Review by Richard Mc
Hey 2000AD monkeys. So I’ve not posted any reviews or stuff in ages but as I got the latest Zarjaz through the post this Saturday morning I thought I’d write it up. As with previous Zarjaz reviews I should point out that I am a sometime contributor to Zarjaz and Dogbreath but I’m doing this purely with my comic reading fanboy hat on. I’m not saying I could do better. I mean, I COULD, I’m fucking awesome but I’m not saying that. Anyway lets see if a me-free issue is worth your time
Cover by Steven Austin.
Touquemada in full 80s fantasy movie poster mode laying down some whupass on a pit full of suitably nasty looking alien monsters. What’s not to love?
1 – Torquemada : Heads you Lose by Lee Robson and Steven Denton
Pretty sure this is the first solo Torquemada story to be featured in Zarjaz. If so it’s a hell of a debut and either way it’s a hell of a way to open this issue. A fun story with loads of action that highlights the main character’s physical prowess as well as his insane leadership. For those familiar with Torquemada it’s spot on and for anyone who isn’t it’s a great introduction. Using an attempted coup as its framework this fits a lot of story into its eight pages and as the world of Nemesis was introduced under the banner of “Comic Rock” it was particularly nice to see all the music jokes woven in. Great action, great humour, great art…great comics.
2 – Judge Fudge and his Pals by Matt Sharp and Jonathan Dhenry.
What the fuck? This was like the type of one page comic/advert weetabix used to put on the back covers of comics but six pages long and choc full (sorry) of candy related Dredd characters. Dredd…I mean Fudge and his fun sized rookie go after The Four Big Bad Umpties accompanied by the rabbit shaped Psi Judge Caramel Delicious and it all wraps up with a nice moral for the kiddies. Absolutely ridiculous, crazy creative, still somehow managing to feel totally 2000AD. I loved it. A really fun story with brilliantly realised cartoon characters. An out and out comedy strip of the type that I kinda miss from the real prog these day. Two for two. Well done Zarjaz.
3 – Button Man : Lucky Day by Lizzie and Conor Boyle.
A definite change of pace and one that for this reader at least had the added hurdle of being based on a strip I have little to no knowledge of. I mean I did read at least some Button Man back in the day but I’d be lying if I could really remember anything about it. Moral of the story : Don’t drink rum kids, it kills your memory! So it’s to the credit of Team Boyle’s creativity that purely as a stand-alone bit of gritty action this totally worked for me. While there are probably some nods to the original in there that went over my head, it still hooked me in as a tightly paced action sequence and could almost be story-boards for a Bourne movie. I don’t want to blow smoke up their arses so instead I’ll just say this is two very good story tellers showing off. We get it, you’re the posh and becks of UK comics. Jeez! Get over yourselves! I mean yeah you might have discovered Tom Foster and first published him (cough Disconnected Press cough) but have you actually written for him? Didn’t think so.
4 – Anderson PSI : Facing Evils Past by John Osborne and David Peloe.
Anderson against militant feminists? Brave move. But once again, DAMN this was good. A very clever story idea which doesn’t go the usual route with Anderson’s powers and one that handles what could be a dodgy or inflammatory subject really well. I say dodgy, I mean internet dodgy where EVERYTHING is offensive unless it follows an exact, but strangely indefined line. Anderson is again shown as the more human face of the Justice Department but without compromising or weakening her at all and in our brief Dredd moment he’s the bad guy, or at the very least a dick, but without the story going all preachy. I’m trying to think of a one and done Anderson that did the character better and I can’t think of one. And that’s all Anderson not small press. And the art? The opening showing a group of, I’m assuming, football fans has enough humour in it to sell Mega City weirdness then when the story goes a darker route it does an equally admirable job. And Anderson herself? Looks like a slightly older version of the classic Bolland version and hasn’t made her deliberately ugly or old to make the people who want their comics as miserable looking as they are briefly happy. Almost annoyingly perfect.
5 – Bix Barton : Rum Mothers Do Ave Em by Mark Howard and Simon Bennett Hayes.
Ok I have NO idea who this character is so it’s getting read totally as a stand alone. And as such I have to admit to being more than a little lost. I mean I kept up with the general story but it really rattled along and to me this read like To the Devil a Carry On Daughter, which I’m guessing is the point. I still feel like I lost a lot by not having prior knowledge of the character but credit to the creators for bringing back one of 2000AD’s more obscure titles. Only five pages too which is impressive considering how much they’ve managed to cram in.
6 – Judge Dredd : Descendants 02 by Robomonkey147.
Straight off the bat I’m not the biggest fan of ongoing strips in Zarjaz and this is part two of three. This nerd likes ’em one and done and yes, it’s ALL about what I like. That said this was a solid Mega City One story, this installment at least, focused more on Hershey than Dredd. There’s a nicely done recap for those who haven’t read part one and I’ll admit I’m now invested and want to read part three. A well told story with a slightly retro Dredd feel with really nice art to match that showcases a lot of talent.
Summary? Fuck me that was good. I was going to try and avoid comparing this to another special comic containing 2000AD characters and new to 2000AD creators in the last month…so I won’t. Because that would be unfair on the other title. This really was brilliant and I’d happily see most of it in the actual prog without feeling the need to cut it any newbie slack.
Fave of the bunch? With no disrespect to the others Anderson was a clear winner for me as it was SO well done and managed to beat out the seriously tough competition. Really, it should be in the prog where it’d have a fighting chance of hitting the top spot there as well.
Go grab a copy here > https://www.futurequake.co.uk/zarjaz/