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Author Topic: The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread  (Read 50493 times)

Greg M.

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Re: The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread
« Reply #630 on: 16 October, 2018, 09:54:15 pm »
Paul Marshal seems to be temporally very influenced by Colin MacNeil in 'Escape from Kurt Russell'... I don't think it lasts

That story's a last gasp for the ultra-detailed Firekind / Tyranny Rex era of Marshall - after that, his art becomes massively stripped-down in terms of detail and is frequently the victim of horrible colouring. I'm much less of a fan of that period. It takes him quite a while to get back to his more line-intensive style.

AlexF

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Re: The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread
« Reply #631 on: 19 October, 2018, 03:25:23 pm »
Quote
Both have been good, solid strips. Not brilliant at any point. But rarely bad or dull... rarely and deserving of a better send off. They've held the middle ground during the 90s when so much around then has been rubbish. Even at the end this is absolutely brought into sharp focus, surrounded as they are by Dredd Crusade - which gets worse on every reading, Finn a strip I just don't like and Harlem Heroes which I'm barely even reading by this point.

Still hats off (three pointed or otherwise) off to these stalwarts of the early to mid 90s. Rocks standing firm as all around them crumble, or raise to higher ground.

This same curse affected US comic of a similar vintage, described in some circles as being '90s good' - which is pointedly not the same as just plain 'good'...

https://www.cbr.com/comic-book-dictionary-90s-good/

For what it's worth, my memory as a solid 2000AD reader and an occasional Marvel comics reader in 1995, 2000AD was ALWAYS better than the competition, making even the bad strips look good in comparison!

But I absolutely agree that both Armoured Gideon and Brigand Doom needed a more definitive send-off. I feel like Brigand Doom was building up to a reveal of Investigator 9 either becoming the next Brigand, or having been him all along, or perhaps having dreamed up the whole thing, in a kind of parallel to American Psycho.

And you really need to read Harlem Heroes: Cyborg Death Trip as a deliberate 'so bad it's ridiculous' comic. Problem is, when a film does that it can be OK if you're watching it in a group and laughing together - kinda tricky to read a comic in a group setting. See also, and rather soon, Urban Strike!.
I guess we'll have to wait for Space Spinner to give us the group-read experience...

Colin YNWA

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Re: The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread
« Reply #632 on: 19 October, 2018, 07:56:37 pm »
... See also, and rather soon, Urban Strike!.


I remember thinking this was brilliantly ironic reading it back in the day - its one of the few I remember reading then - much to do with great Mike Austin art I suspect (or misremember).

Ha! 90s good is a great term, never heard that before.

Colin YNWA

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Re: The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread
« Reply #633 on: 20 October, 2018, 09:26:33 pm »
Speaking of the Middle ground the departure of Armoured Gideon and Brigand Doom left space for Mambo and Strontium Dogs to fill that space and in Prog 947 both finish.

Its funny and indicative of the problems in the first half of 1995 that these are my favourite thrills in the run they are in. I've always had a real soft spot for the Ennis into Peter Hogan run on Strontium Dogs and while it is a little drifty and meandering I still think it holds up really pretty well. Its not the old Johnny Alpha story, but that's a good thing. It needed to be different to work. And it does. I mean sure its not a patch on Strontium Dog (singular) but at least it has the courage to go in its own direction and its chock full of fun characters just like the original. The more thrilling soap opera vibe it has really works for me... alas it also means it never really reaches its destination.

Mambo is far more compact and tight. Its fun, exciting with just the right amount of intrigue and difference to work. Its far from brilliant, but damn surrounded by the dumb maschismo of Midnight Kiss, the dumb social commentry of the seemingly endless  Finn (Jez just how long does this go on for!) and the just plain dumb Rogue Trooper mash-up if seems brilliant.

So we're over half way through 1995 and we're still struggling and we get a couple of Prog filled with some fun filler. A shaky Kane Future Shock that looks just astonishing and some daft fun, which also looks great in Tracer and then we hit a spell of much needed change as Prog 950 arrives... much needed but is that need fulfilled by the change.... well the movie os here so lets not get our hopes up hey...

Colin YNWA

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Re: The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread
« Reply #634 on: 21 October, 2018, 07:46:43 am »
Prog 950 (plus)

So we hit a time of change as the Judge Dredd movie comes out and 2000ad gets the worse logo I think its ever had. A harsh, sharp, yet fussy block at the top of the page. Stuck there like some sort of over designed banner in a pro-Brexit march.

We get 8 extra pages, but nothing of consequence is added and I'm not quite sure where they go. Pictures from the Dredd movie I assume. Though to be fair by next Prog we do get an extra thrill, or at least double Dredd.

The strip content is actually on the up as well if I'm are honest, but after the first half of the year that's no metric to get excited about, its still not great but there are some real positives. We have Wagner on Dredd, by 952 we're only had one really good one in 'Megalot' but that will sort itself soon as I recall. Slaine is a fine replacement for Finn and hasn't yet started stirring down the barrel of plunging down hill... yet... Rogue Trooper grinds on alas and Urban Strike is ... well just plain curious....

I actually enjoy these early Vector 13s too, though they still make clear that the limitations of the format, which will be exposed soon I'm quite sure. At this point however they feel fun and interesting, after all there's only been 2.

Return of Rico by Pat Mill and Paul Johnson is so unnecessary. I mean sure if you'd not read the original its great and Uncle Pat does get a few neat little bits of commentry in there quite well, but beyond that it adds maybe 12 pages to the old classic, yet very little substance. Well aside from the confusion in the timeline of setting it after Cursed Earth for... reasons of adding dinosaurs to it I guess!?!

You can feel the Prog straining under the weight of its own expectations. The paper feels better, there's more of it, everything has a design makeover, though typically of this time of early PCs its all way to busy and fussy. The trouble is the comic doesn't feel significently better. It is better, but the last 6 months have been awful. Tharg has seen the Dredd movie by now, surely he knows he has to do more than this to reap any reward?

Colin YNWA

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Re: The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread
« Reply #635 on: 22 October, 2018, 09:26:07 pm »
We're well into September and still the Prog isn't really firing an that's with two Wagner Dredd's per issue. Something just isn't right in the House of Tharg. Its not helped by the line-up feeling like its in constant flux. Since Prog 950 we're had:

Urban Strike: An absolute oddity. Its not as funny as it things it is. I think it really wants to be rye and self aware and when I was like 20 odd I think I got tricked into that too. Its not its just irritating. And oh boy those constant oh so knowing Tharg notes get grating very quickly. It sits really uncomfortably in the Prog.

Slaine - Name of the Sword:
is so murky. Greg Staples, who is some time off becoming Greg Staples produces art which is dank and almost impenetrable. I bet the original art sings but on the page its gloomy. The plot isn't much better. Pat Mills is playing with some nice ideas but he's not really pulling it together... mind its far from bad and at least he's stopped hangin' with that bad lad Skinner.

Rogue Trooper: Rogue Pooper more like*

Vector 13: The limitations are really showing already. Lots of stories have potential, some don't, but the artifice created by the delivery by The Men in Black or whatever they are called just chokes engagement and kills stories dead and gets very repetitive very quickly... we're got literally years of this stuff too as I recall... sigh...

One shots of both Janus and Stontium Dogs: Neither of which have time and space to really develop anything and are there just to tease it feels.

Journal of Luke Kirby - Old Straight Track: Has some things to say but is a real slow burner and doesn't really have enough to say to justify that. Still stunning art by Steve Parkhouse and this series has earnt itself some rope.

Manic 5 - Manic 6 : Lacks some of the fun of the first and just feels like more Millar excess.

All this and such a mixed bag of Dredd. For every Bad Frendz there a Jigsaw (sorry I just think the Chris Foss stuff is horrible, stilted and has little life) for The Decision there's Awaking of Angels... its not Wagner at his best... at least not consistently. Still things are on the up and next Prog (959) we will have Wagner at his very best so at least after almost 9 months we might get a Prog that really hits its stride...

*This is the type of humour we'd find in Urban Strike, except it'd have a Tharg note telling us this really means shite but we're not allowed to swear and a semi clad nun cos its so cool and knowing.

Aaron A Aardvark

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Re: The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread
« Reply #636 on: 23 October, 2018, 07:47:36 am »
950 must have been when I returned from my Long Walk
 - because of the Dredd movie believe it or not -
and I must have liked something coz I'm still back 23 years later but I'm drokked if I can remember what it was.

Colin YNWA

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Re: The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread
« Reply #637 on: 24 October, 2018, 09:19:10 pm »
Dredd is getting better and better so maybe ... if you ignore Hammerstein.

I also forgot the art mix-up in Prog 960 when Durham Red starts off with a random page of that same strip. Its actually quite amusing if you are feeling a bit childish, which I often am.

Link Prime

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Re: The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread
« Reply #638 on: 25 October, 2018, 08:27:19 am »
Slaine - Name of the Sword:[/b] is so murky. Greg Staples, who is some time off becoming Greg Staples produces art which is dank and almost impenetrable. I bet the original art sings but on the page its gloomy.

I've always enjoyed The Stapler, even in his very early days.
I thought that Name of the Sword had phenomenal artwork- his career best at the time.

I have 3 pages of pencils from that story, must post them on the original art thread sometime, really exceptional stuff.

I also forgot the art mix-up in Prog 960 when Durham Red starts off with a random page of that same strip. Its actually quite amusing if you are feeling a bit childish, which I often am.

Yes, I remember that howler.
Some may prefer Mark Harrison's modern work on Grey Area, but for me this was his best era (pre- Cantos Durham Red).

Colin YNWA

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Re: The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread
« Reply #639 on: 28 October, 2018, 09:38:32 pm »
Slaine - Name of the Sword:[/b] is so murky. Greg Staples, who is some time off becoming Greg Staples produces art which is dank and almost impenetrable. I bet the original art sings but on the page its gloomy.

I've always enjoyed The Stapler, even in his very early days.
I thought that Name of the Sword had phenomenal artwork- his career best at the time.


Its wasn't really the artwork, rather the reproduction and this seems to affect Kev Walkers work on Hellbringer II.

Anyway Prog 965 and 966 so many thrills, so little content. I Dredd that I think is meant to be fun as the Devil locked up in an Annual a few years ago mixes it up with the recently resurrected Angel Gang. Yike. Rogue Trooper is still struggling, Vector 13 is already beginning to really grate. Supersurf 13 has a few problems and some of John Higgins weakest art with some very murky and fuzzy finishing from TCS. PARAsites I'm just nit buying into and ABC Warriors is okay but far from it best and still boast too many Skinnerisms to work really well.

Yeah I thought things were getting better but in reality they're just nothing really great and so much sub-parr nonsense. We're only got a few Progs left this year and a few Dredd's aside I can't think of anything that's really been fantastic!

Colin YNWA

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Re: The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread
« Reply #640 on: 03 November, 2018, 09:26:04 am »
Specials 1995

And we head full force to the end of 1995 and I rather think I'll have a lot to say about this year.

One thing worth noting now is we're also down to just the specials, which I don't think last themselves beyond next year. Frankly looking at both the Sci-Fi and Winter Specials this year we're not going to miss them as I frankly don't miss having to wade through the Annuals and latterly Yearbooks to find the odd diamond in pages of rough.

By this stage they just feel like page after page of filler, reprint and try out. Not that its a bad thing to have a place for try out, just it can be a bit of a slog to get through... mind that said one of the try outs in this year's bunch has a very special place in my heart. Tucked into Alternity - the 1995 Winter Special we have another strip that feels very influenced by a movie, in this case the mob enforcers in Pulp Fiction. Its by a couple of creators who to this point haven't really pushed themselves to the top of the heap. Dan Abnett largely responsible for a few sub-par Dredd's and a load of the restricted and dull Vector 13s. David Millgate has done stuff here and there.

The story itself is a victim of the style of the time, trying to be hard and knowing, tough and smart without any of the real wit and charm needed to carry that off. It wears its influences on its sleeves and frankly if we were never to see it again we'd barely remember this stroy, anymore than any of the other medicure content that makes up the over priced content of the comic.

As it is of course for reasons of deadline problems elsewhere this weak try out will get rolled out again in the Prog in 1996, it still won't be that good, but it will hit a cord with some readers and get the chance to develop beyond its limited origin. Sinister Dexter doesn't half have a grubby and messy birth. But then don't we all and look how gloriously we all turned out...

Magnetica

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Re: The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread
« Reply #641 on: 03 November, 2018, 01:25:36 pm »
I don’t remember the other stuff David Millgate did for Tharg. According to Barney, he did a small number of Dredds.

As to that writer, whatever happened to him?

Colin YNWA

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Re: The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread
« Reply #642 on: 03 November, 2018, 08:34:54 pm »
I don’t remember the other stuff David Millgate did for Tharg. According to Barney, he did a small number of Dredds.

As to that writer, whatever happened to him?

Yeah shame that Abnett chap never came to anything hey. Reckon if he'd kept going he'd have turned into Tharg's greatest weapon in the war against thrillsucker by now!

Colin YNWA

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Re: The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread
« Reply #643 on: 03 November, 2018, 09:18:08 pm »
1995

So the recovery was a bit of misdirection then and 1994 gave us a clearer direction of travel than I dared to remember it would seem. See I thought 1990 and 1991 where the lows 1992 - 1997 the tricky and slow recovery... alas the narrative hasn't been that straight forward has it... mind that's entirely fitting as this is 2000ad we're talking about after all and 2000ad knows how to do atypical narratives now doesn't it.

The real story has gone 1990-1 pretty damned low, 1992 -3 the slow and tricky false dawn of recovery 1994, nervous confusion as the recovery stalls and 1995... well 1995 is the worst year to date I think... that might be a gut reaction that will change in time, but right now I stand firm with that call (I've more worried for 1996 than I was before mind - but have reason to hope as we'll get to...).

See the biggest problem with 1995 is there simply aren't any absolute highs... well there's one and that might be a little harsh on Soul Gun Warrior. The one real bright spark is Wagner on Dredd, but even then its not quite as consistly brilliant as it might be, partly because he's not there consistantly. That said in 'The Cal Files' he and John Burns produce one of my all time favourite 2000ad stories. Just superb.

The thing is its in absolute isolation and nothing, nothing steps up to help with the heavy lifting. There's some solid middle ground stories and some strips end with mixed results. The very last Journal of Luke Kirby is fantastic - all 8 pages of it in the final prog of the year, alas after the last long form story (see previous excuses about a crap memory if I'm wrong on that one)  being probably the weakest of the series to date.

There's no Button Man, no John Smith nothing like that and yet the lows are still there and many fold, as in any bad year, I've whinged about those enough already so there's no need to harp on.

The other big problem we have is Pat Mills is still having a real wobble and his output just isn't doing it for me with a horrible consistancy in 1995. ABC Warriors is still all crazy and anarchic (it wishes) in such a low brow way. Slaine is not bad but starting into a dive I don't think it recovers from until ... well Simon Davis! And Finn I've never enjoyed.

On top of all this Vector 13 is really killing ones offs as well with its dry, characterless delivery and limited structural format. Editorial won't pick up on this for years and infact is going to make matters worse soon as horribly computer generated androgynous Tharg makes the idea of switching him out seem like not to bad an idea after all.

So where do I get hope from. Well for a start Wagner will, I believe be more consistently present of Dredd, certainly the first half as The Pit, starting too late in 1995 to do much good, will be with us for the first 6 months. Also David Bishop is now on board and while he will make many mistakes, often in the early part of his time as Tharg, but he will start to at least think about turning the good ship 2000ad around and in 1996 introduce one of the cornerstones of doing so, even if that strip won't quite be good during 1996, still it will be fun watching it grow.

So yeah 1995 was just so low key and at time really dull and I'm not confident that 1996 will be too much better, but at least this time I'm more confident that the recovery will maintain a consistent upward trajectory... won't it...


AlexF

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Re: The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread
« Reply #644 on: 04 November, 2018, 08:02:14 pm »
Yeah I think you're right to call out 1995 for lacking any real high-points; even Wagner on Dredd is only ever 'good as usual' rather than 'outstanding'.

I like Vector 13 quite a bit more than you, and at the time felt it brought the one-off back up to the high standard of the early Milligan/Smith/Morrison Future Shocks - but that's still only 'fun' rather than must-read.

I also have a lot more tolerance for Finn, but the art could've been a bit better, especially after books 1 and 2 which had been pretty ace artwise. But it's still not a Button Man or Firekind-level high.

1996 I suspect has lower lows to come, but also one or two major highs (including, of course, 6 months of the Pit!), so counts as an upswing from 1995 which indeed continues with every year after for quite a few year to come (reaching a peak in around 2008?).