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Author Topic: The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread  (Read 143673 times)

Funt Solo

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Re: The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread
« Reply #945 on: 10 June, 2020, 09:43:59 PM »
I'll be your (really slow, terribly inefficient and only randomly accessible) Barney:

++ logos ++ stages ++ coma ++

Colin YNWA

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Re: The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread
« Reply #946 on: 11 June, 2020, 09:16:31 PM »
I'll be your (really slow, terribly inefficient and only randomly accessible) Barney:

Yet just as magnificent in your own way - Thank you.



Three sides to every story

One of my main beefs with 'Origins' was that I felt the two strands of story, flashback to the beginning of the Judges combined Dredd and Rico's coming of age and chase to save Fargo from Booth felt crunched together. There was two tales to tell and so Wagner told them, but the join was oh so apparent.

Well its clear that 12 years ago John Wagner was listening to my self absorbed nonsense as the next launch (almost) story of 2008 'Emphatically Evil' sees in 7 parts Wagner demonstrate his mastery of the form, as he effortlessly weaves three strands to seamless perfection. Each strand, Beeny earning her strips as she investigates a child emulating PJ Maybe, the new vote on 'The Mutant Issue' forced by Dredd, and PJ's own reaction to the copycat as Major Ambrose is pulled into the investigation, stands wonderfully on its own.

The real magic comes from the way Wagner does this while having each pull and grow off the others. Each strand magnificent in its own right, yet elevated by being part of the greater whole. No seam visible here and a true masterclass.

While the drama and excitment hangs on the duel PJ lines, its Dredd's relationships with Beeny and Hershey, Judge's at two extremes of their careers, that really makes this story sing. In particular the way we see the most significent element of the story stripped of its overt drama as the Mutant storyline is largely played in exchanges between Dredd and Hershey. In doing so this massive shift, this event of such scale is pulled to earth, humanised, while the politics are exposed, but can be stripped to their bones and in doing so they don't drag down the momentum.

The final reveal, when Hershey passes the result to Dredd in Prog 1574 is just sublime. Moments, such momentus moments, expressed in just three unbelievably exquisite, underplayed panels that begger belief as they deliever so much and are also packed with as much character as most folks would get out of all 7 parts!

A Dredd that has never stood out as anything other than a typically great Wagner tale to me, has for some reason stood out as the very definition of what makes him so absolutely brilliant.

Colin MacNeil is also wonderful on art, aside from one panel I ways remember with Roake wrongly accused by the Judges chuffed in bed at the end of some crazy long legs, Its a very minor point!


Colin YNWA

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Re: The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread
« Reply #947 on: 12 June, 2020, 08:21:20 AM »


Those tricky second stories

I've never subscribed to the cliche of 'the tricky second album' there's as many great second albums as there are rubbish ones and a low lot of fine ones inbetween. When it comes to thrills however I do see a pattern. In an ongoing series, particularly in the typical modern format, by which I mean a story told in 'books' of 10 - 12 parts each building to a greater whole, that second one is crucial. You need to expand upon your typically tighter initial vision in the first story, open your world, as creators hope to tell a larger tale. At the same time you can't open things so much as to lose sight of that intial vision.

In early 2008 we get two fantastic examples of this done well.

Kingdom - The Promised Land is arguably the very definition of doing this. Gene is taken from his original premise and cast into the wider world. New lands, challenges and threats are introduced, possible new masters and mind controlling ticks. However while doing this it keeps two key things at its heart, the battle against Them. Who while not as front and centre in this one, lurk omniously in the background and strike just when the plot needs it. They essentially function just as zombies do in... well zombie moves.

Second is Gene himself such a great character. Seemingly simple, but by being so a wonderful vessel for exploration and adventure. A brute created to help embody the physical energy and violence at the heart of so much 2000ad. Yet with a naive charm that built him beyond that. Such a fantastic invention, such a great character.

The introduction of Leezee is fantastic as well. Having taken Gene's pack from him, Dabnett and Elson introduce a new purpose and motive for Gene. Someone new to defend, protect, but most importantly grow with.

Promised Land does everything you want from a great tricky second story. It expands the world, opens new horizons, but at the same time staying absolutely true to what made the first story so completely compelling.

Stickleback - England's Glory I've previously seen this as the counter to Promised Land. In the past I've struggled with the earlier Sticklebacks after the first story. I found that in shifting the focus onto our eponymous lead the scope felt tighten and whether you liked the story restricted to whether you liked the character - not as a person he's a glorious villain - but as a progatonist.

Having read it again I cry poppycock. Self-absorbed Colin was a fool and thank heavens NuColin has come along to force a reappraisal of this series. Its great. The focus on Stickleback and his gang himself is just that a shift, not a restriction. This crimelord mind in a world of magic and mystery opens so many doors. His gang is wonderful and richy realised and the adventures almost madcap in their crestivity and inspirations.

Art of D'Israeli is of course devine.

Really looking forward to reading the rest of this now. Also with an eye on the reveal in the last story we have to date. A reveal that is strongly hinted at here, if not the specifics then certainly the mystery to unfurl.

Of course for all the second albums when a series is good the 5889th album can be a trimuph too and it would be remiss of me to leave this frankly superb opening line-up with making reference to Strontium Dog - The Glum Affair. This might not take us to new places, this may not create new sonic landscape, but heck when the back catelogue is as good as this lets just enjoy rolling some more of that good stuff out.

And so our first lineup of 2008 comes to a close and there's some great Future Shock (or other one offs) I'm particularly fond of 'Adventures in the War Trade' by Alec Worley and Staz Johnson, to pad things out as we await the new thrills coming in. As hinted at before this speaks to what Tharg has created here, as those new thrills are at first 'Savage' coming back and 'Dead Eyes' which held such a great suprise. We truly are in the best of times!

Colin YNWA

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Re: The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread
« Reply #948 on: 16 June, 2020, 09:04:16 PM »


Those tricky second albums - The tricky second one

As if to prove the point we then get a second series that doesn't quite work. As if balance needed to be returned to some dark dimensional where grim whimsy ruled. I am of course talking about Ten Seconders - Make Believe.

Firstly lets get the art out the way - its all over the place. First we get some glorious watercolours (I think) by Dom Reardon. Absolutely stunning stuff. Then we get a few episodes by Shaun Thomas which lack any real storytelling chops and just doesn't quite feel ready, though potential is on display. Finally we get Ben Oliver looking glorious but not quite at the peak of his potential. Overall it looks a little too much like Tharg tried to fill his gaps with folks too similar and it makes it all look very messy frankly.

The biggest problem however is the normally superb Rob Williams story. Its plays the pastiche card a little too strong. Moving away from the superhero inspired Gods of the forst story (via a Green Lantern chap) to their natural successors Vertigo based Gods. Swamp Thing, Sandman are all unsubtly lampooned. Its all hardless fun, and amusing in places, but when the parody overtakes the story, as it does here it all comes across a little hamfisted forced.

Its  a shame as a tighter, neater execution and this could have been fantastic... and as I recall that's just what we'll get in the third book.

Elsewhere, as we'll discover next time, there are new tricks being replayed and old tricks still working well.

Colin YNWA

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Re: The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread
« Reply #949 on: 17 June, 2020, 09:09:14 PM »


Those tricky second line-ups

So the biggest problem the second line-up of 2008 has is the first was so strong its an incredibly hard act to follow. But follow it does and very, very well. Okay its not quite as strong, but then that would have been quite something, as the previous was The Guv'ner, but it is dead, dead good.

There's some good to middling Dredd, David Taylor's art on Grennie 5 parter Roadhouse is breathtaking and the aforementioned Ten Seconders. But aside from that its absolutely first class.

Savage has another blinder in 'The Guv'ner'. It does break new ground, Patrick Goddard joins on art and does an astonishing job and as this settles this series into its stride for me its marks it as Uncle Pats most consistently entertaining strip in the Prog in the the last, what 15 years or so. Its one of those thrills that its easy to take for granted. It never quite hits the heights of astonishing and it always seems to run alongside thrills that overshadow it, I mean it will be third man against Cradlegrave and Zombo next year as I recall! Here is no exception. But while it may never star I'm always more than happy to have it in the Prog and its always much more than just good. Its an exceptionally understated thrill.

So why is it playing third fiddle here? Well two dead good thrills rule the roost.

I said 10 years ago that Dead Eyes wasn't classic Smith - I was a fool. I also said this

Quote
A more grounded, earthy John Smith (hey these things are relative), dealing with some great characters.

So I understood then that it was perfect Smith. He just nails it. The brilliant relationship between Danny Redman and Geoff carries the first half of the story as the chilling tension builds. When the world explodes and Unthur arrives with his telepathic speak patterns and more 'typical' Smithsian chaos and magic it just feels so right and the impact of the world shattering events all the more important.

This is brilliant. Its also the middle of three thrills that have 'twists. I don't know if this is a deliberate thing but three on the bounce, this one following Malone and being followed almost immediately by The Vort could seem a bit much. The thing is they are all done so well and they all work in their own right. The reintroduction of Indigo Prime is simply fantastic.

As is Dead Signal. Ten years ago Colin said this

Quote
Over in 'Dead Signal' its as if Al Ewing has cast his eyes over what John Smith is up to (see, see I did it again!) and decided to throw us a story with many of John Smith's previous themes. Its got all the struggles with reality and identity that Smith crafts so well and is frankly a bit of a minor classic. Its a bit of a shame that it ends quite so abruptly, almost teasing that there's more to come, which never happened. The art by PJ is crisp, clear and energetic and really quite wonderful.

On this one ten years ago Colin was dead on target. This is a long lost classic and one we need to pull out to discuss more often. Al Ewing here firmly establishes himself as one of Tharg's most innovative writers in self absorbed times and one we sadly miss in now time.

So we get one more line up going into Prog 1600. Can it hold up to the standard of the first two?

Wagner Dredd
Nikolai Dante
Sinister Dexter
The Vort
and yeah Defoe (I'll try again, but ya know...)

You know what we might just manage it!

Colin YNWA

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Re: The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread
« Reply #950 on: 28 June, 2020, 09:22:06 PM »


Third line-ups the charm

Dredd, Sinister Dexter, Dante and ... well we'll come back to The Vort in a sec. So it has Defoe in the line-up but its another top set of thrills that aside.

I'll breeze over Defoe, except why I struggle with it so much escapes me. It should work, it doesn't for me and I struggle to even read it, we'll leave it there.

Also of note is the Dredd, 'The Edgar Case'. John Wagner, this time with the clean and clinical Patrick Goddard, provides a very fitting end to Judge Edgar's tale, which of course has a sting in it... so I'm mixing my tails - get over it! Edgar baits Dredd one more time and in doing so exposes what he missed. Its another of Wagner's increasingly brilliant cop procedurals, wrapped into some more, something much deeper too as Wagner's evolution of Dredd's psyche continues. Just superb.

As is The Vort. Firstly lets get this out the way this is the third in the trilogy of twist character reveals (so stop reading now if you want to avoid spoilers a little later on) following on from Malone and Dead Eyes. I have no idea if these three stories coming in such a relatively short period of time was a plan or just coincidence. Its a weird one if so, but its entirely possible. All three work absolutely fine by themselves, but I'm glad this is the last of them during this time (I think) as it would be getting pretty tired if it'd happened again.

As with Malone all the clues are there, but deeply weaved in so as not to be glaring.

Most importantly the story works on its own terms. Interestingly Si Spurrier, here writing as G. Powell uses some of the ideas he'll return to in one of my favourite stories he's done 'Six Gun Gorilla'. War on a battle with no electronics. He mixes ideas of characters trying to find themselves in this terrible circumstance, mysterious heroic monsters. Its superbly done. Sharp, witty, abrasive and wonderfully realised by suitably ugly art of D'Israeli. The world is all swollen lumps. distorted pain, hard rain and flesh tones. Its brilliant.

The reveal that 'Crispy' is Lobster Random might not have quite the same impact as the other two - that might just be me - but its very well done and I of course look forward to getting to the (frustratingly) final Lobster Random story coming in 1600.

Yep we're rattling along to another century and these two are backed up by all the charm of brillant Dante and Sinister Dexter, which I'm not going to take for granted and I'll be Coming to 'America' (well Neil Diamond has just been on the non Glastonbury coverage) and War of the Moses, next time before we hit that mark.

Colin YNWA

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Re: The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread
« Reply #951 on: 29 June, 2020, 09:24:04 PM »


Greatest Hits

So we've had a lot of great thrills so far this year, many of them new, or reinventions of previous thrills. Still though the thing that really sings in the run up to 1600 is an old time classic. The triple play that has served the comic so well, for so long. I've already mentioned how great the Wagner Dredd is and its followed up by a fun four parter by Robbie Morrison and Richard Elson. In 'Blindside' Dredd is with a cadet when they get hits by an EMP that takes out his eyes, their weapons and brings out the bad guys. Its full on thrillpower.

The other two are of course Sinister Dexter and Nikolai Dante. As I've mentioned so many times before, but never tire of repeating, these three thrills have done so much for the comic and when they are all on fire, as they are here, the comic is a joy.

Sinister Dexter has run of 11 episodes all with art by Anothony Williams. There are three seperate stories, but in reality they run into one another to form a single, glorious run. The Mover moves things, Apellido makes moves, Dexter misfires, Kal Cutter misjudges and events build, before new players are introduced. Its all just fanastic.

The real star though is Dante - America. Simon Fraser provides art on this 11 parter, that in many ways builds on similar ideas to Tsar Wars. It brings to a head the time Dante served the Tsar as America and its heroes burn, first at the hands of the White Army, then under the Tsar's boot. Dante can take no more and after an tense thrill build up reveals his hand, all too close to Vladimir and the tale takes another shift. Its just sublime comics.

Its funny and speaks to when I read this the first time, but I always think that Dante's time as Sword of the Tsar as one that goes on far longer than it does. These stories where my introduction to the character. I knew there was more that had gone on before, but this was all I needed, this was my Dante and all of a sudden the world entirely shifted. So by this time I was as sold on this as folks who'd been in from the beginning, or joined during Tsar Wars. I seem to recall by the end of America I was a massive Dante fan. Each time I read it I know exactly why.

Its also clear that while 2000ad has been good for sometime, these first almost 100 issues I read after getting back onboard - between 1506 and 1599 must play a massive part in why I love the comic so much now. They are so good. The stories so strong, almost all of them. Its that old question, do I think this era is so good as its the one that hooked me back, or was I hooked as these were so good. Would I be as passionate about 2000ad now if I'd come back onboard say between 1400-1500. I mean those are still great comics, I'd have still stuck around to read these ones I'm sure, but would it of had such an impact. Would I have been quite the fan I am now, I loved the old stuff I had back in the day. I love the old stuff I've returned to or rebought... but this is my Tom Baker, this is my Roger Moore (look I'm a child of the 70s so sue me!). These are the Progs that re-reading them back feel like my Progs in the way that even those from Prog 431 on - my previous return to the comic - don't quite.

Funny thing is I know its about to get even better!