Luke’s reading pile next to the marital bed is growing ever higher. Risking life threatening injury, he picks out 2000AD’s contribution to this year’s Free Comic “Book”( if you must) Day. Is it a worthy attempt to snare new readers? Or just a vain bid at drawing attention to the Prog’ and a dry run in a longer term plan to refocus the title?
2000AD Regened : FCBD 2018
Review by Luke Williams
Free Comic Book Day is an annual event to draw attention to the medium and to promote your local comic shop. 2000AD’s past contributions have been a mix of reprint and original material. This year they have gone for an all ages theme, recognising that 2000AD’s core audience are ageing and aren’t going to be around forever, with a package of all new strips. Tharg has gone down this road before, with the short lived “Judge Dredd Lawman of the Future” and the aborted “Earthside 8”. Perhaps lessons have been learned?
Kicking things off is “Cadet Dredd : Crowd Control”. Written by Matt “Tharg” Smith with art by Neil Googe. Pre full-eagle Dredd is at an aeroball game with his supervising Judge as things start getting rowdy amongst the supporters. Baby Dredd asserts his authority and begins to make a name for himself. No gunplay, nice nods to 2000AD history, and dinosaurs. How can you go wrong? Definitely the highlight of the free prog’. Smith shows again he’s got the chops to write Dredd, and we don’t see enough of Googe’s art outside of the irritating “Survival Geeks”.
Johnny Alpha’s final assessment for a position as a Search Destroy agent is detailed in “Strontium Dog : Trial Run”. Followed by a robot assessor, Johnny intercepts mutant fugitives Carrion Jones and Blobba Jobson as they rob the norm’ passengers of a train heading out of London. Action packed and rattles along nicely. Willsher’s art is lovely, a little “manga” like and Johnny looks like a character from “Ben 10”. Unlike the “Cadet Dredd” story, this couldn’t really fit in with the regular continuity as it’s a bit too neutered, which admittedly is the point. Still. It’s a laugh.
A brief chortlesome “Intestinauts” strip by Arthur Wyatt & Pye Parr, quiz pages and a boardgame drawn by Henry Flint, and then back to the strips.
“Tharg’s Future Shocks : Humancraft”, by Ned Hartley and Tanya Roberts. Taking inspiration from a certain vastly successful game with the words “Mine” and “Craft” in it’s name. Its twist is the role reversal between the game characters and the game, throw in some social commentary and on the nose satire, and hey presto! Future Shock! Not particularly shocking, but nice art.
“D.R. & Quinch” are legendary characters from the history of 2000AD. Creations of Alan Moore and Alan Davis in the eighties, the original run was incredibly funny, and hasn’t dated (to this 45 year old anyway). Despite Alan Moore later “apologising” for its creation there is a lot of love for the strip. There was a brief revival in the late eighties as “D.R. & Quinch’s Incredibly Excruciating Agony Page” written by Jamie Delano and Alan Davis and drawn by Davis. That was a lot of fun too. “D.R. & Quinch Hijack Free Comic Book Day” isn’t, it tries a bit too hard. It reads as an homage to the “Time Twister : D.R. & Quinch Have Fun On earth” that introduced them, but doesn’t carry as well. I can’t help but compare this with Moore and Davis’s work. The script by Owen Johnson & Colin Bell felt cluttered and the art by Indio ungainly. Either way didn’t really work for me. It might have been better if they had done something original. A humour strip in the Prog’ is welcome, just not a revival of this please.
So. Representative of the current Prog’? No, but then it’s not supposed to be. If it’s meant to test the water for a new launch, then I guess it’s okay. JD works, SD not so much and D.R. & Quinch not at all. Still, at least they are trying and hey, it’s free. Or was. If you weren’t quick enough you may have to part with your hard earned to get one from the many enterprising individuals on Fleabay.