2000 AD - Issue 25
Here comes yet another post about 2000 AD, a comic book I used to love back in the 1970s and 1980s (and still have warm feelings for today). I have a 2000 AD page where I link to all the issues I have talked about on this site. For this post I'm are talking about one of the very early issues - from way back in 1977 - issue 25.
Great balls of fire. I'm not a fan of the series of super covers that 2000 AD was running at this point in its history, but this one is a little bit of an exception. It actually relates to one of the stories inside the comic book this time, rather than a lame piece of micro fiction on the editorial page, like the others. And it isn't just any strip that is being shown off on the super cover, it is Judge Dredd. The super cover doesn't mention him by name, but it does some world building for his setting, Mega City One. That said, a traditional cover showing some of the action from Dredd's strip this week (which is a classic, by the way) would have been much better. Nevertheless it's a nice image, one half of the image a blue sketch of a future city, the other half the flaming meteors descending from the heavens to destroy huge sections of it. It really hammers home how huge Mega City One is, when you think that multiple meteorite strikes can’t completely destroy it.
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 first story this week is not Judge Dredd, however, as usual 2000 AD is giving that important first position to Invasion, and therefore showing that they have a lot of faith in this story.
I'm not a huge fan of Invasion, but having it up first does make a lot of sense. It mixes the guns-blazing action common to British comic books of this time with a future setting. Where other comic books were telling stories set on the various battlefields of WW II, this war story is set in a future Britain that has been invaded by a giant Soviet-style military. The comic book calls them Volgans, and they are a mix of the Nazis from then recent conflicts and the Russians from what were thought to be likely future conflicts.
This week's story starts with jets dropping nerve gas, but the Volgan jets are patterned on the A-6 Intruder. I was a little disappointed because it is not like 2000 AD to play fast and loose with military hardware in this way. This is an area where they usually like to get things right.
The target of the gas attack is a new town built in 1999, which is far in the future from the point of view of the comic book's publication date of August 1977. It's futuristic look is actually pretty representative of the postmodern, urban sprawl that has actually been constructed since the late 1990s. It is all glass facades and huge, barn-like buildings.
The story is actually quite atmospheric, in a post-apocalyptic kind of way, as Bill Savage and his sidekick, Silk, investigate the deserted town. It soon devolves into the kind of hyper testosterone infused action that was so popular at the time. I particularly like the crazy scene where the Volgans catch Bill Savage seemingly unprepared because he is having a bath, but it turns out he is having that bath with his shotgun. The shotgun isn't leaning against the tub, though, oh no, it's in the water with him and has a rubber duck jammed on the muzzle. Nutty, but entertaining.
The Harlem Heroes is next and they aren't my favorite because sport stories don't do a lot for me, not even gladiatorial future sports. I did always like the Harlem Heroes look, however, especially their simple and sleek jet packs. Unfortunately they get a redesign this week that makes them look a lot more generic. At the end of the strip it is hinted that the new uniforms might be booby trapped in some way. I hope that turns out to be true, and it forces the team back into their classic stars-and stripes look.
Next comes Shako, and this episode gets right down to business with the enraged bear (his bear mate was fridges last week) attacking Ice Station Delta. Ice Station Delta has been mentioned in the strip numerous times before, and is central to the concept. Shako is a copy of a comic strip called Hook Jaw that was a copy of a movie called Jaws, but the story also gets not a little of its DNA from the movie Ice Station Zebra, that was still in fairly frequent rotation on British TV at the time.
The art is by Ramon Sola, who also drew Hook Jaw for Action, and it is extremely raw and kinetic. It is just perfect for the wildness of Shako. I can also see that the art had a huge influence on my favorite classic British comic book artist, Mike McMahon. McMahon's art has that rawness too, and it can still be seen in his more mannered, later work.
Next we get what is probably the very first Future Shock. Future Shocks are self-contained short stories, often used as a proving ground for new artists and writers, and they are usually bad. This first one is about a tribe of ginger people, and is as terrible this very first time as it will go on to be so often in the future. Only about one in ten Future Shocks is ever any good.
Next story up is MACH 1, which is macho BS of an even purer grade than that to be found in the Invasion strip. For example, this issue I laughed when MACH 1 is called by the French police to help with negotiating with a gang of terrorists who have hijacked a train. His negotiation style unsurprisingly turns out to involve driving an armored car at the train, getting his French counterpart shot in the neck in the process. The action is so over the top, the motivation of the terrorists so unimportant, the actions of MACH 1 so bloodthirsty, that the story is almost incoherent.
The last story is Judge Dredd, and it is a classic that I first saw reprinted years later. It is a commentary on game shows and reality TV that isn’t hugely subtle, but is entertaining and thought provoking. The TV show is called You Bet Your Life, and the contestants do just that. The story is immensely entertaining, and I snorted in amusement when one of the audience thought Dredd was a special guest star. Of course he isn't, he arrests everyone in the studio and accidentally executes the two stars. The art is by Gibson, and it's shiny, cheesy edge is just perfect here. Gibson doesn't really do dark and gritty, but he very well captures pizzazz. And TV shows, as we know, need pizzazz.
Amazon, or Kobo and get one.