2000 AD - issue 140

This is another post about an ancient comic book called 2000 AD. Reading it was a very formative experience for me, and I still read it today. I even have a 2000 AD page where I link to all the issues I have talked about on this site. The cover of this issue is a mess. It features an image of the Enterprise, promoting Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and images from the stories arrayed around that. The slapdash sketch of the Enterprise is like something you might see on a fanzine.

Judge Dredd is, as always, the first strip presented, and Ron Smith is back on art duties. He isn’t my favorite artist, but he is so associated with Dredd that his idiosyncratic style almost doesn’t mater. This is just how Dredd looks, and you kind of get used to that. The story is quite intriguing, too, with an invasion of spiders in the Cursed Earth. Dredd goes to the aid of the people of the Cursed Earth and ends up trying to help them defend their village from the spiders. We’ll have to wait till next week to see how that goes, but I'm guessing not well.

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.

A new story is starting next, one called the V.C.s, and it is drawn by McMahon, which is one point in its favor already. It’s a little like Starship Troopers, but with equipment looks organic and weird, with triangular muzzles to the guns and the troopers’ names scrawled in their chests in white paint, by the looks of it. On the very first page we are introduced to the enemy, who are known as geeks.

The name geeks is obviously eluding to the name gooks, given to the enemy by the Americans in Vietnam. The art might be good, but that kind of casual racism is just not okay. It is going to be interesting to see how this strip plays out. The design of the aliens is impressive, even if their name is not. They look like spindly shadows inside bandage-like spacesuits.

We are introduced to our hero, Steve Smith, and his reasons for joining the forces are presented as enthusiastic. Soon he finds out that the war is dirtier than he thought, with the squad he joins displaying a take-no-prisoners attitude, and even seeming willing to sacrifice their fellow humans to achieve victory. The crew have East Asian features and are referred to in the text as half breeds, which seems extremely not okay to me. This is not the future as I imagine it. The writer is G. Finley-Day, and I do not know how I feel about what I just read. A lot of the stories in 2000 AD from this period are problematic, but this seems to be a step beyond that into gleefully xenophobic, and I am not on board for that.

The V.C.s aren’t the only new story in this week’s 2000 AD, we also see the start of the Stainless Steel Rat. I was surprised to see that he was using a single filament wire to escape from the police. The police use monocycles, which I guess are miniaturized unicycles, but they look surprisingly good. I wouldn’t mind taking one for a spin, if such a thing actually existed.

The Stainless Steel Rat enjoys giving the local police the run around, but then a special police unit arrives, The Special Corps. The whole thing is very strange, and Golden Age Sc-Fi in its vibe. But it is classy and unusual, compared to the grittier stories that 2000 AD usually presents. After the first episode of the story, there is even a half page introduction by Harry Harrison about where the idea for the Stainless Steel Rat came from. It is a strange property to be made into a comic book, specially in 2000 AD, which usually contains original stories, but there is something engaging about the character, and there is none of the stomach-churning racism of the V.Cs.

There are a couple of other stories this issue, both from the recently merged Tornado comic book, but neither are worth talking about. They will disappear forever from the history of 2000 AD soon enough.

Next comes a cut out and collect monster manual that uses the editor character from Starlord, which is a nice reminder of that quality comic, snuffed out before its time. The cover features Starlord himself and it is a nicely detailed piece of work.

As I have said many times before, 2000 AD is a problematic fave, but this issue is more problematic than most, and that I singlehandedly the fault of G. Finlay Day and the V.C.s.

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.