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2000 AD => General => : MumboJimbo 17 June, 2019, 01:24:37 PM

: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: MumboJimbo 17 June, 2019, 01:24:37 PM
Hi all,

So about a year ago I started a re-read postening on a private Facebook group. And I thought I'd reproduce it here, at a one post a day basis (if I remember). As it was originally to people I knew well, it's a bit more opinionated than I would have probably been otherwise. Also, this was started before the sad passing of Carlos Esquerra and Ron Smith.

Anyway, - here we go!

Progs 336-388 (October 83 - October 84)

Well, luckily enough I start in a golden age for the Galaxy's Greatest. The previous prog (335) had been a New Readers Start Here issue, which returned Strontium Dog and Nemesis the Warlock to the comic, while starting new stories off for the continuing strips Judge Dredd (of course), Rogue Trooper and Slaine. Slaine, though, had only debuted very recently - prog 330 to be exact.

And what a line-up! You could argue that they're all variations on a theme: fundamentally a slightly grumpy, taciturn lone-agent warrior-wanderer, grimly fighting a personal war with the odds stacked against him. But what boy on the cusp of adolescence could fail to identify with that? And even if the heroes were the same, the settings certainly differed wildly: from the clean metallic lines of mega-city one, to the choking chem-clouds and swamps of Nu-Earth and in-between the dark Gothic climes of Nemesis and the primitive rural Celtic settlements of Slaine. What a feast for the eyes and food for a young impressionable boy's imagination.

My word it's violent though. The first Dredd story - an 8-parter called The Graveyard Shift - documents a typical night in Mega-City One, replete with senseless violence, serial killers and block wars. The body count each episode is very high, and even though the killing is usually not shown that graphically, there's piles of dead bodies in many frames. Later on there's a dead baby in Dredd and in Strontium Dog, Alpha takes the corpse of 10 year old boy to a zombie planet to re-animate him.

The team working on 2000AD seems quite small in those days. In terms of script writers, John Wagner and/or Alan Grant handle Judge Dredd (under the pseudonym TB Grover), Strontium Dog, and later on Ace Trucking Co., while Pat Mills writes Slaine and Nemesis the Warlock, and Gerry Finlay Day. Apart from them you have Alan Moore coming in at times (more on that later) and the odd standalone strip, such as a Future Shock written by someone else.

In terms of artists, Carlos Esquerra is by far the most prolific - there's hardly a single issue in the whole year without a Strontium Dog strip drawn by him. Belardinelli is second, doing both Slaine (alternating with Mike McMahon) and Ace Trucking Co. There's quite a turnover on Dredd and Rogue Trooper artists though. Ron Smith (my favourite Dredd artist) gets quite a few episodes, but no Brian Bolland as yet (my other fave).

Speaking of Dredd, one great source of comedy is the gormless stupidity of the average citizen of Mega City One. Ron Smith is a master of this, portraying them with an open-mouthed vacancy, usually just before something tragic befalls them. In one story there are dinosaurs running amock, and of course, one citizen leans out of his window to get a closer look and is promptly eaten by a T-Rex. If there's one criticism I have with this run of Dredd though, is that there's no epic story to rival the earlier Judge Child or Apocalypse War stories. Most stories are one-offs, or run to half-a-dozen episodes or so, and nothing momentous really happens that changes life in Mega-City One. Still, I think I'm about to start the City of the Damned storyline which I remember to be pretty epic, so hopefully you'll be getting that in my next installment.

Both Strontium Dog and Rogue Trooper, like Dredd, are present in nearly every issue in this era. Strontium Dog has three stories - The Moses Incident (where he tries to bring that boy to life), The Killing which is a straight-forward Battle Royale tale, and the epic Outlaws! where Alpha and Wulf are framed with a murder and have the rest of the Strontium Dogs trying to kill them. One twist with the Battle Royale story is that they're only in the game as many of the contestants have a bounty on their head - the plan is for them to kill the ones that fetch a good price and then do one. But, of course, (spolier!) they end up winning it, and then even kill the organisers for being arseholes - hooray! I don't quite know how they claim to have the moral highground but it's a lot of fun.

Rogue Trooper is a lot more "military" than the other stories. Of course, in those days, war-based comics like Battle, Valiant and Warload were still very popular, and it's clear that Rogue Trooper is there as an entry point to 2000 AD for that audience. He's always camouflaging himself with a bit of bracken, or hiding in a swamp as a convoy of military vehicles pass by. It's all very crack, elite and military. One thing about Rogue is everybody seems to hate him. Ostensibly he fights on the side of the Southers against the Nazi-like Norts, but he's been framed as a deserter so his own side is trying to get him too. I don't really know why he bothers. He's meant to be on the hunt for the Traitor General who framed him, but always ends up getting tangled up in other events. In one story a local dancer comes onto him, but he's having none of it. I think Rogue is there to teach us impressionable youngsters about the simple spiritual pleasures of an ascetic life. Possibly.

Nemesis Book 3 is not classic Nemesis (the next book certainly is though, which I'll be covering in the next instalment). It's mainly an excuse to set up a massive battle between giant siege robots, which in turn is mainly an excuse to show off Kevin O'Neil's bizarre, but wonderful artwork. In terms of art that was really pushing the boundaries in comics then, it's his work, and Mike McMahon's Slaine which are at the most esoteric. McMahon's Slaine looks scrappy when you first dive into it, but it's actually purposeful and the effect is like a wood carving. At times though it does get too scrappy, for example in the Shoggey Beast story. It would seem he was asked to dial in back a bit, as the next story (Sky Chariots) his work is more careful and measured, and I have to say the first episode of Sky Chariots is simply breathtaking. Massimo Belardinelli's work on Slaine, couldn't be more different to McMahon's, much more conventional and polished, but still very effective at conveying the story.

Nemesis is the first of the continuing stories to come to end, and after a few stop-gap Future Shocks gets replaced by Alan Moore's anarchic DR and Quinch. I've seen an interview by him where he comes across as rather embarrassed by DR Quinch, but he needn't be, as the mindless violence is always perfectly in-keeping with the Young Ones-esque humour of the strip, and artist Alan Davis (no, not that one) does a perfect job of bringing out the humour and sheer ridiculous of it all. Bravo Moore - be proud of it!

After Slaine has a break there's a definite feeling of the comic being a bit in a rut around June, as there's a lot of stop-gap single episode strips which are a bit underwhelming, but then slack is brought up with the appearance of Ace Trucking Co. and then - or lordy yes! - The Ballad of Halo Jones Book One. Ace Trucking Co. (which I could never bother to read back in the day), is light, humorous affair, but doesn't really endure. The Ballad of Halo Jones, though...you do wonder how it ever got commissioned and why they thought if would ever be a hit with a readership, which at the time was predominately 12 year old boys. I'm so glad they did though, as it's excellent and totally unlike anything else in the comic. We don't really burrow down to deeply into Halo's soul in the first book, it's mainly world-building, but what a world! A floating enclosed city (called the Hoop) moored off New York where the unemployed, and alien immigrants are housed. There's a weird cult called drummers who have a continual beat surgically inserted into their brains. There's a lot also that's left unexplained so you feel how strange this world is. Can't wait until Book 2 starts!

More tomorrow, squaxxes.
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: sheridan 17 June, 2019, 05:28:53 PM
In one story a local dancer comes onto him, but he's having none of it. I think Rogue is there to teach us impressionable youngsters about the simple spiritual pleasures of an ascetic life. Possibly.

Love it! Sister Sledge, Venus Bluegenes, afore-mentioned dancer - the clues are all there for attentive young boys!

Nemesis Book 3 is not classic Nemesis (the next book certainly is though, which I'll be covering in the next instalment).

Seeing as this is my favourite book of Nemesis (against some absurdly strong competition) I'd be interested to read your reasoning behind that!

At times though it does get too scrappy, for example in the Shoggey Beast story. It would seem he was asked to dial in back a bit, as the next story (Sky Chariots) his work is more careful and measured, and I have to say the first episode of Sky Chariots is simply breathtaking.

Between Shoggey Beast and Sky Chariots, Massimo had quite a long run - I think Mike just had more time to work on Sky Chariots than he did on the earlier works...
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: glassstanley 17 June, 2019, 07:35:25 PM
He drew Sky Chariots first, then went back to draw the earlier stories.
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: Leigh S 17 June, 2019, 08:56:32 PM
He drew Sky Chariots first, then went back to draw the earlier stories.

Am I right in thinking Shoggey Beast was a bit of a last minute thing to fill a gap? May be getting that from Pat Mills "Kiss My Axe" preview, might be making it up!
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: Colin YNWA 17 June, 2019, 09:05:51 PM
Great way to annouce yourself.And you don't have a logo for me to get jealous of (see Thrill coma). You cover so much ground as well. But like Sheridan said I'm really interested in your take on Nemesis Book 3. For me its the definition of classic Nemesis so I'm intrigued to hear why you don't get on with it?

: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: Funt Solo 17 June, 2019, 10:39:39 PM
Wait - is Book III the one where Mek-Quake's brain has been transplanted into a gargantuan robot who battles another giant robot (Torque-Armada) into submission during the siege of Yggdrasil (the world tree)?  I love that book: it got the centre-spread colour pages (back when that was important) and made great use of them.

Still: just because I loved it doesn't mean everyone has to. 

: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: sheridan 17 June, 2019, 11:34:36 PM
Wait - is Book III the one where Mek-Quake's brain has been transplanted into a gargantuan robot who battles another giant robot (Torque-Armada) into submission during the siege of Yggdrasil (the world tree)?  I love that book: it got the centre-spread colour pages (back when that was important) and made great use of them.

Still: just because I loved it doesn't mean everyone has to. 

We'll have none of that getting-on-with-each-other, respecting-one-another's-opinions here - this is supposed to be an internet forum, after all!
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: glassstanley 18 June, 2019, 07:06:00 AM
He drew Sky Chariots first, then went back to draw the earlier stories.

Am I right in thinking Shoggey Beast was a bit of a last minute thing to fill a gap? May be getting that from Pat Mills "Kiss My Axe" preview, might be making it up!

McMahon drew Sky Chariots. Mills felt that the change in style from Belardinelli was too abrupt so he wrote some prequels for McMahon to illustrate. This backfired as McMahon took his new style to extreme for the prequels, which alienated the general reader and clashed with Mills’ view of Slaine. (From ‘Kiss My Axe’.
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: Jim_Campbell 18 June, 2019, 08:01:50 AM
One thing that I found interesting (and it’s probably only me) was the discovery that McMahon did the first episodes that were finished, meaning they were almost certainly the first to get lettered. It’s interesting,* because it’s the only time I can think of when Tom Frame noticeably changed his 2000AD lettering style — to those rough-hewn balloons with the straight-line edges. They make perfect sense over McMahon’s scratchy, angular work and, although they sit less comfortably with the slicker inks of Kincaid and Belardinelli, the lettering helped give that first book a distinct, lo-fi aesthetic that separated it from the rest of the strips running in the prog.

*Values of “interesting” may vary. Your statutory rights are not affected. The judges’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: AlexF 18 June, 2019, 11:32:37 AM
That actually is an astute and interesting observation about lettering! One would almost think you had a personal stake in said artform.
Personally I never got tired of seeing Rogue's Biochip speech balloons with their little semicircle cut-outs, even when the stories were getting less fun those always gave me a smile.
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: Jim_Campbell 18 June, 2019, 11:56:30 AM
Personally I never got tired of seeing Rogue's Biochip speech balloons with their little semicircle cut-outs, even when the stories were getting less fun those always gave me a smile.

I suspect that every letterer who worked on the strip cursed Dave Gibbons for that balloon style. If you were drawing the balloons directly onto the pencilled art, as Gibbons did when he hand-lettered, there's nothing much to them. However, if you were doing the lettering using the then-standard 2000AD method of drawing the balloons onto adhesive-backed paper and then cutting them out, I can't imagine a more fiddly or frustrating balloon to create.

(My suspicion is that Gibbons only lettered the one episode because of GFD's scripts legendarily needing a lot of work. If editorial had the pages lettered by someone else, they gained the extra time while Dave drew the art to spend re-writing the dialogue…)
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: MumboJimbo 18 June, 2019, 12:56:09 PM
Progs 387-434 (October 84 to September 85)

Like prog 335 a year before it, prog 387 is very much a "new readers start here" issue where two new strips enter the fray, while the continuing series begin new story arcs. The new stories are Helltreckers and Nemesis Book 4 which replace the recently-departed Ballad of Halo Jones Book 1 and - quaequam blag! - the hardy perennial that is Strontium Dog which had been a constant feature of 2000AD for a whole year.

Starting with what is definitely the lesser of these two new arrivals, Helltreckers, which is essentially a Judge Dredd spin-off penned by Wagner and Grant, under yet another pseudonym. It chronicles a convoy of Mega-City One citizens who set of on a high-risk trek across the Cursed Earth to seek a new life. Each prog has a death count of at least five as the hapless travellers are met with increasingly grisly fates such as being eaten by dinosaurs, killed off by a plague or (my fave) dissolved by acid raid. In a strange co-incidence, one of the characters is called Amber Rudd. I enjoyed the simple pleasures of Helltreckers back in the day, and did so too this time around but it's not one that sticks long in the mind. The art is workmanlike and lacks charisma, and none of the characters manage to stand out and linger in the mind.
Nemesis Book 4, on the hand, is simply wonderful stuff; as good as I remember it to be first time around. Although the fourth instalment of Nemesis, its setting of the Gothic Empire was the first to be drawn by Kevin O'Neil, but he and Pat Mills decided to put the setting on-hold while they went back and fleshed out the story of Nemesis and his arch-enemy Torquemada. In fact, the first two episodes of book 4 were drawn by O'Neil years before they were published and by the time they were, he'd gone to America (I think), so they had to draft in a new artist - Bryan Talbot. Luckily though, Talbot is fantastic - I actually prefer his work to O'Neil's and he excels in the Steampunk/Victoriana setting of Book 4 which contrasts with the more medieval tone of the previous books. One thing you have to praise script writer Pat Mills for is that he does manage to come up with settings and scenarios that inspire his artists to produce some beautiful work. I mentioned Slaine's sky chariots in the last entry, but in Nemesis Book 4 we are taken from smoggy London Town where Torquemada is hiding around street corners to swoop on the innocent a la Jack the Ripper, to a high-speed "Equatorial Express" train modelled on Crystal Palace. Bryan Talbot does a fantastic job of bringing these settings to life, and what a backdrop for Nemesis reforming the ABC Warriors!

Progs 390-400 are really something special as Nemesis kicks up a notch while Rogue Trooper finally has his showdown with the Traitor General, and Dredd embarks on his first epic storyline for years in City of the Damned. In fact this just might be peak 2000 AD, at least during the era in which I was a reader. If anything, though, the Traitor General showdown may have been handled a little too perfunctory given how much build-up we'd had to it. It concludes in prog 392, and then there's no Rogue Trooper for nine issues. You can tell how important Rogue was to 2000 AD at this time as during Rogue's absence there's pretty much something in every issue telling you he'd be coming back soon so not to worry.
Rogue Trooper's gap is plugged by The Stainless Steel Rat (oo-er!), drawn by Carlos Esquerra, definitely 2000 AD's hardest working art droid in the era, who had a rare month off after Strontium Dog finished in October. I have to confess, like Ace Trucking Co., this was a strip I could never be arsed to read back in the day. I never even gave it a chance to be honest, just took one look of it and thought, 'nah!' and skipped it every issue. How wrong I was. The plot's nice and tight as its a condensed adaptation of a novel, adapted by former 2000 AD editor Kevin Gosnell. The Stainless Steel Rat is, I guess, a gentleman thief, and in this story he tries do overthrow the vicious dictator of a banana republic by setting himself up as a rival candidate in a rigged election. Unusually for 2000 AD, he's a family man and his wife and two sons are basically his sidekicks. It's thoroughly charming and has a different appeal from other 2000 AD stories of the time.

With City of the Damned finally - finally! - we get a Dredd epic. One of my bugbears with the 2000AD era I was a reader is that before I started Dredd seemed to be jam-packed with epic storylines. I knew this because there were often allusions those past events in the current Dredd stories, and also a company called Titan Books (set-up by the same guy who started Forbidden Planet) compiled rather lovely looking compendiums containing these stories that were advertised most weeks in the prog. I think this was before the term 'Graphic Novel' had even been coined. Anyway, in the six years before I started reading, they'd been The Cursed Earth, Judge Cal, the Judge Child, Block Wars and, most epic of all, Apocalypse Wars. In the 7-and-a-half years I read if for, we got a measly three - 3! - epics: City of the Damned, Oz and Necropolis. And I didn't much care for Oz (maybe I'll change my mind when I re-read it).

In this era you get the feeling that 2000 AD was in a steady state. It was successful, it knew its target audience and it had now established a formula to keep them happy. That formula was to have a Dredd story every issue (usually a standalone story or short serial), and then Rogue Trooper and Strontium Dog in most issues, but unlike Dredd, it was permissible for these strips to take short breaks. The rest of the comic was given to a rotating rostrum consisting of Nemesis the Warlock, Slaine, Ace Trucking Co, Stainless Steel Rat and Robo-Hunter, and of course whatever left-field idea Alan Moore came up with, as Alan Moore was very popular with the readers and it would seem was given carte blanche do as he liked (it probably wasn't really like this). Any gaps between one strip starting and another ending were plugged with Future Shocks and Time Twisters. I think the comic could have continued with this formula for years and its readership would have been perfectly happy. After all, Marvel and DC continue with the same core line-up year after year. But it didn't work out that way. In fact in three years' time it would be almost unrecognisable from what it was like in 1985. I'm getting ahead of myself here, but one thing I'm quite looking forward to in this retrospective is getting to those changes and trying to work out why the Powers That Be decided such drastic measures were necessary.

But anyway, back to the present (well, early 1985) and around the time Nemesis book 4 ended I stopped getting 2000 AD for a few months, which seems in retrospect incredibly unfair given the quality of the prog in this era. I remember being very let down by the reveal of the "Mega-Plan" - a secret new venture for 2000 AD that had been hyped for months. It turned out to be crushingly disappointing - a single called Mutants in Mega-City One by some members of Madness (restyled as the "Fink Brothers"). It seems almost certain now that the Mega-Plan was originally meant to be a Judge Dredd fortnightly comic, but they got cold feet for some reason. In fact Helltreckers was originally commissioned for this aborted venture. Of course, the idea would eventually resurface a few years later as the Judge Dredd Megazine, which is still going today.
So the next three months or so of progs I've had to get from ebay and they're all new to me. Jewel in the crown of this period is Halo Jones Book 2, in fact this had started before I stopped getting it, which meant I actually cancelled during the run of one of 2000's best stories ever - what a grexnix! It is, though, maybe asking a lot for an 11 year old to appreciate the subtleties of Moore and Gibson's feminist opus. One character that really sticks out in Book 2 is - what we would call today - a non-binary gendered character who everyone ignores and forgets exists. He/she ends up sacrificing themselves to save Halo, and of course their heroic act is instantly forgotten about. Appropriately enough I can't remember the name of this characters. I could google it I guess but it seems apt to keep things as they are.

After a brief break Rogue Trooper returns with a new focus - re-gening (i.e. returning to human form) his fallen, bio-chipped comrades. The actions also shifts from Nu-Earth to a new planet called Horst and a new regular artist, Jose Ortiz, takes over the strip, which had previously been drawn by an ever-shifting pool of artists such as Brett Ewins, Steve Dillon, Cam Kennedy etc. It's good enough but maybe lacks the flair of Ewins and co. On Horst there is the same fight between Norts and Southers, but now the Norts are bats, and the Southers are, um, ants. It's better than it sounds. Later on there are rhino, crab and even camel Norts, and dragon-like Southers. It's all a bit mental and as I didn't get the prog at this time seems all the more bizarre to me that this actually happened! Anyway, I'd be surprised if Rogue's trippy Horst jaunt end up in the new Duncan Jones film.

In prog 411, our warp spasming Celtic hero, Slaine finally returns after a surprisingly long break. And if you thought Rogue Trooper had gone in a surprising direction, well it's nothing to the departure Slaine goes on in Time Killers. By about episode 3, he's even firing a laser gun! Sorry, that should "leyser" - powered by energy in the Ley lines. Yes, it would appear that Pat Mills had been frequenting the book shops of Glastonbury as even psychic auras feature in this labyrinthine plot, together with "macrobes" giant versions of microbes that feed off good and evil. And can influence it, as long as they don't upset the cosmic balance. Or something. There's a definite sense that the plot to Time Killers could disappear up its own colonically-irrigated arse at any moment, but I think on balance I actually enjoyed this new Slaine over its original incarnation. There's more plot, more going on. The original Slaine stories were very much just Slaine journeying back to his homeland and having adventures on the way, which was maybe a bit too similar to the Rogue Trooper arc. Time Killers, on the other hand, is high-concept and convoluted and Mills throws everything into the mix, like he did with Nemesis Book 4. It's 22 - 22! - episodes longs. You can really get your teeth into this one. Art duties are shared by newcomers Glenn Fabry and David Pugh. Fabry would for me, ultimately become the quintessential Slaine artist, but his beginning strips are not quite up to the standard of his later work on Slaine the King. But he improves quickly. Pugh's work is strange - very stylised and reminiscent of the ancient drawings or carvings found in pyramids etc., which fits the story well. He tends to overcrowd his frames though and there's no real sense of action about his work. Everyone and everything looks very static like they're posing for a picture!

A few progs later, Judge Anderson finally gets a strip of her own, featuring the 4 Dark Judges. Brett Ewins does the art, and he's an obvious shoe-in for this creepy story after his sterling work in the recent "Haunting of Sector House 9" Dredd story. Death, Mortis, Fire and Fear are the real stars of the show here - we don't delve into Anderson's inner world too much. This is good though, as it plays to Ewins' strengths. His depiction of the Dark Judges is absolutely top-notch. He has them looking incredibly cool and bad-ass in pretty much every frame they're in, with the angle of the flame emanating from Judge Fire's skull just so. Bravo. I'm looking forward to the future Anderson stories, as they had some great artists doing her strips - Barry Kitson, David Roach and Arthur Ranson springing to mind.

Anyway, gunna leave it there, as prog 435 is one of those "jumping on point" progs with all-new stories, including Robo-Hunter and Nemesis Book 5! Zarjaz.
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: MumboJimbo 18 June, 2019, 01:09:30 PM


Nemesis Book 3 is not classic Nemesis (the next book certainly is though, which I'll be covering in the next instalment).

Seeing as this is my favourite book of Nemesis (against some absurdly strong competition) I'd be interested to read your reasoning behind that!

It's been a year now since I last read it, but I think the whole Chira plot got a bit swamped at the end by the whole giant siege monsters stuff. It's still top notch though - it's Nemesis after all  :D
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: MumboJimbo 18 June, 2019, 01:10:59 PM
He drew Sky Chariots first, then went back to draw the earlier stories.

Interesting! I haven't done much background reading into a lot of this, so a lot of it is my extrapolation of what I think must've been going on behind the scenes. I must get around to Thrill Power Unleashed at some point...
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: broodblik 18 June, 2019, 02:05:54 PM
I was first introduced to the world of Nemesis when Bryan Talbot was on art duty thus my reason why I preferred the later books of Nemesis to the early work of O’Neil (his work is still awesome). For me Talbot is the de facto Nemesis artist. I also felt reading the early books afterwards that Book 3 just did not feel as strong.

Lettering is one of those things I never really appreciated until I start reading this blog and start releasing that it is an art on its own. A strip can be nullified by bad lettering. 
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: sheridan 18 June, 2019, 02:11:39 PM
One character that really sticks out in Book 2 is - what we would call today - a non-binary gendered character who everyone ignores and forgets exists. He/she ends up sacrificing themselves to save Halo, and of course their heroic act is instantly forgotten about. Appropriately enough I can't remember the name of this characters. I could google it I guess but it seems apt to keep things as they are.


When Rachael and I covered the Ballad of Halo Jones for the Mega-City Book Club podcast (https://megacitybookclub.blogspot.com/2016/10/mega-city-book-club-17-ballad-of-halo.html), we all forgot about Glyph until right at the end as well!
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: sheridan 18 June, 2019, 02:14:22 PM
I was first introduced to the world of Nemesis when Bryan Talbot was on art duty thus my reason why I preferred the later books of Nemesis to the early work of O’Neil (his work is still awesome). For me Talbot is the de facto Nemesis artist. I also felt reading the early books afterwards that Book 3 just did not feel as strong.

Lettering is one of those things I never really appreciated until I start reading this blog and start releasing that it is an art on its own. A strip can be nullified by bad lettering. 

Whereas 335 was in orbit about a month after I bought my first ever prog!  Funnily enough I didn't take to Bryan Talbot first time I saw his artwork, largely because I'd been looking forward to more Book III-style O'Neill :-/

Luckily I saw sense by the time Luther Arkwright began its Valkyrie run (the one where it actually got completed).
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: broodblik 18 June, 2019, 02:46:33 PM

Whereas 335 was in orbit about a month after I bought my first ever prog!  Funnily enough I didn't take to Bryan Talbot first time I saw his artwork, largely because I'd been looking forward to more Book III-style O'Neill :-/

Luckily I saw sense by the time Luther Arkwright began its Valkyrie run (the one where it actually got completed).

It is always interesting to note that in most cases your first experience with an artist on character is how you will define that character.  Nemesis for me is Talbot whereas Slaine will be Fabry and Rogue will be Cam.
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: sheridan 18 June, 2019, 05:13:01 PM
It is always interesting to note that in most cases your first experience with an artist on character is how you will define that character.  Nemesis for me is Talbot whereas Slaine will be Fabry and Rogue will be Cam.

I don't have a particular Slaine artist - it'd be Angie Mills/Kincaid but I guess because she only did the one cover and episode it passed to Massimo, McMahon, Glenn, David et al.  True on Rogue though - that's the one that I'd picture in my mind.
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: MumboJimbo 18 June, 2019, 05:24:55 PM
It is always interesting to note that in most cases your first experience with an artist on character is how you will define that character.  Nemesis for me is Talbot whereas Slaine will be Fabry and Rogue will be Cam.


Although that's normally true, I agree with you about Talbot and Fabry even though they weren't my starting artists for those characters. For Dredd though, it's gotta be Ron Smith for me, every time. Ron's art is so all-encompassing to me that even his Judge Anderson is the "proper" Judge Anderson in my head. Rogue...hmm...maybe Brett Ewins? Of course, Johnny Alpha is not up for debate  ;)
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: broodblik 18 June, 2019, 05:35:00 PM
Agree on Anderson, Dredd I do not have a specific candidate. I like the fact that multiple people contribute to Dredd.
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: MumboJimbo 18 June, 2019, 05:35:25 PM
When Rachael and I covered the Ballad of Halo Jones for the Mega-City Book Club podcast (https://megacitybookclub.blogspot.com/2016/10/mega-city-book-club-17-ballad-of-halo.html), we all forgot about Glyph until right at the end as well!

Ah - Glyph! - thank you  :)
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: Colin YNWA 18 June, 2019, 09:17:10 PM
Yeah completely agree with all this praise of Bryan Talbot. Surely it was an incredibly daunting task to take over from the mightly O'Neill. In my mind there's an almighty stroke of good timing about the whole thing. As MumboJumbo says this story was pushed back and thence when it came to be published Kev O'Neill had moved on buy Bryan Talbot was perfectly placed, coming out of Luther Arkwright to pick up the reins.

Just a glorious bit of serendipity, like the story was waiting for Talbot to be ready for it. He is so perfect for this particular tale. So much so its hard to imagine Kev O'Neill doing the whole thing, even with those first two epsiodes. We'll never know but I do wonder how much Pat Mills would have had a different shape and tone to Book 4 if Kev O'Neill had still been on board.
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: Funt Solo 19 June, 2019, 05:59:06 AM
...Tom Frame noticeably changed his 2000AD lettering style — to those rough-hewn balloons with the straight-line edges.

I had to go and look to see this from prog 345:

Tom Frame on DreddTom Frame on Slaine
Rumble in the JungleHeroes' Blood
(https://i.imgur.com/2xqRrO3.jpg)     (https://i.imgur.com/F254jgY.jpg)


So much of the subtlety and artistry behind the lettering just passes me by.  I guess (and this is probably a hoary cliche) that if lettering is done well, it's generally unobtrusive.

AlexF mentioned the biochips, and then the other memorable balloons (bubbles? dialog ellipses?) that spring to mind are the Dark Judges, and (I think) Torquemada in spirit form.

Biochipped balloons from Bill Nuttall:
(https://i.imgur.com/2zTWx64.jpg)
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: Funt Solo 19 June, 2019, 06:06:55 AM
One character that really sticks out in Book 2 is - what we would call today - a non-binary gendered character who everyone ignores and forgets exists. He/she ends up sacrificing themselves to save Halo, and of course their heroic act is instantly forgotten about. Appropriately enough I can't remember the name of this characters. I could google it I guess but it seems apt to keep things as they are.


When Rachael and I covered the Ballad of Halo Jones for the Mega-City Book Club podcast (https://megacitybookclub.blogspot.com/2016/10/mega-city-book-club-17-ballad-of-halo.html), we all forgot about Glyph until right at the end as well!

Wait ... who?

(https://i.imgur.com/6YKlSUH.jpg)

: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: sheridan 19 June, 2019, 10:11:47 AM
Yeah completely agree with all this praise of Bryan Talbot. Surely it was an incredibly daunting task to take over from the mightly O'Neill. In my mind there's an almighty stroke of good timing about the whole thing. As MumboJumbo says this story was pushed back and thence when it came to be published Kev O'Neill had moved on buy Bryan Talbot was perfectly placed, coming out of Luther Arkwright to pick up the reins.

Well, he was finishing off the last half of Arkwright at about the same time as he was doing his Nem books - making his achievements even more outstanding!

Just a glorious bit of serendipity, like the story was waiting for Talbot to be ready for it. He is so perfect for this particular tale. So much so its hard to imagine Kev O'Neill doing the whole thing, even with those first two epsiodes. We'll never know but I do wonder how much Pat Mills would have had a different shape and tone to Book 4 if Kev O'Neill had still been on board.

We can guess - compare and contrast Torquemada the God with the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (particularly the earlier volumes) and we've got an idea of where The Gothic Empire could have ended up.
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: MumboJimbo 19 June, 2019, 02:06:38 PM
Progs 435 (Sept 85) to 467 (April 86)

New thrills! Robo-Hunter and Nemesis Book 5!!

Hoagy, PI Sam Slade's froglike robot assistant, is (and I hope you forgive my vulgarity) a c***. In the final Robo-Hunter story for 2000 AD (forgetting the 1991 reboot by Kick-Ass creator Mark Millar) he mercilessly harangues and psychologically tortures his elderly owner: initially by locking him up for two years in a health farm, and then by stealing Sam's boat, gambling all his money away, and even going so far as creating clones of himself that try to shoot Sam. He even creates a fake psychiatric hospital for Sam where all the patients and staff are clones of him and Stoagie (an e-cigarette who is both as much of an arsehole as Hoagy, but manages to also be an offensive Mexican stereotype) to convince Sam he's gone insane. He was also a c*** in the 1984 annual where he helps a burglar ransack somebody's house. He makes out, of course, that he only has the best of intentions, but his plans backfire on him because of his stupidity. But that doesn't really wash - he's clearly just a c***. The last ever page of (the proper) Robo-Hunter has Hoagy and Stoagie waiting to be bought by new owners in a second-hand shop, as the now penniless Sam Slade has finally sold them to raise some much needed cash.

Robo-Hunter, like Ace Trucking Co., was huge in the 79-82 period of 2000 AD, and like that other series had been apparently brought to a natural conclusion before I started reading the prog. It was the comic's take on the hard-boiled detective genre. I get the feeling this final outing was not author's John Wagner's idea but imposed on him by the editor, as it kind of reads as a story you might write if you hated the lead character. I think also Sam was meant to lose all his wealth so he could become a jobbing Private Eye once more, and have new adventures. But those adventures never came.

Well, onto Nemesis, who has finally realised his wife and son have been killed by the terminators. Clearly not much of a family man is Nemesis, as this happened all the way back in book 3. In fact, his son Thoth managed to survive and now hates his dad's guts. And Torquemada's too - who is actually dead at this point, but Thoth simply plucks him out of the past and sentences him to an endlessly repeated death by being burnt at the stake. Thoth also takes from the past the dinosaur Satanus, a character from 2000AD's very early days, but this feels a lot more gratuitous and unnecessary than the revivals of the ABC Warrior/Robusters characters in Books 3 and 4. More interesting is Book 5's examination of Nemesis' darker side. He even kills a bus-load of school children, including Torquemada's kids and is completely unrepentant about it! Torquemada on the other hand, is shown to be devoted husband and dutiful father. It's all set to become a fascinating new chapter in the tale, but then it just...ends. There's no crescendo or conclusion to the story it just comes to a halt after 10 or so episodes, which is a great shame.

In prog 437, 2000 AD finally gets a new thrill which isn't either a Judge Dredd spin-off or written by Alan Moore! Mean Team is a story in that most niche of genres - Future Sports - but a genre that the comic had actually dabbled in a few times before with strips such as Mean Arena and Harlem Heroes. It's announced with great fanfare and there's even a one-off Tharg story to introduce its new scriptwriter - The Beast! It should come as no surprise when I reveal this to be actually be a pseudonym for Wagner and Grant. It's kinda dumb, Mean Team, and I think it's intentional. It's very violent and there's no good guys, just a bunch of feral men on the rampage. It gets going and then, like Nemesis, just stops after 11 episodes, with the promise it will be back in the spring. It does come back eventually, but with a new writer and over a year later. Rebellion have even published the complete Mean Arena as a graphic novel, which is a lot more than this deserves in my opinion; it should've remained a curio for those intrepid readers of old progs to rediscover.

I've come to the conclusion that Rogue Trooper post Traitor-General showdown, is very similar to Twin Peaks post reveal of Laura Palmer's murderer: in has no clue where it's now going. The Horst episodes I talked about it my last update, were similar (if I can stretch the analogy to breaking point) to the episodes in Twin Peaks just after the reveal where Coops loses his FBI Badge. Just a bit of stalling until the new antagonist is revealed, Rogue Trooper's Wyndham Earl if you will. Well, the Norts and Southers make peace with each other, only for a third side to come in and kidnap Millcom's re-gening scientists - the cheeky scamps! So Rogue's new focus is finding out who these aliens are, and, er, killing them, obviously. Only that happens later on. And sadly that's the end of Gerry Finlay-Day's contributions to 2000 AD as I believe he had some kind of disagreement and left under a cloud, a rather sad ending for someone who'd been a big factor in 2000 AD's early success and other IPC comics to boot. Rogue Trooper would continue for a bit longer being written by the editorial staff, and would end with a memorable story called Cinnabar by new-boy John Smith, before being rebooted as the harshly remembered 'Friday'. But that's of course all in the future.

Slaine's Tomb of Terror kicks of in prog 447 and acts as calling card for 2000 AD's first ever spin-off (discounting reprint material) Dice Man. It seems possible that Nemesis Book 5 was curtailed to put Pat Mills to work on this. Both Dungeon and Dragons and the "choose your own adventure" books like Fighting Fantasy were huge at this point. Dice Man was IPC's short-lived attempt to get in on this market, and Tomb of Terror was a way to whet readers' appetites for this kind of thing. Slaine was the obvious choice, as it was the closest 2000 AD had to the standard fantasy setting of D&D. Tomb of Terror unfortunately, wants to have its cake and eat it, as it consists of a completely non-interactive comic strip followed by a couple of pages of some dice rolling stuff related to the story you just read. I guess they didn't want to alienate the readers who couldn't be bothered faffing about with pencils, dice and whatnot, as you can just read the story and ignore the stuff at the end (which I did) but it doesn't feel very much like you're controlling a story. And the story is a bit flat as it tries to ape a D&D adventure by having a party of warriors enter rooms and find treasure etc. I think in retrospect a proper-length Nemesis Book 5 would have been much more preferable! Oh well.

Around the same time Tomb of Terror starts we also see the start of the huge Max Bubba-era of Strontium Dog, which starts with a flashback that includes how Johnny Alpha meets Wulf. This is great, but is maybe spun out a little too long - there's a subplot where they have to escape some ogres that it definitely could have done without.

1986 kicks off with the return of Halo Jones and the clumsy resurrection of Ace Garp. I think these two stories represent both the best and the worst of this era! Let's dispense with Ace Trucking Co first. The new story, Doppelgarp is 22 episodes long, and with hardly any plot to it at all. It's actually borderline tedious, with only some great Belardinelli art to bring some relief. Halo Jones Book 3, on the other hand, is superb and for me the best of the 3 Halo books by far. We join Ms Jones a few years later, in her late 20s but looking older than her years and becoming an alcoholic stuck in a dead-end planet. She eventually escapes by joining the military. I could talk for hours about this, as it's a wonderful story, but if you're reading this you've already read it, or are going to read it, so I'll let you enjoy it for yourself.

Sadly, that's Alan Moore's last contribution to the comic, as I gather he wanted to keep copyright on his creations, and have more rights over reprints etc. I would say about 90% of 2000 AD was done by just 5 script writers at the time, so to lose two of them quite quickly (Moore and Finley-Day) must've been quite a setback. That only left Alan Grant, John Wager and Pat Mills, although 3 or 4 other writers were doing Future Shocks, including Peter Milligan who would become one of the "second wave" of creators to shape the comic in the late 80s.

Apart from the Halo Jones stand-out, I have to say these progs were slightly below-par compared to what had come before. Many stories felt either stretched out (Ace Trucking, Slaine, Strontium Dog) or rather curtailed and set-aside (Mean Arena, Rogue Trooper, Nemesis Book 5). I think maybe the strain of producing Dice Man and losing some key creators was the issue. It's still great though, and you can't complain too much when there's Halo Jones Book 3! Anyway, until next time.
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: Frank 19 June, 2019, 04:53:20 PM
Sadly, that's Alan Moore's last contribution to the comic, as I gather he wanted to keep copyright on his creations, and have more rights over reprints etc. I would say about 90% of 2000 AD was done by just 5 script writers at the time, so to lose two of them quite quickly (Moore and Finley-Day) must've been quite a setback.

You'd think Tharg would learn some kind of lesson from that. 

Although Alan Moore's a wizard who can predict the future (https://youtu.be/YvOZ1LzSAig?t=2015), he left 2000ad to work under more or less the same conditions at DC* and was ripped-off even more egregiously over Watchmen (https://comicsalliance.com/alan-moore-watchmen-contract-gibbons/).

Tharg would argue he can't compete with the page rates US publishers offer hot creators and is still giving the Grant Morrisons and Peter Milligans of tomorrow their break in comics, but Image (https://imagecomics.com/submissions) seem to do okay. **


* As far as I can tell, the only real difference between rights and remuneration at DC and IPC was that Jenette Kahn offered creators a cut of profits once a title hit a certain sales target and paid royalties on trade collections and merchandise. The creator contracts Steve MacManus introduced for Crisis (and which were subsequently offered to creators on all 2000ad Group titles) look like they were CTRL+C'd from DC's terms and conditions.

** 'Image Comics only publishes creator-owned material. We do not contract creators; we’re only interested in publishing original content for which you would retain all rights. WE DON’T PAY PAGE RATES. Image takes a small flat fee off the books published and it will be the responsibility of the creators to determine the division of the remaining pay between their creative team members'
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: Jim_Campbell 19 June, 2019, 05:06:59 PM

Tharg would argue he can't compete with the page rates US publishers offer hot creators and is still giving the Grant Morrisons and Peter Milligans of tomorrow their break in comics, but Image (https://imagecomics.com/submissions) seem to do okay.

This is a nonsensical argument. Almost no one walks into an Image contract without significant previous work under their belt, or an ‘in’ via a recommendation from someone who knows Eric Stephenson or one of the other main Image bods.

Even if you can get in the door at Image, without the sort of serious brand recognition attached to your name that comes (mainly) from high profile Big Two work, there is no guarantee that your Image book will make you any money at all. I say this off the back of multiple conversations with creators along the lines of “When will see Book Two of [X]?” only for them to ruefully shake their heads and say that they’d have spent a more productive 6/12/whatever months on a WFH contract because at least they’d have got paid that way.

As I’ve said before: all that hypothetical movie/TV money when your book does a Walking Dead doesn’t put food on the table if your book underperforms (or even sells modestly well, in some cases). WFH does.

(And, again, before someone leaps in: I’m not saying that WFH contracts shouldn’t be better — it absolutely shouldn’t be beyond the wit of man to devise one that gives a corporate publisher ownership of the IP but guarantees the creators an equitable share of exploitation of that IP. But this WFH Bad/Creator Owned Good thing is simplistic nonsense that fundamentally misunderstands the nature of the business.)

: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: sheridan 19 June, 2019, 05:07:50 PM
Stoagie (an e-cigarette who is both as much of an arsehole as Hoagy, but manages to also be an offensive Mexican stereotype) to convince Sam he's gone insane.


I always saw Stogie as an affectionate swipe to (cigar-smoking) Carlos Ezquerra...


Well, onto Nemesis, who has finally realised his wife and son have been killed by the terminators. Clearly not much of a family man is Nemesis, as this happened all the way back in book 3. In fact, his son Thoth managed to survive and now hates his dad's guts.


He found out his family were killed by Terminators during Book IV (The Gothic Empire) - he found out that there psychic signals emanating from his son's assassin in Book V, clueing him in that his son was still alive.
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: Frank 19 June, 2019, 05:21:22 PM
WFH Bad/Creator Owned Good

That is exactly what I said.  Beats me why I bothered typing all that - thanks for the summary!


: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: Jim_Campbell 19 June, 2019, 05:28:22 PM
WFH Bad/Creator Owned Good

That is exactly what I said.  Beats me why I bothered typing all that - thanks for the summary!

Is that not what you’ve been saying all over the 2000AD Megaverse page on Facebook? I apologise if I’ve misread your repeated claims that you’d rather read the shit 2000AD published in the 90s than see an existing strip handed off to other creators to extend its lifespan, but that was very much how I read your position.
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: Frank 19 June, 2019, 05:40:25 PM

Hi, Jim. Let's not derail a new member's thread and give him the impression we're rageaholics who pursue petty grievances across time and social media platforms, locked in eternal nerd-combat, like Nemesis and Torquemada.

If you want to continue our personal conversation, feel free to do so via PM, as suggested in the forum guidelines (https://forums.2000ad.com/index.php?topic=26167.0) *


* From time to time you will disagree with each other on certain subjects - please try to respect other peoples views and if you wish to enter into debate, provide reasonable arguments for your differing viewpoint and do not resort to personal attacks, flames, harassment or insulting. Please attempt to resolve your differences over PM or email rather than in a thread. We don't need personal disagreements clogging up and derailing threads. Do not enter into flame wars, personal character attacks or threaten others users, post peoples personal details and please keep in mind there is a distinction between the internet and real life.
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: JayzusB.Christ 19 June, 2019, 08:36:58 PM
Stoagie (an e-cigarette who is both as much of an arsehole as Hoagy, but manages to also be an offensive Mexican stereotype) to convince Sam he's gone insane.


I always saw Stogie as an affectionate swipe to (cigar-smoking) Carlos Ezquerra...




I think that's pretty well documented.  But also, he has a Spanish speaker's accent because he's a Cuban cigar.
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: Funt Solo 19 June, 2019, 08:45:27 PM
Stoagie (an e-cigarette who is both as much of an arsehole as Hoagy, but manages to also be an offensive Mexican stereotype) to convince Sam he's gone insane.

I always saw Stogie as an affectionate swipe to (cigar-smoking) Carlos Ezquerra...

I think that's pretty well documented.  But also, he has a Spanish speaker's accent because he's a Cuban cigar.

I would only classify it as offensive stereotyping if there was some offensive stereotyping.  (I don't think having an accent counts.)

(Ooh, look, it's quote-ception.)
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: Colin YNWA 19 June, 2019, 08:47:35 PM
More importantly how much do I love 'Farewell My Billions' very possibly my favourite Robo-Hunter story - though there is the Purple patch when Sam and Co first land in Brit-Cit which competes for top spot.

BUT 'Farewell my Billions' has the added advantage of Rose tinted nostalgia as it was (probably) my favourite none Dredd strip when I got back into Tharg's Organ with issue 431* and is the perfect example of a 2000ad comedy strip done well. Playing the laughs but not compromising on the action, excitment and intrigue.

*[Proper font size] Never let it be said that Rose tinted nostaglia has anything to do with good memory as the strip didn't even start until 4 Progs after that!
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: Jim_Campbell 20 June, 2019, 06:09:17 PM
If you want to continue our personal conversation, feel free to do so via PM, as suggested in the forum guidelines (https://forums.2000ad.com/index.php?topic=26167.0) *

I haven't flamed, attacked, harassed or personally abused you. I haven't behaved like a "rageaholic". I simply made some observations based on having worked in this industry full-time for over a decade which disagreed with assertions made by you, who don't. Not all opinions are created equal.

It would be a very boring 'discussion' forum if every disagreement had to be immediately take to PM, as you seem to be implying (since I don't believe I've actually broken any of the forum guidelines you quote). I should also point out that you didn't PM me to express your disagreement with my response… nor do I believe you should have done so.

I have no desire to continue the thread derail — you may have the last word if it's important to you, but I honestly couldn't let the implication that I was somehow in violation of the forum guidelines stand without reply. If you think differently, feel free to report me.
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: Fungus 21 June, 2019, 12:04:49 AM
he has a Spanish speaker's accent because he's a Cuban cigar.

I don't know if it's the alliteration... or deadpan stating of the bonkers...
or I'm overtired and in a funny mood...
but that tickles me no end  :D
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: MumboJimbo 21 June, 2019, 11:34:17 AM
Ahhh - that's better. I couldn't post for the last couple of days because something weird happened to my account! Thanks to Colin, and Caty at 2000 AD support for the help.

Anyway, you're all right in that Stoagie isn't really an offensive Mexican stereotype. That was my attempt at humour. I did initially write these for people I knew, so I do need to dial back my more strident opinions! I do love the prog and appreciate all the hard work by everyone who makes it happen - including letterers, bodgers, editors etc. and I hope that comes across in these posts. Anyway, enough yakkin'...

Progs 468-499 (May - December 86)

It's 2000AD's ninth birthday and we've got new thrills to celebrate: Sooner or Later! Anderson Psi Division! Bad City Blue! In fact the only continuing story is the seemingly interminable "Doppelgarp" Ace Trucking Co. strip.

I said in my last entry that 2000 AD was, for me, going through a slightly below-par phase, and I think this chunk of progs starts off below par as well, but steadily improves all the way to the glory days of Prog 500 and (crikey yes!) Bad Company. But I'm getting ahead of myself. So, anyway, we have a new Judge Anderson Story - the 11-episode The Possessed, and for me we're really not at peak Anderson yet. The point of Anderson, to my mind anyway, is that to do her psychic stuff she can't emotionally turn herself off from the job, as Joe does (if he had any emotions to start with). She has to feel all the things her antagonists do, and their victims, and then pick herself up and do it all again. But this isn't that Anderson. This is the wisecracking Anderson who jokes her way through an over-extended Dredd story with paranormal window dressing. She has to kill an innocent child in this story, and although she's shedding tears while doing it, the wisecracks start up literally a page later. Still, no-one draws heads and lips coming out of cave walls like Brett Ewins. Of course, wisecracking Anderson is very much part and parcel of her character too, but the outer layer, and coping mechanism of someone who cares a lot more it initially appears.

Bad City Blue is, well, completely meh to be honest. You get the feeling Alan Grant loses interest in his new creation by about the third episode, which is a shame as Robin Smith's Bladerunner-influenced dystopia is excellently realised, if slightly derivative. The story takes a dive when Blue has his old memories restored and starts talking like Red Indians in old films they're not allowed to show any more: "me save planet" and the like. I think the problem may have been that Wagner and Grant were between them writing the entire comic during this period (except for the single-page strip Sooner or Later) so they were probably stretched very thin indeed.

Talking of Sooner or Later, it's as disconnected and obtuse as I remember it to be. In some ways it's very interesting as it's a taste of what the comic will become post prog 600-ish with more "urban contemporary" stories like Hewligan's Haircut, Times Flies etc. "Swifty" is a dreadlocked, unemployed bloke from Camden - a cliche maybe, but certainly like nothing we'd seen in the comic before. He's accidentally transported to Britain in the far future, and (supposedly) an adventure ensues full of pithy political satire and psychedelic surrealism. Only for me they don't manage to pull it off. I think having only a single page each week doesn't help matters but it's very hard to follow and I'm not even sure if you're meant to understand it, and the political satire is neither funny nor subtle. Script writer Milligan's next work would be Bad Company, but it's hard to find the seeds of its greatness in Sooner or Later.

Luckily, Strontium Dog is hitting its stride with the excellent Rage, a revenge saga as cold-blooded as they come. Johnny Alpha had maybe got too nice recently, protecting norms and so on, but with the death of Wulf, the milk of human kindness has soured and Alpha's going to find Max Bubba, and he's going to kill everyone Max Bubba has ever met, and then nearly kill Bubba, leave him to get better and just when Bubba thinks he's escaped, actually kill him. Just to eke it out as much as possible, because that's what you get for killing Wulf.

I don't seem to mention the Judge Dredd stories much in these retrospectives - it's hard to do as they tend to either be standalone or very short serials. The quality is pretty consistent. One that is maybe semi-Autobiographical is one about a Scottish comic artist who comes to Mega-City-1 to seek his fortune, only for a big comic company to steal his artwork. There's also in this run the very memorable Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, which definitely caused some stirrings when I was 13!

The Ace Trucking Co. Doppelganger story eventually ends, only to be replaced by the equally long and ponderous Garpetbaggers, that tries to riff on Hollywood, but does it far less successfully than DR and Quinch Go To Hollywood. Again Belardinelli's art is the saving grace as seems as though Alan Grant has long gone off Garp and Co. and is only going through the motions. Although Garp isn't killed off at the end of this one, it's notable that Tharg announces in the Nerve Centre that the story has been "laid to rest". And not before time in my opinion.

Bad City Blue and Anderson eventually bow out, to be replaced by a Pat Mills double-bill: Nemesis Book 6 and Metalzoic. Book 6, or Book 5, Part 2 as it really should be called, is shaping up nicely as we are transported to far in the future and meet the sinister Monads. Only, the story sticks around for just 6 episodes, and doesn't get finished until prog 500+, so I'll have more to say about it in the next instalment. I wish Pat Mills could write Nemesis at the rate he writes Slaine. It feels like getting new Nemesis post book 4 is like getting blood from a stone. Maybe it was Talbot's (excellent) artwork that was holding things up?

Metalzoic is basically Pat Mills and Kevin O'Neil going to America to seek their fortune, but I believe not getting the success Alan Moore would enjoy. In retrospect it seems unlikely this abstruse tale of future robotic beasts was going to reel in American readers. It's hard going - even more so in the 2000 AD reprint as the colour has been lost and because of this it can be hard to understand O'Neil's drawings. I think by this point, O'Neil's work had, for me, become a bit too stylised, and anarchic - missing the care and attention of, say, Nemesis Books 1 and 3. Having said all that though, I did enjoy Metalzoic. It's vision of an earth populated by robotic beasts foreshadowed recent PS4 game Horizon Zero Dawn, which proves the idea was a good one. Maybe they just should have gone for something a little less high-concept, and a little more approachable to win the US over.

As we approach the hallowed prog 500, there are a couple of shorter series to tide us over - a 5-episode Rogue Trooper and a 7-episode Slaine. The Rogue Trooper series, Hit Man is interesting in that it is first Rogue since the departure of Gerry Finley-Day. Editor Steve MacManus and his assistant Simon Geller (who appears in the comic as Burt's hyper-efficient foil, SIM-1) take over scripting duties, and I don't think they get the voice of Rogue quite right (he talks too much for one thing) and Gunnar is even more of a dick than usual, but we have the welcome return of Steve Dillon on art duties, which is relief after the below-par (in my opinion) Jose Ortiz. I know Ortiz did sterling work for The Thirteenth Floor in Scream and later Eagle, but for some reason his Rogue didn't win me over. In Hit Man Rogue finally get his raison d'etre post-Traitor General. He is to be a tool of a high intelligence alien super power as they seek to end all war. And Rogue is going to help them! - by, um, killing people.

Slaine's Spoils of Annwn is clearly a bit of a stopgap while Glenn Fabry works on the main event - Slaine the King, but one I very much enjoyed nonetheless. To be sure, the plot is incredibly perfunctory - basically a retelling of the Labours of Hercules, as Slaine has to undergo a series of tasks to prove him worthy to be a king. Each task is based on a sign of the zodiac, so needless to say, Pat goes full Weave on this one. What I liked about was its dreamlike quality. It's set around Glastonbury (of course it is) we're back to just the trio of Slaine, Nest and Ukko. For some reason, the sky reflects an image of the land, so they are able to plot their course by looking at the sky, which is quite a novel idea. And there we leave it at prog 499. Until tomorrow (and prog 500 high jinx!)
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: Jim_Campbell 21 June, 2019, 12:01:08 PM
Yeah… Ortiz' stint on Rogue is an odd one — his art is great… I've commented before that he had one of the most distinctive ways of lighting figures I can think of — generally with a strong primary light source and a secondary 'bounce' light that somehow immediately makes me think of westerns. But his Rogue just never 'felt' like Rogue.
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: Magnetica 21 June, 2019, 12:29:57 PM
Yes Spoils of Annwn felt like a stop gap both in terms of story and art. But I enjoyed it immensely and it has stuck in the memory all these years, so it managed to go far beyond that in the end.
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: sheridan 21 June, 2019, 02:37:34 PM
Yeah… Ortiz' stint on Rogue is an odd one — his art is great… I've commented before that he had one of the most distinctive ways of lighting figures I can think of — generally with a strong primary light source and a secondary 'bounce' light that somehow immediately makes me think of westerns. But his Rogue just never 'felt' like Rogue.

True - for artwork that he truly made his own, see The Thirteenth Floor (from the pages of Scream! and Eagle).
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: sheridan 21 June, 2019, 02:38:22 PM
Yeah… Ortiz' stint on Rogue is an odd one — his art is great… I've commented before that he had one of the most distinctive ways of lighting figures I can think of — generally with a strong primary light source and a secondary 'bounce' light that somehow immediately makes me think of westerns. But his Rogue just never 'felt' like Rogue.

True - for artwork that he truly made his own, see The Thirteenth Floor (from the pages of Scream! and Eagle).

Pretty sure Jim would already know about that one - this is aimed at anybody not familiar with it - also, always good to jog memories, especially when you get to our age!
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: Jim_Campbell 21 June, 2019, 02:39:42 PM
True - for artwork that he truly made his own, see The Thirteenth Floor (from the pages of Scream! and Eagle).

I'm a House of Daemon man, myself! :-)
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: Leigh S 21 June, 2019, 03:40:03 PM
The Tower King for me! Superb art there, but yeah, for some reason Rogue didn't quite work

True - for artwork that he truly made his own, see The Thirteenth Floor (from the pages of Scream! and Eagle).

I'm a House of Daemon man, myself! :-)
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: Steve Green 21 June, 2019, 06:19:02 PM
Same here.

Much as I like Ortiz, he didn't seem a good fit for Rogue.

I think it was mainly down to Rogue, at least during the Traitor General Arc, being suited to artists with a good handle on tech and vehicles.

It wasn't a bad idea to replace them with something more like bioweaponry and weird aliens to mix it up a bit, but Ortiz seemed more suited to creepy period or near future horror than far future war and the aliens were mostly of the Meltdown Man variety in the Horst run.
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: Funt Solo 22 June, 2019, 01:27:48 AM
I wonder if it would have worked better if it hadn't been Horst.  It was such a poor move (in hindsight) to remove the tale from Nu Earth (which was as much a main character as Rogue himself).
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: Steve Green 22 June, 2019, 08:28:41 AM
Maybe - it's one of those things that's tied to Rogue so closely, it's what he was created for - removing that, or the biochips in the reboot shifts things a bit.

I'm not sure if a Regene storyline set on Nu-Earth would have been much better though, to borrow Space Spinner's description, would readers get pissed off with a whole new set of side-quests to stretch out the resolution of the main task.
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: MumboJimbo 24 June, 2019, 12:08:22 PM
Prog 500 (Dec 1986) - Prog 543 (Oct 87)

Before I start, I should say that in the middle of this I go off on one about the changing nature of 2000 AD and the UK comic industry as a whole. I wrote this originally for some friends, who weren't as into UK comics as me, so bear that in mind. Also a lot is conjecture as I haven't read Thrill Power Unleashed etc., so I imagine those on this forum will have a lot better insight than I do! Anyway, with that out of the way - let's get going.

Prog 500! I still remember the excitement of getting it, and having to finish my paper round first before I could settle down and enjoy its wonders. That wonderful wraparound cover with 20 different characters drawn by 20 different artists. But that was nothing compared to the joys to be had inside. I've talked before about when 2000 AD hit its peak for me, and the early 500s could definitely be a contender. It is, for me, where 2000 AD as a (mostly) black-and-white publication hit its artistic peak. Of course, for full colour art we've still got the sumptuousness of Bisley's Slaine to come, but Glenn Fabry's Slaine The King one of the best looking b&w strips ever to grace the prog. And to rival it we have the return of Talbot's Nemesis and Ewins & McCarthy's Bad Company. It's a simply gorgeous prog from start to finish, and we have the rather indulgent but fascinating one-off 'Tharg's Head Revisited', full of private in-jokes, digs at other artists, rants against the industry and so on.

Sadly Nemesis was only back for 5 new episodes, to finish off Book 6 and that was the last we were to see of Bryan Talbot's excellent artwork in the prog. Nemesis book 6 is a weird one - I remember reading somewhere Talbot describing it as "the one where all the characters stand around on a beach and talk to each other" - which is fairly accurate, but it's better than that sounds. Nemesis, Torquemada and co. have tracked Thoth to the far future where humanity has returned to the primordial ooze from whence we came. This gloop (called Primords) can take a humanoid form by pouring themselves into what looks like deep-sea diver suits. The Primords are benign and wish to cure Torquemada of his hatred, only there's a spanner in the works: the terminators have been using the ooze as fuel and spirit of the dead Primords have morphed in the evil monads. Anyway, it's all very nightmarish and trippy, and Talbot's depiction of the Monads is terrifying, but once the dust has settled, the only thing that's changed is Torquemada is now back in charge of the Terminators. And Candida has gone mad.

Slaine the King starts off great with Slaine finally returning to his home tribe, only to find them starving under the yoke of the evil Famorians. Only, 9 episodes in the strip disappears for 8 issues, to come back for a final 3-episode ending that felt rushed. And, like Talbot, we won't be seeing much more of Fabry's work in the comic. He comes back for a one-off Slaine and then a 3-episode story about 18 months later, and then an 8-episode story in 1993, but that's it. I wonder if Fabry and Talbot's work just took too long to do, and it wasn't cost effective for them to stay as 2000 AD artists given how much detail they put into their art. But that's all conjecture.

Bad Company Book 1 really is the tits. You can tell they put a great deal of prep into this series - all the character designs, including clothing etc. are very detailed and well realised, especially considering that many of the Bad Company members only last a few episodes into the series. It's a startlingly bleak story, with the look of recognition Danny Franks sees in zombie Malcolm's eyes still shocking all these years later, and I love how Franks gradually turns from the fresh-faced recruit to the unkempt, battle-hardened member of the company. Just a great strip, both artistically and in its story, and as every bit as good as I remember it to be.

Nemesis gets replaced by the rather long Strontium Dog story 'Bitch', which is memorable for its introduction of the character Durham Red. Does she fancy Johnny or just want to drink his blood? Who knows, but it's more fun than Twilight. Although the Ronald Reagan shenanigans get a bit tiresome, there is one very funny moment though when Alpha decides to join Durham Red in the shower only for Ronnie to join in too, which actually made me laugh out loud.

Prog 510 brings Millgan's third major story in the prog - The Dead, a strip I never bothered to read back in the day. I enjoyed it, especially Belardinelli's artwork - it's nice to see him tackle something a bit more weighty and high-concept than Ace Trucking Co. It is a story that does ultimately break under the weight of its complex cosmology of the Afterlife, which gives the Catholic Church a run for its money. It's very different in tone from both Bad Company and Sooner or Later, showing Milligan to be have quite a range as a writer.

Prog 520 is 2000AD's 10th birthday issue, and also the issue where everything starts to change. IPC gets bought by Robert Maxwell of all people. The paper 2000 AD is printed on changes to a better quality stock, and a taller, thinner shape. Editor Steve MacManus is now in charge of a new initiative to extend the 2000 AD brand into a range of periodicals, and assistant editor Richard Burton (no relation) is promoted to editor.

I don't think any of these changes though, momentous as they are, sufficiently explain the huge transformation 2000 AD goes through in the next few years. The comic goes from a trusted brand that seems comfortable with its own identity to a no-holds-barred experimental training ground for new talent. New writers, artists and stories would come and go, seemingly without much thought as to how their work would sit with the current readership. It's almost as if 2000 AD was not 2000 AD but a new sister comic whose remit was to give a voice to new up-and-coming talent, some of whom would prove to be successful enough to feature in the real 2000 AD. Only this was the real 2000 AD.

Richard Burton has been sub-editor for years, and was portrayed in the occasional Tharg stories as Burt - the well-meaning but dull and subservient drudge who Tharg gets to boss about. I've seen clips of him on YouTube where he talks about how his time as editory and how he had to pander to his bosses and work with the diva-like nature of some of his creative talent, but nothing about having a distinct, new creative vision for the prog. It seems, therefore, rather unlikely that 2000 AD should go under such a radical makeover during his stint as editor.

How much, I wonder, of the changes in 2000 AD at this time were actually due to the new sub-editor, Alan McKenzie, who would eventually succeed Burton as editor in the mid-nineties? McKenzie was young and liked House music, about which he would write about in the comic under the female pseudonym Roxilla. He wrote a fair few of the new strips, which we'll get to later. I think it's fair to say McKenzie is not always a well-regarded figure in the history of 2000 AD; he did after all edit the comic in the mid-nineties which is widely considered the Dark Age of 2000 AD. However, I wasn't reading it then so I can't comment. I'm quite excited to get to this era of 2000 AD in the my re-read. Things change fast, and say what you like about the quality-control, there's no year-long run of Ace Trucking Co. to have to read!

Anyway, things don't actually change overnight. It's prog 555 when the comic has a complete makeover, including a logo-change where things really start to move. The 520-554 period is a kind of transitory phase before the storm. It's maybe the case that 2000 AD had to change. A lot of writers and artists were leaving the comic as they'd had enough of not keeping the copyright to their work, and looked to America, or setting up their own rival publication (see Deadline and Toxic). So new talent was certainly needed. Also the UK comic market was rapidly contracting at this point. Long running titles like Battle and Tiger had become defunct and the market for girls' comics had basically vanished. 2000 AD's lifeline was that it was now appealing to an increasingly older audience. If it could continue to cultivate that, and still appeal to its original 10+ readership, then it could buck market trends and continue to be a strong seller.

But back to the stories. We get a new Nemesis 5-parter called Torquemada the God marking the brief return of original artist Kevin O'Neil. I absolutely bloody loved this, far more than I did when I originally read it. Kev's anarchic artwork perfectly captures the bug-eyed fanatical fervour and insanity of Termight, and his S&M stylings of Sister Stern (replete with flat-top and tanga briefs with suspenders) is hilarious. Rogue Trooper comes back in Hit 1, and still a bit below par. I think the dull setting is partly to blame - a rather generic Nort base is no match for the choking chem clouds of Nu Earth. It's Steve Dillon on art duties though, so that's cool.

The new Judge Anderson 12-episode 'Hour of the Wolf', on the other hand is corking, even if Anderson spends most of it unconscious. A very well plotted and paced story of assassins and subterfuge with a surprising ending. And Barry Kitson doing sterling work on the art front. Mean Team comes back (finally), now written by Alan Hebden. I preferred it to the first story, although it's not particularly memorable.

We've already had Bad Company, and Prog 535 gives us the second of this era's big hitters - Zenith! Yowel's artwork is like nothing we had seen so far in 2000 AD - kind of impressionistic and not as detailed as, say, Fabry or Talbot, but incredibly effective at imparting mood. And also 2000 AD's first superhero story - a genre they had purposely avoided, but I guess Zenith is such an anti-hero, that it kind of subverts the genre. He's a bit of a cowardly, moaning nob in the first story to be fair, but it's more of an ensemble cast anyway, so it doesn't detract too much. It's also tied into the Lovecraft Mythos which I never realised at the time. Ace.

We also get a couple of minor new mini-series: Universal Soldier and Freaks. Universal Soldier is, I have to say, not to my liking at all. The story is skeletal, the art is a bit meh and it feels rushed at the end. Milligan's Freaks is better but it's basically a longer Future Shock, but that's OK. Anyway, until next time!
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: AlexF 24 June, 2019, 02:00:22 PM
Boy, that's an awful lot of content and background info covered in one post there, impressive stuff!
I'm getting quite the kick out of reading these alongside SpaceSpinner 2000's near-contemporary reviews of the same period - although you're about to jump a big step ahead - fascinating to see how your opinion diverges from theirs, and, of course, my own!

I'd love to get more behind the scenes info from Messers Burton and Mackenzie about the ethos of 2000AD, but I suspect your analysis is the correct one - they were too busy just getting the damn comic out every week they had little time to do any more high-level planning.

With that in mind, it's a bit of a shame you haven't more space to talk about the development of Judge Dredd week on week. Wagner and Grant, along with Pat Mills, were probably much more of a guiding voice about 2000AD at this time. They'd been in it from the start, and were both good enough at their job and senior enough that the editors probably asked for very few changes. But you can definitely see the stories they write getting more and more sophisticated and more appealing to older readers.
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: MumboJimbo 24 June, 2019, 05:35:00 PM
With that in mind, it's a bit of a shame you haven't more space to talk about the development of Judge Dredd week on week.

I'll have more to say in tomorrow's instalment about Dredd, as Oz is about to start  :D
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: Colin YNWA 24 June, 2019, 09:21:18 PM
The sheer quantity of great thrills list there makes me wonder why I rated 1986 ahead of 1987 in my recent re-read (I actually go for 1999 being the best year to date (well up to 2000) but this is a glorious period.

Anderson Hour of the Wolf has one of my all time favourite episode with the masterfully timed ambush that takes out Cass.
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: Funt Solo 24 June, 2019, 10:32:30 PM
Anderson Hour of the Wolf has one of my all time favourite episode with the masterfully timed ambush that takes out Cass.

I LOVE that series.  I felt it suffered a bit from the artist change part way through. 

These were interesting days for the comic, with prog 520 clearly being a standout as it was the 10th Birthday Prog, and it changed paper size and stock.  That prog is just full of great art: Barry Kitson on Anderson, Steve Dillon on Rogue, Garry Leach on Dredd, Kevin O'Neill on Torquemada the God and Carlos on Strontium Dog.  Wow! 
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: Frank 24 June, 2019, 10:57:50 PM

It's the only really good Anderson story, or at least the only Anderson story that works as an action thriller in its own right.

I started reading at 511, so every single strip is golden, to me. This was the first Rogue Trooper and Nemesis (Torquemada) I'd ever read, so I thought the former (which is tosh) was great and the latter (which is fantastic) was the level of quality I could expect every week.

Great retrospectives, OtherJimbo. I've never spoken to any 2000ad creator, but the fact most who left at this point went to work on comics that offered better pay but not much else suggests copyright wasn't the deal breaker Alan Moore's principled* rhetoric suggests.

We'd probably have had Halo Jones Book Four if Cap'n Bob had thrown some of that Mirror pension money Moore's way.


* And, in my view, correct
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: sheridan 25 June, 2019, 12:40:15 AM
I wonder if Fabry and Talbot's work just took too long to do, and it wasn't cost effective for them to stay as 2000 AD artists given how much detail they put into their art. But that's all conjecture.


Fabry is not the fastest artist - especially when everything went colour.  Talbot went off to do Batman, One Bad Rat, a sequel to Luther Arkwright, etc.
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: sheridan 25 June, 2019, 12:45:05 AM
Anderson Hour of the Wolf has one of my all time favourite episode with the masterfully timed ambush that takes out Cass.

I LOVE that series.  I felt it suffered a bit from the artist change part way through. 

That's what I thought at the time it came out too - glad Will's art got to the stage that he was painting full-colour Dredd not that much later!
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: MumboJimbo 25 June, 2019, 11:27:28 AM
Progs 544 to 585

Wham, bam - it's John Hicklenton! John Hicklenton's coming for you with his world of gurning, preening insanity where everyone suffers from a cricked neck. John Hicklenton's here and Nemesis, and indeed 2000 AD as a whole, would never be the same again. Of course, Mike McMahon and Kev O'Neil could be pretty "out there" at times, but Hicklenton's Nemesis Book 7 is in a whole different league. You feel slightly dirty after reading a Hicklenton strip, as if the arterial spray that fills many of his panels has drizzled out of the page and coagulated on your lap (ugh!). I remember hating it when it first arrived - how could they replace Bryan Talbot with this? - but growing to love it by Book 9, when I was a bit older and more receptive to new things. Looking back on it now, Hicklenton's work is absolutely mind blowing - unique, single-minded and brave. He goes to town on showing the exotic, alien otherness of Nemesis himself, and the gurning insanity of his, er, nemesis, Tomas de Torquemada, but shows admirable restraint with his depiction of the original, medieval Torquemada, who is drawn very closely to his depictions of the time, as a seemingly gentle monk with large, doleful eyes and a prim, pursed mouth. His take on Purity, with thin pointy eyebrows, is a bit WTF though - it's looks as if Sister Stern has taken her place, and Nemesis hasn't noticed yet. (He probably wouldn't notice to be fair - it took him ages to realise his wife had died.) There's also at least one panel each episode, that try as a might I have no understanding of what's meant to be depicted. I was very sad to learn Hicklenton died of MS back in 2010 at the age of 42, and used Dignitas to end his life. I intend to track down some of his other work, particularly his final work - 100 Months - completed the day before his trip to the Dignitas centre in Switzerland.

"The Rammy" is a highly enjoyable Strontium Dog 10-part romp where Alpha and McNulty entrap some crims living in a futuristic version of Marbellas, where they are allowed to live in luxury without having to atone for their past crimes. The Stronts can't touch them in Marbellas, so they have to lure them out by organising a big brawl (the titular "Rammy") where the winner walks off with a large prize money. The whole story is told as a flashback to a courtroom drama, where Alpha and McNulty are being held by the Marbellas authorities, who are trying to prosecute them for entrapment. Nice plot idea, well paced, and probably the best post-Rage Strontium Dog story so far.

Bad Company are back (well, what's left of them) for their second adventure - The Bewilderness, which to be honest is more a bridging story between the first story, and the third - the Krool Heart. Danny Franks is tasked to rebuild the Company, more or less from scratch, and they find a half-insane Kano, presumed dead. Ewins' and McCarthy's art continues to impress.

Just when you thought John Hicklenton's art was a one-of-a-kind, never to be repeated idiosyncratic flight-of-fancy, we actually get a second artist of a surprisingly similar ilk to Hicklenton in Simon Harrison, who furnishes us with a series of one-off adventures of an alien child called Bradley. The premise is simple, Bradley's parents believe him to be a bit of handful, but in reality Bradley is actually a dangerous psychopath and of course Bradley gets himself in all manner of scrapes. Harrison's art work, and alien-ness he brings to proceedings definitely elevate this above its simple premise. As long as Simon Harrison is deployed on such projects, and not something like, say, Strontium Dog, which would be an appalling mismatch with his art style, I'm sure he will do fine and be welcomed by the 2000 AD readership with open arms. Right guys?

After much hinting in the Nerve Centre that we were finally getting an epic Judge Dredd story after 3 years of nothing but short stories that made not a jot of difference to Dredd and Mega-City One, it arrives in the form of Oz. I do remember thinking at the time "for f***'s sake" when this so-called epic seemed to be nothing more than a surf race in Australia. I was not impressed. However, it turned out better than I had feared, and even had some long term ramifications - something unheard of in the Dreddverse since the Apocalypse War. The Oz story breaks down into roughly 3 parts: Choppers escape from the Iso-Cubes and flight to Oz; the Judda; and finally the race itself. The Judda - exiled Judge Judd's army of cloned judges - save the story from being too light and inconsequential, and the race itself is actually tightly written and paced, and rather exciting. Although the Judda are defeated, a clone of Judge Fargo (and therefore also a clone of Dredd) is captured alive, and this will have ramifications further down the line, as will Dredd's decision not to shoot Chopper when he escapes arrest at the end of the race.

And now we come to prog 555, replete with a whole new design for 2000 AD - a new logo, new look Nerve Centre etc. And a brand new ABC Warriors epic, drawn by new recruit Simon Bisley, no less! (And another guy called S.M.S, but everyone seems to forget about him.) I'm gonna be honest and say, I found this story - The Black Hole - a bit meh to begin with. New warrior Terri - hot woman who thinks she's a robot and is in love with Hammerstein - is pretty paper-thin, and maybe it was an admission by Pat Mills that she was a bit crap by the way she is quickly dispatched at the end of the story. The first few parts are not very interesting, and Bisley's art is good, but not as remarkable and shockingly different as Hinklenton and Simon Harrison's recent flights of fancy. Then after the first 4 episodes, S.M.S. takes over, and if anything I actually prefer his work (sacrilege I know). But when when Bisley returns in episode 9, his work is much, much better. Maybe he'd seen that 2000 AD was now printing some fairly far-out artwork, so he allowed himself to go to town a bit more and buckle-down on the weirdness? His version of Mongrol with giant hands is particularly pleasing. The story also ramps up at this point, and although the ending is rushed, it was overall a good story, albeit a little uneven in places. (I know this is considered a classic, and my faint praise may not match your opinion - sorry!)

Straight after Nemesis Book 7 we get Nemesis Book 8 - how exciting! Although this is more of a flashback than a continuation of the main narrative. David Roach takes over the art, and the focus of the story - Purity Brown - is completely changed from Hicklenton's Miss Whiplash to all feminine lines and long flowing locks of hair. Purity's Story is most memorable for two things: firstly, the classic scene where Torquemada gets Purity to wear a dress made out of some kind of alien flamingo, in a scene that I though very much foreshadowed Bjork's swan dress at the Dancer in the Dark premier. And secondly, that Nemesis is actually a total bastard. I mean, we had our suspicions when he killed that busload of kids in Book 5, but now he basically admits it to Purity before erasing her memory with some warlocky spell.

Rogue Trooper pops up for 3 episodes, buggers off again, and then pops up again a few months later for another 3. You kind of get the feeling that the editorial staff have completely lost interest in poor old Rogue, but feel he ought to be included every now and then because he's popular with the readership. Also popping up in short, sporadic stories is new character Tyranny Rex, also drawn by Steve Dillon. The least interesting thing about the first two Tyranny Rex stories is the titular character. Script writer John Smith is clearly having fun with the world he had created, full of references to contemporary music (Talking Heads episode titles!), but I got the impression Smith is markedly less invested in his tough-talking lizard heroine.

Something I have no recollection of whatsoever, but is totally ace, is Summer Magic. Reminiscent of A Box of Delights, but a lot darker, it recounts the childhood recollections of a boy being taught magic by his uncle, and they attempt to kill a monster that has been roaming the local woods. The artwork here (by a guy called John Ridgeway) is lovely stuff: a verdant, nostalgic re-imagining of 60s rural England, and very unlike anything else in the prog in this era. Bravo!

Finally - we have Strontium Dog - The No-Go Job, with a new artist - Simon Harrison. If the complete makeover Hicklenton gave to Nemesis was hard to adjust to, then this really was asking a lot from the 2000 AD readership to welcome this jarring change with open arms. I stopped getting the prog for 2 years around this time, and I don't actually remember why, but I'm sure it was to do with how rapidly things were changing at the time, and this may have been the last straw. However, back to the present day, 45 year old MumboJimbo very much enjoyed Harrison's mad take on Strontium Dog, particularly his drawing of McNulty's granny's dog Dougal. There's a lot of humour and creativity going on, and each panel is a treat, providing you can make head or tail of what's meant to be going on. But is Harrison the kind of artist who could pull off the emotional punch of Johnny Alpha being killed off? I have my doubts, but we'll find out soon!
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: broodblik 25 June, 2019, 02:07:34 PM
I agree with your take on Strontium Dog with Harrison on art duty. I know a few people like his art but his work I could never get into (even when I recently re-read Strontium Dog). The whole Rogue Hit-saga was a complete mess and it was almost nobody know how to do a proper Rogue story and direction. It felt that when Finley-Day left they should have sunset Rogue.
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: Greg M. 25 June, 2019, 04:51:17 PM
You feel slightly dirty after reading a Hicklenton strip, as if the arterial spray that fills many of his panels has drizzled out of the page and coagulated on your lap (ugh!).

You should see his artwork before it was edited for publication - it's even more filthy than you think, with all manner of free-spurting appendages and implied sordidness.
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: Funt Solo 25 June, 2019, 09:23:48 PM
I recall that era fondly - and how exciting it was to have some very different art styles come into play.

Hicklenton on Nemesis was like no other art I'd ever seen in the prog: so disturbing!  I mean Judge Death was scary when drawn very cleanly by Bolland: but Hicklenton's work felt a bit like the artist was suffering trauma in realizing their vision.  (I could imagine Bolland settling down for a nice cuppa after drawing Death ... but Hicklenton maybe needed counseling.)

I really loved Bisley's work on the ABCs: but that's not to say that I didn't like the different art style of SMS.  The trouble is that they get naturally compared because they both worked on a much-loved series, and SMS had to go second against the breakout talent of Bisley.  Man: unfair! 

Much as I love the work of King Carlos, I'd started to tire of Strontium Dog because it seemed to be coasting along on too mellow a ride.  Simon Harrison's art, and the fact that The No-Go Job seemed to be shaking up Alpha's world a bit, were exciting compared to the mellow.
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: Fungus 25 June, 2019, 11:14:35 PM
Ah, Hicklenton. Really looking forward to his contribution to Nemesis, that's next up in my UC reading. And yet I didn't care for his sloppy, odd art back then. Weird! It nudges my elderly brain in all the right places. I was wrong  :o
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: MumboJimbo 26 June, 2019, 12:11:57 PM
Progs 586 - 625 (August 88 - May 89)

I must start this next instalment with one huge omission I made from my last one - the third Bad Company book, the Krool Heart. How could I leave that out? A great run for the Company, and one which rivals the first book. It also feels like a completion to the story, which in my view is best summarised as the metamorphosis of Danny Franks. The first book took him from fresh-faced recruit to grizzled war veteran, and this one ends with him merging with the enemy itself and becoming one with the Krool. This really feels like a full stop, there's no real dangling plot lines, and I wouldn't be surprised if the Milligan and Ewins considered leaving things there. In any case, it was the end for me, as book 4 wouldn't appear until prog 828, nearly five years later and two years after I stopped getting the prog.

In this era of huge changes to the comic, losing one of your two post-prog 500 big hitters seemed a big blow. Bad Company and Zenith had both been holding the fort to some extent, while the former old faithfuls like Rogue Trooper and Strontium Dog were getting a bit ragged round the edges, and some of the other new stories were failing to gain traction.

Anyway, prog 586 furnishes us with two new stories - Nemesis Book 9 and Milligan's Tribal Memories, the later of which deserved to be longer and would have been an excellent fit for the soon-to-be-released Crisis. We are presented with a future where everyone has been injecting themselves with personality implants, to the extent where only one person remains in the world with their original personality still intact - an African tribesman-warrior. A man called Mo Robinson is tasked with extracting his personality, but Mo - who is also black, comes to befriend him, and all sort of issues regarding race and identity are explored. Or they would've been if this hadn't been just bloody four episodes long. Instead we get some intriguing ideas, and a pat ending. Art droid "Riot" lives up to epithet with an art style that, like McMahon's and Ian Gibson's, is initially scruffy and unappealing but soon gets under your skin and grows on you massively. All in all, a wasted opportunity, particularly considering dross like Moonrunners ran to over 20 episodes.

Nemesis Book 9 sees the welcome (well, for me at least) return of artist John Hicklenton, and this continues where Book 7 left off with Nemesis pursuing Torquemada though time. And where does Torque end up hiding? Only Britain in the late 80s! - what are the chances? Only this isn't quite the 80s Britain we remember, as time waste from the Termite era has polluted it, causing all manner of horrors to manifest themselves in our era, turning the UK into a dour police state with no-go areas where time pollution is leaking through. It also has a very buoyant goth scene, and old Torquemada, rather tragically, starts to hang outside the local sixth form, trying to have his way with a goth girl doing her A-levels who reminds him of Candida. But what about all that stuff in book 8 with Purity? Well even though her memory got wiped, she's starting to suspect Nemesis is not quite the alien she wants him to be - and shock horror! - ends up siding with Torquemada. Surely this is just a ruse? Well, as of writing this, I don't bloody know because it stops for a break in 593, and doesn't come back until prog 605, for the final 4 episodes. (Update: yes it was a ruse, but she still breaks away from Nemesis.)

Nemesis taking a mid-book break is certainly nothing new, but in this era there's a lot of times series just stop and go missing for a month (or three) only to come back with a handful of concluding episodes, and it's one reason that I found this batch of progs a bit of a slog. One thing I learnt that goes on behind the scenes is that most artists actually take longer than a week to produce the 5 or 6 pages for a single episode, so the editor has to do a lot of juggling to lessen the impact this has on the readers, such as accruing episodes before they are published, or rotating artists on particular strips. This whole process seems to be handled a lot worse than before, probably due to a combination of new artists and a new editorial team.

One thing that has improved, production-wise though, is the improvements to the comic from prog 589. A glossy cover, no less, and 4 extra pages - all colour! The glossy cover really finishes off the prog 555 revamp, as now the 2000 AD font in the logo is a clean white, instead of a dirty grey, and the comic feels physically more sturdy and higher quality. There are now 6 colour pages inside, usually always Judge Dredd (although Dredd will soon get ousted by Bisley's Slaine the Horned God). There's a very endearing Wizard of Oz parody to usher in the era of full-colour Dredd.

Prog 589 also ushers in the 3 episode "Slaine The Mini-Series", and Zenith Book 2, no less. Fabry's art on Slaine is peak Fabry as Slaine finally kills all the nasty trolls that have taken over his tribal lands (Famorians?). Shame it was over so quickly, particularly as Slaine doesn't seem that pleased with his victory as he's already eyeing up the sacred relics of neighbouring tribes, and - foreshadowing The Horned God - hatches a plan to unite the tribes, if only to nick their bling.

Zenith Book 2's antagonist is three parts Richard Branson to one part Noel Edmonds, who is always seen wearing a Red Nose Day jumper. I have to say, this feels a bit of a comedown compared the Lovecraftian deities he battled in the first book. Yowell's artwork remains incredibly crisp, evocative and hasn't dated a jot in the intervening 30 years, although some of his action scenes can be a little hard to follow. There's one episode where Zenith is having to battle a cyborg version of his dad, and it was a baffling series of close-ups of what may have been robot and human body-parts and limbs. It almost gave Metalzoic a run for its money.

The new 6 pages of colour are rather bizarrely arranged in that you get 2 pages of Dredd, then another story in black-and-white, followed by the remainder of Dredd in colour. Weird. Even weirder when the interrupting story is, more often than not, Moonrunners. Ah, Moonrunners: one of 2000 AD's highest profile follies of the era: a bizarre idea poorly executed.
What was Moonrunners trying to be? A comic adaptation of derided 80's BBC soap Triangle staring Kate O'Mara? A serious Ace Trucking Co? An attempt to broaden the readership by appealing to a female audience? It wants to be a tale of mercantile adventure, with imposingly beautiful female entrepreneurs having their way with their dashing captains, in short a space opera. But the actual plot is so, well, odd and Belardinelli's art - great to see him have a regular gig again in the comic - but his strengths are ill-suited to this story. The story contains all sorts of weird arbitrary rules to motivate the plot, like women are not allowed on board the ships (even though they own them) and if someone who isn't trained tries to pilot a ship then everyone hallucinates. What the f***? At least the hallucinations give Belardinelli the excuse to get out his A-game, because drawing people, in my opinion, wasn't his forte. All his women look the same, and if we wants them to look attractive, he just only draws their nostrils, but omits the outline of the nose. Apparently all attractive women have child-like button noses. But hideous monsters drawn from your subconscious? He's your man.

The "WFT?" nature of Moonrunners though is eclipsed by the sheer incomprehension of the Tyranny Rex 5-parter Soft Bodies. I tried to read the first 3 episodes twice, so try and make head or tail of it, and maybe I got a little closer, but I'm still way off. I might give it one more try, and add some more later when I've done that. This is the same time Crisis launched, so as well as writing this, John Smith was also doing The New Statemen in 2000 AD's new sister organ. And I don't understand much of what is going on in that, either. I have a tendency to think overly highly of things I don't quite understand, and often when I do take the time to get to the bottom of it, I find it wasn't really worth the effort after all. Narratives should only be convoluted if it somehow enhances the overall story. The film Memento is good example of that, as seeing the story out of sequence approximates to the amnesia issues of the protagonist. Do John Smith's stories have a similar reason? The editors must've thought very highly of him to let him write half of their new adult comic. I'll bet the scripts he handed over to the artists were very impressive and probably more elucidating than what we ended up with. The jury's out for me. (Update: I've read a lot more John Smith since writing these words, and the jury's no longer out - he's brilliant)

In prog 594 we get a 4-episode Chopper story, where Chopper finally takes on Jug again, and actually beats him this time. It's all right, nothing special. Post Oz, Judge Dredd was initially looking to be promising in that there was a bit of story-arc stuff forshadowing The Dead Man and Necropolis. We learn Dredd is starting to feel old, and that the Judges have kept his Judda clone, Judge Kraken, and may possibly be plotting to replace Dredd with Kraken. How intriguing! But then we just go back to standalone stories for ages (e.g. circus comes to town, Dredd arrests them all for various violations, and circus has to close) and no discernible story arc development whatsoever. Sigh.

Talking of "sigh" we get shitey, shitey Rogue Trooper Hit 4, where the only remaining interesting thing about the story - who are the people controlling Rogue and what is there agenda? - is not touched on at all, making for a completely forgettable story. It's been a long, long time since Rogue was firing on all cylinders, and you can see why they were soon to reboot it.

Once Zenith and Nemesis Book 9 conclude, there really is a rather shocking lull in the prog for a few months - a real barren period, with lots of reprint material. An inauspicious time for 2000AD's first female writer, Hilary Robinson, to debut with Zippy Couriers, which is (intentionally) a light, fluffy affair but when the rest of the prog feels so empty, it's completely unwelcome. Consider prog 611, Zippy Courier's second outing: the other stories are Dredd, Night Zero, a Walter the Wobot reprint and a Future Shock. What a shocker of an issue.

Medivac 318 is Robinson's second strip which starts soon after Zippy Couriers and is a more promising idea - a nurse who is waiting to be rescued from a hostile alien planet while caring for a brain-damaged soldier - but the pace is a bit plodding. The only good things about these progs are a David Roach drawn Anderson Psi Division tale called Helios, and Strontium Dog's Final Solution, which I'll have more to say about in the next instalment, as it was published sporadically and disappears for months at a time. Presumably Simon Harrison was a slow artist.

So, sadly early 1989 was a bit of a sorry time for the prog - but things are about to get much better in the prog 625 with Zenith Book 3, Rogue Trooper's late return-to-form Cinnabar story, and the jewel in the crown Slaine the Horned God - huzzah!
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: Colin YNWA 26 June, 2019, 12:52:08 PM
Wow there's just too much good stuff in these post and I don't get time to reflect on it all. A few highlights for me.

The new 6 pages of colour are rather bizarrely arranged in that you get 2 pages of Dredd, then another story in black-and-white, followed by the remainder of Dredd in colour. Weird

Yeah I've always wondered about the placement of the colour pages at this time. Just seems ... odd. I've always assumed, but never known it related to the printing process somehow?

Medivac 318 i... a more promising idea - a nurse who is waiting to be rescued from a hostile alien planet while caring for a brain-damaged soldier

One of my all time favourite 2000ad sequences. Its so gloriously un2000ad... which in itself is so 2000ad!

Tyranny Rex 5-parter Soft Bodies. I tried to read the first 3 episodes twice, so try and make head or tail of it, and maybe I got a little closer, but I'm still way off.

I'm with you. Much as I've never hidden my love for John Smith this one, to this day escapes me. New Statemen however I think is a masterpiece.

On my recent re-read I actually concluded that I like the more down to Earth Phase 2 of Zenith and its a really good way to build the world and build up to events to come. I've no doubt I'll change my mind again next time I do a re-read but for now my fav.
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: Jim_Campbell 26 June, 2019, 01:02:09 PM
Yeah I've always wondered about the placement of the colour pages at this time. Just seems ... odd. I've always assumed, but never known it related to the printing process somehow?

It does. See here. (https://forums.2000ad.com/index.php?topic=43337.msg967951#msg967951)
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: MumboJimbo 26 June, 2019, 01:54:09 PM
Yeah I've always wondered about the placement of the colour pages at this time. Just seems ... odd. I've always assumed, but never known it related to the printing process somehow?

It does. See here. (https://forums.2000ad.com/index.php?topic=43337.msg967951#msg967951)

That's fascinating - I love these kind of details!
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: broodblik 26 June, 2019, 02:12:24 PM
Tyranny Rex was a character I never could get into. I never had a problem with Hicklenton's art on Nemesis, strange macabre and completely different from the rest.
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: Colin YNWA 26 June, 2019, 09:42:04 PM
Yeah I've always wondered about the placement of the colour pages at this time. Just seems ... odd. I've always assumed, but never known it related to the printing process somehow?

It does. See here. (https://forums.2000ad.com/index.php?topic=43337.msg967951#msg967951)

Curse my worthless memory. Thanks for the insight again Jim
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: MumboJimbo 27 June, 2019, 12:11:15 PM
Prog 626 - Prog 649 (May - October 89), Sci-fi and Winter specials 1989

After a fairly shocking few months, where the 2000 AD editors apparently ran out of Future Shocks, and we had to endure the likes of Daily Star reprints and old Walter the Wobot scripts, prog 626 finally arrives, and it is so on the money that you could be forgiven for thinking all that stuff before was just a bad dream. And what a classic prog! - we have that iconic Bisley cover for starters, but the inside is just as wonderful. We have to start, of course, with Slaine The Horned God - a real prestige project both for Bisley and 2000 AD as a whole, which (presumably) got some attention with its beautiful paintwork and was like nothing we had seen in the prog hiterto. In the 1989 Winter special there's an interview with Bisley where he's asked about the "earthy tones" he used (if you were less charitable you could say a lot of it looks rather murky*) and he replies that he wasn't really used to using paints and didn't know how to mix them effectively, so he was really learning on the job. I was always thought it was intentional! One other very amusing nugget from that interview is that a lorry turned up at his house full of books on Celtic myths and history Pat Mills thought Bisley should read before he started drawing the strip - poor bugger!

But prog 626 (and the 10 or so progs proceeding) is not all about Slaine - we've also got two other superlative new stories: Zenith Book 3 and John Smith's take on Rogue Trooper, Cinnabar. I've only read the first part of the Zenith story so far, as it's split into two parts, the second part starting in prog 650, but this is shaping up to be the best Zenith so far. After the slightly lackluster book 2, Zenith is back fighting against the Lovecraftian Lloigor, and the story goes full-on mutiverse-tastic, as all the heroes from various alternative realities unite against them, led by an alternative Maximan, the WWII hero who died in our reality. Steve Yowell's artwork was always excellent, but this story with it's huge number of superheroes and depictions of realities already taken over by the Lliogor really kicks it up a notch.

Almost as good as Slaine and Zenith is the Rogue Trooper "Nu-Earth Flashback" Cinnabar. Rogue Trooper had been on the decline since all the way back to prog 400 (in my opinion) so it's refreshing to have a great run for Rogue. Being a flashback, Smith can dispense with the problematic story arc, and take Rogue back to the swamps and choking chem clouds of Nu-Earth. One thing that really hurt recent Rogue Trooper stories is that he's on other planets, or just in rather generic looking enemy basis, where we don't really see outside of the base. I think Rogue's Nu-Earth environment is one of the most essential parts of the story, and I hope Duncan Jones does it justice in the new film. Steve Dillon's artwork on the Hit series was a bit sparse for my liking, but for Cinnabar he's joined by Kevin Walker doing inks and together they really bring to life Cinnabar, which is a kind of Vegas/Sodom and Gomorrah type of place, whose amoral denizens lure Rogue to their city only to place bets on Rogue fighting monsters, and, um, shag him. It's certainly a Rogue Trooper for the more mature reader, and after the WTF? of his Tyranny Rex Soft Bodies story, shows John Smith is able to tell an easy to follow story when he has a mind to.

During this spell we also get a great Judge Dredd instalment, as we revisit the exploits of Mega City One's young psychopath, PJ Maybe and his quest to inherit his uncle fortune though the company of Emphatically Yes, suppliers of trousers to the judges. Only they've just lost their contract to rivals Hoss Bros! - so PJ naturally has to kill them too now. PJ Maybe was always a treat and Liam Sharp's artwork is pure class.

Sadly by 366 all these stories either finish or take a break, but in their wake, Strontium Dog: The Final Solution resumes, and - rather wonderfully - we get Arthur Ransom's first work in 2000 AD with the 10-episode Anderson Psi Division story, Triad. And what an excellent artist this man is. His 90s story Mazeworld, with Alan Grant, looks completely gorgeous and I do mean to check out at some point. But this first Anderson story is very good too. He has a way of making faces seem very expressive that really bring out the characters in the story.

Simon Harrison's work on Strontium Dog works well for Final Solution, as it fits the faux-medieval religious fervour of New Britain (which is thematically a little too close to Torquemada's Termight for my liking) and the extra-dimensional hell-house with winged demons that the mutants are being banished to through a portal at Stonehenge. I was expecting this to the final instalment - but it's not. Alpha ends up in a bad way at the end, maybe blinded, maybe dead, but we don't know for sure, and we have to wait all the way until June 1990 for the story to resume - bloody hell Tharg! If you're going to kill off one of your major characters, then just do it, stop eeking it out for eternity.

Elsewhere, Medivac 318 and Zippy Couriers return and Night Zero gets a sequel with Beyond Zero, each of which are perfectly fine, but don't really wow me. We do have a final instalment of Moonrunners though (and I think Belardinelli's final hurrah for 2000 AD, bar a few future shocks). I like to think there's an alternative reality where Moonrunners grew to be the most popular strip in the comic, and it proudly trumpets "2000 AD Featuring Moonrunners" on its cover. Fortunately, we don't live in that reality.

And the late, great Ron Smith returns to the prog! - not drawing Judge Dredd, of course, which would be far to logical for 2000 AD in 1989. Did you ever wonder what happened to Henry Moon, the man whose brain was transplanted in a leopard in Mean Team? Me neither, but you're going to find out anyway in Survivor! (Spoiler: he gets locked up in a cage, but then manages to escape - phew!)

Finally we get a new thrill! - John Smith's Fervent and Lobe, a pair of psychic cowboys for hire who were first introduced in the incomprehensible Soft Bodies. This is pretty good through, and the episode titles are named after Birthday Party and Sonic Youth songs. Which is nice. I also read the Summer and Winter specials for this year. The Summer special is an all-female character affair, as co-incidentally enough was 2018's summer special, so they're definitely trying to broaden the appeal of the prog at this point. In fact, as I wasn't getting the prog during this period I had to buy some issues from eBay and they had 'Anne Pears' written on the cover. Maybe Anne was a new reader who was enjoying all the Tyranny Rex, Moonrunners, Medivac and Zippy Couriers action? I like to think so, but it could also have been a boy's mum who picked up the prog when she popped in the newsagent for her Woman's Realm.

I bought the Winter Special from eBay, as it has the conclusion of Rogue Trooper's Hit series. It only served to confirm what I'd long suspected: there was no real plan as to where all this way going, so Steve Dillon had 16 pages to wrap it all up - an impossible task to be fair. It is though a rather shockingly abrupt ending to Rogue Mark 1. Of course, the new Friday reboot was about to debut in Prog 650. But that's for next instalment...

*I've since seen reprint material where the colours are a lot more vibrant, so I guess may be due to limitation in the printing process back then.
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: MumboJimbo 28 June, 2019, 01:07:02 PM
Progs 650 - 674 (October 1989 - April 1990)

Welcome to this antepenultimate instalment of my 2000 AD re-read, and what a cracking set of stories we have here! This bunch of progs would be best summed up as the build up to Necropolis, with Necropolis proper being dealt with in my next posting. But holy story-arcs! - we have Judge Dredd with ample foreshadowing for things to come, rather than vaguely satirical short-stories unrelated to anything before or since. I like it! And fully two-fifths of the prog is given over to this foreshadowing as we have not only actual Dredd, but a special "stealth" Dredd strip in The Dead Man!

I wasn't actually getting the prog at this point, although I did borrow a big pile from a friend back in the day, of which I'm sure these progs were included, so I remember The Dead Man, but because I was reading it after the event I always knew the Dead Man was actually Dredd, so I never got to experience the actual thrill of the twist at the end. Although, surely it was obvious it was Dredd all along?

But as well as The Dead Man (ably brought to life by Luke Kirby artist John Ridgeway) there's also lots of Necropolis antecedents in the Judge Dredd strip proper with Dredd questioning his role in MC-1 and also putting Judge Kraken through his paces as a cadet, and then failing him, and in so doing sentencing his younger clone to death by lethal injection. And surprisingly enough, Kraken walks to his with nary a murmur of protect. But he didn't die! - it was just a test by the chief judges. How exciting!

Prog 650 is where 2000 AD goes from having one of its 5 stories in colour, to having 3 of them in colour - a big change indeed. As well as book 2 of The Horned God (more on that later) we have in colour the new Rogue Trooper Friday reboot, which like The Horned God was clearly commissioned first and foremost as a graphic novel. You can tell this as the strip's title is shoe-horned into the upper margin of the page and there's little cliffhanger at the end of each issue's strip, as it's simply 5 pages of a work that was always meant to be enjoyed in a longer format. And its all "mature" with impressionistic art and musings on the futility of war. Sadly, it's also not very good at all. Not having any characters other than Friday certainly doesn't help, so all it really becomes is Friday soliloquising in a rather dull fashion about war in short staccato sentences a la "Running. Always running. To the next target. Obey orders. Never question." You know the sort of thing.

They must have had trouble making it, as it goes on a break after only four episodes, and gets replaced by Chopper Song of the Surfer. I've never been a big Chopper fan, but this story is bloody awesome, expertly told by Wagner and drawn by Colin MacNeil, the same duo who are doing the current Dredd story, Machine Law, incidentally. I can't quite put my finger on why this was so good. There's a raising of the stakes compared to previous Supersurf races, as they're now being shot at during the race, as some insane CEO has sponsored it, and made the whole thing a lot more dangerous. So there's a lot more death for starters. And it has a great ending to boot. Probably should've been Chopper's swansong.

With Friday swapped out for Chopper what an run of progs where we have 5 excellent strips - pre-Necropolis Dredd, The Dead Man, Chopper, Slaine Horned God Book 2 and the second part of the Zenith Book 3. We're really cooking here. Slaine The Horned God Book 2 carries on the same excellent quality of the first book in terms of Bisley's art but the story really ramps up as Slaine has to contend with Megrim's treachery while he's trying to unite the Celtic tribes. Zenith book 3 meanwhile, has a great (if sometimes slightly difficult to follow) conclusion, with some good twists and turns including evil Maximan and thinking Zenith gets killed off at the end (although it turns out to be his far nicer alternative reality counterpart Vortex).

The Dead Man is revealed to be Dredd in prog 662, and the strip is replaced by new story Bix Barton, marking the return of duo Milligan and McCarthy, who hadn't been in the prog for a while. It's a comedy strip where Bix is a plummy British throwback, who works for a secret government ministry. I remember enjoying this back in the day, but the first Bix outing - a six episode story called Barton's Beast - didn't grab me for some reason.

Once Zenith and Slaine conclude, we're back with the 2000 AD B-team with the likes of Zippy Couriers, Night Zero, Bradley etc. Rogue Trooper eventually returns (slightly improved) in prog 667, but is still rather opaque. There's even one editorial error where the two pages are flipped, but the lettering isn't meaning the lettering does not fit the panels for two pages, and to be honest I never noticed, until they printed an apology and a corrected version next prog. There's all sorts of weird editing mistakes in this bunch of progs: Nerve Centres printed twice; announcements in the Nerve Centre not matching with what's actually in the prog; adverts for new stories "next prog" that are already in progress. It's very strange, and you wonder who was meant to be checking this stuff. Thankfully, apart from the Rogue Trooper issue, it doesn't affect the strips themselves.

Anyway, a couple of progs before the actual Necropolis story starts, we can a deluge of new strips: Harlem Heroes, Shadows, and Armoured Gideon! But I'll talk more about them on my next Necropolis-centric instalment. Until then!
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: Greg M. 28 June, 2019, 07:11:45 PM
The run that contains the fabled Prog 654 - the greatest (or at least most flawless) prog of all time.
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: MumboJimbo 28 June, 2019, 07:32:34 PM
Yes, that’s such a fantastic line-starting in the prog. Dredd, Chopper Song of the Surfer, Cinnabar, Dead Man and Zenith Book 3. All thrillers no fillers!
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: Colin YNWA 28 June, 2019, 08:05:05 PM
Yes, that’s such a fantastic line-starting in the prog. Dredd, Chopper Song of the Surfer, Cinnabar, Dead Man and Zenith Book 3. All thrillers no fillers!

That is such a strong line-up. Trouble is this period was so bloody inconsistent.
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: MumboJimbo 28 June, 2019, 09:05:32 PM
Couldn’t agree more! You’d have a month or two of complete excellence followed by a fallow period. The Richard Burton period was an age of extremes.
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: MumboJimbo 01 July, 2019, 12:05:46 PM
Progs 675 - 699 (April - Oct 90)

I was going to call this instalment "The Necropolis special", as this sequence of progs does indeed encompass all of that epic Dredd story, but - ooh! - there's a lot more going on than Necropolis. The concluding book to Slaine The Horned God, for starters. And then there's the not inconsiderable matter of the Death of Johnny Alpha. And a fair few new stories to boot. Yes, it's all happening.

Woo! Necropolis. Finally a proper Dredd epic, and by epic I mean where MegaCity One is reduced to a burnt out shell and mass graves have to be dug for the millions of dead - yay! So already better than Oz, and better than City of the Damned, as this actually happens rather than being set in a potential future that does not come to pass. Truth be told, it starts a little bit slowly, with the initial part of the Phobia and Nausea using a Psi Judge Agee to allow them to pass to our realm. When it get going the heroes of the day are in fact a plucky bunch of cadet judges who team up with Dredd (now looking like a cornflake) and Anderson with her back broken, to take down Death and co. Esquerra does a good job of making MC-1 under the yoke of the Dark Judges look suitably foreboding.

But what other stories does Tharg put with such a prestige event for the Galaxy's Greatest? Slaine? Zenith? Strontium Dog. Er, no. Not initially anyway. It's actually those titans of 2000 AD history: Shadows, Harlem Heroes, Armoured Gideon and Universal Soldier. OK then. Actually I'm being mean - this isn't a bad little line-up really. Milligan's 10-parter Shadows is a thoroughly decent story about a woman in the future who's some kind of internet sleuth and one day gets a little too close to the truth, and then her record is wiped from the computer network rendering her a persona-non-grata: a titular 'Shadow'. This strip also marks the debut of Richard Elson who to this day ploughs his wares in the weekly prog, recently drawing Dan Abnett's long-running Kingdom saga.

On to Armoured Gideon - well, I've always loved Simon Jacob's art style - unlike anything else in the prog - a great sense of 3D where things almost look like pre-rendered 3D graphics (of course they weren't as technology wasn't up to snuff back then). His depictions of people never looked very realistic, but robots he was great at, so this was the perfect strip for his talents. The story I found a bit disappointing though, didn't seem to make a whole heap of sense. So, Gideon is this robot who's a bit mental but his job is to keep daemons in hell, and Frank Weiss is a journo who finds himself in this hell dimension, managed to escape but still has to kill Gideon, for some reason. And he meets a girl who's dad is a priest in some cult that wants to sacrifice her? Couldn't really get to grips with it to be honest. Miles better though than Universal Soldier, which remains, for me, as weak as its first outing a few years ago. How can Alan MacKenzie write this and Summer Magic?

Ah Harlem Heroes. Do you remember when the names Patrice, Deacon, Silver, Trips and Slice meant nothing to you? Of course I'm being facetious. This 26 episode story, launched to great fanfare, with "Rap Sheets" for each character adorning the back page for weeks never amounted to much. Just to be clear, this isn't the Harlem Heroes that was a large fixture of early 2000 AD going back to prog 1. Oh no - this is a completely different story with completely different characters, only very distantly related to the 70s story of the same name. It's drawn by Steve Dillon and Kevin Walker, who were last together for the Cinnabar Rogue Trooper strip, and as you'd expect they do a fine job. On script duties is new guy Michael Fleisher - an American, no less, who had worked for Marvel in the 70s. Must've been quite a coup for 2000 AD at the time to bag a genuine yank comic writer - especially as a lot of their talent was going Stateside. He's not though, I think it's fair to say, a fondly remembered contributor to 2000 AD.

I'll return to Harlem Heroes a bit later as it takes a break after the first 7 or so episodes, and gets replaced by - quaequam blag! - two new stories: 2000 AD was still 36 pages at this point and could accommodate 6 stories a week. The first new debut is Hilary Robinson's third (and final) strip for the prog: Chronos Carnival drawn by Ron Smith. Robinson's thing was "slice of life" stories - the lives of people in future who weren't the archetypal heroes but ambulance drivers, couriers and - in this case - a couple who run a carnival. Unfortunately, 2000 AD already had had a story of this ilk, and one with pretty big shoes to fill: Halo Jones. And Hilary's no Alan Moore. This is my least favourite of her three contributions to the prog; there's nothing really to hang your hat on. The main guy Neil is disabled and is in a wheelchair so I guess there's that. It's just bland and, like Universal Soldier, obviously geared for the younger readers of the prog.

Very much on the opposite end of the scale, is debut #2: Smith and Weston's Indigo Prime. As to be expected from the Smith droid, this is a very dense read and something you really have to concentrate on to work out what's going on. If you make the commitment though, it rewards you. Very much a follow-on from Fervent and Lobe (who are also members of Indigo Prime). It's mind boggling and leaves you feeling a bit addled after you've read it. Mostly in a good way. Chris Weston's art does deserve to singled out though, as its excellent: the most detailed and ornate b&w work seen in the prog since Fabry's Slaine the King, in my opinion.

Prog 683 is billed as a "new thrills" prog, but in reality it's more of a case of returning stories as Harlem Heroes, Rogue Trooper come back, and - finally! - Strontium Dog returns with the concluding episodes of The Final Solution, and another jarring change in art direction. Now I love Colin MacNeil, and this isn't the first time he's done Strontium Dog - he subbed for Ezquerra back in 87 on a four-parter called A Sorry Case, and he did a great job copying Carlos' art style. But now he's decided to go for style of his own - much closer to his recent work on Chopper. Colour doesn't suit the future Britain of Strontium Dog - I always imagined it in the dirty white of the newsprint that 2000 AD used to be printed on, but this is altogether too colourful making the dystopia look incongruously lush and verdant. The Milton Keynes mutant ghetto demands a very restricted colour palette. The artistic change and long break (over a year) both conspire to make this feel like a non-canonical ending to the original story, and therefore anticlimactic.

Harlem Heroes comes back, and you know what? - overall it rather endeared me. Good, knockabout fun - nothing too cerebral but certainly diverting. At this time the powers that be wanted 2000 AD to appeal to a very wide demographic from 11 year old kids to adults, and I guess Harlem Heroes is skewed more towards the younger reader, but it makes for a breezy contrast to more dense works like Indigo Prime and Slaine. Speaking of Slaine, we get the final part of the Horned God which is an excellent ending and feeds cleverly into the creation myth of Ireland. Slaine wouldn't return to the prog for a few years, and you can see how hard it would be for Pat to follow this one up.

Hilary Robinson does her last work for 2000 AD - a length Medivac-318 tale and a shorter second stab at Chronos Carnival. The Medivac story is probably her best work for the prog, and shows potential that would unfortunately never be realised as she left, I believe because of copyright disagreements. And finally, we have the conclusion to Rogue Trooper reboot War Machine. The end confrontation with Friday's maker is better than the rest of it, to be fair, but overall still meh. Tellingly, War Machine was never issued as a graphic novel (well, not until the Rebellion era), despite Tharg promising such in the Nerve Centre. Make of that what you will.

Until next time, Splundig Vur Thrigg!

PS Realised I forgot Dry Run from my last update! How could I forget Dry Run? Back in the day, this was always my top pick for the quintessential bad 2000 AD story: crap premise, crap art, shoddy dialogue - just wall-to-wall awfulness. In fact I remember I suspected it had been a hastily translated strip from a foreign comic. I don't know why I thought this, as it's drawn by Kevin Hopgood, who'd done Below and Beyond Zero. I think it was the name of the script writer: Tise Vahimagi (he's Welsh apparently).

What struck me on re-reading it (or to be honest, reading it, as I think back then I took one look at it, and decided "no", and that was that, which shows how opinionated I could be at that age despite not really being that well-informed  :-[) is how weird it is. Rather than a story it's more like a summary of events: strangely disjointed like it's missing every other page. To be fair the story (thin as it is) is followable, but it's in such a hurry to get where it's going. It never pauses for breath, like those stories that little kids write which are one long sentence with all the bits joined together with "and". I've been reading the early progs recently, and they're of a similar ilk, but done with a lot more panache.

The art has a kind of pulp fiction, schlocky rushed quality to it. I'm on the fence as to whether it's by design or not. Certainly the Hopgood droid has done better work. To be fair, I was enjoying it as a weird little curio, until an appalling twist on the last page, that was completely rushed and unnecessary, and left me hating it. Oh well.
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: broodblik 01 July, 2019, 03:18:38 PM
This was for me a very in between period some really great stuff like The Horned God and Necropolis but some real "stinkers" like Dry Run (my brain went in a flat spin trying to remember this one). This was almost to introduction run for the dark ages.
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: Funt Solo 01 July, 2019, 05:10:23 PM
Oh man: poor old Rogue Trooper.  It all got so mashed up.  Have to say, though, that I'm very fond of The War Machine as an alternity Rogue origin story.

I thought the weirdest thing that was done, creatively, was to tie together original Rogue with Friday Rogue.  The reboot turned into a mash-up turned into me being a confused reader.

Didn't Friday end up with the biochips at one point?  I think there's a Megazine article that tried to explain it all.

: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: broodblik 01 July, 2019, 06:52:24 PM
Although The War Machine was a great painted work of art, I never really got into the new Rogue. After the death of the traitor general Rogue was never the same. I enjoyed the Horst story-line and Cinnabar that came after but that was it for Rogue. As I said previously it look liked nobody knew what to do with Rogue.
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: MumboJimbo 02 July, 2019, 12:46:13 PM
Have to say, though, that I'm very fond of The War Machine as an alternity Rogue origin story.

I do like the art in War Machine. It's a great use of a restricted colour pallet to impart mood, all dull greens and mauves. In a way when Fleischer takes over it's like a second reboot as that all goes out of the window.
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: MumboJimbo 02 July, 2019, 01:14:26 PM
The FINAL POSTENING! Progs 700-729

Welcome to my final post in this epic re-read. Yes, I have finally reached my last 2000 AD from the original spell when I was reading it: prog 729 dated April 1991. I might post more thoughts and stuff on other graphic novels and comics etc, but as far as this thread is concerned - it's a wrap. Anyway, onto the meat and potatoes.

It's prog 700 - and 2000 AD is slightly different: thicker pages! a new redesigned 2-page Nerve Centre! And new "hey look, we can be like Deadline too" stories Time Flies and Hewligan's Haircut because this is no longer the 80s! It's the early 90s with its mild psychedelia revival, floppy fringes, Flowered Up and the like. These two stories are more than a little similar: both have a bewildered male protagonist being lead by a hot girl with a bob haircut through a crazy world with all sort of random, improbably events and high jinx. Milligan and Jamie "Tank Girl" Hewlet's Hewligan's Haircut easily wins this battle by being a bit shorter and having a proper ending. They really should never have run these two together - even the art style is very similar and both do that thing where they draw people far away in a simplified "drawn by a five year old" way, as a purposefully whimsical feature.

The third new story, to join the end of Harlem Heroes and post-Necropolis Dredd, is Grant and Ranson's cutting edge Anderson Psi Division tale Shamballa. And holy cow if this isn't dripping in gorgeousness and hasn't dated one iota in the interim. A tale of romance and secret cities. Ending was a little rushed, in my opinion, but still marvellous stuff.
Once Harlem Heroes concludes, we get a genuine hidden gem in the 6-parter Silo. What a cracker this is: Mark Millar (his first non-Future Shock work), with art by Dave D'Antiquis who's dense, spidery black and white work recalls Steve Yowell and would later work on Brigand Doom. It's about two Americans who work at a soon-to-be-decommissioned US missile base in Scotland. Then one them get possessed by a dead man and tries to kill the other and unleash armageddon. A deliciously dark tale.

Judge Dredd continues well, and it's good to see the effect of Necropolis isn't brushed over, as we see Mega-City One (and Dredd's face) slowly return to what passes for normality in 2113. As John Wager is also writing the bulk of the new Megazine, Garth Ennis is drafted an another writer for Dredd, and in a few months' time he'd be writing the bulk of Dredd stories in the regular prog, with Wagner coming back occasionally. Obviously, the Ennis droid has gone on to have a distinguished career, which kind of retrospectively validates this decision, but conversely...FFS, were they mental? Garth Ennis was 20 years old at the time, had written Troubles Souls for Crisis, Time Flies (which even he admits was pants) and the odd Future Shock...and they're handing him the keys to Dredd - really? Just my opinion of course, but it seems incredible to me they gave this important job to such a young and inexperienced writer. His first story is wisely modest in its ambition - a 7 episode strip called Death Aid, which brings back a group called the Hunters who murder people for fun as a competition between themselves. He does a good job on this one, and having Ezquerra on art duty helps ease the transition.

By prog 711 we get a new Anderson story, the second Rogue Trooper Friday outing and another new "thrill" (and I use the term loosely here) Junker. The Judge Anderson starts of great - very different in tone to Shamballa, with the always dependable David Roach (dependable for gratuitous Anderson-in-the-shower scenes, anyway) drawing a dark tale starting in the Cursed Earth where Anderson returns to MC-1 randomly attacking fellow judges who she sees as sinister men in wide-brimmed hats. It's all very promising until after 6 episodes it just stops and the second half only returns to the prog 9 months later! That must be some record, surely?

Friday's second adventure is nothing like his first, in fact it's very much the opposite. Whereas War Machine was aiming to be a mature meditation on war (a target it misses massively) the Golden Fox Rebellion, from the pen of Michael Fleisher, is his usual brand of knockabout fun and guns for the younger reader. I rather enjoyed his Harlem Heroes, but this is a proper stinker. The only good thing I can say about it, is that it's got Ron Smith drawing it, and the colouring is beautiful. But the story here is so p*ss thin, it nearly amounts to a montage of generic battle scenes. Shockingly poor. With the exception of Cinnabar, every time there's a Rogue Trooper story, its worse than the last one. Surely this must be the nadir?

Michael Fleisher also gives us Junker, which is also not very good, so I won't elaborate on the plot, as it would be precious seconds of your life wasted. It's drawn by John "Summer Magic" Ridgeway - how does Fleisher manage to always get the best artists? When Junker and the Anderson story go on their mid-story break, we get a couple of nice additions to the prog. Firstly a little 2-part one-off by John Smith called Danzig's Inferno, and secondly Dave "Silo" D'Antiquitis second story for 2000 AD: Brigand Doom. Danzig's Inferno is very much in the Hewligan's Haircut/Sooner or Later/Time Flies mould of "the world gone mad, and lots of weird random things are happening". I always suspect these things are very easy to write, as you don't really have to have any narrative cohesion. However, I liked this. In fact, I very much like everything John Smith does in this era of the prog. He's darker than his contemporaries and there's lots of hints something more complex is going on behind the scenes. The art by Sean Philiips is great for this, like a collage.

Brigand Doom, by Alan McKenzie, is pretty enjoyable too. It was criticised for being rather too close to Moore's V for Vendetta, and I can see where they're coming from, but D'Antiquitis superlative art - full of Yowell-esque inky dark voids, really gives it a lift. Good stuff, in my book.

Prog 723 is where 2000 AD goes full colour, but sadly the initial line-up is far from stellar. We've got Mark Millar's curious reboot of Robo Hunter for starters. What a strangely pointless exercise that was. Usually a reboot has an angle to it, like updating the character to something more contemporary, or rekindling an aspect of the character that has lain dormant, but blowed if I can see any rhyme or reason to this. Jose Casanovas does the art - he'd done various odds and sods for 2000 AD since all the way back to prog 70 back in 1978 - and Sam Slade here looks like he's just walked out of the seventies, with a horrid mullet and day glo red jeans and what looks like a matador's waistcoat. If anything, Ian Gibson's original Robo Hunter looks like the reboot for this. To be fair, the art is rather good - there's a lot of detail and nice use of bright colours, but it just looks dated.

Then there's Bix Barton returning, which I'd enjoy more if there was something a bit more substantial elsewhere in the prog. You'd think Nemesis vs Deadlock would provide that, but it's a bit a wheel-spinning fluff presumably to tide the readers over until their next proper outing. The remaining bit of newness comes in the form of Tao de Moto, a new female Japanese character who goes on the run after agreeing to a surrogate pregnancy of an alien and then gets cold feet. It's written by Myra Hancock, the second woman to be a scriptwriter in the prog. What an oddity this is! I've seen forum posts including this in lists of worst ever thrills, but that's unfair if you ask me. It ran for 26 weeks (I read past prog 729 to get to the end), but there's only 2 pages of it per prog, which is strange decision to be sure. There's some interesting ideas going on here but sadly we don't get into the head much of the titular Miss De Moto so it seems a bit of missed opportunity. I'm intrigued enough to read the follow-up text story in the 1992 Yearbook though.

All in all 723 was a disappointing relaunch for the prog, and it would seem the reason was that Toxic was launching in all colour at the same time, and they felt they had to go full colour, and it was rushed out. I only got 2000 AD for 6 more issues after this one, and I think I can see why. Even if this was just a short term dip (which it probably was) it felt that the 2000 AD of old had completely gone out the door by now. Alan Moore was long gone, Rogue Trooper a pathetic shadow of his former self, Johnny Alpha dead and post-Horned God Slaine, or Nemesis Book 10 didn't seem anywhere on the horizon. And Garth Ennis was taking over Dredd, whose second story, set in Ireland, was a bit weird really - a humorous riff on the IRA? Hmmm. It's even got a massacre described as "Bloody Monday Morning". Rather sailing close to the bone there. My memories of this period was that the Garth Ennis Dredd was nowhere near up to the standard of Wagner's, but questionable taste aside, the first two Ennis stories weren't too bad to be fair. So maybe I cancelled 2000 AD just because I had my A-levels coming up, and just decided I didn't want any distractions. To be honest, I don't know because I can't remember. I seem to have got Crisis for a bit longer though.

******

Since writing the above a while back I've read further up to prog 746 (I think) and sadly I have to say the state of the prog remains in a bit of sorry state, with only really only the John Smith stories bucking the trend: Indigo Prime Killing Time and Revere. Killing Time in particular was a huge revelation for me, a real jewel in the 2000 AD crown. I have actually bought on eBay old progs up to 830-ish, so I will be reading further in the future, but of course this stuff is all new to me, so is no longer a re-read, so I won't be posting anything here.

Anyway, thanks to you all for your comments and insights! I very much enjoyed doing this, and it reminded me what a formative influence for me the comic was. Although I wish I had started reading it earlier to have experienced, say, the Apocalypse War saga in as it was happening, I do feel very lucky that I was the age I was when reading the progs back then, as 2000 AD grew up with me. What I mean by that is as I went through my teens, the prog was increasingly dealing with more mature storylines, and it's a testimony to that, that it was still relevant to me from the ages of 10 through to 18, which is a huge transition in anyone's life. Nice one Tharg!

SVT,
Mumbo Jimbo
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: Frank 02 July, 2019, 01:42:08 PM
Garth Ennis was 20 years old at the time, had written Troubles Souls for Crisis, Time Flies (which even he admits was pants) and the odd Future Shock...and they're handing him the keys to Dredd - really?

These write-ups have been fantastic to read and I agree with almost everything you say, but you've unconsciously saddled one of my hobby horses. Given who else was available, what were Tharg's options?

Everyone talented and/or experienced and dependable was making a mint filling the Alan Moore-shaped hole in DC's publishing schedule. So Wagner's replacement could only be one of the writers America didn't want or another untried talent.

If you choose Gerry Finley-Day, go to page 7

If you choose Mark Millar, go to page 64


: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: MumboJimbo 02 July, 2019, 01:48:47 PM
These write-ups have been fantastic to read and I agree with almost everything you say, but you've unconsciously saddled one of my hobby horses. Given who else was available, what were Tharg's options?

Thanks for the kind words!

As for Dredd, if I'd been Tharg I'd have kept Wagner on the 2000 AD dredd and used him less in the new Megazine. But of course, there are probably very good reasons why that didn't occur. And conversely, having so much Wagner input was probably what made the Megazine a success where all previous 2000 AD spin offs had failed.

It's not easy being Tharg!
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: Jim_Campbell 02 July, 2019, 02:09:33 PM
As for Dredd, if I'd been Tharg I'd have kept Wagner on the 2000 AD dredd and used him less in the new Megazine.

John seems to have been much happier under the MacManus/Bishop regime at the Meg than the Burton/MacKenzie one over in the Prog. The same was true for several creators during this period for reasons that are varied and sometimes contentious and/or disputed.
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: Link Prime 02 July, 2019, 02:38:42 PM
Given who else was available, what were Tharg's options?

Alan Grant.
He was playing his A Game with Anderson during this period too.
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: AlexF 02 July, 2019, 02:51:10 PM
For reasons I can never quite put my finger on, Alan Grant's solo Dredd stories have almost all been rather  forgettable or even silly, with one big exception being 'John Cassavetes is Dead', an all-time great Dredd story. The contrast between solo Wagner and Solo Grant in the post-Oz period is staggering! On the other hand, as you say, Grant was doing some all-time best work with Anderson, and I'm long on record as a big fan of Strontium Dog: the Final Solution, especially the misadventures of young Feral...
(Grant's Batman output at this time is also v. good. I guess he hadn't much left in the tank for ol' Joe Dredd)

I'd not made the connection before of 2000AD feeling so challenged by Toxic! that Tharg rushed into his all-colour phase, but it makes sense.

Thanks MumboJimbo for sharing your well thought-out thoughts!
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: Fungus 02 July, 2019, 03:42:30 PM
I'll echo the enjoyment of these reviews.
War Machine remains one of those old stories I look forward to revisiting after 30 years... it'll be a prog-job as I've decided against picking up Rogue in the UC (with much else).
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: Funt Solo 02 July, 2019, 05:40:56 PM
Rebooted Robo-Hunter perhaps hits the top of my "Worst Things in 2000AD" list: mostly because it's wearing the coat of the real Robo-Hunter whilst otherwise being utterly turgid.

It's like someone trying to sell you a 1961 Jaguar E-Type but they've scooped out the insides entirely and replaced it with dung.

(I don't speak to the artwork: no art could have saved it.)
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: Colin YNWA 02 July, 2019, 05:57:49 PM
Given who else was available, what were Tharg's options?

Alan Grant.
He was playing his A Game with Anderson during this period too.

As Fungus says I think this is prime big in America time for Alan Grant - his Batman is wonderful WONDERFUL - just done a re-read and I think he normally had at least one other US book on the go during this time. So maybe it suited better to do serials that didn't run regularly? Who know but there's no denying his output during this time was exceptional, alas just not as frequent for Tharg.

Can I just echo what other folks have said. These post have been a meaty delight. A lot to digest up getting it all down has been a joy and given much food for thought.

Can I ask have you anything round this, so earlier or later? EDIT I mean aside from the 830 limit you now have, I meant in trade or what not?
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: Frank 02 July, 2019, 07:10:08 PM
I'd have kept Wagner on the 2000 AD Dredd and used him less in the new Megazine. But of course, there are probably very good reasons why that didn't occur.

Both Ennis (http://viciousimagery.blogspot.com/2007/02/28-days-of-2000-ad-171-ennis-talks-pt.html) and Wagner himself (141 (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Thrill-Power-Overload-Revised-updated-expanded/dp/1781085226/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=thrillpower+overload&qid=1562089799&s=books&sr=1-1)) say pressure of work was behind his decision to step away from writing Dredd every week, but it's worth pointing out that he and Grant had been desperate to get away from IPC for a very long time. *

Like any good freelancer, Wagner kept one foot in the door with his Megazine work. In return for their role in launching the Megazine, he and Grant receive a cut of any profits, so making the Meg the only place readers could get their fix of real Dredd was in his own financial interest.

I think Grant probably only continued to write Anderson for the same reason, and to spare her the fate of Robohunter. Between having a Batman ongoing monthly created specially for him (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batman:_Shadow_of_the_Bat) and lucking into the Lobo phenomenon, Grant didn't need the pittance writing Dredd would bring (or have the time to spare).

And, as Alex points out, Grant Dredd isn't any better than Ennis Dredd.

I've gone over the other runners and riders before (link (https://forums.2000ad.com/index.php?topic=44272.msg950486#msg950486)), but (with hindsight) it's difficult to disagree with John Wagner's personal decision to appoint Ennis as his successor - 'Garth is a very good writer - he could be very big, not just in comics. I think he was struggling under the weight of years of Wagner & Grant - it was an impossible task. He ended up mimicking us, rather than bringing Garth Ennis into the story' (link (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Judge-Dredd-Megahistory-Dread/dp/185291128X))


* 'Steve MacManus boasted Fleetway were going to break my and Wagner's stranglehold on British comics, which he did by creating the critically admired but financial black holes of "Crisis" and "Revolver". John and I needed to break into the US, mainly because we'd then have a back-up source of income which would allow us to stand up to British publishers' cavalier treatment of us. Richard Burton, bless his soul, took it upon himself to tell DC talent scouts (Dick Giordano and A.N. Other) that Wagner and I had no desire to meet with them, when the truth was we were desperate. There was bad feeling between me and Richard. Although socially he's a charming and erudite man, when it comes to comics editing he's an asshole' (link (https://forums.2000ad.com/index.php?topic=43932.msg987989#msg987989))

John Wagner's characteristically more circumspect, but Garth Ennis is disarmingly frank concerning Steve MacManus's successor(s) as Tharg: 'I think they might have been better under a different editorial team. In my short experience of working with Steve MacManus on Crisis and the Megazine, I felt that he was a much better editor, that he had a much better sense of story and character and pushing people in the right direction. The comic was in the hands of Richard Burton and Alan McKenzie, who were not up to the job. I can’t believe, looking back, that's going to be a particularly uncommon opinion among people you’ve interviewed – I could be wrong' (link (http://viciousimagery.blogspot.com/2007/02/28-days-of-2000-ad-171-ennis-talks-pt.html))

To Burton's credit, he's an absolute gentleman with nothing but praise for those quoted above (link (http://ecbt2000ad.libsyn.com/ecbt2000ad-ep287))
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: Leigh S 02 July, 2019, 09:47:22 PM
Don't go!

It's been a great read, particularly as an insight from an ex squax living throough that run - your views on what you "missed" would be much appreciated (though you might need to buy a couple more years worth to get to a happy ending!)
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: Fungus 02 July, 2019, 10:17:24 PM
As Fungus says I think this is prime big in America time for Alan Grant

No I didn't.



FWIW
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: Frank 02 July, 2019, 11:04:20 PM
Fungus was able to locate the phrase in idiomatic Scots

Not me, guv.

As Fungus says I think this is prime big in America time for Alan Grant

No I didn't.


Since this keeps happening, I think you have to accept it's your fault.


: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: Colin YNWA 03 July, 2019, 06:21:27 AM
As Fungus says I think this is prime big in America time for Alan Grant

No I didn't.



FWIW

Quite right to my apologies. It was AlexF and so my apologies to him to...

..oh look I'm sorry to you all...

...put particularly Fungus and AlexF
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: MumboJimbo 03 July, 2019, 08:26:12 AM


Can I just echo what other folks have said. These post have been a meaty delight. A lot to digest up getting it all down has been a joy and given much food for thought.

Can I ask have you anything round this, so earlier or later? EDIT I mean aside from the 830 limit you now have, I meant in trade or what not?

Thanks Colin!

As for what I else I have, it’s just the progs I’ve mentioned as well as the last year’s of issues: progs 2089 to current. I’ve recently got from ebay some old Revolvers and Deadlines, and I got Crisis issues 1-30, as back in the day I only started getting Crisis very late in its runs - when New Adventures of Hitler started in issue 46.

I’ve also got the recent megazines although I only ever bought one issue back when it first came out. I meant to get more and I actually put in an order at the newsagents but they ordered me the wrong thing! - an American reprint of very early Dredd material. For some reason I never told them of their mistake so I ended up getting that for several months instead!
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: Dark Jimbo 03 July, 2019, 08:26:29 AM
A great read that'll be sorely missed. You've done your alter-ego proud!

As Fungus says, can't wait for the reviews of the post-729 strips.
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: MumboJimbo 03 July, 2019, 08:27:55 AM
Thanks and woah! - just posted at exactly the same time you did. The weirdness continues  :o
: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: Frank 03 July, 2019, 08:43:36 AM

(https://i.imgur.com/XKL95yw.png)


: Re: Oh no not another re-read thread (progs 336 to 729)
: Dark Jimbo 03 July, 2019, 08:44:01 AM
BONDED ACROSS SPACE AND TIME.