By Malcolm Shaw, Jesus Redondo & Johnny Johnson
Review by Luke Williams
Published in the early years of 2000AD Malcolm Shaw and Jesus Redondo’s “Return to Armageddon” is certainly different.
A starship comes across a demonic looking alien encased in ice many light years from Earth. Freeing the alien from its sub zero prison, the starship’s human crew find it’s alive and do the only sensible thing, and clone it.
The formerly ice bound being, known as the Destroyer, is the harbinger of the apocalypse, destined to destroy the universe. Its clone, known as Amtrak, accompanied by a rather battered robot called Seeker spends 30+ episodes making bargains, trying to persuade the otherwise soon to be extinct people of the universe that the apocalypse is imminent, is killed, brought back to life, frequently mauled, betrayed and imprisoned.
Being an insufferable completist and with disposable income, I spent a few years collecting all the 2000ADs prior Prog 458, where I first started picking it regularly. Frankly, I can’t in all honesty say that I read each and every story prior in those back issues. “Return to Armageddon” in particularly seemed impenetrable and more than a little weird. However, seeing it going for a few quid in one of Rebellion’s clears outs, I thought it worth a punt. Now having read it, I can confirm that that my cursory assessment wasn’t far off the mark.
The late Malcolm Shaw and Jesus Redondo (with a few fill ins from Johnny Johnson) craft a barking mad story, imagine if horror imagine if Terry Gilliam and David Cronenberg decided to mash up science fiction, religion and put it in a comic.
Redondo’s art is kinetic and dynamic, he’s lauded in fandom, but kind of leaves me a little cold, the smaller format in this reprint does no favours to Redondo’s busy tightly detailed art. Johnny Johnson pinch hits for Redondo for two issues and does a passable impression.
In the history of 2000AD one off serials, it seems to barely get a mention, and in all fairness better than some of the work Tharg has had reprinted in the “Ultimate Collection”. But as a curio from the Prog’s early days, it’s worth reading, and one can only speculate what Malcolm Shaw could have come up with next. Not a classic by any stretch of the imagination, but next time it comes up in a sale, throw Tharg a few quid for it, I don’t think you’ll regret it.