2000 AD - issue 23

I am not a fan of the way 2000 AD is using its covers at this point in its history. I am a fan of 2000 AD, however, as reading it was a very formative experience for me back in the 1970s and 1980s, 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 is issue 23 and it has the fifth in an ongoing experiment of 'super covers' that I am hating - though this is actually a good one. It is by Brian Bolland, who has his faults but he certainly does a good cover.

Unfortunately, it does not mean that there is a comic strip with this exciting situation inside, instead the cover refers only to a small story, usually hidden away on the comic's editorial page. In fact the story this week is all of two paragraphs long and one of the worst yet. It is crazy to be ignoring the comic's actual heroes in favor of generic short stories, even when the results are as good as this image of small, blue demons emerging from an astronaut's torso.

Inside the comic book the first story presented is Invasion, which is a gritty tale about a military invasion of the UK by a huge Eastern power. This comic book is from 1977 so it was written at a time when this was considered a very real possibility.

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 story follows a small band of resistance fighters as they travel round the UK. This episode sees them in action in Newcastle, as usual in 1994, and miners play a central role in the action. The writers, of course, could not know that there would no longer be miners in the UK in 1994. What happened was that two years after the creation of the story, Thatcher and her Conservatives came to power in 1979 and she had destroyed mining in the UK, along with a  lot of other heavy industry, by the time she was finally brought down in 1990.

Her destruction of the mining industry was revenge for the miners strike of 1974, which played a major role in bringing down the previous Conservative government. The party's response was the Ridley Plan, which described how a future Conservative government could resist and defeat a major strike in a nationalized industry. Thatcher and her conservatives believed in the future 'advanced' countries like the UK would be information and finance centers while such things as shipbuilding and mining would be done in 'backward' countries. Secure in that assumption, she did not hesitate to use the Ridley plan to destroy British heavy industry, and so the world depicted in this comic strip says a lot more about the 1970s when it was written than the 1990s when it is set.

Harlem Heroes is next, and the future sport is taking place in Japan this week. This strip is at its least entertaining and edifying when it descends into a bunch of national stereotypes. Here the Japanese team are referred to as 'Japs' and presented as suicidal warriors 'like the kamikaze pilots of the Second World War'. The story does pick up toward the end when a brain in a flying jar does a Jedi mind trick on the team's manager, but all in all this is Harlem Heroes once again being disappointing and dull.

The next story, on the other hand, never disappoints. Shako is a story about a murderous polar bear and the even worse humans that are hunting it. In this episode the humans have Shako knocked out on the operating table, but the bear comes round and tears the arm off the CIA agent who has been after it. It is his gun arm so he now considers himself only half a man. This is such crazy and great stuff. I can't say how much I love this story. They really do not write them like this anymore. For a short time, just after Jaws, these violent animal story's - like Shako in 2000 AD and Hook Jaw in Action - were popular. They never were before and never would be again, but while they existed, they were sublime.

The next story is Dan Dare, and I am very pleased to see that the present saga is over and Dare will be taking a break for a while. I will not miss this crazy and confused strip. Hopefully, when it comes back it will have a better idea of what it wants to be.

The next story is Mach 1, which is a story about a spy with superpowers given to him using acupuncture. Usually it sticks to technology that was cutting edge at the time but not sci-fi, like F16 jets and Apache helicopters, but this issue features something very sci-fi, a giant hover-glider, whatever that is. After landing in a forest, Mach 1 has to later use his superpowers to clear an airstrip in one of the strangest parts of the episode. He moves rocks and kicks down trees until he has created a runway. It is very strange way to fill a handful of panels, but at the end of the mission, the survival of Mach 1's target is described as probable, which I guess counts as a job well done.

The last story is Judge Dredd, and it is head and shoulders above the rest. Dredd's art and storytelling are both still very much evolving here, but the story already has more potential than all the others put together. It's only unfortunate that the story is about smoking and uses a tobacco store wooden Indian as a prominent part of the plot. The cigar store Indian is traditional but was already becoming less common at the time of writing of this story for a variety of reasons including higher manufacturing costs, restrictions on tobacco advertising, and increased racial sensitivity, all of which relegated the figures to museums and antique shops. People within the Native American community often view such likenesses as offensive for several reasons. Some objections are because they are used to promote tobacco use as recreational instead of ceremonial. Other objections are that they perpetuate a "noble savage" or "Indian princess" caricature or inauthentic stereotypes of Native people, implying that modern individuals are still living in tepees and still wear war bonnets and beads. There is no way this ancient symbol would be part of the future, and so it is a shame it was included in this story.

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