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Messages - Funt Solo

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1
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...

[one-offs]
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.

---

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

2
Off Topic / Re: The Political Thread
« on: 13 September, 2019, 04:08:05 am »
Like a Big Mac: tempting but ultimately unfulfilling.

3
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.

4
Off Topic / Re: The Political Thread
« on: 12 September, 2019, 07:06:41 pm »
Quote
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.

5
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.

6
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.

7
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.

8
Prog / Re: 2000 AD in Stages
« on: 10 September, 2019, 02:31:00 am »
Metalzoic
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.

9
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
(224-228)
Script: Alan Grant & John Wagner
Art: Brian Bolland





Ace Trucking Co.: The Great Mush Rush
(251-258)
Script: Alan Grant & John Wagner
Art: Massimo Belardinelli





Skizz
(308-330)
Script: Alan Moore
Art: Jim Baikie





Strontium Dog: The Killing
(350-359)
Script: Alan Grant
Art: Carlos Ezquerra





Slaine: Sky Chariots
(352-360)
Script: Pat Mills
Art: Mike McMahon





The Ballad of Halo Jones
(376-385)
Script: Alan Moore
Art: Ian Gibson



10
Flatin' Alabammy Blimps, ya'all!

11
Books & Comics / Re: Thrillpower Overload: the missing chapters
« on: 08 September, 2019, 10:23:28 pm »
Thanks, Frank: all fascinating and of course it doesn't measure too well against the realities (for example, of moving premises or of dealing with a huge backlog of commissioned material) to just plug in a prog number and say who was in control.  (But it's nice to plug in the prog numbers anyway and then sit back and get a sort of 50,000 feet view of things.)

It's staggering, given all the stumbling blocks, that we still have 2000 AD.

12
Books & Comics / Re: Thrillpower Overload: the missing chapters
« on: 08 September, 2019, 06:54:10 pm »
I can say with certainty that prog 1 is IPC   :D

Oh FFS!   :lol:

13
Books & Comics / Re: Thrillpower Overload: the missing chapters
« on: 08 September, 2019, 04:53:26 pm »
Frank - I think I've got that 2000 AD changed publisher like this:

1977 IPC Magazines
1987 Fleetway (Robert Maxwell)
1991 Egmont UK
2000 Rebellion

But do you know the specific progs that the changeovers took place?

---

Second question: is this list of Thargs correct?


14
General / Re: Welcome
« on: 07 September, 2019, 10:44:09 pm »
What about Thread Zero, though?

15
Prog / Re: 2000 AD in Stages
« on: 07 September, 2019, 10:20:55 pm »
Stage #12: Rage (progs 468-499)

Covering a large chunk of 1986, this stage is most renowned for its relentless response to Wulf's death at the end of The Ragnarok Job.  For Strontium Dog, which had spent much of its time hopping from one bounty job to another, this powerful sequence altered the make up of the strip and ran for over a year with just a single gap.

Whilst established thrills hold court or pop up briefly (Dredd, Ace, Anderson, Nemesis, Rogue and Slaine), there are also experimental new properties such as Sooner or Later, Metalzoic and Bad City Blue.



Sooner or Later
This acid-laced, Ken Loach-ish Time Machine ran for 32 progs, often as single-page back covers (except for the 6-page opener). Micky Swift gets whisked off into the future and in a surreal, post-modern commentary on eighties Britain, must somehow find his way home. "You know it mock's sense."
We get Swifty's Return in progs 416-617, but that's three years away in 1989.

Anderson, Psi-Division, The Possessed
Anderson's second solo series sees her team up with the Exorcists (a new Psi-Div sub-div) to tackle a case of demonic possession [see title]. A fairly pedestrian adventure that re-uses Brett Ewins' amazing designs for twisty-ghost-people from The Haunting of Sector House 9 (progs 359-358).

Supernatural sexual harassment trivia: the cover of prog 475 has ghostly corridor-hands groping Anderson, with her responding "I said 'Hands UP'!" Twenty-four years later, in 2010's Megazine 303 (The House of Vyle), another corridor of hands gets fresh, with Anderson asking "Don't you know it's an offence to grope a Judge, creep?"

The next series for Anderson starts in prog 520...

Judge Dredd
A mixed period of shorter thrills, with a spate of considerably weaker stories.  Standing out above the rest in terms of quality are 468's It Pays to be Mental, the artistically vibrant Riders on the Storm (472-473), the meta critique of US comics presented as The Art of Kenny Who? (477-479) and the representation of Brit-Cit Judges in Atlantis (485-488).
Dredd continues quite a long-running period of highs and lows in the next stage...

Ace Trucking Co.
The interminable Doppelgarp draws to its 21-prog close but is quickly followed by the 23-prog Garpetbaggers, which stretches terribly thinly the idea that they're adventuring in Movieland. When a strip entirely abandons the central premise (space-trucking), it's a sign that barrel bottoms are being scraped.
Garp crops up briefly next in the 1989 2000 AD Annual, but ultimately it's done.

Bad City Blue
Whilst this shares thematic elements with A Clockwork Orange (brain-washing violent criminals), Logan's Run (the idea of Button Men / Sandmen), Silent Running (domes in space) and Escape From New York (Blue is a tough guy against all the odds in the mould of Snake Plissken) it's also very much its own beast. Blue, programmed to enforce the law, discovers that not is all it seems in the asteroid-set Bader City, and sets out to uncover its fate.
Very much a one and done.

Strontium Dog
In the 21-prog Rage, Johnny Alpha seeks revenge against Max Bubba and his gang for the torture and murder of his long-time partner Wulf. With the murder of Wulf, and the positioning of Alpha as entirely driven by vengeance, there is the question of where the story goes now.

Rage is immediately followed by Incident on Mayger Minor (Alpha, acting solo but otherwise emulating the storyline of The Magnificent Seven) and War Zone (where Johnny teams up with Middenface McNulty). Certainly, Rage is a hard act to follow, but both of these tails manage to hold their own in terms of continuing the strip.

Alpha returns next stage in Bitch (starting in prog 505).

Tharg's Future Shocks
Grant Morrison continues to provide the main portion, writing five of the thirteen new Shocks, but there are some new kids on the block in the shape of John Smith (writing three, starting with prog 473's Time Enough to Tell) and Neil Gaiman (writing two, starting with prog 488's You're Never Alone With a Phone).
More in the next stage...

Tharg the Mighty...
Tharg sends 2000 AD into the past in "2000 BC".
More in the next stage...

[one-offs]
We get Danger: Genius at Work, Blood Sport and the memorably spooky Candy and the Catchman (which would be a Terror Tale if those existed yet).
More one-offs in the next stage...

Nemesis the Warlock, Book VI.I: Torquemurder
Nemesis, the ABC Warriors, Purity Brown and Torquemada travel to Earth's end-times, where the Termites have been mining humanity's ultimate evolutionary form for fuel and shipping it back to their own time. Unfortunately the by-product of the mining is the Monad (a murderous collective spirit), and this first half of the Book leaves everyone under threat from its harmful psychic projections.  (If all that sounds weird, its because it is.)
Returns for the second part in prog 500...

Metalzoic
Actually a reprint of a DC Comics graphic novel (and here limited somewhat by lacking the original's full colour presentation), this is an original piece set on a future Earth where machines have evolved into sentience and are reminsicent of extinct mammalian life. The story is complex but revolves around a conflict between two tribes: the wheeldebeasts led by Amok and the Mekaka led by Armageddon.
It's one and done.

Slaine, The Spoils of Annwn
This seven-parter serves as the opener to what might be considered the third epoch of the Slaine saga. The first few stories introduced us to Slaine and told his back story: effectively he was a warrior in search of a tribe, and we followed his wanderings from The Time-Monster to Dragonheist.

The second epoch introduced the Cythrons, and Slaine's battles against the dark gods took us through Time Killer and the Tomb of Terror (with a marked difference in the design aesthetic as the axe was replaced with a leyser sword and gun).

The Spoils of Annwn take us back to the fantasy aspects of a mythical Albion as Slaine searches for mythical knowledge in the Temple of the Stars, armed with an axe again.
 
Foreshadowed is the idea of Slaine becoming king, which occurs in the next stage...

Rogue Trooper, [The Hit Man]
Forty-five progs after Rogue teamed up with a gang of Norts and Southers to combat some mysterious aliens who want to propogate the war, we get this follow-up. Rogue abandons his gang, gets teleported to the alien base where they reveal that they're actually trying to enact galactic peace: but they need an assassin to do it (and had to murder a bunch of people first rather than just ask nicely). Rogue is thus employed.
Returns in prog 520...

---

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

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