/99

Item: Ever since Captain Britain made an unexpected return as a supporting character in Hulk Comic’s Black Knight strip back in the seventies eighteen months after the cancellation of his own comic, I’ve had a soft spot for comebacks done this way. At the moment, something similar is happening in Downlode Tales with Sinister and Dexter returning as characters in different stories. Admittedly, it’s only been a couple of weeks since we saw the guys last, and there is something premeditated about it all, but it’s fun just the same.

Item: The more Pulp Sci-Fi strips appear the more they remind me of Future Shocks without Tharg. This prog’s, written by Mike Carey, sees a criminal being operated on so he can never die and then being sent back in time to the Big Bang so he can serve his seven billion year sentence. That feels to me like classic Future Shock if ever there was one. I’m not complaining. In fact, I’m very pleased.

Item: As you know, I don’t really read the editorial or letters pages anymore. Having said that, I noticed the response to a letter commenting on how a character’s nostrils are drawn would expose hairs, broken blood vessels and bogies. “You think so? On my home world Quaxxann, bogies are considered the epitome of beauty.” This is the most in character letter response from Tharg I’ve seen for ages. What’s going on?

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Friday, April 16, 2010

Prog 1145 19/05/99

In Mercy Heights, Dendrellian Fadayeen terrorists slaughter their way to the centre of the space hospital like a swarm of merciless, suited up, unstoppable bastards. This second run for John Tomlinson’s thrill makes the first look like Last of the Summer Wine.

Unfortunately for me, I’ve completely lost track of who’s who in the story. I can remember the needy, black doctor and his hostile lady colleague he fancies; I can remember the genius but arrogant surgeon and, of course, Tor Cyan, the big, blue guy who might have been Rogue Trooper in a previous life; But after these guys everyone else is pretty much a blur. It means when a less established character pops up and does something momentous there’s a part of me that wonders if this is the first time I’ve met the little critter. It’s a shame really because it’s clearly a tightly written thrill that has an impressive selection of artists working on it including Trevor Hairshine, Lee Sullivan and Neil Goodge. Unfortunately, different artists drawing the characters differently only make recognition even harder.

During its original run, every episode was accompanied by a status update which not only recapped the story so far but also reminded us of the characters and their back grounds. I guess that one of the reasons it is absent now is that 2000 AD is at least four pages down every week since the thrill’s first run. Normally, I’m resistant to status updates of this size but the reality for me is that Mercy Heights needs it more than any other strip. Like Missionary Man, I hope it returns for a new story after this run just so I get another chance to get more fully onboard.

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Prog 1143 05/05/99

Item: As is often the case with The Slog, I make a bold statement and then, shortly after, something happens in the prog I’m reading to throw doubt onto it. You probably remember me saying recently how John Wagner doesn’t use Judge Anderson or PSI Division very often in his Judge Dredd stories anymore because of the ambiguities of their powers. Then, of course, the story Return of the Assassin begins and she’s in the thrill more often that Dredd is.

What’s interesting to me about Return of the Assassin is it refers very much to Alan Grant’s Anderson stories from the Megazine a few years ago in which she established a relationship with Orlok. In this story, a reward for Dredd’s capture is posted by the exiled government of East-Meg One because of his involvement in the nuking of the city during The Apocalypse War resulting in the deaths of half a billion people. This is small potatoes compared to the billions he ordered nuked off the face of the planet during Garth Ennis’ Judgement Day and yet no reference, so far, has been made to this. It’s as if Wagner has selective reference when it comes to Dredd-world stories written by other writers. Alan Grant, good; anybody else; not so good. Of course, now that I’ve said this here, I fully expect it to be disproved in a few progs time. I’ll let you know if this happens.

Item: I remember a big deal being made in the UK comic press during the eighties after Bryan Talbot was asked by Tharg to white-out what he saw as excessive blood splattering in a Nemesis the Warlock panel. How things have changed because in this prog I wretched at the sight of Egbert Balls reaching into the Obliterator’s insides through his mouth and, over a succession of panels drawn lovingly by Kevin Walker, pulls out a long line of pink, normally internal organs. One thrill later, Mercy Heights, and a Fadayeen Terrorist’s internals burst out through his mouth in a colourful line after the armour he tries on suddenly contracts with him wearing it. What a coincidence, eh?

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Prog 1141 21/08/99

Item: Judge Dredd begins Return of the Assassin, advertised as a seven part story that actually continues into a new epic. Like most epics of recent years, this one runs in both 2000 AD and The Megazine but unlike them, they run in a consecutive manner that means you don’t need to have read one to appreciate the other. In the interests of full disclosure, I’ve read both versions of the story having bought the graphic novel collections published a few years ago, and I still happen to have a copy of the edition featuring the Megazine strand of the epic. For Slog authenticity, I’m just going to read the story in the progs, but it’s reassuring to know that the graphic novel is there should things get confusing.

Item: Nikolai Dante seems to have taken over the position of the double-episode run previously occupied by Sinister Dexter. Of the two, I much prefer Dante. It’s always a lot more fun and less eager to please. However, don’t panic SD fans feeling pangs for the thrill thanks to its absence as satires of the characters appeared in the previous Dante story, The Hunting Party. Snake Lonnegan and Roaul Duke were hired to assassinate the mother of the Romanov clan (who also happens to be their aunt – don’t ask) but failed thanks to Dante’s roguish interference. Fortunately, before being put out of their misery, Lonnegan and Duke share one last passionate French kiss. Homage, piss take and pretty damn obvious but fun just the same.

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Monday, April 12, 2010

Prog 1138 31/03/99

I’ve said here before how I like the idea of the occasional prog long episode of a thrill even if, so far, those issues have been a tad disappointing. That was when they occurred sparingly and given over to classic strips such as Judge Dredd and Slaine, not, like in this prog, to upstarts like Sinister Dexter.

In Eurocrash part 12, the wedding of convenience between Demi Octavo and Hector Guapo is ruined, inevitably, when the hired dancers start shooting the place up. But the story ends in shock when, after Sinister and Dexter disagree with how to proceed, both groom and bridegroom are shot dead.

Eurocrash part 12 is not a self contained story like in previous prog long thrills; it’s not even quite the thrilling climax of the saga; rather, it is just an extra long episode. It highlights a flaw in the idea of these occasional progs; if you normally buy the comic for everything but, say, Sinister Dexter then an issue filled special of gun shark tomfoolery is an ideal one to skip. And breaking the habit once makes breaking it permanently at some point in the near future all the easier.

Dan Abnett writes this prog like it’s an American comic which, I suppose, in spirit, it more or less is. It’s a swifter and breezier read than five episodes of the thrill stitched together might be. And I continue to be impressed SB Davis’ prolific artwork. But Eurocrash has failed to change my mind about longer Sinister Dexter stories. I still prefer the shorter, pithier, single yarns. Having said this, I’m made curious enough by the end of this story to see how the survivors’ relationship moves on from here.

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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Prog 1137 24/03/99

In Judge Dredd Banzai Battalion, a troop of tiny droids designed to destroy garden pests have to stretch the parameters of their original programming when their elderly owners are taken hostage by a group of nasty criminals. It’s another good example of how John Wagner works. He creates a whole new concept that most other script robots would think of as a thrill in its own right and then uses it as a short run, three part Dredd tale. During 2000 AD’s thirtieth anniversary coverage, I remember reading an article that commented on Banzai Battalion representing the aging interests of Dredd’s writer; originally it was anti-establishment and punk, now it’s gardening. But actually, Banzai Battalion reminds me of more old school thrills and isn’t any more comfy early Ro-Busters or Robo-Hunter.

In Anderson PSI Division Horror Story, Anderson and Rookie Judge Evayne encounter a powerful and apparently terrifying old enemy from earlier in her career that I don’t remember. I must be getting jaded by The Slog because the story, like most Anderson tales these days, pretty much just washed over me. The problem is that I’ve never understood the limits of the character’s PSI power so I’m rarely convinced by the jeopardy that she’s supposed to be in. Bad guy swaps body with Anderson and then Judges shoot dead the bad guy’s body? No problem, something I missed or not foreshadowed happens at the last minute and everything’s okay. I like Alan Grant, I like the character, I like the way Steve Sampson paints her, but there’s a fundamental flaw with the conceit which perhaps explains why Wagner refers to PSI Division in his Dredd stories less and less these days.

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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Prog 1135 10/03/99

In Sinister Dexter Eurocrash, Queenpin Demi Octavo’s control over the underworld has become fragile thanks to the organisation fragmenting into various feuding gangs. Personally speaking, I can’t understand how she became Queenpin in the first place and I’ve been reading this strip from the beginning. She’s so nice and dainty looking that it’s impossible to imagine her ever having done any of the dirty work required to rise to such a lofty position. In fact, if you wanted to make a play for head of Downlode’s crime organisation all you would need to do is wait until SB Davis is painting her, steal her sun block and then ask her out for a walk in the sunshine.

In Nikolai Dante The Cadre Infernale, Dante encounters another society obsessed with sex. This time it’s the Hellfire Club, a group made up of society’s elite taking part in all sorts of debauched and perverted acts of sex allowed to take place in a comic that pretends to be grown up but isn’t really. Dante, being the character we’re supposed to relate to, is pretty much disapproving of the organisation. “Any club that wants me as a member isn’t worth joining,” he says. However, he wasn’t so reticent about getting stuck in when he was onboard a floating cat house a few progs back. I don’t remember him once checking if any of the women he was cavorting with worked there under their own free will and weren’t being coerced in any way.

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Friday, April 09, 2010

Prog 1133 24/02/99

Artist Cam Kennedy returns to drawing Judge Dredd after Grud knows how long away this prog. It’s great to see him back even if the reason for his return might be because American publishers are no longer offering him the level of work they once did. His Dredd looks great. Helping is D’Israeli who colours Kennedy’s black and white art. It’s amazing to think, especially when you see his amazing full artwork on twenty-first centaury thrills for 2000 AD, that some of D’Israeli’s earliest work for the comic is colouring.

Also making a return is Judge DeMarco in an ad for a new story beginning in the latest issue of The Megazine. “She’s about to uncover a mystery that will tear the city apart…” This is very frustrating to me because I dropped The Megazine from The Slog at the end on volume two. The thought that narratives I’ve been sucking up from 2000 AD Judge Dredd stories are being continued elsewhere is very annoying.

Another return this prog is the Rogue Trooper who may or may not be the Rogue Trooper we all know. Tor Cyan is back as a cast member of space hospital drama Mercy Heights. I must confess to being a little surprised by its return. Not because I don’t think it’s good but because it’s been away for a while. Currently, 2000 AD works hard at making readers like newer thrills by running them as often as possible and encouraging familiarity. Compared to Sinister Dexter and Nikolai Dante, Mercy Heights is a denser, more complicated strip that would feel the detriment of a long break more acutely. Interestingly, now that it’s back, it doesn’t even feature the status update page that it used to every week during its first run to remind readers as to what was going on.

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Thursday, April 08, 2010

Prog 1131 10/02/99

The Balls Brothers looks to be John Wagner’s equivalent of Garth Ennis’s Hit Man or The Boys. A pair of grotesque, super strong thugs is released from the mental asylum where they’ve spent most of their lives and decide to become superheroes. However, the superhero community is an elitist and judgemental one and The Balls Brothers find themselves brawling, Mitchell Brothers style, with satirical versions of Superman, Spider-Man and Mr Fantastic.

I never knew that Wagner liked superheroes enough to be able to satire them as cruelly as he does here. Perhaps this knowledge has been brought to the project by artist and co-creator Kevin Walker. He certainly seems to relish drawing the scenes where Rocky Balls ties one end of the stretchy guy to a lamppost and the other to a bus.

Wagner’s masterpiece remains Judge Dredd, currently at the penultimate part of The Scorpion Dance. In it, Dredd tracks down mutant PSI Vitus Dance who has escaped from the cubes. Meanwhile, Deputy SJS Chief Munchie is being manipulated by the head of Public Surveillance Unit Edgar into proving an inapposite relationship between DeMarco and Dredd. The Scorpion Dance is a great, brooding tale beautifully painted by John Burns that develops on themes and relationships that Wagner started to establish all the way back in The Pit.

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Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Prog 1128 20/01/99

Item: That’s more like it; Not Dan Abnett setting the comic’s tone by providing three stories but John Wagner doing it, this prog, with two. Wagner writes Judge Dredd, obviously, and new thrill The Balls Brothers. It’s too early for me to comment on The Balls Brothers just yet but the thought of John Wagner being the dominant script robot makes the comic feel more like 2000 AD to me.

Item: The sinister atmosphere in current Dredd story Scorpion Dance is so thick you could slice the end off and fry eggs in it. Wagner’s writing is menacing, mature and very effective. Or so I thought until I saw the cover to next week’s prog painted by Jason Brashill advertised on the back of this and reproduced here for your perusal. Painting DeMarco with her knockers pretty much out demonstrates to me either a limited reading ability or the sort of sexual disorder suffered by the drivers from On The Busses.

Item: Graeme Mitchell asks in the Input page if readers are getting shorter as WH Smiths has moved 2000 AD from the top to the middle shelf. Amusingly, Tharg replies, “/2000 AD/ isn’t a top shelf /comic/ - despite Bish-OP’s best efforts to the contrary.” If Tharg’s intention was for 2000 AD to be racked next to Loaded then he must be disappointed as my local WH Smiths has been racking it in the cult TV and film section for years. For me, the comic being associated with Starburst and SFX is worse than when it was with Viz because at least it’s a comic. Ideally, of course, it should be in the same section as The Beano, The Dandy and those Panini Marvel reprint comics, like it used to be in the good old days.

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Monday, April 05, 2010

Prog 1126 06/01/99

I’ve had to pause for a moment to realise that 2000 AD is in the midst of an era where the comic is ruled by the presence of Judge Dredd, Sinister Dexter and Nikolai Dante. It’s very definitely a different comic to the one that I grew to love fifteen years ago and even to the comic I became despondent with seven years later. It almost feels as if 2000 AD could have been cancelled and re-launched shortly after as an altogether different title, Judge Dredd being present as a cautionary nod to the past in the same way that Dan Dare was in prog 1.

Dan Abnett’s voice is becoming increasingly loud. In this prog, there’s a S&D one off called Reservations which, actually, is quite sweet, but there’s also a spin off from the strip called Downlode Tales. Is Sinister Dexter so popular that readers want double the standard amount as has happened often recently? Is it conceptually strong enough that it can actually support more than one strip? I don’t think so but then this isn’t really 2000 AD so I don’t know what the rules are anymore.

Next prog, in spite of my feelings that there’s only space for one story per prog written by him, Abnett scripts three strips including the Pulp Sci-Fi. This prog however, we have the second to date both written and painted by Mark Harrison. Given how long 2000 AD has been going for now, there have been very few thrills both written and drawn by the same creator. Jim Baikie’s Skiizz and Skiiizz spring to mind. I like to see an artist write their own stories every now and then. Often, they are more capable than we give them credit for and they have a greater sense of what subject matter and story telling styles result in better work from them.

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Saturday, April 03, 2010

Prog 1124 16/12/98

Item: A 48 paged issue for Christmas might make the season feel a little more special except that, actually, it’s supposed to last us for two weeks. I guess this is where the long standing practise of the holiday break for 2000 AD starts. Really, I shouldn’t have any feelings on the matter given that I had stopped buying the comic by this time but if I were to be pushed well, every week missed for the comic is a shame.

Item: In Christmas Angel, Judge Dredd comes close to catching The Euthanasia Serial Killer. She’s the latest of Mega City criminals who reoccur in the thrill by managing to constantly avoid capture. I don’t know what you think but every time she reappears with her idiot husband there’s a part of my heart that sinks. I think, ‘this story’s only gonna be worthwhile if the get her this time’. They didn’t again on this occasion, which means she’s back soon for at least one more killing spree.

Item: Missionary Man’s latest story ends this prog with Apocrypha in which New Orleans burns to the ground and Texas City’s Deputy Chief Judge dies from a slow and painful revenge. It’s a shame I think that my feelings about the character’s 2000 AD run remain pretty much the same as when I last spoke about it. All the rhythms of the tale are well pitched but my ability to engage with it was compromised by the episodes I missed from The Megazine. I hope it returns for a new adventure just so I have another chance to get back on board.

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Friday, April 02, 2010

Prog 1120 18/11/98

Tharg’s current favourite, the thrill he’s working hard on making succeed, Sancho Panzer, finishes another story, Worms, this prog. Sancho Panzer is set on a planet wracked by civil war. Panzer and his maintenance man, Tool, drive around a really big tank for hire mainly to small peaceful communities for who the war is encroaching upon. On top of this, they’re being pursued by an over eager journalist, Henry McGee in The Incredible Hulk style, determined to expose the mythology of the tank and its driver.

Sounds great and looks great too. This thrill seems to have been co-created by the excellent Henry Flint, or with him in mind at least. Admittedly, I feel the tank looks ridiculous with its giant wheels for speed but every other aspect of the strip is as visually pleasing as you would expect.

However, it’s written by Dan Abnett whose Sinister Dexter, as you know, I find enjoyable and annoying in equal measure. A recent episode of S&D features the two characters laughing for its entire length at the name of Caribbean mob boss, Uranus Hertz. These are characters whose writer constantly fills their world with lame innuendoes. They drink in a bar called Floppy Dicks for God’s sake. I would have thought they would have been used to it by now.

Sancho Panzer is fun and a touch intriguing but Abnnet’s irritating penchant for innuendo and laddy humour is becoming more apparent with each new episode. I feel that there’s only enough space for one Abnet thrill of this type in the comic.

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