Tuesday, June 30, 2015

2000AD Sci-Fi Special

Summer's here and the time is right for Sci-Fi in the street so Tharg delivers another special edition which brings some old favourites back to the pages of 2000AD.

Cover by Greg Staples.
A nice group shot that clearly tells us who to expect on the inside pages. Staples is a master at producing iconic images of Dredd and he stands out from the crowd. The other characters are good although I am not entirely convinced by the depiction of Sam Slade. However the whole cover does stand out on the shelves at Smiths and hopefully will entice some casuals readers as well as the rest of us hardcore fans. Tharg's tagline about movies of the mind is very appropriate for the multiple film references that are coming up.

Judge Dredd by Michael Carroll, Jake Lynch, John-Paul Bove and Annie Parkhouse.
The first of several movie themed stories clips along nicely with Dredd demonstrating his superior street skills. There's lot of good moments with the movie bad guys wearing classic monster masks, and some nice satire about Hollywood and the 2012 movie thrown in there. I was also interested to see Dredd trying to control the victim's bleeding instead of just taking out the shooter. As ever I like Michael Carroll's handling of old stoney face and I'll happily read all of his writing for the Galaxy's greatest comic. On the art side Jake Lynch produces some very accomplished stuff which seems to have moved on from his recent stint on Orlok. His handling of the masked bad guys is splendid and the nod to the movie costume with the back armour is fun. In some panels Lynch is clearly channeling Henry Flint which is no bad thing, I don't know how much of this improvement in Lynch's art is down to the colourist but it's great stuff. Tharg's use of the special editions as proving grounds for new talent is bearing fruit and I look forward to seeing more from the Lynch/Bove partnership in the pages of the regular Prog.

Robo Hunter by Alec Worley, Mark Simmons and Ellie De Ville
Another film parody and there's trouble in Brit Cit with its very own Iron Man. Worley handles the jokes with aplomb and once again Mark Simmons does a fine job with the black, white and greyscale artwork. His robots are particularly good and he nails Hoagy and Stogie perfectly. Great stuff.

Future Shocks: Dust by Gary Blatchford and John Higgins.
A brief but satisfying interlude that acts as a nice palate cleanser for the rest of the Prog. The problem with Future Shocks is that we're expecting a twist so we start looking for it from the first panel and this one is particularly easy to see coming. However to balance that out we have John Higgins apparently creating a whole new colour palate to depict an alien world with the skyscapes being especially notable.

Ace Trucking Co. by Eddie Robson, Nick Dyer and Annie Parkhouse.
More movie mayhem as Ace Garp gets embroiled with another Hollywood caper with plenty of comic support from GBH and Feek. It's difficult to compare anyone to the legendary Massimo Belardinelli but Dyer does a nice job with the weird aliens and also turns in a lovely depiction of the Speedo Ghost. There's a lot of detail in the panels and although the story flashes by pretty quickly but based on this I would like to see Robson and Dyer do another one.

Survival Geeks by Gordon Rennie, Emma Beeby, Neil Googe, Gary Caldwell and Ellie De Ville
This time the film reference is to Ringu which mainly acts to set up the next arc of this strip. It's beautifully illustrated and coloured but I still feel that it's too critical of geekdom to completely succeed. The artwork is sublime but the strip passed me by.

Rogue Trooper by Guy Adams, Darren Douglas and Simon Bowland.
And finally another film within a film as Rogue crashes through a piece of programmed propaganda. Another well told story that does the job nicely complemented by beautiful art by Douglas. There's no single stand out panel to match the action shot of Rogue firing towards the camera in last year's special but the use of colour and the depiction of the electric cage is brilliant. Maybe Rogue Trooper isn't going to return to the Prog but these one off stories are great.

Elsewhere in the Special there are images of the Robo Hunter action figure, another shot of that superb Greg Staples Dark Justice artwork, and a teaser for the return of Defoe later this year. I can hardly wait.

All round a very high quality summer special with Pick of the Prog going to the superlative teamwork of Carroll, Lynch and Bove on Dredd.

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