We are taking a few days off from publishing new content for the holidays, so enjoy some of our favorite Christmas-themed writing over the past 11 years! Merry Christmas to all!
Ho ho ho, Earthlets! It’s holiday time, which can only mean one thing: the annual 100 page Mega Special! For the last number of years Tharg and his droids have bestowed upon us a bonus-sized issue to carry us through the holidays and into the new year. It’s a mix of old and new, one-off and ongoing, so strap in because we’ve got a lot of comic to cover!
I. THIS WEEK IN 2000 AD
Judge Dredd: Boxing Day
Credits: Rob Williams (script), Chris Weston (art), Annie Parkhouse (letters)
I didn’t realize how much ground Rob Williams covered with this strip until I had to actually try to figure out how to talk bout it. So much of who and what Judge Dredd is can be found in this strip, and it never once feels crowded. The council, life as a citizen, Judicial procedure, Dredd’s clones, his niece, Dave the Orangoutang, every page of this thing has at least one big idea on it. We even get to see Dredd alone on Christmas, a moment that left me wondering if the man can truly feel sad or lonely, which artist Chris Weston absolutely nailed. In fact, I’d say he nailed the entirety of the story, as would be expected of the guy.
This is the first time we’re seeing these two work together since their Sensitive Klegg story from a little while back, I think. It’s interesting thinking back to that one and seeing a bit of a pattern beginning to form: a pitiful lead character in a world powered by black humor, who ultimately gets what they want in a weird way.
Weston’s art is the perfect pairing for this sort of Williams story, and I particularly enjoyed how they handled the family dinner scene. Between the art and dialog I could feel how uncomfortable everyone involved was. Much like their handling of Kleggy, the true gems were in the little moments; the sideways looks, the curt exchanges, these sorts of things put the reader right in Dredd’s size-too-small boots.
Kingmaker, Part 1
Credits: Ian Edginton (script), Leigh Gallagher (art), Ellie De Ville (letters)
Man, there is a lot going on it this one, two! In just a handful of pages Ian Edginton and Leigh Gallagher covered a few thousand years of history and set us on a path we’ll follow in the new year. While the information was flowing fast, it never felt like enough to bog down my reading. Do I recall every name and kingdom listed off? No, not at all, but I do remember enjoying the crap out of it!
At first it felt like Edginton was going to go of some Tolkien-esque narrative, which would have been fine, but quickly turned that around. Without warning, a sort of modern sensibility invaded the Middle Earthish setting, bringing a new dynamic and a feeling of freshness to the strip. Either way I’d have been on board, but this approach feels more in line with Edginton’s sensibilities as a writer.
Gallagher’s art is stupendous in this one, particularly in his coloring. The way he flips between literal interpretations of color and a sort of fluorescent, blacklight fantasy is right up my alley. The double-page title splash in this one was an unbelievable joy to encounter. Not only because we don’t get too much of that in this magazine, but also because it was just so flawlessly executed.
I’ve been itching for a good sword and sorcery story, so this one seems to have happened along at just the right time!
Ace Trucking Co.: The Festive Flip-Flop
Credits: Eddie Robson (script), Nigel Dobbyn (art), Ellie De Ville (letters)
I’m glad to see “Ace Trucking” pop up in another one of these specials. It’s a great example of how a 2000 AD strip can be beyond it’s most popular days but still retain it’s freshness and relevance. While the series wrapped up it’s regular appearances back in the 1989, it seems to slowly make its way into public consciousness with new, one off stories as well as a pair of collections that contain the entirety of the 80s classic.Continued below
For this installment, the comedy series turns its sights towards holiday consumerism, workers’ rights and the plight of indigenous people living under imperial rule. A real knee slapper, I tell ya! But this is what this magazine does best, isn’t it? Making readers consider huge problems by disguising them as fantasy or comedy has been the aim of the publication from day one, and “Ace Trucking” is a series very much in that mold.
This was a fun little strip to take in, and it’s left me hoping for something of a longer run at some point in the near future.
The Order: Wyrm War, Part 1
Credits: Kek-W (script), John Burns (art), Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Our second fantasy strip of the issue, and first of two titles penned by Kek-W!
The last time this series ran I didn’t read it vey closely, seeing as how it fell on my co-writer’s side of the ledger. So, for all intents, I’m coming into this one as a new reader. With that in mind, I never really got the sense that I was consuming something that’s steeped in its own continuity. Not until the very end, at least.
I’ve always been really impressed by John Burns’ art on this series, and feel like this installment was especially good. His style feels so versatile, as he’s able to invoke something of a Hal Foster vibe while bringing in some real Dune-like imagery without ever leaving the art feeling unbalanced. It’s an interesting combination, for sure, and Burns makes it work like a dream. I’m excited to get elbow-deep in this one come the new year.
The Fall of Deadworld: Winter Break
Credits: Kek-W (script), Dave Kendall (art), Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Long-time readers may remember that I wasn’t so hot on the last “Deadworld” series we go, but this installment turned me around some. Seeing these two “Lone Wolf and Cub” their way across Deadworld is something that works well in a little bite-size portion, I think.
And the off-grid Saint Nick was a nice touch.
Hope: …For the Future, Part 1
Credits: Guy Adams (script), Jimmy Broxton (art), Simon Bowland (letters)
Adams and Broxton make a hell of a team, don’t they? First we got them on “Goldtiger,” then that “Rogue Trooper” strip from the Summer Special, and now this. What’s nice about these two together is that, despite disparate types of comics, the work feels like these two really enjoy working together.
“Hope” centers around a private investigator named, funnily enough, Hope. Now, this guy isn’t your run of the mill P.I., seeing as how he dabbles in magic and all that. And not the slight of hand stuff, either. He’s into some dark shit, demons and everything. Or, at least, that’s how it seems. While the rules of this world were laid out pretty nicely in this inaugural installment, the Boundaries are still a little undefined. Which is good, considering that this is one of the strips that’ll be continuing on once the new year rolls around.
Aquila: Mors Venetiae
Credits: Gordon Rennie (script), Paul Davidson (art), Gary Caldwell (color), Simon Bowland (letters)
Man, this was a good stand alone chapter! Like “The Order,” “Aquila” is a series I hadn’t followed very closely because I wasn’t covering it. So this chapter was a good primer for me, and I’m assuming, others who are unfamiliar with the series.
It’s an interesting thing Rennie did here, jumping forward in time from the Roman era I remember as the series’ setting. Two people telling the tale of Aquila’s demise as it could have been while the man himself was hunting his prey was a really engaging narrative device, I think. And, of course, Paul Davidson’s art was as good as ever. Looking at these pages I got the impression that he really enjoyed working on them, as every depiction of Aquila in the plague mask seemed better than the last.
After this exciting, well laid out primer on the character, I’m eager to see “Aquila” return!
Kingdom: As it is in Heaven, Part 1
Credits: Dan Abnett (script), Richard Elson (art), Ellie De Ville (letters)
Gene. The. Hackman. Fuck yes.
Last we saw Gene he had been taken by the humans who he thought would help him in his fight against the super swarm. As it turns out, the swarm was en route to battle it out with another, and The Kingdom just so happened to be in the middle of it. Realizing what had happened an enraged Gene was taken into custody and promised a ‘good home.’
Now we see that the home in question is on a quiet farm with all of his friends. But, as with the true nature of the super swarm, things aren’t quite what they seem. Dan Abnett is one of my favorite 2000 AD writers, and I’m excited to see what he does with “Kingdom” in the new year.
III. GETTING HYPED FOR FORTY
Chris weston makes a second appearance this issue with a stellar, double-page pin-up to herald the upcoming 40th anniversary festivities. In case you missed it, we got to announce a bunch of the folks who’ll be making an appearance at the festival.
IV. TEASING OUT THE NEW YEAR
When Prog 2012 rolls around all but the “Judge Dredd” strip will be continuing on from this prog. The teaser from the back of the issue is an interesting one, as it looks as if Henry Flint may be coloring Tiernen Trevallion’s art. At least, that’s what it looks like to me. Flint’s developed quite an idiosyncratic approach to coloring his own work, and I think it’s his palette I’m recognizing here. If I’m right, I feel like this is a pretty interesting development. Flint has made quite a name for himself as a line artist over the last few years, so it’s surprising to see this sort of a shift in roles, I guess. Then again, I could be wrong and the two of them are swapping chapters. Guess we won’t find out until the new year, huh?
That’s gonna do it for us this week! “2000 AD” is sale today and available digitally worldwide via:
- The 2000AD app for Apple iOS,
- The 2000AD app for Android devices,
- The 2000AD app for Windows Mobile
- 2000ADonline.com in DRM-free PDF and CBZ formats.
They are available in print today from:
- 2000ADonline.com and
- Finer UK comic shops throughout the UK.
“2000AD” and “Judge Dredd Megazine” are available in print in North America one month after UK release from your local comic shop.
So as Tharg the Mighty himself would say, “Splundig vur thrigg!”