Tuesday 24 December 2019

Incoming! 2000AD Preview Dec '19

Hard to believe it's nearly the end of another year... It's been a busy one, both for me personally and for the Galaxy's Greatest Comic! It's this ridiculous workload that has prevented me from bringing you a regular report on the vast outpourings from Rebellion HQ and the world of 2000AD, for which I can only apologise and hope to bring you right up to date with. So read on, casual and hardcore comics perusers alike, and let's see if there is anything to float your alternative UK sequential art boats. You never know, there may even be some bits to put on your Christmas present lists...

It's good to do a review at this time of year because the annual Christmas Prog and Meg specials are on the way, always something exciting to report on! First up is Prog 2162, 100 pages of pure thrill power with a Christmassy Tharg and Burt cover by Alex Ronald. Inside there are a few of the usual traditions, a half-page Droid Life (excellent!), photo's of Lego 2000AD characters on the letters page (Seriously, check them out!), and a Christmassy Dredd one-shot (this year by T.C. Eglington and Karl Richardson!). The only ongoing story is Brink, Dan Abnett and Ian Culbard's sci-fi noir thriller, which regular reader's will know is my current favourite strip, and is currently on part 13 of the "Hate Box" storyline. My advice? Go back and read the last 12 issues, dummy! Other than that, this issue is actually a great jumping on point for new/lapsed readers. It's a showcase for the entire range of 2000AD styles, artistically and thematically, including fantasy, sci-fi and horror, with black-and-white art on Graduation through to garish, bonkers, psychedelic primary colour madness on The Zaucer of Zilk! Graduation is a follow up to the Harry Absolom stories (which we sadly said goodbye to this year), an unexpected treat from Gordon Rennie and Tiernen Trevallion, and the Zaucer of Zilk is... well... probably best to check out the catch-up page for the details, but think Doctor Strange meets Ziggy Stardust and Harry Potter and you won't be far off. It's been 7 years since the first series but this one promises to be just as strange and out-there, brought to you by Peter Hogan, Brendan McCarthy, and Len O'Grady.

The second half of the prog is just as thrill-crammed as the first, including two brand new strips! First up the ever-awesome Henry Flint is on cracking form on new sci-fi actioner Proteus Vex, about an Imperium Agent on a mission in the far future, written by Michael Carroll, this looks like it could be a good one. And the Kingdom dream team of Dan Abnett and Richard Elson are back with a new original fantasy saga, Feral and Foe, a Necromancer and a warrior sentenced to execution for their service to the Malign Lord, on the run. With Abnett's character and world building and Elson's dynamic art you know this one's a winner! Continuing the Fall of Deadworld series with a special one-off called "Sidney", Kek-W and Dave Kendall take a look at the one and only Judge Death (De'Ath) himself and his relationship to his father. Before his life as a superfiend, obviously...

And rounding off this Christmas special is another Durham Red standalone, Mistletoe Kiss, from Alec Worley and Ben Willsher. Yet again these guys have done a great job with everyone's favourite mutant vampire bounty hunter, reckon they should get a series instead of one-offs. These are the sort of stories that we got from the Strontium Dogs series, way back when, reckon there's space for more regular Red adventures. With an article about how to draw Dredd to top it off this is a truly bumper issue, plenty to keep you going until the regular progs start back up in the new year! Did someone say there is a new Slaine series coming...?

On to the big Meg for issue 415 and it's a Christmassy cover, featuring Metta Lawson and Ol' Stony Face having a merry (or not) old time, from the pens of Staz Johnson and Matt Soffe that greets us. Interesting to see Lawson on the cover in a non-Lawless picture AND drawn by someone other than Phil Winslade, definitely the top character in the Megazine after Dredd. The Dredd strip itself is not Christmas themed, but the start of a new series set in the Black Atlantic. Plunder" has more of that excellent crunchy Karl Richardson artwork (two Dredds in the same week? we are spoiled!) and is written by the expert hand of Michael Carroll. Following that is an interview with Ales Kot, writer on the brand new Devlin Waugh series A Very Big Splash. Fantastic to have everyone's favourite gay vampire exorcist (that's a thing, right?) back in the Meg, with stand-up art from Mike Dowling and a cock demon in the first two pages, this is going to be vintage Devlin! Propping up the middle of the comic is the third and final book of T.C. Eglington and Boo Cook's Blunt, if you don't know the story just luxuriate in the art work...The Returners reaches it's seventh and final episode (for now), and the final strip for this month is Abnett and that man Winslade on Lawless. Most comics are drawn at double the size and shrunk down to fit on the pages. Apparently Phil Winslade draws Lawless 1:1. Go back and look through those stories again and bear that in mind, as if they could get any better! There is an article about a soon to be released Starblazer comics re-print run, and it's all rounded out with the second part of Damnation Station in the bagged trade paperback. It's great to see the Megazine still as strong as it has been for the last couple of years, and still all Dreddworld! Kudos to editor Matt Smith for keeping the quality up, this is probably the best run in the history of the Meg, long may it continue!

Things have slowed down on the "also by Rebellion" front on the run up to Christmas, but there are some crackers due in the New Year from both 2000AD and the Treasury of British Comics Imprint. Recently we have had Book 2 of the Fall of Deadworld series, charting the destruction of the Dark Judges home world (by the Dark Judges themselves), which features some great atmospheric artwork by Dave Kendall and writing by Kek-W that mirrors a rather famous Dredd story in a clever alternative eye-view, and Ken Reid's World Wide Weirdies , featuring art from the classic Faceache artist which featured on the back cover of Whoopee! and Shiver and Shake comics! They have also released some cracking new T-shirts on the webstore featuring designs from Mega City politics, including Dave the Orang Utang and The Apathy Party, and The Hunters Club. Check out the Bring On The Bad Guys videos to see me modelling a couple ;-)

Coming soon on the 2000AD front is Volume 4 of Kingdom , Dan Abnett and Richard Elson's far future sci-fi spectacular. As I'm sure you know by now, I will heartily recommend picking this series up from book 1! A bit of a surprise addition to the new releases, scheduled for April, is a new Best of 2000AD title, featuring all new cover art from top artists and full colour accessible content for new readers... in a U.S. Format? If it gets the name onto comic store shelves I'm all for it, keep an eye on this column for a feature coming soon! The ToBC selection in the first couple of months of 2020 are eclectic, but all top titles. The late, great Carlos Ezquerra is remembered in his epic Third World War, written by Pat Mills, available as a collection for the first time and featuring brand new scans of the original artwork supplied by his family. Billy's Boots is a classic comic about a boy struggling to play football until he inherits a pair of boots owned by "Dead-Shot" Keen, which give him the power to play like the legendary striker! I'm not a big footie fan, but I remember this one from my younger years with a fair bit of affection. From the pages of War Picture Library comes the first volume of The Trigan Empire, a space epic that uses elements of the Roman Empire and Ancient Greece to tell it's story. Also from WPL is Battle Stations, drawn by legendary Italian artist Hugo Pratt. Watch this space for an article on this one too!

Finally, there is great news for that tabletop gaming/comics crossover section of you out there... Not one but two (count 'em!) brand new gaming titles with the face of Dredd emblazoned across them! Osprey Games have just released \i Helter Skelter\i0 , a Dredd-based board game, but with additional appearances from Strontium Dog, Slaine, and Nikolai Dante... You can find the full review elsewhere on this site (feel free to look around while you are here). Warlord Games have just released their Judge Dredd miniatures game, and it looks to be based on the Strontium Dog minis game rule set which was released last year. Not a bad thing at all! I'm hopeful it will take off and keep me supplied with Judge Dredd minis for many months to come...

On a similar note, it was announced a couple of weeks ago that Rebellion have started their own tabletop games offshoot! Named as Rebellion Unplugged, the first release is a board game version of their popular Sniper Elite computer game, and will be concentrating on this and their other IP's, including the 2000AD universe! With Osprey Games founder Duncan Molloy at the helm this could be a really good development for GGC fans... I'm putting my vote out there for an ABC Warriors "Let's-Tame-Mars" game or a Sinister Dexter "Bullets over Downlode" hitman shootout. Anyone else?

The worlds of 2000AD are seriously exploding at the moment! Try to keep up!

By day, David Mustill is a Human Workhorse for a chemical company. Naturally, every possible moment away from this existence is spent gaming and painting miniatures.

A steady diet of rock, metal, punk, comics, gaming, miniatures and genre movies has moulded David into a renaissance geek, for whom no gaming company or genre is too obscure, and no graphic novel is unreadable.

He is currently the Chairman of Milton Hundred Wargames Club, which affords him the privilege of running the Broadside Games Show. He will not let you down. Unless you're after selfies. He is rubbish at selfies...

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