The Best of Tharg’s 3rillers Volume 2 (bundled with JD Meg 382) – Various

4 out of 5

The second collection of assorted 3riller’s from years’ past, again showing why 2000 AD is the king for this kind of stuff – flexible enough to accommodate both ongoing world-building thrills and the more isolated experiments of the three-part 3rillers.

First up is Arthur Wyatt’s Wolves, given a fittingly breezy treatment by Steve Yeowell on art.  This is a nicely paced tale that takes advantage of the three part structure to manipulate a man/machine war template into something quite surprising and scary.  The scope is perfectly pitched for Yeowell’s strengths, requiring the sense of movement and quick-hand emotion at which he excels and stopping short of needing widescreen visuals which he normally can’t adjust to.

Next is the first of two Kek-W tales; 1947, illustrated by Dowling is definitely the superior, and is quite fantastic, showcasing the best version of Kek’s uber-compressed story-telling style.  An alternate history bit wherein a media-controlled UK has ceded power to the mysterious “Allies,” Kek sprinkles fun nods to Judge Dredd and history, and builds up to a thrilling (natch) ending, with some wonderfully detailed, non-distracting photo-reference style art from Dowing.

Rewind is a quick time travel murder mystery – a special crew hops along timelines to solve the unsolved – that dodges its potential plotholes by piling on a lot of fun ideas and keeping the pace moving.  Robert Murphy’s story is another great showing foe the 3rrillers: Complex enough to require more than one week, but more pleasing without the complications that a full-on series would invite.  Classic artist Jesus Redondo provides solid visuals, somewhat recalling Yeowell’s sense of momentum but with more grounded figurework.

Kek’s second entry is the one letdown in the collection: Colony, which is an alien invasion tale inserted into a WWII internment camp.  The premise isn’t bad, but the character focus feels really awry, which may be on artist Vincent Locke’s rather sloppy layouts and odd mash up of pencils over photo backgrounds.

Good thing about the length of the 3rillers: When they’re not that great, they don’t take up much real estate.  So the quality of this collection remains high despite that last entry.

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