3 out of 5
Sure, fine, you can backlog your American shipments and dump two weeks worth of progs on me. Not like I don’t have at least ten zillion other comics to read.
Sheesh. My life: Super difficult.
The plus side is that I get to experience several full thrills from start to finish this time, almost all of the titles aligning in order to work between the bumper 2000 issue and the upcoming (for me) 2011 XMas issue. The negative side is that none of these thrills were particularly thrilling. Oh well.
Kicking things off, we get two Enceladus followups from Rob Williams and Trevor Hairsine / Henry Flint. This should be awesome, but these are more post -scripts, two short three-parters. It’s cool that the story is still going in its own way, and it’s good to see it return, but you can’t help but wish this had been extended; unlike Michael Carroll’s Emerald Isle epilogue stuff, these really felt like opening salvos for something bigger. Enjoyable, just short.
The Dredd spot then goes to a fairly predictable cannibal story by Arthur Wyatt and Jake Lynch, and wraps with a great “that’s Dredd for ya’ ” one shot by Carroll.
Another chapter of Savage takes up a spot for ten progs. I’m not sure what it is about Savage, but out of all the Mills stuff I’ve read, it’s the only strip of his I’ve consistently enjoyed. Perhaps because the tone is rather straightforward, and not as campy or overly flourished as some of Mills’ other stuff? In this “book,” it’s 2015, and Bill living under a pseudonym in Volgan-occupied territory – apparently goes serial killer every month and shoots him some aliens. A disgraced Volgan officer had made it her mission to track this killer down, while Bill gets wrapped up in some mini-conspiracy regarding the construction of some ultimate weapon. Mills juggles all the bits and pieces clearly and interestingly for ten weeks, with some wonderful shadow-heavy art from Patrick Goddard.
On the flip-side of the Mills coin you have the return of Flesh. I believe Flesh has been around since the start of things, but this is my first exposure to it, and its return – because of a very long absence – is notable. Unfortunately, I’m not a big fan of Clint Langley’s computer / photo artwork, and despite a cool concept – traveling back to the past to mine Dino resources for a starved future – and a handy catch-up prologue chapter, I couldn’t get much out of this. It sort of slots in with Langley’s Ro-Busters stuff with Mills, where things look cool but aren’t particularly readable (waaaayyy too murky in this case, and the sound effects don’t layer well), while Mills functions in tongue-in-cheek action movie mode for the script; for me, it’s the definition of filler. I didn’t dread it, but no added value.
Eliciting similar feelings was another notable return: Of Peter Milligan on an original strip. Pete contributes Counterfeit Girl with his McCarthy / Ewins lover Rufus Dayglo. While it dips into Pete’s obsession with dual identities – in a future where you can “re-skin” yourself with new IDs – I credit the guy with sticking to the forward momentum style of 2000 AD and not getting wiggy with his normal literary references and high school poetry reflecting. It’s a colorful, ramshackle tale that has the same shaggy dog feeling of his older strips like Johnny Nemo or Hewligan’s Haircut. However, it’s lacking – ironically – personality. In our story, we’re following an ID scanner (providing illegal “skins” for others) who has need to swap her own identity, and steps into a diseased one. It’s then a race against her own disintegrating body whole trying to dodge the authorities on her tail. But the character reads more like an idea, and the world like sequences tailored to support that idea. So despite all of Dayglo’s wild colors and detail, the story and setting feel thin.
A notch above these thrills is Hunted, a peripheral Rogue Trooper story by Rennie. This boils into a fun RT showdown, but Trooper stories – regardless of the writer – always feel so much more continuity beholden than most of the ongoing 2000 AD strips for me, and not having any history with the title, that’s a barrier to entry. I don’t get this so much with Rennie’s Jaegir – who makes a fun cameo here – but perhaps because she feels very defined as a character, so it’s easier to focus on her story. Hunted feels like a sidebar that would be a lot more satisfying with the necessary context. Fantastic art from PJ Holden, as usual, though.
Was this downtime planned? Not giving us too many rip-roaring thrills so we can fully appreciate the bumper bookends? Maybe. It was nice to get several complete stories in one run (although Flesh doesn’t feel like it came to a conclusion…?), even if they weren’t exactly top o’ the pops.