5 out of 5
There have been several anniversary and celebratory progs / bumper progs of late; this 40th anniversary special may have been the best. Perhaps it was the focus: There wasn’t an outright attempt at highlighting classic thrills (although Durham Red and Nikolai Dante appearing are welcome returns), or kickstarting new ones, it really, truly just felt like the celebration it was, with everyone – everyone, Pat Mills, of whom my opinion varies, included – contributing their very best and entertaining entries.
The historical nods come via in-between one pagers featuring Tharg (and written by TMO) and various classic players, meta celebrating the mag’s birthday, and drawn by luminaries like Brian Bolland. These are also a hoot.
The page quality is a bit weird – it’s papery, not the magazine style thin pages of the weekly, and I’m a bit confused if that was supposed to be a plus – like better durability – or maybe a cost saving measure for the increased page count…? It dims the colors a bit, but the thing is so much fun cover to cover I can’t knock it for that.
Contents are themed to ‘ruby’ and include:
A straight forward but satisfying JD tale by Wagner, with great art by Carl Critchlow; a hilarious 4th-wall-y Zombo tale by Ewing and Flint that proposes that Zombo was intended for Prog 1; a sincerely laugh out loud Ro-Busters tale by Mills and Langley in which Ro-Jaws start to act peculiarly and Langley shows he’s got great visual comedic timing; a Durham Red tale by Lauren Beukes and Dale Halvorsen with art by Ezquerra – the Red / Johnny Alpha repartee is a bit choppy but Beukes understanding / appreciation of the characters, as mentioned in a recent Meg interview, is quite clear; another! laugh out loud bit from Mills: Slaine, with art by Simon Davis, which tells of a funny competition between Slaine and Calad; and finally, Morrison and Fraser have Nikolai Dante execute another everything-goes-wrong-but-goes-right heist.
A truly magnificent bumper prog, and I think enjoyable for even casual readers of the mag.