2000 AD Presents: Sci-Fi Thrillers TPB – Various

3 out of 5

This is a bit of a weird one to review: normally, with trades, I try to rank what I feel about the contents themselves, along with notes on the presentation. What’s difficult with applying that to this set of 2000 AD thrills, though, is that the contents are… pretty average, on the whole, but I’d say they’re important. While it’s super cool to own a whole backlot of progs, there are so, so many tales stretched across the magazine’s 30+ years that, firstly, sifting through back issues (or even clicking through digital collections) to track down particulars can be daunting, and even if you’ve been mindful to look up – or maybe you just know! – which story is in which prog, reading a single thrill that stretches across 3 or 4 or 5 issues can be a little daunting. Experienced week to week, I love this anthology publication, but when I want to revisit certain stories – yeah, the collections are the way to go.

So trades like this (Sci-Fi Thrillers collects a lot of odds an ends from early issues) are great for that reason, but also from a historical standpoint, connecting readers with somewhat archival stories from their favorite authors – Pat Mills, Grant Morrison, Peter Milligan – is super cool. For example, I picked this up for the Grant Morrison entries, and though they are the definition of average (by-the-books Future Shocks), I love that they were reprinted, saving me backissue hunting and prices; plus, I get to check out other tales as a bonus, even if those other tales, as mentioned, are equally rather meh.

Thus nothing in this set necessarily stands out, but maybe it does for you – maybe Pat Mills’ The Visible Man was a great memory; maybe Milligan’s Trival Memories made a big impact (and it is one of the better stories here, for sure) – and so there’s a lot of YMMV to consider. Otherwise, I’d referenced Future Shocks, and while most of these are not Shocks – there’s only a few oners here, most are several part stories – they share the kind of predictable structure of those, or are just kind of muddled and forced. In one instance – Jim Watson’s Colony Wars – confusing art and an indistinctive story make it a chore to get through, but every other thrill has either notable art or some punchy moments or both. I’d mentioned Milligan’s entry as quality; it’s a good example of the poetic writer restraining his more indulgent tendencies and delivering an interesting sci-fi spin on race relations. Alan Hebden’s Psi-Testers and ‘The Amazing Maze Duboir’ are also quality, if way too compressed to two parts each; Alan McKenzie’s Universal Solider is a good concept with moody Will Simpson art, if rather clunkily executed, and Paul Cornell’s X-Tinct is a good highlight to go out on, with great D’Israeli art. Rob Williams’s Family is a mess, sorry to say. Super-powered mobsters? Cool, but it’s mapped to a mess of too many characters and fairly cheesy dialogue.

The set itself has the standard 2000 AD setup of credit pages separating each story, which I always appreciate, but the lack of a table of contents is a sin for a set like this.