Tuesday, June 30, 2015

2000AD Prog 98 retro review

Haven't done one of these for a while but here's a recent acquisition: Prog 98 from February 1979 with a Klegg-eclent Brian Bolland cover.

Inside Dredd is up first and this one has it all: Bolland sequentials, Dredd up to his shoulder in a Klegg's mouth, Chief Judge Cal doing his Stan Laurel impression, the full Klegg chorus line, Tom Frame's lettering, and Judge Fernandez going out in a blaze of glory, and looking remarkably like Carlos Ezquerra in the process. The only downside is Judge Giant's rather regrettable and stereotypical speech patterns but apart from that this is golden age stuff for Dredd as the epic hits keep on coming.

Next up is Angel by Chris Stevens and Carlos Pino and I have no recollection of this one at all. For anyone else in the same boat it's about a test pilot who survived a crash only to find that his plane's computer had melted into his body and given him super powers. Used to happen all the time in seventies comics but looks very formulaic now and the four pages fly past faster than you can say Mach 1, at least there is one circular Whittle panel to provide some compensation.

Future Shocks: The Four-Legged Man by Mike Cruden, Mike Dorey and Peter Knight is a page and a half of nonsense before we get to the cut-out and keep colour centre pages of the Flesh Files.

Which runs straight into Flesh book two by Geoffrey Miller, Carlos Pino and Steve Potter, and it looks like Claw Carver is making Bill Savage walk the plank over some genetically engineered Icthyosaurs who have fricking laser beams attached to their heads (or something like that). It's actually Peters not Savage but he just has the looks of a generic dark haired action hero from the comics of those halcyon days. Again Pino's art is pretty basic stuff but this time he slips in two Whittles.

After that the artwork jumps up several levels and Dave Gibbons even kicks off with a circular panel in Ro-Busters. Ro-Jaws and Hammerstein are absent but Gibbons more than makes up for it with the giant ship's pilot robot Charlie getting ready to fight it out with the Terra-Meks. His human figures and the background cross hatching are lovely but his giant robots are a revelation. Earlier this year I heard Dave speak at the London Super Comic-Con of his love for the Joe Simon and Jack Kirby space comics and here he produces work that echoes and even surpasses Kirby's mastery. It's just stunning black and white art for a kids' comic

The back page of the Prog is a Futuregraph of a Mars bound space shuttle by Bill Le Fevre. The total Whittle count is four and the Pick of the Prog is a stand up battle between Dredd and Ro-Busters with Gibbons' art just tipping the scales for the win. The rest of the comic is largely forgettable but those two stories stand out as examples of the best that British comics could produce back in the day.

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