Black Light vol. 1 – 2 (pkgd. w/ JD Meg #336 – 337) – Dan Abnett, Steve White

3 out of 5

2000 AD needs more espionage thrillers. They’ve been part of the mag here and there, but they’re generally off in some way, either scripted too heavily toward dialogue / scenario stereotypes, or giving in to the mag’s needs for big budget action.

Dan Abnett’s / Steve White’s Black Light – a reports-to-the-president IA-type black ops unit – starts to tip toward the latter at points, but it was also one of the most promising takes on the genre, situating itself in the mag via some sci-fi touches to its plots – bioweapons; cyber soldiers; nuclear experiments – and tickled with some solid character building and intriguing potential connections to Vector 13 (which also has some quality strips republished in these floppies).

But these three arcs – the entirety of the strip – also feel somewhat like opening salvos; our writers getting used to the beats. Agent Emma Paris seems to be the lead, and the tone seems more “grounded” and conspiracy-theory laden, but then focus spreads out a bit to new agent Mark, and a more fantastical (but fun) story featuring nanobot infections. Dan / Steve have trouble marrying this together smoothly in the final arc, which focuses on some mysterious weapon tests, and bounces around a bit too much for its relatively short four parts. Steve Yeowell is also not great at maintaining the level of geography / detail necessary to keep this last story’s momentum, so it rather falls flat.

The second floppy thankfully also features the three-part Roadkill from Dan and Richard Elson: an interestingly forward looking bit about self driving cars that employs usual AI tropes, but makes them terrifically exciting, and the tale is quite haunting as well.