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Author Topic: Thrill-Coma 2010  (Read 3427 times)

Funt Solo

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Thrill-Coma 2010
« on: 25 June, 2018, 09:28:33 pm »
So I stopped reading 2000AD at prog 1683, back in 2010 (due to a temporary lack of funds).  Fast forward eight years, and I was waxing lyrical nostalgia to her indoors (who spends more time out of doors than me by a large margin) about Tooth when she suggested I revisit it.  And lo and behold, what was once a nachtmare (expensive mail-subs from overseas, or online systems that didn't accept $$$) is now as smooth as finely-ground extra-smooth peanut butter.  Thanks, 2000AD shop.

So, when I left - Judge Dredd was on his Tour of Duty and Mayor Ambrose had just sent his Hershey-headed love droid to assassinate CJ Sinfield.  Damnation Station was looking great but not really thrilling me.  Zombo was trying to be funny, but not tickling me.  Ichabod Azrael was confusing me and making me think I would benefit from a classical education.  And Nikolai Dante was losing the war.

And now I've decided to get caught up, by reading eight years worth of missing progs.  The only spoiler I know about is that something called the Day of Chaos happened to MC-1 and did some serious damage.  I've been at it a couple of weeks and am up to prog 1708. It's a bit weird to realize that's what brand new for me is 8 years old for everyone else.   

In Dredd: Sinfield deposed!  Ambrose/Maybe locked up!  Dredd on the Council of 5!  And a couple of corking horror/procedurals in the form of The Skinning Room (progs 1700-1704) and Skull Sessions (1706-1707).  Tour of Duty had run for 45 progs: does it count as a mega-epic?  I'm assuming that Dredd won't last long on the Council.

In Strontium Dog (The Life and Death of Johnny Alpha) : Johnny's alive!  Okay, I didn't see that coming.  Mostly because I saw him die way back when.  I guess this is a bit of a Dallas maneuver, but done more subtly than "Feral dreamt it in the shower".  And what about Feral's fate - fattened up and then burnt to death?  Was this some kind of a punishment from the writer?  Also, it's not clear exactly how well Johnny is going to be, or what's happened to Middenface (who offered himself in a life-exchange).

In Nikolai Dante: no crest!  No way!  This reminds me of Friday (aka Rogue without the biochips).  I wonder if it's permanent, and I wonder why the writer chose to do it.  Is it for vulnerability, or were they just sick of writing disembodied dialogue?  Is the crest dead?  The stories City of the Damned and The Master of Kronstadt deal with the immediate aftermath.  I feel like this would benefit from a family tree diagram of some sort.  So many characters, and at this point spanning a story that's run for 13 years (with me 8 years beyond that). I'm a bit like "who-they?" everytime someone new comes into frame.   

Low Life (Hostile Takeover) is great - Dirty Frank is perhaps my favorite comedy 2000AD character ever because he makes me laugh out loud.  Like with this exchange from 1704:   

Dirty Frank: "Truly, you have an impressive and capacious weapon, Corrupt Judge Stewart."
Corrupt Judge Stewart: "You don't have to broadcast the 'corrupt' thing, y'know, turdboy."
Dirty Frank: "Who revealed Dirty Frank's secret middle name?"

Sinister Dexter, The Red Seas, Savage and Defoe are all in there: well produced but not my favorite thrills. 

The big new thrill is Age of the Wolf - which blew my mind with the double page spread of the hero being torn apart in the penultimate episode.  I assume this returns for new stories, because it's so good and really serves as just an opener for a larger tale.
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Colin YNWA

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Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
« Reply #1 on: 25 June, 2018, 09:52:18 pm »
Oh cool so is this going to be an ongoing feature, until you catch up? Nice to see a reading report starting in modern times.
...though Age of the Wolf, interesting!

Funt Solo

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Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
« Reply #2 on: 04 July, 2018, 05:56:19 am »
I've just finished up the last chunk of 2010: progs 1709-1714, prog 2011 (aka prog 1714.5) and megs 300-305.

In summary: new thrills best, old thrills worst.

Comedy
There's a lot of comedy around - mostly in Dredd (20 Years to Midnight), but also in Armitage.  For some reason, cooking shows feature back to back in Dredd's "Come Die With Me" and a Future Shock titled "Universal Masterchef".

Al Ewing does a great job on the comedy Dredds: remembering to play Dredd straight against a backdrop of lunacy.  "20 Years to Midnight" stands out as it features a brief glimpse at a middle-aged Chopper, and the return (after what seems like a long time) of Walter and Mrs Gunderson (replete with three fanny jokes).  On the other hand, "Bald Ambition" from meg 304 is played too broadly and winks too knowingly at the reader with "gaze into the head of bald".  Cat Sullivan is doing it better with a series of "gaze into" puns quietly rocking Droid Life.

Old Thrills
Defoe has no heart.  It's beautifully rendered, but it's just endless waves of zombies being gunned down in an oddly unfamiliar history.  Steampunk zombies sounds good on the tin, but the protagonist is completely unlikable, and is surrounded by unlikable allies and enemies.

Sinister Dexter has no heroes.  There are laughs to be had (mostly from Charon going nuts whenever anyone say "change") but there's a sense of repetition built into a story that has had to resurrect all of its threats by hauling them in from another dimension.

Armitage starts out gritty but descends into farce.  I've never really liked this story.  Another unsympathetic character.

Anderson doesn't seem to be doing anything new in House of Vyle.  Assuming she was 20 when we first met her, she should be about 50 in this story, but she looks much younger.  Shouldn't she be aging, like Dredd?  It's all tits and ass from an ever-young Anderson.  (The Cadet Anderson story in p2011 worked better.)

New Thrills
Age of the Wolf was just a stunning opener for a new thrill: I hope it returns.   Great art, a horrific penultimate episode, and mad ideas.

Dandridge was quite good fun, and seems to follow in a line of sort-of posh eccentric Englishmen.  One I've hated (Bix Barton), most of them seem like curios (Ampney Crucis, Harry Kipling), but this one seems fresh.  I had to look up Barney to see why it was the "Return of the Chap", and found that he'd first surfaced in prog 1631's Past Imperfect.

Lilly MacKenzie (and the mines of Charybdis) was a wild ride: I really like that you feel like the characters have made a new connection by the end of the story.

Samizdat Squad had a first episode and looks intriguing.  East-Meg stories haven't had much succesful longevity (The Inspectre, Red Razors), so it would be nice for this to work well.

Hondo City Justice had great art and and it was good to get a follow up on Inaba (and mentions of Shimura).

Coming up...
Lots to look forward to:
  • Shakara: Avenger
  • Kingdom: His Master's Voice
  • Numbercruncher
  • Flesh [?]
  • Cursed Earth Koburn


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Funt Solo

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Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
« Reply #3 on: 10 July, 2018, 06:55:40 pm »
Early 2011

In order of most favorite to least favorite thrills...

Kingdom: His Master's Voice
Series four continues the adventures of Gene the Hackman, a bio-engineered humanoid canine battling against the giant insectoid Them who appear to be the dominant species on this future Earth. We don't get a major loose end tied up from the previous series, instead focusing on some backstory.  Richard Elson's art is a joy, and Gene's cadence has always been compelling.  I didn't get the "Surfeater Roberts" pun, though: maybe someone can help me out.

Shakara: Avenger
This seemingly simple premise (of a vengeful alien super-being) has stretched itself into a fifth series and remains compelling: although there is a strong implication that it could end here.  Eva Procopio provides some much-needed additional dialog options for the mostly holophrastic main character, as explored in this self-referential aside:



Ampney Crucis Investigates ... The List of Ten
What starts out as Murder on the Orient Express (set aboard a giant zeppelin) twists into something more sinister (somewhat reminiscent of  Leviathan).  Rather than a completely standalone tales, it ties back to previous series and then ends on a cliffhanger.  I enjoyed the beautifully rendered humorous expressions, like here:



Judge Dredd: In Control
There are lots of JD stories in this part of 2011 (including the eight episode Served Cold), but In Control stands out, as it opens a lid on part of the Dreddverse that's not often fleshed out: what's it like to be one of the Judges at Control?

Necrophim: Civil Warlord
This third series appears to be the last, with a war fought in Hell between Satan and the other denizens.  This has always had a very strong art style and interesting design aesthetic, with Satan presented as an egotistical, unbalanced rock-goth lothario suffering from chronic ennui.

Special Mention: The ABC Warriors Star Scan series by Liam Sharp
I always enjoyed character posters in the prog, and they became super-rare, so this lot was a pleasure:

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Dark Jimbo

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Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
« Reply #4 on: 10 July, 2018, 08:18:35 pm »
Kingdom: His Master's Voice
I didn't get the "Surfeater Roberts" pun, though: maybe someone can help me out.

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Funt Solo

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Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
« Reply #5 on: 18 July, 2018, 12:29:42 am »
2011: 2nd Quarter

In order of most favorite to least favorite thrills...

Dandridge: The House That Dripped Devilry
Dandridge is tasked with anchoring his house before it leaks away or is consumed by uncanny forces, whilst also attempting to save a young couple from a malevolent spirit.  This all occurs with a beautiful mixture of humor, terror and style, with the only rather clunky note being the cameo from Postman Pat.  The art is amazing: 


The Memoirs of Nikolai Dante & Nikolai Dante: Bad Blood
The memoirs are something I've been wanting for ages: a recap of the saga so far.  In twelve pages we get a recap of the previous fourteen years (or 1638 pages)!  Impressive.  Bad Blood moves things forward as the story tries to come to terms with Dante minus crest attempting to outmaneuver Dmitri/Arkady Romanov.  In a surprise twist it turns out that Viktor Romanov is still alive - when I thought he'd been crest-zapped into oblivion back in Heroes Be Damned

With the requisite amount of bravado from the heroes, horrific cruelty from the bad guys and back-stabbing galore, the only minor complaint is that it's perhaps a bit repetitive.  Like, sheesh: can't Nikolai catch a break?  Never mind that, though: sit back and feast on the show:


Cadet Anderson:Teenage Kyx
I thought this was an interesting idea when it turned up in Prog 2011 (aka prog 1714.5).  Thanks for that numbering system, Tharg ... it makes things really interesting.  So, for Teenage Kyx, Anderson's been aged forward to where she's close to graduating, and she goes undercover to take on a psi-fogging perp.  We get a set up for a potential follow up story, which would be good to see.

Going back to Anderson's formative years really freshens things up for me.  You can compare this to The House of Vyle in the Megazine, where it's a haunted house yarn not dissimilar to The Possessed from 1986: even to the extent of retreading the "ghostly hands grope Anderson" quip.  So: this ain't that.

Here, Cassandra (Caz, on the right) faces down her adversary (Melinda Kyx):


Judge Dredd
We get a variety of short Dredds: Persistent Vegetative State, What The Hitler Saw, Caterpillars, California Babylon, How To Get Out Of Debt, The Pusher & Scream.  Dredd seems like a showcase for a variety of talent, and in some ways is treading water until the next epic.  It's difficult to maintain a coherent feel with four writers and seven artists all providing their own vision. 

Standing out from the crowd are What The Hitler Saw, with some truly disturbing art, and Caterpillars, which brought some surprise pathos.  Persistent Vegetative State takes the crazy too far, with a literal walking potato man that talks in television quotes. California Babylon is a bit of a mess, with Dredd doing stupid things in the ruins of Mega-City 2.  I know he's tough, but in this and in Scream he just seems like an idiot.  His compatriots say something like "Shouldn't we call in back-up?" and he says something like "I'm too cool tough to kill", and then gets in totally over his head and manages to win out through sheer luck.  I know he's tough, but why write him as pathologically idiotic?

Of all the amazing art on offer, the most beautiful is by Bryan & Alwyn Talbot in Caterpillars:


The Red Seas: Gods And Monsters
This is definitely now a part of an ongoing epic, rather than a standalone yarn.  We learn that Jack Dancer is immortal (but not invulnerable), and is up against Satan.  There's a hint that in the next part that God might also have a bone to pick with him.  It's all a far cry from dinosaurs in a hollow earth (The Hollow Land), which I really enjoyed back in 2006.

Consistently great art from Yeowell, good writing and big themes are becoming a bit hollow for me, though.  I don't see Jack Dancer as anything other than a maguffin to move the plot along.  There's so much magic that deus ex machina happens in nearly every episode: death doesn't mean death, defeat doesn't mean defeat, humans are outnumbered by faceless demons and automatons.  It's dragging a bit, basically: like Ace Trucking did when it got boring.  Didn't like Strike at 64pp, how about The Doppelgarp at 84pp?  No?  Perhaps I can tempt you with The Garpetbaggers at 94pp?  NO!  STOP!


Absalom: Noblesse Oblige
Absalom takes on a new recruit and they become a useful conduit for quite a bit of Basil Exposition, as we learn that the British aristocracy is somewhat demonic.  I was really hoping to like this because I'm a big Caballistics, Inc. fan, and this is a spin-off.

Unfortunately, the lead characters isn't at all sympathetic, which is a flaw that seems to pervade quite a few 2000AD thrills of this era.  Absalom (like Defoe, Sinister, Dexter, everyone in Necrophim, Ichabod Izrael, everyone in Damnation Station, Zombo and Stickleback) is basically a shit-heel.  He's devoid of conscience: ordering an underling to murder a defeated opponent (with no explanation given beyond that he feels like it) and then later bartering the lives of his underlings seemingly without care.  Why are we on his side? 

Isn't there a problem if I'd rather the protagonist got defeated by the villains than otherwise?


Flesh: Texas
This presents itself as a proper sequel to the Flesh stories from early progs: sort of a Book 3.  To summarize the plot: a bunch of drugged up cowboys take absolutely insane risks around giant carnivorous reptiles with predictable consequences.  There's a sub-plot involving a misogynistic preacher.  There is also a magic T-Rex with 666 branded onto its nose.

I don't know how people reacted to this when it was first published in 2011, but I was finding it difficult to comprehend how awful it is.  I mean: why would anyone expect any of the employees to survive when they're all so stupid?  It just comes across as terrible writing.

This is a line of dialog: "This 'Gorehead' will lead us down the steep hillside of depravity, degradation and self-defilement!  Turning us into vile speedos with the stamp of our secret vices on our faces".  Nobody speaks like that.  Nobody would stand still to listen to it.

There's one episode where a female character persuades a male character to go skinny-dipping in a (dinosaur-infested) swamp, whereupon the male is impaled on the beak of a giant dino-heron.  As he is consumed, screaming in bloody terror, she watches on casually (rather than, say, running away for the sake of self-preservation), tells him he deserves it and cracks a joke.  It's unbelievably stupid, for 62 pages.  And it ends on a cliffhanger, which means that there will be more of it.

Trying to find the positive, this wraparound cover is great:


Special Mention: the Kleggs try to sell us t-shirts in prog 1739
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Dark Jimbo

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Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
« Reply #6 on: 18 July, 2018, 09:29:43 am »
Dandridge: The House That Dripped Devilry
Dandridge is tasked with anchoring his house before it leaks away or is consumed by uncanny forces, whilst also attempting to save a young couple from a malevolent spirit.  This all occurs with a beautiful mixture of humor, terror and style...

I loved Dandridge. You've only got one more story, though, and that's your lot - a crying shame if you ask me.

Absalom: Noblesse Oblige
Unfortunately, the lead characters isn't at all sympathetic, which is a flaw that seems to pervade quite a few 2000AD thrills of this era.  Absalom... is basically a shit-heel.  He's devoid of conscience: ordering an underling to murder a defeated opponent (with no explanation given beyond that he feels like it) and then later bartering the lives of his underlings seemingly without care.  Why are we on his side?

You're maybe the first person to articulate how I feel about Absalom - adore the strip, but Harry himself's a right sanctimonious prick - and not in the 'loveable old Harry' way that the other characters seem to think.

Flesh: Texas
I don't know how people reacted to this when it was first published in 2011, but I was finding it difficult to comprehend how awful it is...   It's unbelievably stupid, for 62 pages.  And it ends on a cliffhanger, which means that there will be more of it.

Unbelievably, Flesh somehow gets worse each and every time it shows up.

Taryn Tailz

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Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
« Reply #7 on: 21 July, 2018, 12:42:50 pm »
I remember Flesh, of this period, being a very rare example of a 2000AD strip which I gave up on. I usually read the prog cover to cover, even strips I don't particularly enjoy, but I found Flesh so bad that I couldn't bring myself to read it every week.

TordelBack

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Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
« Reply #8 on: 21 July, 2018, 01:04:01 pm »
I remember Flesh, of this period, being a very rare example of a 2000AD strip which I gave up on. I usually read the prog cover to cover, even strips I don't particularly enjoy, but I found Flesh so bad that I couldn't bring myself to read it every week.

Heh, I loved it!  Just accept that everyone in it is on sanity-blocking drugs (Smileez) and just look at the gloriously drawn dinos munching on cowboys.  That's what it says on the tin after all.

Colin YNWA

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Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
« Reply #9 on: 21 July, 2018, 01:16:39 pm »
I remember Flesh, of this period, being a very rare example of a 2000AD strip which I gave up on. I usually read the prog cover to cover, even strips I don't particularly enjoy, but I found Flesh so bad that I couldn't bring myself to read it every week.

Heh, I loved it!  Just accept that everyone in it is on sanity-blocking drugs (Smileez) and just look at the gloriously drawn dinos munching on cowboys.  That's what it says on the tin after all.

I'm with you there. I know it wasn't a popular strip but I really enjoyed it and was sad when it left the Prog... though it had gone down the 7 villianous warriors route by then. Spoilers just in-case Funt Solo is trying to stay unspoiled.

Funt Solo

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Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
« Reply #10 on: 21 July, 2018, 04:15:36 pm »
Quote
Spoilers just in-case Funt Solo is trying to stay unspoiled.

Thanks, Colin: I am attempting to stay unspoiled.  The most recent prog I've read is 1749 (meg 314), and I've avoided all the prog and meg review threads beyond that point.

Regarding Flesh: Texas - I'm glad other people enjoyed it.  I got that the Smileez was a narrative device that allowed the writer to throw logic out of the window, but ... maybe I should have read it on Smileez?
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TordelBack

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Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
« Reply #11 on: 21 July, 2018, 04:19:13 pm »
Probably the best idea!  Loving this thread BTW, Funt.  Very good read.

Funt Solo

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Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
« Reply #12 on: 21 July, 2018, 07:06:46 pm »
2011: 3rd Quarter

In order of most favorite to least favorite thrills...

Judge Dredd: The Further Dasterdly Deeds of PJ Maybe
Wagner's back!  This is masterful, with Wagner weaving in a flashback sequence that takes us through much of the action: beautifully conveyed by Colin MacNeil.  It's not that other writers do a bad job on Dredd but Wagner is just in a class of his own, and it's great to get back to what seems like the meat and potatoes of Dredd.  I don't think it's too much of a spoiler (given the title) to tell you that PJ Maybe escapes from his Iso-Block.  Here's some of the aftermath:


Judge Dredd: Day of Chaos - Nadia
I've heard rumors that Day of Chaos is a major event for Mega-City One, and the pre-cog visions of Cadet Judge Hennessy seem like a good predictor of what's to come.  The suggestion in this precursor tale are that East-Meg agents are planning on releasing a deadly bio-weapon that could wipe out 99.8% of the population.  Perhaps the most shocking moment here is when a Judge is revealed as an enemy agent and executes a fellow Judge.  The prog 1749 "Dredd - dead?" in-prog cliffhanger was a bit forced, but overall this is a top thrill.  Dredd doesn't escape unscathed:


Savage: Book 7 - Secret City
There's an unusual decision to dress everyone up as if they're from the 1940s, which is Basil Expositioned into the first episode as a retro craze.  So Bill Savage spends Book 7 dressed up as a Humphrey Bogart gumshoe type. That aside, this is quite a taught thriller about trying to get information out of the country whilst being hunted by the Militsaya.  Pat Mills likes to intertwine his stories, and so one of the enemies we have to contend with is a prototype Blackblood:


Tharg's 3rillers
In this opening salvo, we get three sets of 3-parters.  Quite a novel idea, and quite a mixed bag. 

First up is the very sci-fi The Silver-Tongued Exploits of Cosmo Nibs, which I found garish and irritating.  There's a fairly sick joke about a terminally ill young girl which I failed to find the humor in.  It just came across as mean-spirited.

The best of the three was Six Brothers, mixing a contemporary crime thriller with an ancient Egyptian curse to provide some truly disturbing moments:


Last up we had Wolves, a near-future tale of deadly military experimentation without a happy ending.

I don't know if this format has legs, but it was interesting.  Cleverly, it avoids pigeon-holing itself thematically by not having the words future, time or terror in the title.

Zombo: The Day the Zombo Died
More shenanigans from Al Ewing, in which Zombo goes up against Obmoz, his (evil-er?) twin.  The humor is very broad, very manic and has the dial turned all the way up to 11.  I mostly hate it, but still find myself reading it all and guffawing at points because Al really is a funny guy.  It's as if someone sat down and decided that a mixture of The Doppelgarp, B.L.A.I.R. 1 & Big Dave was a good idea.  Weird: like with each bite I both hate and find highly amusing the marmite sandwich I'm eating.

Contextually, having one of the characters be President Trump might have been funnier in 2011: reading it today it's mostly just nauseating.  It promises another sequel featuring a planet-sized face as an enemy: could that please just be a joke?


Sinister Dexter: Apocalypse Shtick
So we find out that reality is breaking down, and only Sin & Dex can save the universe!  This is all explained by some gaudy Basil Exposition ninjas who are sort of multiverse janitors.  Sin & Dex end up killing a bunch of people they already killed ages ago, because these are from that other dimension.

I really don't like Sinister Dexter anymore.  I did, once, when it was just them and Downlode, and there were other characters to care about, like Demi Octavo, and Billi and such.  But now - with all the dimension-hopping and re-treading of dead characters, it feels like it's lost its way.  More than Future Shocks, or Time Twisters or Terror Tales, it just feels like filler. 

I know Dan Abnett could write this from now until the end of time, but should he?  There's a suggestion in the story that their entire reality could just cease to exist!  We could end it there, right?
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TordelBack

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Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
« Reply #13 on: 21 July, 2018, 08:51:00 pm »
Contextually, having one of the characters be President Trump might have been funnier in 2011: reading it today it's mostly just nauseating

This is so painfully true. I re-read all (most?) of Zombo in the Ultimate Collection just recently, and while I loved it at the time it ran, and really enjoyed the rest this time out too, the Trump bits fell totally flat for me - to the point of genuine irritation. Possibly because Ewing's version appears more balanced than the real thing, almost as if this is a gentle puff-piece meant to reassure.  That's drokkin' scary, that is.

Taryn Tailz

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Re: Thrill-Coma 2010
« Reply #14 on: 21 July, 2018, 11:13:31 pm »
I remember Flesh, of this period, being a very rare example of a 2000AD strip which I gave up on. I usually read the prog cover to cover, even strips I don't particularly enjoy, but I found Flesh so bad that I couldn't bring myself to read it every week.

Heh, I loved it!  Just accept that everyone in it is on sanity-blocking drugs (Smileez) and just look at the gloriously drawn dinos munching on cowboys.  That's what it says on the tin after all.

Bearing in mind that I have never, even as a child, had any interest in either dinosaurs or cowboys, I think it's fair to say that I probably wasn't the demographic for Flesh.