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The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread

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Colin YNWA:

I should spend more time talking about the Dredd in the spring of 2021... I mean this year ... still... just... but I happen to kno w there's a fav JD of the year story and there's a strong chance two of these will appear in my picks there so I'll save that. Though I guess that tells us quite clearly that we're in pretty bloody fine Dredd territory here - just superb Dredd. I mean I'm actually considering having no Wagner in my top 3 Dredds of the year... which can't be right... but I'm close...

All I've really got to usefully say about Slaine, which finishes in Prog 2228 is... well it over.

There's a mixed bag of shorts with some absolute highlights in Visions of Deadworld and the second Intestinauts story which has marvelous fun taking on Venom.

The real highlight of this time though is... well actually much like the Dredd stuff I suspect I'll be talking about this more in the end of year votes. Suffice to say Thistlebone - Poisoned Roots is pretty damned excellent. It entirely soaks in the mystery. Its twists you, turns your eye and stomach ... all while quite probably being centred on madness rather than spirits... or natural drug induced shared hallucinations... or maybe its the dark spirits after all. ... as its so often said about horror, its what you don't see that really crawls into your head and lays creeping terror.

Thistlebone will be in my top three when I feel brave enough to decide my vote on what is already a year filled with fantastic tales.

Colin YNWA:

Plummet of the Progs

The run into Prog 2250 is a curious beast. It starts so very well, but then much like the cover of Prog 2234 it plunges by the end of Prog 2249. Something Tharg seems to have learnt to navigate is the 'end of run malaise as we get to a relaunch Prog. Here alas not so well.

It all starts so brightly... hey I've not done one of these for quite a while and so should squeeze one in before I finish this. There's a lot to say so let's hit summary time.

1. Prog 2234 springs into bright fun gear as Dredd leaves Rowdy Yates.

2. Grennie starts as he means to end with a shorts run of an ongoing series with Mechastopheles just getting going before it goes to soon.

3. Department K jumps from the Regened and with Dan Cornwell drafted on art is a real treat as it rifts off Kirby and does its own thing. Its interdimensional hijinks are such fun.

4. Chimpsky leaps into space in a story this character needed. Freeing him from Dredd he really grows as a character. We delve into him, his past while keeping the same narrative tricks in place. Brilliant.

5. In Prog 2235 Neimand shows what a master of Dredd he is as in one of his 'gentler' citizen focused stories he breaks heart rather than heads.

6. Though of course Wagner is still the absolute master as he shows with Removal Man. A story of a nice man, with the typical pressures of Mega City One who offers an alternative to PJ Maybe, but is just as driven a killer. All be it what drives him is very different.

7. Prog 2236 see a glorious end to Feral and Foe. A perfect example of how Dabnett blends comedy and action. Adventure and character. Nails a high concept setting and breathes into old ideas.

8. Skip Tracer 'Eden' shows that this series had potential to climb out of its 90 movie cliche... if it wanted ... it just doesn't seem to want to!

9. Aquila - Rivers of Hades Book One shows that it doesn't need to break out of its 90s movie cliche as it does it so well and add sword and sandel and sorcery to the muscle bound action. Its simply fantastic.

10. Prog 2240 hits this runs zenith as Wagner shows that while Removal Man was good he was just warming up and 'Now that's what I call Justice' starts, a truly sublime Dredd thriller, preocedural, calling on the past, playing with Dredd as mentor and tieing all that together in a wonderful Dredd. In the same Dredd sure we have Skip Tracer - though in one of his better tales - all be it cliche bound. Chimpsky's Law ends wonderful - the final page by PJ sees Noam looking out of the potential of his city and the scale of the work he has to do. As Kenny Who shows the potential of the story he can craft and shows he has the scale of talent to do it. All this and Aquila and Dept. K on wonderful form. This is a blistering Prog that sets a high... from which it can start to fall.

11. Sinister is the start of that... though interestingly as the quality of the Prog drops, all be it very slowly, my interest in Bulletopia starts to revive, all be it slowly.

12. Dexter continues the slow build back... though it provides no replacement for the exiting Dept. K which also ends by opening scope like Chimpsky.

13. The Terror Tale in Prog 2244 starts to evidence that the short filler used at this point isn't really thriller alas.

14. Prog 2247 shows that Ken Niemand is human as House of Bleaker Street is probably his weakest Dredd to date. I mean its far from bad but it not quite up to his standard.  There's a Tharg 3riller that does nothing for me. Skipperty and Dexter, which will improving still has work to do. A short Jaegir is left to do much of the lifting.

15. We limp to the line and Prog 2249 is one of the weakest for a long time... but we're talking 3 weak Prog in a run. The problem is the standard is so high this low really stands out.

16. Just wait a week though...

Colin YNWA:

The End

The final run of this reread, from Prog 2250 - 2263 is a pretty mixed bad, a suitably mixed bag, but overall its bloody good.

Seems pretty fitting huh.

Dredd in this run is a pretty decent summary as well. Rob William, Arthur Wyatt and Jake Lynch's 'Hard Way' is kinda annoying, a bit like 'End of Days'. There's a million hard man Dredd stories against a gang of tough killers, proving he's the toughest killer of all. We've been there, done that and on re-read this doesn't really offer anything else. But if that one's disappointing after a nice shorter tale we get the opposite end of the Dredd world by Rob Williams and Chris Weston in 'Dredd  the musical'. Funny, surprising and entirely entertaining. Dredd here is a series of extreme's and surely that is a great sumnation of 45 years of thrill power.

Nah surely its The Diaboliks dark as pitch but with lashings of humour to highlight the brutal violence. I mean that is 2000ad right.

or is it Scarlet Traces with art just eye poppingly good, as the series takes a typical tale of war and desperate struggle, but finds a way to subvert our expectations. Now that's 2000ad right...

nah its curiously all the small thrills tucked in between the gaps, filling the spaces that surprise, entertain and infuriate. Particularly Sinister Dexter in this run a thrill that has even worn my patience with the series of late, to only return to form by realising that 2000ad truism 'Everything is better with dinosaurs in it.'. That variety, that return to form after a dip now THAT'S 2000ad isn't it.

Of course not its Pandora Perfect, perfectly making clear why the Regene is here. 2000ad should never pander to us. 2000ad should flick its nose at us the long term reader. It should annoy 50 year olds reading after 45 years. Of course it bloody should. We the very established thing we claim to what 2000ad to be pushing back at. And it is. And its succeeding in doing that as its annoying folks who expect it to stay the same. To do what we expected it to do 45 years ago, unchanged and unchallenged. Regened, exemplified by the brilliant Pandora Perfect, bursting into the Prog proper, achieves that perfectly using the power of wonderful comics.

So there we have it after 45 years the perfect summary of what we've learnt in that thrill...

... except of course it can't be, surely. Each of those provides a perfect example of what 2000ad does so well. I'm so pleased a line-up like that rounded off my re-read of all of 2000ad's content over these 45 years. Cos there's no way one single strip can perfectly sum it up is there... except...

The Out quite perfectly does. Well except the variable quality as its out and out pure fried gold comics. It has eye popping art. Its both powerful emotionally and light and hilarious. Its all the brilliant characters. It has extremes if violence, but they dance against our expectation literally. Its short tales, filling gaps to build a magnificent whole. Its eye popping art, have I said that, well damn it deserves repeating. And a story that twists. And most importantly its so atypically 2000ad, is so far from the norm that it is so perfectly 2000ad. If there's one thing this comic does better than anything its innovate, change and grow with us, while offering up the expected, stretching its boundaries and doing all that with the very, very best comics.

That's The Out that is. the perfect summary of 45 years of thrill power. Knowing that a strip that's only 2 years old is the very, very best this comic has to offer...

... well until the next best thing we've not read yet.

The end (not the end)

Anthony Garnon:

Colin YNWA:

A life with Tharg

So there we have it. I've read the special and FCBD comic and to be honest haven't got much to say over the reviews I did months ago and so... well that's it. We're done...

See Ya!

Welllll okay I'm not quite done I have this post, which I've been kinda dreading - no pun and all that - how the hell do I sum all this up. Almost 6 years of reading, 2500ish comics and annuals and specials and what not, 70000ish pages... and a lifetime.

See I'm lucky I was born into a generation that's been growing alongside 2000ad. Five when it launched, as it was finding its feet I was learning to read and my head was a malleable young mush that Tharg banged into a thrill shaped receptacle hungry for more... we grow up together, we entered our ackward teenage years together and spotily, clumsy we tried to grow into adults, it was messy and unpleasent at times. As we entered that adulthood we did some great things, some amazing fun things, but it was all a bit brash and silly on occasion. We both stretched boundaries as we tried to work out who we are.

Then, together* we settled down. Found the partners that would take us to maturity and a seemingly a steady, tired, 'dull', we weren't anarchic and carefree, We had become the very establishment we had kicked and strained against. But in doing that we produced probably the greatest things we had done. They might have lacked, or seemed to have lacked, the cutting edge of the past, but that was because we knew there was more to this life. That didn't take those drives and ideas from us. It didn't stop me having that desire to push things in different directions. It did however shape those ideas with a smarter, more adult edge that found its anti-authoriation kick in subtler smarter ways. We couldn't and shouldn't be the way we where as kids, our growing is done - we'd had that and now we needed to grow beyond it and be better.

And we both are. I don't regret what I was. In fact I remember it so fondly and love reflecting on what we both did, yes at times miss it... a little. Then I realise I'm better now, we're better and it needed that punch and drive, then, to become more now. I don't want to relive my past. I want to use it to grow beyond it.

And that my friends is what I've learnt about 2000ad these past 6 years. I love and relish that fun, ackward, foolish and magnicient past, but I'm so happy that its also grown beyond, not by abandoning it, but by embracing it for what it was, but not having it shackle what it has become...


... well except now part of that growing up is looking to pass the baton on. To find ways to hand over to the next generation. Not by shaping them in our image, but allowing them to grow up as themselves, to love them for what they have taken from our past, but accepting what they need to do to become something more. Something beyond us... but not excluding us taking us along with them.

See you should remember Tharg shaped my malleable mind back then, but like his own in doing that he realised that he and I had to change and grow and to remain malleable and open to the new. So we both done just that and the Regened is its embodiment. They too are trying to find what they will become and there will be the same stumbling, learning steps. But I'm there to help them along cos I see the things that they need to become, not to replace me, but to amaze me with what's next.

That's what 2000ad is, that's what its best stories are. Not Dredd, or Nemesis, not Halo or Bad Compnay, nor Zenith or Dante, no Cradlegrave or Zombo, not even Blink, or The Out. The best stories are next weeks and the week after, the ones we've not read yet, the thrill of what's to come, not just the thrill of looking back, but rather looking forward to the unknown beyond what we can see now.

Thanks Tharg, its been a fun growing up with you.

Let's go exploring.

* yeah I'm being a little fast and loose with the precise timing for dramatic effect!


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