2000 AD Sci-fi Special (2021) – Various

2 out of 5

I really like this concept, but it just… uf-da… doesn’t work. I mean, it ain’t nothin’ new in the anthology world, necessarily, to have all of your stories linked in some way, but it’s new (or rare) in the Dredd-verse, and having some throughline plot between disparate locations in the world – Hondo-City, Brit-Cit, etc. – just sounds like fun. Also: co-led by Michael Carroll, whose writing I generally really dig? Great!

In a preceding Megazine interview, though, I had some concerns: Carroll explains how he and Maura McHugh constructed the special – by essentially letting the featured writers do whatever they wanted, just including detail X so things could be strung together. This sounds a bit too loose to be successful – like every entry is going to feel like this detail is just Frankensteined in to fit – unless the linking bit is just a lark, and not a major story point.

But nah, it’s a major story point. And yeah, it gets Frankensteined in, in every story. And because of that, the ‘whatever they wanted’ storylines are hindered, because they have to circle around to include this central concept – of some mind-infecting virus overtaking a perp – and then when Carroll and McHugh join up to finally give a full story’s focus on this, it turns out to be a lame-ass, tired, environmental shtick we’ve seen and heard enough times across several decades of comics.

I’d say within each story, there are beats that work, and there’s some great art from Tom Foster, and Neil Googe – and although Anna Morozova’s drawn kids look a little funky, I love their rendition of Anderson – but there are an overwhelming amount of beats that don’t work, due to the above. To add a cherry atop the unsatisfying ending, artist James Newell’s Phil Winslade-y thick inking style is promising, but they struggle a bit with the scope and required action of the story, doubling down on the thump it lands with.

I’d be down for Carroll (or someone) to try this again, though with stronger oversight in tying it all together. (And maybe not such a re-used central plot device…)