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Messages - Funt Solo

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Prog / Re: 2000 AD in Stages
« on: Today at 03:24:06 pm »
If you don't like Ronald Reagan (see: any even slightly left-leaning British person who grew up in the 80s), then you'll struggle to enjoy watching him dropping the soap in the shower with Johnny Alpha, or getting sucked off by Durham Red (prog 522, page 2, frame 3), or saying "goshdarned", or "ulp" for ten more episodes on top of the fifteen (count 'em) from the previous stage.

I read this for the first time in the recent Ultimate Collection book, and you know what...? Bitch is better than I expected. As more a child of the 90s than the 80s I have only the haziest understanding of what Reagan was like as either a person or president, so all the potshots sailed over my head - but then, the satire's all pretty broad stuff, so I still felt like I was getting it. A really interesting read in 2019, with Trump in the White House - Reagan seems like the most harmless, amiable old buffer imaginable in contrast!

As to the story itself - well, read across 25(!) weeks I cannot imagine how it must have dragged, but read in one go, it fair zips along, and only gets noticeably decompressed towards the end, with everybody hiding in the jungle. And it very much feels like the last part of Johnny's post-Wulf rehabilitation. Red constantly needles and annoys him, refusing to take him as seriously as he takes himself - and by the end, he's smiling again, joking, shooting Reagan with a catapult. She's the distraction he never knew he needed.

My distaste for Ron blinded me to the subtleties of the story: in particular I think it's a great point you make about the rehabilitation following Wulf's death.

The weekly read vs. collected read being two very different experiences crops up quite a lot and I think it's fascinating the difference that makes to the experience (of many strips). Rogue Trooper (say, the first year) was a great experience for me as a weekly reader, but I've heard that as a sit-down it seems too repetitive.

Prog / Re: 2000 AD in Stages
« on: Today at 05:17:31 am »
Stage #14: Transmute! (progs 520-531)

The 10th birthday Prog 520 came as a bit of a shock with a prog of different dimensions printed on higher quality paper and edited by a new Tharg (although that last wasn't obvious to the readers). This fresh start (although feeling quite punchy and new) contains all existing characters, and some of them are past their heyday.

This begs the question of how 2000 AD will remain fresh as it continues through its eleventh year...

Anderson, Psi-Division, [Hour of the Wolf]
Whilst Anderson is a spin-off from the Dreddverse, here the student has become the master, with this tale easily overshadowing the main Dredd strip in terms of excitement, action and forward momentum. Re-introducing East-Meg agents (including the currently cubed Orlok) as threats, and borrowing Hershey, this sets the Judges and their system up as fallible again. (It suffers a bit from art issues: prog 528 sees pages printed out of order and then the final two and a bit episodes require a different artist.)
Despite this powerful showing, there's a 76-prog wait for the next Anderson story, beginning with Contact in prog 607...

Rogue Trooper, Hit One
Rogue is sent on his first assassination mission for his new alien masters (thus effectively eliminating the moral authority at the core of the character). Amusingly, his first target (a Nort General) has a throne with a statue of pterodactyl on the back, set atop a dais and flanked by flaming braziers. This mixture of what seems like a medieval castle with a D&D villain and Rogue's hi-tech background is incongruous and the ten episodes struggle to solve the core morality issue: ultimately it's just too difficult to balance with the deliberate ambiguity of Rogue's new masters.
Wait 35 progs for Rogue to return in prog 567...

Judge Dredd
Following something of a pattern through recent stages, there are some fairly weak stories in this bunch, although 10 Years On (520), The Raggedy Man (525-526) and Simp (527) stand out in terms of high quality. There's a sense with something like "What if the Judges did the ads?" (521) that gimmicks and meta-humour have replaced story progression and world-building, itself a sign that perhaps the barrel is running dry at times. Revolution (starting in 531 and continuing into the next stage) is a vital part of the democracy through-line, and a welcome respite from the easily ignored (and broadly silly) Fairlyhyperman.
We see a strong uptick in quality for Dredd moving into the next stage...

Torquemada the God
Kevin's back on the illuminations, and he's not feeling well. Tap! Tap! Tap! As pointed out in A Potted History, this is really Nemesis the Warlock Book 6.5, forming a bridge between the escape of Torquemada from Nemesis at the end of Torquemurder and the upcoming Book VII. The idea of Torquemada as being a sequence of reincarnations of evil throughout human history was first mooted when Thoth started hunting them through the time wastes: here, the modern Torquemada is starting to rot as his prior incarnations are hunted down and executed.
There's a Nemesis one-off in the next stage's prog 534...

Strontium Dog
If you don't like Ronald Reagan (see: any even slightly left-leaning British person who grew up in the 80s), then you'll struggle to enjoy watching him dropping the soap in the shower with Johnny Alpha, or getting sucked off by Durham Red (prog 522, page 2, frame 3), or saying "goshdarned", or "ulp" for ten more episodes on top of the fifteen (count 'em) from the previous stage.
The Royal Affair starts in prog 532...

Tharg's Future Shocks
With a Bang in prog 522 features Simon Harrison's first art in the prog. We also get His Name Was Janus, Old Quagmires Never Die, Fair's Fare and Someone is Watching Me.
More in the next stage...

Tales from Mega-City One
A new format that provides a one-page Tale without necessarily needing to involve Dredd (but he's in all three). We get Wreckers, [Marital Disputes] and Quarantine.
More in the next stage...

Mean Team
"They're back!" declares the tagline, after a break of only *cough* 78 progs. The story of a violent future sport team led by mericiless killer Bad Jack Keller [clue: name] ditches the sport and instead strands them on an odd Earth where technology doesn't function (which did for unfortunately robotic teammate Steelgrip last time) and everyone else seems to have teleported in from a Grimm's Fairy Tale. (It turns out that Keller is completely immune to damage, which you think someone would've noticed when he was involved in the galaxy's most violent sport, but logic, she does not live here.)
More (?!) in the next stage...

D.R. & Quinch's Incredibly Excruciating Agony Page
A one-page, back cover, full color, surreal agony aunt forum in comic strip form. It's nice to see drawings of the characters again, but as this is sans Alan Moore, it's not really them, is it?
More in the next stage...


 - Barney
 - Strontium Dog : A Potted History (part 3)
 - The 2000 AD ABC

Off Topic / Re: The Political Thread
« on: 17 September, 2019, 03:54:36 pm »
On balance, I think there was a sense that Bettel was quite amused by the predicament that Johnson found himself in. But it's just schadenfreude: not a planned set-up.

Johnson is really being hoisted by his own petard. He keeps bluffing that he's got everything under control: you couldn't ask for a clearer metaphor of his actual relationship with Europe.

Off Topic / Re: The Political Thread
« on: 16 September, 2019, 10:34:51 pm »
He says he's the Hulk, but it looks like he's ... the Invisible Man.

Megazine / Re: Thrill-Coma 2010: Best of the Meg
« on: 16 September, 2019, 06:50:16 pm »
Thanks, IronGraham - I've been dividing my time a bit this summer between:

 - a mega overview starting from prog 1 (there's a thread "2000 AD in Stages"), which has really sucked me in, time-wise. It's way too much fun.

 - taking a bit of a break from my Thrill-Coma catch-up, but I've started up again and am currently in the first quarter of 2015. More reviewing as and when: but the Meg takes longer to generate content. I really need to get caught back up to 2019 ... but it'll probably be 2020 at least before I manage that.

 - enjoying a three-week vacation in sunny Scotland, where it rained. That's over now, but having a young family is keeping me on my toes, and the holidays are done and it's back to full-time teaching. Curses! (But I love the wages.) How did I survive three weeks without my PC? Barely, is the answer.

 - starting up a solo game of the Pathfinder card game, because clearly I need another hobby vector.

Prog / Re: 2000 AD in Stages
« on: 14 September, 2019, 06:00:20 am »
Stage #13: Bad Company (progs 500-519)

Celebrations for landmark prog numbers had been hit and miss through the years: prog 100 went with a four part Dredd poster in the centre, and the relaunch of Dan Dare.  Prog 200 had Tharg presenting his six-part Future Worlds poster.  Prog 300 went with a Dredd badge and a multi-part collectible prog 1 replica.  Prog 400, well, they just kind of ignored that. 

Clearly feeling guilty, Tharg went all out with the special prog 500: it had a special glossy cover featuring a pantheon of characters and art droids, an extra four pages and the spiky, censored, owner-baiting sign of droid malaise that is Tharg's Head Revisited.

Back-stage, it's not just that some creators are heading onto pastures new, but the Tharg that's been driving the bus since the Starlord merger in 1978 is passing the keys over to a new incarnation. Change is on the horizon...

Slaine the King
Hit by a scheduling glitch, this twelve-parter suffers an eight-prog hiccup as it tells the story of Slaine returning to the tribe from which he was banished and becoming the Sun King of the Sessair. Something of a poisoned chalice, the job comes with a seven-year time limit and a retirement gift of ritualized execution.

Prog 506 provides an excellent run-down of the story so far, as Slaine reunites with Niamh (his one-time lover, who had been the former King's wife) and their young son Kai. She is none to pleased with him, because when he left the tribe she had to give birth alone, and she knows that whilst she struggled as a single mother he's been larking about doing his barbarian thang. So, she exits stage left to take Kai to a druid school while Slaine goes to rescue his tribe from the Sea Demons.

Find out what Slaine does with his Kingship next in prog 582...

Bad Company
Starship Troopers meets Apocalypse Now starring Robert Smith from The Cure and directed by George A. Romero. This very-fish-out-of-water tale sees the ingenue squaddie Danny Franks recruited into the titular Bad Company, a squad of psycopathic veterans battling the alien Krool on the planet Ararat.

As Apocalypse Now is less the story of Benjamin Willard as it is that of Colonel Kurtz (layered with the madness of war, an examination of what one might consider sane or insane and the passing of the torch from one generation to another), Bad Company is very much embroiled not just in the journey of Danny Franks but also in understanding the motivation of Kano (the seemingly morally bankrupt leader of the Company).

Bad Company, with its roster of crazies and amazing art design was a tour de force that shook the foundations of the comic and provided this stage with a stable all-out classic when most other stories were to some extent treading water or suffering from scheduling glitches.
The story ends well enough here but a second series starts in prog 548...

Judge Dredd
A relatively uninspiring sequence of shorter Dredd tales with the clearly superlative exception of The Taxidermist (Mega-City One meets The Godfather) running in progs 507-510.
Dredd continues to be a mixed bag in the next stage...

Nemesis the Warlock, Book VI.II: Torquemurder
The second half of Torquemurder (after a 12-prog gap) is basically a big fight with the aim of disentangling the huge cast of characters that have been chasing Thoth. The ABC Warriors are sent off on a mission (minus Hitaki, plus Mek-Quake) to fix time, Torquemada is left to die but quickly usurps expectations and is left back in charge of Termite, Thoth is busy hunting through time for incarnations of Torquemada to murder and Nemesis is trying to track him.
The ABC Warriors finally head off for their own series in 1988's Black Hole starting in prog 555. Prior to that, we get Torqemada the God in the next stage.

Tharg's Head Revisited
The first time that creators were asked to get a bit meta and write about how they felt ... was then heavily censored. The details of that are covered elswhere (see Thrill-Power Overload) but the key themes were the talent drain to the US, and the issue of plagiarism.
This sort of introspection perhaps stung and stories featuring Tharg become sparse, cropping up in specials (Judge Dredd Annual 1988 and 1990's Winter Special) a couple of times before prog 719's Galactic Greetings in 1991.

Tharg's Future Shocks
A mixed bag, as usual: standing out, formerly for all the wrong reasons and latterly because it's beautiful (and both scripted by Grant Morrison) are prog 507's Maniac for Hire (starring Ulysses Sweet, who segues immediately into his own mini-series, below) and 515's The Invisible Etchings of Salvador Dali, with startling art from John Hicklenton.
More in the next stage...

The Ark, It's a Mad, Mad, Mad World and the legal-department-baiting Star Traks.
We don't see another spate of un-framed one-offs until 1989...

Ulysses Sweet
Ulysses Sweet has a business card: Maniac for Hire, Have Riot - Will Travel. He proceeds to utilize nuclear-level solutions to corporate conflicts. The first Future Shock has him deal with lazy caricatures of Japanese business folk (somewhat excused, perhaps, by the fact that it was 1987 and others were doing it too). This is followed by the two-part Fruitcake and Veg, which picks on vegetarians. Some of the internal monologue makes it clear that this is attempting to channel D.R. & Quinch, but there was something about their friendship and sometimes innocent-seeming chaos-mongering that let you forgive them. Conversely, Ulysses just seems like a bit of a Scunthorpe.
A completely one-dimensional idea that entirely exhausts its central premise and therefore, unsurprisingly, never returns. Entirely predictably returns for at least two full series, twenty-seven years later, starting in 2013's festive Prog 2014.

Strontium Dog
Johnny Alpha teams up with Durham Red (who has the mutation of being a make-up-the-rules-as-you-go-along style vampire, which sits oddly in the narrative) and they spend a lot of time tracking down a time-kidnapped President Ronald Reagan. Re-playing the idea of famous people from history being kidnapped (as in The Schicklgruber Grab from 1980) but also introducing the new potential side-kick in Red, the story itself is quite sparse, but somehow gets extended out to twenty-five episodes.
With Tharg clearly on vacation from editing duties, this continues in the next stage...

The Dead
Humanity has evolved to a point of immortality, but a lack of death has lead to demonic entities taking over limbo and invading the world of the living. Our hero, Fludd, is murdered in order that he might find a solution. A really odd tale of existential angst that suggests that while your existence might suck, it's probably better than non-existence. Chin up!
It's one and done.


 - Barney
 - Nemesis the Warlock: A Potted History (part 2)
 - Strontium Dog : A Potted History (part 3)
 - The 2000 AD ABC

Off Topic / Re: The Political Thread
« on: 13 September, 2019, 04:08:05 am »
Like a Big Mac: tempting but ultimately unfulfilling.

Off Topic / Re: The Political Thread
« on: 12 September, 2019, 10:41:27 pm »
Thanks for explaining: I see what you mean.  The outside manipulation by other states is partly just taking advantage of problems that already exist at a local level.

Off Topic / Re: The Political Thread
« on: 12 September, 2019, 07:06:41 pm »
Trump supporters and Brexiteers are by and large right to feel aggrieved.

I think I disagree, but then I have to make an assumption as to what you're suggesting they have a right to feel aggrieved about.

I can think of things where I don't think they have the right to feel aggrieved. Like, a Brexiteer doesn't have the right to feel aggrieved about the EU forcing the UK to maintain a certain banana curvature, because that was just a load of shit thought up by a younger Boris.

Trump supporters don't have the right to feel aggrieved by a wave of criminal immigrants, because there was no data to suggest that the asylum seekers at the border were criminals. It's just that Trump called them rapists and thieves.

Off Topic / Re: The Political Thread
« on: 11 September, 2019, 06:48:57 pm »
Scottish judges rule Parliament suspension is unlawful: good olde Scotch Law, providing rulings on all matters pertaining to Bourbon since afore ye 12th century, no?

I'm fully expecting the Supreme Court of Albion to diss the ruling, but it's still nice to see some arse being kicked.

Film & TV / Re: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
« on: 11 September, 2019, 06:20:32 am »
Any mention of Scorcese reminds me how thrilled I was by the trailer for The Irishman.

Prog / Re: 2000 AD in Stages
« on: 11 September, 2019, 01:42:43 am »
Steve Dillon's art was always a favorite for me, as well.

It's interesting when I think of a bad movie, or a bad comic - I often am thinking purely of the story, rather than the constituent parts.  So, a movie might have great cinematography, acting and lighting: but still be a pretty awful story.  Like Terminator Salvation.

For example, I really love Balardinelli's art, but I think of Mean Team, the latter Ace Garp stories and Moon Runners as pretty weak stories.  Artistically, the story is being well told and presented, but the concept is lacking in some other aspect.

Of course, there are perhaps some Mean Team, Garpetbaggers and Moon Runners fans out there.  Perhaps another key point is when people start reading.  The Garpetbaggers probably doesn't seem as tired to someone who just walked in and hasn't already been through several years of adventures with those characters.

Prog / Re: 2000 AD in Stages
« on: 10 September, 2019, 02:31:00 am »
Actually a reprint of a DC Comics graphic novel (and here limited somewhat by lacking the original's full colour presentation)
I actually preferred the B/W version – the art looked sharper than in the colour version I have (a 1986 Titan reprint). I really wish a new version hadn’t fallen through. I’d happily buy this as a lush hardback with a bunch of extras (or just printing the B/W and the colour versions, one after another!)

I prefer the black and white version too (I have the DC and 2000AD versions) - though do appreciate the Kev O'Neill colours (and I'm sure I've also mentioned before that I'd happily buy reprints of the two versions collected).

Given that feedback and if I were re-writing my summation, I'd change it to point out the difference (from full color to mostly black and white) without positing that one were necessarily considered superior to the other.  Metalzoic is one of those quiet classics from that era that I definitely hold in very high regard.

Prog / Re: 2000 AD in Stages
« on: 09 September, 2019, 06:53:13 pm »
It's the completely subjective but otherwise unassailable...

Top Ten Stories of the First Five Hundred

In order of publication...

Ro-Busters: The Terra-Meks (98-101)
Script: Pat Mills
Art: Dave Gibbons

Fiends of the Eastern Front (152-161)
Script: Gerry Finley-Day
Art: Carlos Ezquerra

Return To Armageddon (185-218)
Script: Malcolm Shaw
Art: Jesus Redondo

Nemesis the Warlock: The World of Termight (222-233, 238-240, 243-244)
Script: Pat Mills
Art: Kevin O'Neill

Judge Dredd: Judge Death Lives
Script: Alan Grant & John Wagner
Art: Brian Bolland

Ace Trucking Co.: The Great Mush Rush
Script: Alan Grant & John Wagner
Art: Massimo Belardinelli

Script: Alan Moore
Art: Jim Baikie

Strontium Dog: The Killing
Script: Alan Grant
Art: Carlos Ezquerra

Slaine: Sky Chariots
Script: Pat Mills
Art: Mike McMahon

The Ballad of Halo Jones
Script: Alan Moore
Art: Ian Gibson

Flatin' Alabammy Blimps, ya'all!

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