The 2000 AD Encyclopedia # – Z (pkgd. w/ various JD Megs starting #424, ending #437) – Scott Montgomery

5 out of 5

I realize that any type of media universe bible / encyclopedia takes a lot of work, but I’d assume that the first outing is probably the heaviest lift. Thereafter, you’re looking at incremental additions and updates, and while that still means going back and revising everything, you have a basis from which to work.

Assuming I’m not missing a previous iteration of this, for writer Scott Montgomery’s ambitious and exhaustive listing and description of 2000 AD-verse characters – main and side – and story titles, from the weekly comic’s debut in 1977 up through the set’s completion in 2021… that’s a mind-numbing, nigh-unbelievable effort. Even if we could guess that there are outlines maintained for some of these characters in the 2000 AD offices for reference – like Dredd – I’d doubt the same is true for everything that appears in this Encyclopedia, and besides that, Montgomery doesn’t just rattle off a list of events, but does full, 1-2 page detailed breakdowns of every storyline, plus often supplemental background info on the responsible writers or artists, or genesis of whatever’s being detailed. Also, need to know if a collected form has been published? You’re covered.

Yes, the text can be a bit dry if you aren’t particularly interested in the character, but that’s also Scott doing the job correctly, in a way: opinion stays out of this, though Montgomery is mindful to bring enough personality into the entries such that they’re engaging – not a textbook. I just mean to say that some summaries inevitably have less wow factor, or you might just not be in to whatever’s going on – this is a long running anthology series, after all, that’s covered fantasy and sci-fi and romance and comedy and whatever else at various points. But even when I wasn’t necessarily intrigued by the contents, it’s still often fascinating to read about how much went on in X title you’ve never heard of. And for the handful of those with which I wasn’t engaged, I found two handfuls of titles I either ended up ordering, or added to a digital basket.

The presentation felt like it improved over the first few volumes of this, settling in to a cleaner format and sense of pacing between full-page text and illustrations, but I could have just gotten used to things as it went along. The layouts aren’t fancy, but that’s fine – this is a book, and it’s better to keep it visually neat. From a top down level, crazy effort aside, it’s also interesting to consider what Montgomery’s criteria was for highlighting certain side characters, or when a title would get its own entry. Either way, I’m certainly not a 2000 AD historian, but I didn’t feel like anything with which I was familiar didn’t get a proper investigation or shoutout.

Absolutely amazing and impressive stuff, not just as a reference, but also – for those of us who haven’t been around since the 70s – a good way to flip through and find or rediscover a title that now needs your attention. Can’t wait for this to get collected.