2000 AD - issue 11

I write a lot about a 2000 AD because reading it was a very formative experience for me, and reading them again now, after so many years, is always a pleasant blast of nostalgia. This issue has a very interesting cover, done by an artist called Bollo. I recognize a lot of the artists on 2000 AD at a glance, but Bollo was completely unknown to me.

It is an image from Dan Dare, one of the strips inside the comic book this issue, and I like it. I particularly like the spaceship. It gets a little vague toward the edges, but the central section is nicely designed for a comic-book spaceship of the era (the mid 1970s). The giant head and the flames are a little generic, but for me, a good spaceship can elevate even a very ordinary piece of sci-fi art.

The first story presented, however, is not Dan Dare, it is Invasion, the least sci-fi of any of the offerings in this issue's roster of strips.I can't help wondering why Invasion is in the coveted first spot. Were the editors trying to ease 1970s kids into the fantasy world of 2000 AD with a more traditional, relatable story, or did they really just think it was the best story that week and so should be presented first. Surely, after ten issues, it can't have been the latter.

This episode starts well, with a pack of dogs that have been experimented on and set free by evil Russians, oops nope, Volgans. Then on the next page comes some beautiful art, depicting a near future vehicle that must have seemed a very feasible design back in the seventies. It has a double axle behind and a boxy seventies shape, but it is also a good stab at futurology. I heartily approve, and despite my better instincts, I found myself warming to this stupid, jingoistic story.

Hovercraft were big in the 1970s and a Volgan patrol soon turns up in one. Savage manages to engineer for the them to be messily ripped apart by the pack of experimental hounds that has been chasing them. That's the kind of bloodthirsty mayhem that 1970s comic books are about. Yay.

In the last panel we see a signpost that indicates the team is heading to Exeter next ,which for some reason I find quite intriguing. What would a Volgan invasin be doing in Exeter? Maybe the editors did think this was the best story after all. This episode was certainly a corker.

There is always the promise of even more mayhem in the next story, Flesh, with its mixture of cowboys and dinosaurs in the Cretaceous period. This issue I almost yelped with joy at the sight of the first full page splash. Flesh has added mecha to the mix. They are primitive, lacking in detail, almost 60s designs, but they are giant robots, and they are mingling with dinosaurs. Ye gods, this story should write itself.

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.

The image shows rangers wearing robot suits lifting a triceratops, while another tosses one in a dumpster ready to be fed into a giant sci-fi automated butchering facility.

The controller of the facility has a giant cranium, and when Reagan and Carver warn him of a "dinosaur war" coming he scoffs at them, comparing his huge mass of gray matter to the kitten size brain of a dinosaur.

It is that kind of hubris that usually gets everyone messily devoured in this kind of story, so I was already running my hands in glee. Not literally, I didn't want to drop the mobile phone I'm using to read the scan of the comic, but figuratively. Then Reagan Carver and the controller get into a cool dune buggy and he takes them on a tour of the facilities defenses. These turn out to be nothing more than a couple of sentry towers and a laser fence. I was already confidently deducting the demise and destruction of the entire facility at this point.

The base is then encircled by a howling host of flesh-eating dinosaurs, with more coming every day, including furry tyrannosaurs from the north. This is a bonkers idea from a 70sa comic-book writer, but with what we now know about protofeathers, maybe not entirely impossible . The installment ends before any mayhem is unleashed, but it is coming, oh yes, it is definitely coming.

Dredd is next and Call Me Keneth gets brought back to life by a team of scientists tasked with finding out why he went on a kill frenzy. The robot kills the head scientist on TV with a humongous drill and we see a serving robot watching the show and getting ideas. He hurls his owners from their apartment window, two miles up in a high tower. The designs of these robots are terrifying and powerful.

Call Me Kenneth now has a third eye in the middle of his head. The defenestration-happy servant has no face at all, and a shark fin on his head. The whole thing is a very Art Deco take on Mega City One. There is a beautiful panel where the chaos spreads to traffic control, and sleek robots are overturning Jetsons-type cars. Beautiful, bloodthirsty mayhem, just what we want from 2000 AD. There will be even more of this war against the robots next week, which should be fun.

 Dan Dare is next, and Belardinelli has outdone himseldf this week. We get his usual enthusiastic drawings of alien monstrosities, but we also get a very detailed imagining of Luna Base. I particularly like the hulking structure in the foreground. It's a spaceship on a scale that rivals the static structures around it.

Later he draws a view through the panorama window of a bar in Luna City on the moon. It is a great image, and I'm getting used to this interpretation of Dare as a young glam rocker.

Next comes MACH 1, and we are thrown into the action as he attacks a checkpoint. Amusingly, he is driving a very nice Aston Martin Lagonda and doesn't want to drive it into the roadblock, in case he dents it, so he gets out and beats the guards up instead. I actually like MACH 1 when it is being ridiculous like this.

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.