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Author Topic: 2000 AD in Stages  (Read 11445 times)

Leigh S

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Re: 2000 AD in Stages
« Reply #210 on: 24 November, 2019, 10:02:11 pm »
Yeah, this is where the wheels come off - Wagner establishing the Cits as laughably ill informed and apathetic, well that was just more spot on future prediction.  Having the predictable outcome of the citizens having been dumbed down and beaten down to the point they can't imagine a future free of the Judges?  fine, a stark warning, a horrible, depressing outcome.

Having that resolution presented as a positive, as the "right" thing - a "triumph of the will" you might say... having the few citizens who still care enough just throw up their hands and give in, and have that painted as a victory?  I generally stand up for Ennis over other early non Wagner writers, but this is as stinky as it gets and it isnt a one off for Garth, as we see again in Helter Skelter, where the libtard journalist(?) is schooled in why JUDGES ROOL!

[quote author=Funt Solo link=topic=45960.msg1018133#msg1018133 date=1574629894

The bit I hated was when Blondel Dupre weeps and, cowed before her master, says "You are the law, Judge Dredd." It just smacks of a male dominance scenario that doesn't ring true for either Dupre or Dredd.
[/quote]

Funt Solo

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AlexF

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Re: 2000 AD in Stages
« Reply #212 on: 25 November, 2019, 01:10:45 pm »
Stage 23 is exactly the point where I'd outgrown both the Beano and Whizzer 'n Chips, and embraced 2000AD hard.
I didn't understand a lot of the strips, didn't get a lot of the jokes (especially on Ennis Dredd), but at the time assumed it was because I wasn't quite old enough and would find it all utterly brilliant in a few years. By the time we got to Babe Race 2000, I realized it wasn't actually me who needed to do more growing up...

NB I'm still waiting to be old enough to understand Revere.


Colin YNWA

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Re: 2000 AD in Stages
« Reply #213 on: 25 November, 2019, 09:46:02 pm »
Thanks for the list of Stages so far. I can now confirm with an absolute minimum of effort that 'Khronic ills of tooth' is the best title to date (maybe 'Khronic ill in the thrills') would have worked as well.

Its also important to salute as well as producing one of the all time great threads that linkie make me snort with laughter in an almost painful way.

Funt Solo

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Re: 2000 AD in Stages
« Reply #214 on: 18 December, 2019, 01:38:41 am »



Megazine: Vol. 1 (America) (1.01-1.20)

Whilst Judge Dredd has dominated 2000 AD since prog 2, consistently being there (having skipped only 2 progs up to 1991) and having its own Annual from 1980 onwards, it wasn't until 1988 that the Sci-Fi Special got a new sibling in the form of the Judge Dredd Mega-Special. That first special, playing off the idea of world Judges that had shown up in the prog, presented Dredd's World and suggested that there was an entire globes's worth of content waiting to be written about:




Some time in development, the first Judge Dredd Megazine was released in October 1990, and ran monthly for twenty issues before converting to a fortnightly format as a second volume. It's difficult to measure 2000 AD without including the content of the Megazine as it launched characters and throughlines that at times overshadowed the content in the weekly that spawned it. America, for example, has characters that echo out over the Dredd saga all the way to the present, and in that sense, we can't really untangle the two comics.




Judge Dredd
Of course Judge Dredd is the title strip in his own Megazine, but it's overshadowed by the superlative America [see below] in the first seven issues. Probably the most memorable tales here are Midnite's Children (a bleak comedy about a murderous dynasty of doomed psychopaths) and Black Widow (well ahead of 1995's Species): a Hicklentonian rendition of horror and a sequel to the classic 1985 morphing alien parasite tale from the prog - Nosferatu.

Raptaur pits Dredd against a bullet-proof, blast-proof, razor-toothed, poisonous, betentacled, hypnotic, stealth-capable alien that is feeding copiously on the cits. This series is notable for Dredd's gritty method of stopping himself falling to his death: he impales his own hand using his trusty boot knife. Also of note is the first appearance of Psi-Judge Karyn, who gets her own series in 1994. A friendly-ish raptaur later becomes a pet of sorts in 2004's The Simping Detective.

In Volume 2, Dredd crosses over with the prog's latest mega-epic...

Chopper: Earth, Wind & Fire *RETCON*
Given that Chopper met a tragic (and seemingly permanent) bullet-ridden fate at the finishing line of Supersurf Eleven (in Song of the Surfer), it was a surprise for readers to see him pop back up and brush himself off a few months later seemingly none the worse for wear.

Where it's precursor (with all the fireworks and blood) was an examination of how media-driven spectacle could lead to gladitorial inhumanity (whilst also perhaps being a study of the futility of a macho mindset), this particular boogie wonderland mashes up the moral of Crocodile Dundee (don't fuck with a bushman on his home turf - or - biggest knife wins) with rote stereotypes of ocker Aussies - like a Chief Judge who's always drunk and wears a cork-adorned cattleman's hat.

A bit like when the A-Team defeated a gang of heavily armed thugs with a cabbage-firing tractor, here we must swallow defeat of one's gun-toting enemies by harsh language, posturing and well-timed beheading with a surf board whilst traveling at speed through the cab of a truck. Strewth, mate!

Returns in issue 2.36 with Dead Man's Twist...

Young Death: The Boyhood Of A Superfiend
In an epitome of dark comedy, Judge Death (lodger of the mostly blind and befuddled Mrs Gunderson) dictates his life story to investigative journalist Brian Skuter. Young Death (a boy named Sidney) has a penchant for offing those he finds troublesome that is not unlike that depicted in The Wasp Factory (Banks, 1984). Whereas that allows a restorative conclusion of sorts, Death's never quite satisfied: there's always another sinner to judge (as well as solving the thorny problem of his own mortality).

It seems somewhat rushed at the end, and the other three Dark Judges are thinly drawn dudes who seem oddly keen on becoming really fucked-up superfiends. We can pretty much buy into Death's whole shtick, but it would be interesting to see why Fire (for example) opted for (or was doomed to become) a flaming skeleton, as opposed to just a similar entity to Death.
 
Death returns in Volume 2 for a nice cuppa...

Judge Dredd: America
A seminal tale of the struggle between democracy and authoritarianism in Mega-City One, and also a love story, and also a favorite of John Wagner with superlative art by Colin MacNeil. In some ways it's the perfect encapsulation of Dredd's world: something you could give to anyone who hadn't read Dredd so that they could get it. On the other hand, the focus on the plight of the citizenry clearly places Dredd in the role of antagonist, which isn't always true in the general arc of the character.

America Jara is the daughter of Porta Rican immigrants, and grows up friends with Bennett Beeny. As she joins a pro-democracy movement and becomes involved with their militant wing (Total War), Beeny becomes a famous singer and their lives drift apart: until a crisis reunites them in tragedy.
 
There's a direct sequel that begins in 1996's issue 3.20...

Beyond Our Kenny
A sequel to 1986's The Art of Kenny Who?, which was a combination of the classic Who's On First? sketch and Cam Kennedy's real encounter with some U.S. suits with a poor cabability for appelational comprehension. During the first adventure, Who? was cubed (for fighting back against corporate art thieves), and now his wife and kids have come to the Big Meg to track him down. Get ready for plenty of this sort of thing: "Name?" | "Who?" | "You!"
I may be skipping one, but there's a sequel that starts in 2005's issue 228...

Al's Baby
Well in advance of Arnie-vehicle Junior from 1994, this comedy tells the tale of mobster Al Bestardi, brow-beaten into carrying his wife's baby to term. That she's also the daughter of the mob boss explains his motivation. Cue morning sickness vomit all over the Godfather, Al's Ratso Rizzo-like mobster buddy Sal making him quit his beloved cigars and escalating levels of gang violence as Al works through his pregnancy.
More from Al in 1992's issue 2.16...

Judge Edwina's Strange Cases
A one-off format, later replaced by Tales From the Black Museum (in 2006), the Strange Cases were relatively short-lived, with only nine in total spread out over three years, and cropping up in Mega-Specials and Yearbooks.
There are a couple more of these in upcoming Mega-Specials, then that's it.

Red Razors
The author stars in an alternate reality where Dredd's world is a pile of day-glo poo. Sorry, sorry: the politeness and balance bafflers got switched off for a moment there. Try again: in the future of Dredd's world, East-Meg Two is culturally like an episode of Happy Days. Judge Razors (a reconditioned ex-con, and a self-confessed complete dick) and his colleague, Judge Ed (a talking horse with a Judge badge stapled to his chest), ride into battle against perps - gunning them down with abandon. It's all just so hateful: I'll let Kryton describe Red Razors for us, but there's not much anyone need add to the character's own description of himself: "I prefer to be nasty". Fair enough: I prefer not to read about you.
Ye gods: more Razors in the next Mega-Special...

Armitage
A Brit-Cit detective Judge in the mould of Jack Reagan (The Sweeney) and Inspector Morse, Armitage is teamed up with rookie Treasure Steel in an Agatha Christie-like murder mystery as various high-level Judges within the New Old Bailey meet grisly ends in quick succession.
A sequel begins in 1992's issue 2.10...

The Straitjacket Fits
A surreal comedy of varying episodic page-length (sometimes a one-pager, but ranging around like ... a lunatic) follows the adventures of Doctor Drongo Stabbins, newly arrived at one of those fictional insane asylums populated by likeable crazies (including Randle McMurphy from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest). Will the lunatics take over the asylum?
The Final Fit arrives in the 1993 Judge Dredd Yearbook...

Heavy Metal Dredd
These one-offs start out with some obvious link to rock music (the first is Dredd as a song, the second riffs on Pinball Wizard, the third references Ozzy Ozbourne) but then that either gets forgotten altogether or just obscure enough that you might not notice.
Sparks back up in issue 2.13...

Middenface McNulty: Wan Man an' His Dug
Top Dogs in the 1991 Judge Dredd Annual had set up the direct link between Strontium Dog and Judge Dredd through the narrative tool of time travel, and in this broad comedy the same technique gets applied with McNulty involved in the paradoxical shenanigans.
Gies his lumps agin in 2001's issue 3.76...

Brit-Cit Babes
We follow the Brit-Cit Vice Squad's undercover investigation of a people-trafficking operation. It's sort of a cross between The Sweeney and Charlie's Angels. There seems to be legs for Shea, who's a judge with pyrokinetic powers, but the series came and went in a flash and ended on something of a downer.
Tis one and done.

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References:
 - Barney
 - The 2000 AD ABC
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JayzusB.Christ

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Re: 2000 AD in Stages
« Reply #215 on: 18 December, 2019, 12:09:36 pm »
Great stuff as always, Funt.  The decapitation with the surfboard thing always bothered me - Jug McKenzie suddenly becomes a murderer?  I mean, I think Chopper had already had a perfect death and shouldn't have come back at all, but if he has to, a little bit of subtlety wouldn't hurt.

Also agree about the characterisation of the other three Dark Judges in Young Death - Kek-W's Deadworld  stuff is doing it better.
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Funt Solo

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Re: 2000 AD in Stages
« Reply #216 on: 03 January, 2020, 06:16:42 am »



2000 AD Stage #24: Don't Believe the Hype…
and
Meg: Vol. 2.1 (Swimming in Blood)

In early 1992 (as prog 780 launched the much-hyped Megablast jump-on) the Megazine re-launched as the fortnightly Volume 2 and a few weeks later we got the first direct crossover-thrill in the form of the Judge Dredd mega-epic Judgement Day (featuring special guest star Dennis the Menace). That sort of sums up this era: on the one hand we get amazing new content (Button Man, Devlin Waugh, Dredd teaming up with Alpha) and on the other there's a sort of childlike spattering of colorful paint across the walls of the living room while nobody's looking (in the form of Kola Kommandos, Return to Verdus and a zombie-apocalypse-musical that leaves a bewildered Dredd looking on and trying to look taciturn).




Judge Dredd
The major event here is the mega-epic Judgement Day, running concurrently in the prog and the meg (the latter for each third episode), and so floating in at twenty episodes, four artists and 150 pages of pressure to purchase both publications. Ennis ladles it on by making it a globe-trotting, multi-Meg, multi-Judge force adventure to save the planet from an unstoppable zombie horde consisting of everyone who's ever died. Roll in a pontificating stage villain (Sabbat the Necrophagus) who keeps Dennis the Menace as a pet and likes to put on stage shows for his captives, and you end up with an odd blend of deadly threat and camp spectacle.

Clearly in need of some grit, Johnny Alpha is teleported in from the future (inspired by 1990's Top Dogs story in the 1991 Judge Dredd Annual) as Dredd buys some time by nuking three of the world's Mega-Cities, at the loss of two billion lives. The climax is Carry on Dirty Dozen before Dredd and Alpha swagger off into the (apocalyptic, highly radioactive) sunset for all the world like Rooster Cogburn and Jesse Custer.

The prog and meg disentangle themselves, with the next crossover waiting until 1994...

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In The Prog...

Kola Kommandos [NEW THRILL]
Hector Doldrum, a suit who works for the ethically moribund Okay Kola Kompany, investigates the mysterious other-dimensional eighth floor of his office to find evil experiments agogo, and then is sacked. He falls in with the Kola Kommandos, a militant group who are attacking the OKK. And then an obese guy in a cape (Captain Cholesterol) is sent after him (even though they just kicked him out) and also an invincible moon-man. And there are sentient teddy bears in a weird dream dimension. It's like someone read Third World War in Crisis, then took the RPGs Paranoia, Toon & Traveller before just rolling on a bunch of random encounter tables and calling it a plot.
Tis a one and done.

A.B.C. Warriors: Khronicles Of Khaos, Book II
This second half of the saga begins with a makeover prologue (missing from the Mandarin reprint) in which the copious damage the warriors suffered at the end of the previous section gets repaired, with the unfortunate side effect of mending Hammerstein's half-dreadlocked metal fatigue helmet (first introduced in Book IV of Nemesis back in 1984). Carrying on from where they left off last time, the warriors continue on their beautifully-painted quest for the remaining three heads they need for their sacrifice to Hekate, the planet of khaos. The moral seems to be: do as thou wilt, as long as that doesn't involve running other people's lives for them.
The warriors spread more of their word in 1994's Hellbringer, although Blackblood gets his own outing in the 1992 Winter Special...

Rogue Trooper [Friday]: Apocalypse Dreadnought
Fleisher does some rinse and repeat, starting this new series off by having Friday ditch his sidekick before traveling to a new continent (like in the last series) and immediately leading the locals into a deadly maze of corridors (like in the last series but one).  At a local fishing village, he goes diving and finds a magic spaceship with a psychic alien manta ray pilot and together they fly through space to Nova-Corp (the baddies) HQ and blow their planet up. Friday is left floating in a bubble in space. In John Smith and Chris Weston's  Enfleshlings (1993 Yearbook) it's Friday meets Killing Time, as a demonic entity (in a classicly styled haunted house) threatens to consume any lone soldiers that happen along asking for a cup of sugar.
Friday gets sporadic for a while, next cropping up in the 1993 Sci-Fi Special...

Button Man [NEW THRILL]
In this taut thriller, Harry Exton takes a job as a modern-day gladiator: illegally battling to the death (or, sometimes, the loss of a finger) for the benefit and glory of his rich employers: the "voices". It's only when he tries to leave the game that he realizes that there's only one way he'll be allowed to retire. Of the much-hyped Megablast line-up, this is the one that surprised and delighted the most (with the Khronicles, after all, being something of a known quantity, however beautifully wrought).
We get a highly sought second series in 1994...

Zenith: Phase IV
The final phase of Zenith is presented in full colour and has a taut structure: immediately we are told that the Lloigor have taken over Earth, and that seemingly only Peyne remains as their plaything. As he is magically made younger, we go back in time to find out how this point was reached. Eventually the narratives meet, although throughout, things seem darkly devoid of hope.
Continues unbroken into the next stage...

Tharg's Dragon Tales [NEW THRILL]
Tharg's Dragon Shocks, more like.
This is it. I guess these could return at some point, right? Tharg?

Robo-Hunter(*) [*REBOOT]
John Smith and Chris Weston have a go at new Robo-Hunter in the 1992 Sci-Fi Special with Something for the Weekend, Sir?, in which Psuedo-Sam laments the cancellation of his three prostitutes and refers to his barber as a dago before everything descends into Sweeney Todd with robots. Return to Verdus sees Psuedo-Sam kidnapped by Jessica Cutie, there to be tortured and executed for his mass genocide of the planet back in his first adventure (Verdus, 1979). It's not abundantly clear how they've resurrected themselves, but here they all are. Psuedo-Sam is busted out by some alien Robo-Hunters and then there's lots of shooting and yelling, forests made of decomposing body parts and another theme park. The 1993 Yearbook dishes out The Succubus, which is an extended combat sequence between a murderous giant Butler droid and Psuedo-Sam, set in a flooded Manhatten. The script openly derides the time when Robo-Hunter had "cute little robots with a song for every occasion", but fails to offer up a better formula with this repetetive Generic Tough Guy Defeats Big Enemy schtick.
Return to Verdus continues into the next stage...

Bradley: [Bradley's Bedtime Stories #1]
Bradley was locked away in 1990 in the Institute for Wayward Individuals, but The Great Escape sees him abscond (using parkour when it was still rad) and track down his parents, thus giving us a chance to listen to his Bedtime Stories in the form of The Little Were-Maid, The Ice Queen, The Nightingale and The King's Birthday Suit.
More bedtime stories in the next stage...


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In The Meg...

Devlin Waugh: Swimming In Blood [NEW THRILL]
One of the best character introductions of all time: this presents the titular toff as (in the author's words) "Noel Coward played by Arnold Schwarzenegger", a "spiritual envoy" working for the vatican in Dredd's world. We meet him as he is sent to Aquatraz (an underwater prison with a layout in the shape of a seahorse) to tackle a vampire incursion.
Our next meeting with Devlin is fleeting as we get a Brief Encounter in 2.26...

Armageddon: The Bad Man [NEW THRILL]
Borrowing heavily from Terminator, Total Recall (literally lifting the "Open your mind!" scene) and, uh, The Bible, this derivative slice of action pie enigmatically ends on a cliffhanger without fully explaining itself. There's a hint in Meg 1.19 that this is going to explain the origins of Mega-City One, but it never explicitly does that, instead telling us of a shadowy organization using globabl destablization as an excuse to grab power (while a psychic runs away from a mysterious assassin).
Tis one and done, as per the contractual shenanigans.

Soul Sisters [NEW THRILL]
An avant garde, campy, technicolor romp set sixty-two years beyond the Dredd timeline in Brit-Cit: the Soul Sisters are a pair of handy (in a fight) vigilante nuns. I can't tell you the plot beyond that because however many times I sit down to read it, I find myself losing the will to live and then my id autopilots me onto something less lethal. In the 1993 Judge Dredd Yearbook The Dark Nuns Return has the Sisters come back from the grave to help a Brit-Cit that has been plunged into hell by, erm, John Major.
And that's it for the Soul Sisters. You may thank God in His mercy (or the two Daves who stopped writing it). Or maybe you loved it, in which case I apologize.

Anderson, Psi-Division
The 1992 Judge Dredd Mega-Special features the tragic two-part Baby Talk, in which a narcotic ingested by a pregnant addict gives her embryo psi powers. Meg 2.08's Blythe Spirit sees an insanely tortured soul set loose on a packed block. It's notable for two things: Anderson is continually followed around by a wind machine (because it's David Roach on art) and the climactic line is "Kill the chicken!" George (in the 1993 Judge Dredd Yearbook) is a weak-sauce, one-note joke strip about a satanic tapeworm (called George).
Anderson continues into the next Meg stage...

Judge Hershey: Downtime
The second solo outing for Hershey (since 1989's Mega-Special) sees her dealing with a violent drug outbreak at her local gym. (Yes, there is exposition explaining why she's at a local gym as opposed to a Justice Department facility.)
Hershey has more tales in the next Meg stage...


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Special Mentions

Strontium Dog
The 1992 Sci-Fi Special has "An Untold Tale of Johnny Alpha" by Peter Hogan, which the contents page sub-titles as The Walking Lady. Set prior to the events of The Ragnarok Job, this sees Johnny and Wulf stalking a wanted man and seeking the help of a mystical blind woman. Meanwhile, Dead Man's Hand (in the 1993 Yearbook) really should be super-titled as Strontium Dogs, as it's a Feral tale. In a narrow-band game of high stakes poker, Feral reveals himself as an on-the-run card shark with no morals, willing to be the first to violence just to get along. He's not even a real S/D agent: he just has Alpha's old badge.
We have a long wait for Alpha's next story: The Kreeler Conspiracy in 2000 AD (the year, that is). Feral returns next stage in the woefully out of tune Return of the Gronk...

Brigand Doom
The 1992 Sci-Fi Special gives us Death's Door, in which Investigator Nine realizes she's been having nightmares about Doom since she was a child, and that she's addicted to his vials of magic drug-stuff. He's a bit like a zombie stalker now, asking her to be his undead girlfriend. The 1993 Yearbook follows up with Portrait of the Artist in which Doom (accompanied by his little cloud of flies) decides to execute vassals of the state such as, erm, art gallery security guards, an artist and a random politician. Fuck: even Finn was a bit more choosy than that. The detectives ignore the papier-mâché'd murder victim in his y-fronts as the tale of Brigand Doom unwittingly strays into Bix Barton territory.
Next stage starts up a new mini-series in the prog...

Armoured Gideon: Making Movies 1992 Sci-Fi Special
This serves as the third stepping stone between the first and second series as Armoured Gideon gets his big break in the film business going up against a demon-possessed mechasaur.
We get a proper second series for this starting in 1993...

Rogue Trooper: House of Pain 1992 Sci-Fi Special
An actual Rogue Trooper story, as opposed to the new Friday dude that's hogging the prog. Because The Hit had the shit ending of Rogue just wandering off like a disgruntled hippy, this is by necessity set before that happened, so he's still on Nu Earth. Unfortunately, it's an early Miller so doesn't make much sense. Plot: Rogue is captured by egg-headed mutant hillbillies who stick him with forks until he gets pissed and retaliates.
Rogue (not Friday) turns up again in the 1994 Yearbook...

Red Razors
The 1992 Judge Dredd Mega-Special regales us with The Secret Origin Of Comrade Ed, in which we discover that Ed got deliberately transformed from human to sentient horse in order to escape an ugly girlfriend with a psycophathic father. The 1993 Judge Dredd Yearbook has Razors take on a gang of homicidal medical men in the risible Doctor's Orders.
A second series of this ... thing ... transits from the Meg to the prog in 1994...

Durham Red: Ring My Bell 1993 Yearbook
A thin tale about Durham tracking down a bounty at the Blackpool amusements. Then she drinks his blood. Because she's a vampire. Sort of. It's never really explained.
We get a new mini-series for Red in 1994...

Bix Barton: The Mouth Thief 1993 Yearbook
The Marmite is spread thickly with this very literal tale of someone who steals people's mouths and grafts them onto his face. It's gross, it's bizarre: it's Bix Barton.
Bix, temporarily relegated to the subsidiary publications, next returns in the 1993 Sci-Fi Special...

The Straitjacket Fits: The Final Fit - The Relapse 1993 Judge Dredd Yearbook
A follow-up to the Megazine's Volume #1 comedy, this provides a self-referential, self-confessed lack of resolve whose most impressive moment is a riff on Arkham Asylum (McKean & Morrison, 1989).
The sub-title speaketh true, and this is indeed the last of this.


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References:
 - Barney
 - The 2000 AD ABC
« Last Edit: 03 January, 2020, 06:23:11 pm by IndigoPrime »
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Colin YNWA

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Re: 2000 AD in Stages
« Reply #217 on: 03 January, 2020, 07:39:00 am »
Bonus points for referencing the craziest of RPGs Toon!

Funt Solo

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Re: 2000 AD in Stages
« Reply #218 on: 03 January, 2020, 05:41:42 pm »
Just realized I've been misspelling taut as taught, though. Oh well, you live and learn.
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IndigoPrime

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Re: 2000 AD in Stages
« Reply #219 on: 03 January, 2020, 06:23:32 pm »
Just realized I've been misspelling taut as taught, though. Oh well, you live and learn.
Looks fine to me. Ahem. Cough. Etc.

JayzusB.Christ

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Re: 2000 AD in Stages
« Reply #220 on: 03 January, 2020, 06:27:02 pm »
Just realized I've been misspelling taut as taught, though. Oh well, you live and learn.

Not to worry,  this is great stuff as always.

I must be the only person ever who quite enjoyed Kola Kommandos.  I loved the golf course / advertising thing on the moon, and the poetically introspective CT Hall (I hadn't seen Blade Runner back then).  Shame about the big barrier to Hector's new love life but it was a nicely imperfect 2000ad ending.
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DrJomster

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Re: 2000 AD in Stages
« Reply #221 on: 04 January, 2020, 12:27:25 am »
Love this thread. This was into my “years in the wilderness phase” so it’s very educational and full of things I’m broadly aware of but not to the level of such to the point commentary. Good work!

I do have the collected Devlin Waugh books though so great to see the love reflected here!
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Funt Solo

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Re: 2000 AD in Stages
« Reply #222 on: 04 February, 2020, 04:39:50 am »



2000 AD Stage #25: ...It's a Sequel

Pretty crazy, but here's a twenty-eight prog span with just one new story (Wire Heads): it's sequels and spin-offs a go-go with the prog 800 launch. With the launch progs come three Micro-Guides (small cover-mounted pamphlets): the Series Index, the Judge Dredd Index and the Collector's Index. They are but nothing next to the modern might of Barney! (But it was all we had back then.)



In The Prog...

Judge Dredd
Normally the mega-epics spin off some denouement tales that echo at least some of the aftermath of whatever the disaster was (Block War after The Judge Child, Meka-City after the Apocalypse War), but Judgement Day fades away into The Marshal (where a masked Cursed Earth vigilante out-does the Gila Munja in going toe to toe with the Judges). Innocents Abroad has Judge Joyce as the fish out of water in the Big Meg. The Magic Mellow Out sees Dredd affected by a hallucinogen. Raider tells of an ex-Judge turned vigilante. And P.J. shows up again for P.J. & The Mock-Choc Factory. It's not a hugely inspiring era of Dredd: post mega-epic without the maestro on script duties.
Expect more of this sort of thing in the next stage...

Flesh: The Legend of Shamana
A follow-up to Book II of Flesh (1979) didn't seem to be on the cards, when up popped this self-contained tale a mere thirteen years later. An inmate in a harsh prehistoric penal colony escapes the compound with her baby daughter, but is eaten by a dinosaur. (Of course, this is the secret origin of the phrase "Out of the penal colony, into the jaws of a massive carnivorous reptile".) A multi-species gang of dinosaurs then raise that baby as their own: that baby is Shakara Shakira Shamana! I don't recall the moral of the story, but the message seems clear: don't fuck with dino-lady and her usually hungry dino-gang! Shamana is later captured by men, who try to turn her into a nice little girl. It's a bit like A Clockwork Orange squeezed into a glass of Pygmalion, sat next to a copy of The Land That Time Forgot.
Flesh next rears it's razor-toothed maw in 1996 with Chronocide...

Zenith: Phase IV
The last half of this dark book sees the result of a Lloigor victory, as the earth (and humanity) is left to their dark, god-like devices. The tale is told from the perspective of Peyne (or so it seems) as he magically grows younger, and yet the narration continues beyond his de-birth, leading to one of those The Usual Suspects moments providing a novel twist as a climax. Zenith has always had a dark edge, but this series takes us to the dark heart of super-humanity.

But hang on: when Ruby destroys the Chimera, the assumption is that she's just imagining she did that, under the influence of Peter St. John. At that moment, he has moved his enemies into the Chimera. But, inside the Chimera is a copy of everyone from the original universe: including the doomed Zenith and St. John. My question is - what happened to the copies of the baddies? Shouldn't there be two Rubies in there, for example? Or, was she in an alternate universe at that moment, so..?

Growing up with Zenith, and Watchmen: I always felt treated - like there was something in British comics and their attitude to super-heroism that beautifully undermined the shinier, more childlike approach of US comics. You need the idea of a superman in order to undermine it: but it demonstrated that comics could debate a topic at a deeper level. Is Zenith the best thing ever published in 2000 AD? In your top three?

Mostly, this is it for Zenith, although there's a brief follow-up in the year 2000: in the oddly named festive Prog 2001 (actually prog 1222.5)...

The Journal of Luke Kirby: The Night Walker
Luke's getting on well at school until a weird tramp shows up and starts winking at him and persuading him to meet up in secluded thickets late at night. That's all before the villains turn up. It's a bit like (tonally) Sapphire & Steel meets (visually) Nosferatu. (Well worth a read if you can track it down: one of the strong pillars holding up the prog during this era.)
Kirby returns next in the 1994 Yearbook...

Robo-Hunter(*) [*REBOOT]
We get the final three episodes of Return to Verdus, in which an invincible but murderous Cutie, who can fly now (and always presents as a blonde babe in a red swimsuit), is ripped apart by an invincibility-defying cyborg in a comfy sweater, who earlier seemed to have been murdered by being impaled with a golf club (by a gay insectoid S&M fashionista). Pseudo-Sam, who is just along for the ride, gets teleported back to Earth (in the nude) as Verdus is nuked.

In Ace of Slades, suddenly all of the supporting characters are British, like a Cockney Pope and (oddly) The Fat Slags from Viz: even though this tale is usually set in the US. Pseudo-Sam meets up with a bunch of alternate reality Sams, one of whom is an evil cyborg. Oh, and it's also got The Watcher from Marvel (although this stolen version is called The Voyeur). You don't have to read to the end: it's a Millar script so the unstoppable, invincible, muscle-bound, heartless, murderous foe will get destroyed somehow on the second to last page (after a bunch of stuff gets ruined). And Hoagy's in one frame making tea, even though he died in Escape from Bisleyland.

In Serial Stunners, Sam is kidnapped by a gang of weird war robots, and then he kills them all, but he does it in drag. Lastly, there's Keith the Killer Robot, in which a killer robot (named Keith) kills. Stogie shows up in the second to last frame, as if he's been there all along.

We're not done yet with Pseudo-Sam, and get more next in the 1994 Yearbook...

Wire Heads
Cyberpunk data wars! Kind of ahead of it's time (and yet still suffering from early cliches): this has the Internet as V.R. immersion (Paraspace), with monsterous virus creatures being zapped by in-system operatives. A dense plot full of Basil Exposition techno-babble serves to alienate the audience and turns this into a tricky to recall curio.
Returns (for financial, corporate reasons, according to ... everyone) in 1995 with sequel series paraSITES...

Finn: Book II
Back in Book I, Finn took out a bunch of super-powered accountants with skin conditions and aquatic fetishes. This time, he's levelled up to provoking an evil space god (with an aquatic fetish). Those accountants are still around, though: firing people by invoking (non-spontaneous) human combustion. And Finn can crush cell-phones with his bare hands, which is a bit odd. There's a stupid scene where Finn is locked in a flooding cell, but then his buddy pops the door open (none of the water escapes), gives him everything he needs to escape his future predicaments, then closes the door again (despite all of the water). It might sound like nit-picking, but comics are a visual medium, so there's a bit of "what the actual fuck" when the visual logic is just bollocks.
Killing the evil god-being that is your ultimate enemy might seem like a neat stopping point, but this returns in 1995...

Revere: Written in Water
In Book I, Revere was the witch-boy, battling against totalitarian forces using magical powers and sharp things: but then he went on a serious trip involving bizarre god-beings. This time around, his family (which includes his mum as a floating head capable of doing a great flamethrower impersonation) are attacked by the soldiers, and Revere finds some time to go on a hot date before seeking vengeance on the thugs. I'm not sure what the deal is with evil demon-folk stealing his girlfriend, but maybe that'll get sewn up next time (assuming he isn't dead, because he jumps off a building at the end).
Book III will, perhaps, provide a satisfactory climax and leaps our way later in 1993...

Dead Meat: [Book 2]
There's a prelude episode that provides an explanatory timeline of how we went from where we are now to a future of a flooded London and a totalitarian vegetarian state with a sentient Raminoid that can head butt air liners into scrap. (But nobody asked!) Anyway, this paints meat eaters as evil villains, and then off it trundles like Looney Tunes on a mephedrone high.
Dead Meat dies here.

Brigand Doom: Spirits Willing
Finally, Doom does something Robin Hood-like and steals some food to distribute to hungry homeless people. Up til now, he's just been offing art curators. The agent who's been tracking him all this time never bothers to catch him: she just leans provocatively in doorways looking like she has a mild headache. Lots of tower blocks.
Like the stinky zombie rebel without a clue that is Doom, his tale keeps coming back to life: next up in the 1993 Sci-Fi Special. Bring your nose plugs...

Strontium Dogs: Return of the Gronk
What if the Gronk (a timid medic who continually has non-fatal heart attacks in moments of even light stress) was actually Rambo? (Asked nobody at all, and yet here is the answer.) Also, two cloned scientists (X & Z) turn up for no reason whatsoever and build a Gronkinator. And Feral's in it.
More Gronkish travesty later this year...

Kelly's Eye: Armed Response
Somehow drifting into the prog from the Boy's Own era of British comics having first hitched a ride in Universal Solider (and then in the 2000 AD Action Special (1992) with His Majesty's Service), this sees the invulnerable Kelly ... not being harmed by things that would normally harm someone. It's played like flim noir, with Kelly as the dick who's got himself a T&A client whose job is to wear short skirts and a low-cut top.

 - Nick Rivers: "Hillary. That's an unusual name."
 - Hillary Flammond: "It's a German name. It means 'she whose bosoms defy gravity'."

The last two episodes in this sequence consist almost entirely of frames of a flying car.

Continues without a break into the next stage...

Nemesis the Warlock:
We get Bride Of The Warlock in the 1992 Winter Special, in which Candida is cured of her insanity by Nemesis so that he can cuckold Torquemada and provoke a deadly fight to the ... almost death. In the prog, Shape Of Things To Come serves to tease the next series but otherwise is just Nem & Torque beating up on each other again. It's like an S&M Fight Club round the back of the Mos Eisley cantina.
Nemesis returns in 1994 with Hammer of Warlocks (901-903)...

Bradley: Bradley's Bedtime Stories
Rounding out the Bedtime Stories from the previous stage we get Bradley-ized tales of The Frog Prince, Milton's Progress and Hansel & Gretel. It's like The Brothers Grimmer.
The final set of Bradley tales crop up in 1994...



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Winter Special 4 (1992)

Blackblood: Dishonourable Discharge
A highly entertaining origin story for Blackblood details how he learned to be devious and how he lost his eye, all beautifully rendered by Kev Walker.
Blackblood returns with the rest of The A.B.C. Warriors in 1994's Hellbringer...


References:
 - Barney
 - Thoughts Of A Workshy Fop: Zenith
 - Touched by the Hand of Tharg
 - The 2000 AD ABC
Frank would know.

IndigoPrime

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Re: 2000 AD in Stages
« Reply #223 on: 04 February, 2020, 10:36:55 am »
I remember that 1992 special as being really good, although it was odd such an important Nemesis strip was dumped there. But, wow, the rest of this era is a shambles, and 2000 AD hasn’t even hit its nadir at this point.

Funt Solo

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Re: 2000 AD in Stages
« Reply #224 on: 04 February, 2020, 03:19:42 pm »
That winter special is heavy on the Nemesis: it's also got a "the story so far" article and a reprint of [The Sword Sinister] from the '81 Sci-Fi Special.

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At some point during this stage, we got the transition from Fleetway to Egmont.
Frank would know.