Forget Action Comics reaching issue #800, anthology title 2000AD hits its one thousandth three hundredth and twenty-second weekly issue with most of its stories continuing from the super-sized issue #2003 which came out a week or two ago.
Just in case that doesn't make sense, the publishers of 2000AD decreed a couple of years ago that the mag should take a two-week break at the end of each year and publish, instead, a much larger, more expensive, square-bound edition - a showcase of upcoming features, some self-contained stories, and a slew of part ones of continuing features. They started off by calling the first one of these issue #2001, followed by #2002 in 2001, and #2003 at the end of 2002. Wish I hadn't tried to explain this now.
The upshot is, if you haven't seen that showcase issue, then you automatically feel like you've stepped into a bunch of stories-in-progress, with not a lot of allowance made for new readers. With each strip being five or six pages long, there's no time to waste on recaps, you just a small "story-so-far" section covering all features on the inside front cover of the comic. So, what features do we have this time around?
Judge Dredd vs. Aliens: Incubus, Part 2 by John Wagner, Andy Diggle and Henry Flint kicks things off, and fortunately the JD vs. Aliens concept is so easy to grasp that it doesn't matter that this isn't part one - an Alien is in mega-city one, it bursts out of someone's chest and nips off, JD in hot pursuit. Unfortunately the concept is so easy to grasp that it all feels too familiar - for example, there's a Verminator Squad detailed to track and kill the Alien, they have motion sensors and big guns...oh, you know what's going to happen to them, they might as well be called the Cannon Fodder squad.
Caballistics, Inc.: Going Underground, Part 2 By Gordon Rennie and Dom Reardon is a superb strip, possibly the best in this issue - it deals with a pair of Paranormal Historians called Chapter and Verse, who, in their own words: "take card of all the weird shit". Think Planetary, think Global Frequency, you've got the idea. You want this to run and run for pages, it's a disappointment when it ends after just five...all this and a mention for Halo too, how can it go wrong?
Slaine: Moloch II by Pat Mills and Clint Langley is, to be frank, a mess. The painted art is very dark and too stylised - everyone looks like they are freaks and posing for the camera - it just seems to be another Slaine vs. some bad guy story.
Sinister Dexter: Relode, Part 1 by Dan Abnett and Ben Willsher is a bit of a time travel tale - it appears to follow directly on from a previous tale, a group of unidentified people return to the city of Downlode, but in an alternate reality; so they try again and again to get back to "their" Downlode and finally manage it - fifteen years before they left. OK, so plus points for it being a setup issue for the storyline to come, but big minus points for not introducing the characters, for assuming the readers will be familiar with these people...not a good way to encourage a new readership, really.
Nikolai Dante: Hell And High Water, Part 2 however, works well as an introductory piece, despite it being part 2 of the current story. Part 1 and the characters' identity are rendered irrelevant by writer Robbie Morrison and artist John Burns in a pair of almost silent introductory pages, which sets the situation up, makes it clear who are the bad guys, who's the good guy, and then launches into four pages of action and plot with barely a misstep. Whilst adrift at sea, Dante encounters and interferes with a nasty group of pirates attempting to finish off a couple of kids...simple setup, executed brilliantly.
So, worthwhile looking at for Caballistics Inc and Nikolai Dante along, Sinister Dexter and JD are fine but need more work and innovation to push the rating up, and Slaine disappoints.
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