Tiptoeing around the minefield that is the debate over this all female creator issue and the accusations of tokensim and exploitation, Luke checks out this year’s Sci Fi Special and finds it wanting.
2000AD Sci Fi Special 2018
By Luke Williams
I was chuffed to see the return of the sci fi special a few years ago. Who doesn’t want a collection of stand alone stories, primers and previews of extended runs to come? It has been used as a proving ground for new creative teams, new characters, or as is increasingly the case, the testing the ground for the return of new characters.
This year’s offering is a mix of digging out old characters from the vaults and giving new creators their first shot. But, as you may have heard, all the contributors are female.
Emma Beeby and Babs Tarr’s ” Judge Dredd :The Feels” kicks us off. MC1 is overrun with outbreaks of excessive affection, induced by a powerful new drug. Of course, the gag is that Dredd is probably the most unaffectionate person on the planet. It’s a good idea, but the execution is a bit off. 2000AD debutante Tarr’s art has a strong manga feel; busy, kinetic and cartoony, but she needs to check her references; the judge uniform is a mash up of the prog’ and the 2012 movie versions.
New creators to 2000AD, Katy Rex and Liana Kangas get to play around with “Tyranny Rex”. Anyway – set before Tyranny embarks properly in her career in music piracy she is happily cloning anything and everything at home. She is interrupted by her to be future business partner just as things start to go haywire.
As it’s the appropriately named Katy Rex’s first strip for 2000AD I’d like to give her leeway, but the script is a a bit lame lacking the wit or edge that John Smith brought to the character. Kangas art is reminiscent of Rian Hughes, all bold thick lines and ligne claire influences with bright primary colours from her and assistant Gab Contreras. But as a on the whole there are problems with perspective, figure work and variety. This is disappointing on a number of levels. The “John Smith” cupboard in the Nerve Centre must almost be bare. What’s left to dole out to new creators to revive or reinterpret? A sequel to “Leatherjack”? “New Statesmen”, “Strange & Darke” “Firekind” “Straitgate”?
Alex Di Campi and newbie Sam Beck deliver “Rogue Trooper : The Thousand Days”. A Nort and Souther unit have been facing off for the titular thousand days in the equatorial petrified forest of Nu Earth, when Rogue arrives to break the deadlock. Reminiscent of the early Rogue trooper story “The Rookies” by Gerry Finley Day and Dave Gibbons Di Campi’s script isn’t bad, but the art lets it down. Beck’s figure work is lacking, stiff poses and wooden expressions.
“Future Shocks : Delivery” by Tillie Walden. In short , a courier delivers more than her customers ordered. Well executed, nicely but left me wondering what was shocking about it. It shows promise even if it did feel like one of “Bob Byrne’s Twisted Tales”, (credit to Flint for pointing that out).
“Judge Death : Darkness Descends”by Leah Moore and Xulia Vincente, colours by Pippa Mather. Inspired by a recording of the rock band “Living Death” from “Batman / Judge Dredd : Judgement In Gotham” a group covers one of their songs, unaware that Death this will draw Judge Death to them. I’m a bit confused by this strip. The city in which it is set seems to be contemporary, rather than the 22nd century of Dredd. Does that mean this is Gotham? Had Death possessed the recording? Do I really care? The art isn’t bad but this reads like a mediocre “Tale From The Black Museum”.
“De Marco PI – Love Remains” : Laura Baily and Dani tell this tale of forbidden love and body part disposal. Nice plot, but similar to something Mark Millar and Phil Winslade produced for a “Revolver” Special many years ago. Dani is a find, but she needs to find the right strip. It’s not a bad story, but I have an issue with spinning supporting characters off into their own strips. De Marco is a perfect example, a great supporting character in one of the best Dredd runs. But she was created to serve the plot, there hasn’t been any evidence to suggest that she can carry her own series.
“Terror Tales : Hockey Sticks Of Hell” on the other hand is more like it. Public schoolgirls try to get an edge in a hockey tournament with some infernal help. Original it may not be, but this is a fun. A sharp script from Olivia Hicks and vibrant art from Abigail Bulmer.
“Anderson PSI Division : Spa Day” has some lovely art from Emma Vieceli, Maura McHugh’s script delves once more into Anderson’s inner demons via a routine psi division assessment. Anderson as a strip is treading water. This isn’t a bad one off, art and script are of a high standard, but the strip lacks direction and needs to be rested.
More miss than hit and some of it just looks amateurish, sadly. Even with the gorgeous Anderson pin up by Marguerite Sauvage and the wonderful covers by Tula Lotay and Emily Zeinner I came away feeling mightily disappointed. this and the FCBD issue this year don’t bode well for further specials. Tharg needs a re think.