2000 AD - issue 102

I have been slowly working my way through a stack of CBR files containing scans of a comic book from my long-ago youth. The comic book is called 2000 AD, and I write a lot about 2000 AD, it was a very formative experience for me, and I still read it today. I have a 2000 AD page where I link to all the issues I have talked about on this site. This post delves into the treasures available within issue 102 of this publication. Issue 102 was published on the third of March 1979, which is so long ago it is hard to remember what life was like back then.

> The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there. (LP Hartley: The Go-Between)

For example, an article in The Spectator, a news magazine that was published the same day as this comic book, talked at length about a country, now gone, called Rhodesia.

A Vickers Viscount had been shot down, attracting the attention of the British press. The article is quite progressive at first glance, as it argues for Britain to help secure the transfer of power to the black majority. The author says that the UK is not an impotent bystander and should stop pretending that it is. The reasons he is calling for action are, however, deeply rooted in the world of 1979. He worries that British inertia will lead to a build-up of communist forces in the region and increasing Soviet hegemony. In a world where Marvel’s Black Panther movie has broken box office records, the imperialist games being played in Rhodesia are a real blast from the blast. Now that we've acclimatized to 1979, let’s get back to 2000 AD.

A Message from the Author

I write sci-fi novels that belong to a series called Dark Galaxy, which starts with Galaxy Dog:

What starts as an ordinary invasion of an alien planet brings to light an ancient archeological site of huge importance. A young man called Knave makes a life-changing discovery there and rises from a lowly position as an infantry trooper to become a player among the powers of the galaxy.

The entire series is available to buy from Amazon.

Let’s start, as always, with the cover. This issue has a scene from a strip I don’t like on the cover. It features the characters playing a robot version of monopoly, and the hero of the strip, Sam Slade, has been drawn so badly that he looks like an imbecile.

The first story is Judge Dredd, and we are now quite far along the arc called The Day the Law Died. This is a classic piece of storytelling, but this week’s installment is a low point. It is nice to see early art by Brian Bolland, who went on to such great things, but the story itself is filler at best. By the end of the strip, Dredd’s enemies have caught up with him, so there is the promise of more action next week.

The next strip is Robo-Hunter, which is intended to be lighthearted, or perhaps even humorous, it’s hard to tell. There is a robot character in the story called Smokin’ Joe because he has a smoke stack sticking up from the center of his head. This isn’t intended as steampunk, it is just a way to show the robot is old fashioned. It’s a stupid idea, and par for the course for this strip. The whole thing revolves around playing futuristic Monopoly with a sewer robot, so breathtaking action it certainly is not.

Next comes this ugly photograph of a guy in a boiler suit, wearing a rubber mask, and holding a rotary dial phone. One of the ongoing jokes of 2000 AD is that it has an alien editor called Tharg, and this photograph is somebody dressed up to play the part of this alien editor. I was never much into the whole Tharg thing, and I thought pictures like this were a waste of space that could be devoted to spaceships and robots.I still think so.

The next story is Dan Dare, and this one is actually good. Dan Dare is a lot of fun, with sci-fi technology that is very crisply and nicely drawn. Dan Dare is the sort of unashamed space opera I have a taste for, and it makes this slightly sub-par issue worth reading all on its own.

This week there is a battleship created by scooping out an asteroid and sprinkling huge laser cannon all over the surface. Seeing it heading for a planet is a beautiful comic-book panel and makes my nerdy, sci-fi-loving heart sing. Next week we will see if the glimmerings of memory already coming back to Dan Dare will turn into him realizing he is being played for a fool, and becoming a hero again.

The next strip is a self-contained story about a terrible sci-fi writer who decides to take his own life. Aliens rescue him with a tractor beam after he hurls himself from a bridge. The writer is then tortured in a series of alien tests, but they tell him he will be released after one month. There is a twist when the writer finds out a month on their planet is ten years long. But he doesn’t lose heart, instead he tricks the aliens and electrocutes them. He then teleports back to Earth, but miscalculates the coordinates and materializes in mid air before plummeting to his death. It’s a bloodthirsty and mean-spirited story, and a waste of the talents of the mighty Carlos Ezquerra.

All in all, this was not a classic issue of 2000 AD, but even this relative dud has some early art by Brian Bolland, and a ripsnorting episode of Dan Dare to recommend it. It is very rare to find an issue of 2000 AD of this classic vintage that doesn’t have some beautiful art or a stand-out story somewhere within it to make reading worthwhile.

To end, just a reminder that the best way to support this blog is to buy one of my books. Simply go over to Amazon, or Kobo and get one.