Zarjaz is…. well, not quite Zarjaz, but pretty damn good.

Published On August 11, 2011 | By Richard Bruton | Comics, Reviews

Zarjaz Issue 12 – The 2000AD Fanzine

Edited by Dave Evans and Richmond Clements

Contributors: Alex Ronald (cover), Paul Glasswell, Dave Thomson, Chris Denton, David Frankum, Liam Sharp, Alexi Conman, Luis Chichon, Richard McAuliffe, Mark Chilcott, David Withers, Phillip Vaughan.

FutureQuake Press

I’d been aware of Zarjaz, as Joe had featured it on the FPI blog a fair few times. But in all honesty I wasn’t that much of a 2000AD fan in my youth, I picked it up occasionally, and read some of the collections when I thought they looked interesting, but was never a regular reader – so the thought of a 2000AD fanzine – hmmm, maybe not.

The thing is, looking back, I actually read more, and know more 2000AD than I realised. Morrison and Yeowell’s Zenith, Mills and Bisley on Slaine, Nemesis, ABC Warriors, Alan Moore’s Future Shocks, Halo Jones, Skizz, I even dipped in and out of Dredd – so I’ve read quite a bit of the canon to be honest, just never really thought of myself as a fan of the comic.

The trigger came with the recent announcement of issue 12, and specifically the new Zenith meets Invasion series (covered here on the FPI Blog). I was intrigued enough to get in touch and ask them if they fancied sending a copy along.

(Zenith – Invasion, written by Chris Denton, art by David Frankum, featuring characters created by Morrison, Yeowell, Mills and is most definitely © Rebellion.)

Let’s start off with the strip that encouraged me to seek this out: Zenith – Invasion, written by Chris Denton (of Massacre For Boys) with art by David Frankum. I loved Morrison and Yeowell’s superhero popstar Zenith but Invasion I know nothing of, bar what I’ve just read online (Wikipedia – marvellous thing). But Zenith-Invasion is a really nicely put together mashup of the two titles, although it’s not really Zenith, more the second world war Allied hero Maximan who represents the Zenith part, with Zenith reported as missing earlier in the year.

It’s now 1999, and the Volgon republic controls all of continental Europe and are mounting an invasion fleet to take over a Britain – that’s the Invasion part – which featured an East End truck driver Bill Savage leading a resistance movement against the invading Volgans, a man you see tucking into breakfast in the page above.

In Zenith – Invasion, the worlds of Zenith and Invasion come together pretty seamlessly, with neat little touches all the way through – very nicely done. Just 6 pages long, just as you’d expect from a 2000AD strip, quick, tightly plotted, with really nice looking artwork from Frankum. I want to read more of this one. (But sadly, I wont be able to – according to this Chris Denton post, Zarjaz has a policy of no continuing stories – shame)

The only other none Dredd strip in Zarjaz is the Liam Sharp written Slaine 2 page text story. Slaine; Tattered Wings is a nice enough short story, with Slaine coming face to face with a potential enemy, a tale of the Morrigan and of lost loves. It has an interesting feel of an ancient folk tale, which is what I imagine Sharp was after.

(Constable Dredd by McAuliffe and Chilcott, featuring Judge Dredd, created by Mills, Wagner and Ezquerra – again, absolutely © Rebellion.)

The rest of the strips in Zarjaz are Judge Dredd strips – four in total, and I’ll start with the best of them – Constable Dredd – The Cursed Beat. It takes a completely new look at Dredd, speculating rather well what it may have been like if Dredd walked the streets of Whitechapel circa 1888 (and can you guess who’s playing Jack The Ripper?). Lovely concept, really nice twist, playful, fun, and Chilcott’s art is very polished and easy on the eye.

The Judge Fish strip rather relies on a knowledge of Dredd a little too much, as far as I recall Judge Fish was one of insane Chief Judge Cal’s appointments (Wikipedia to the rescue – yes, spot on – like I said, I obviously read more 2000AD than I remember). In this strip we get to hear events from the point of view of Judge Fish – silly certainly, but very neatly done, a two page distraction but an enjoyable one.

Fat Chancers by Alexi Conman and Luis Chicon is two pages of distraction again, but far too run of the mill to be anything but filler – especially when compared to the rest of the strips here.

(Judge Dredd – Moon In The Undercity, by Glasswell and Thomson. Judge Dredd created by Mills, Wagner and Ezquerra – and did we mention before about the whole thing, all the characters being © Rebellion? We did, good. Glad that’s sorted)

The longest strip is Judge Dredd – Moon In The Undercity. A complete story presented in 3 parts through Zarjaz 12, 25 pages in total. It started off so very strongly, evoking everything cool and fun about Dredd as he finds himself venturing into the Undercity to find the werewolf Judge Prager and control the werewolves in the Undercity. Glasswell’s obviously having a blast throwing a load of references in, even managing to get in the Matchbox adventure 2000 toys I remember having as a boy – although I had no idea until now they were actually included in Dredd’s Cursed Earth adventure until now.

Like I say, it starts so well, quick, snappy, sharp plot, good, delicate line work on the art, but it somewhat loses it’s way towards the end, the idea rather getting away from the skill of the execution. Nevertheless, still a rather nice read.

I have no idea how Zarjaz squares this with Rebellion, since for all intents and purposes this is an issue of 2000AD, using all the familiar names and faces, just not necessarily paying much attention to established 2000AD continuity. But on the basis of this issue, I’m glad Rebellion are okay with Zarjaz, since it’s a really entertaining comic – very professionally done, great printing, and, as I’ve hopefully conveyed, there’s at least a couple of strips that would actually feel right in the pages of 2000AD itself.

Perhaps the greatest compliment I can give Zarjaz is that, after finishing this issue, not only do I fancy reading some more, I’m rather tempted to start picking up 2000AD weekly.

You can buy Zarjaz 12 at the FutureQuake Shop.

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About The Author

Richard Bruton
- Started in comics retail aged 16 at Nostalgia & Comics, Birmingham. Now located in Yorkshire, he's written for the Forbidden Planet International Blog since 2007. Specialising in UK Comics and All-Ages comics, Richard's day job in a primary school allowed him to build the best children's graphic novel library in the country.

3 Responses to Zarjaz is…. well, not quite Zarjaz, but pretty damn good.

  1. Matt Badham says:

    Dave and Rich are doing a great job with Zarjaz.

    (Should mention for the purpose of full disclosure that they did publish one of my strips in issue #11.)

    This issue sounds like another good one. Think I’ll see if it’s out in town today and, if so, pick it up.

    In terms of how they square it with Rebellion, it’s a fanzine and so isn’t a profit making enterprise. And, as you note, it’s actually a good ad for 2000 AD (which you really should pick up, if only for Zombo by Al Ewinng and Henry Flint although there’s also a new strip in there this week that looks very promising: Wolves by Arthur Wyatt and Steve Yeowell).

    (Once again, for the purpose of full disclosure, I should mention I freelance for Rebellion.)

    Thanks for your review, Richard.

  2. Emperor says:

    (Well if we are doing full disclosure, I am a script consultant for FQP on Zarjaz and Dogbreath)

    “I have no idea how Zarjaz squares this with Rebellion”

    Rebellion have been very kind and generous with fanzines over the years (there have been over half a dozen), Matt is spot-on – s long as it is no-for-profit and is clearly a fanzine (possibly going for a slightly smaller size helps with that) then there doesn’t seem to be a problem. The Nerve Centre get sent a copy for the droids to peruse while having their sump oil changed and everyone has been awfully helpful – droids have contributed a lot of covers, as well as the occasional story (Liam Sharp in this one, Nick Dyer/Michael Carroll in #11, Kek-W in the #10 and a few by Al Ewing), and others have been up for interviews.

    If you drop FQP a line I’m sure they can sort you out with a Zarjaz bundle, but don’t overlook Dogbreath (the Strontium Dog fanzine) or Dark Judgement (the dark Judges fanzine, a follow-up being due later in the year).

    • Richard says:

      I’m really impressed with Rebellion’s stance on fanzines such as Zarjaz – they’ve got it absolutely right in my eyes. It encourages readers (just like me) to enjoy not only the fanzine but 2000AD itself. And I’m happy to say that, later today when I drop daughter and friend at cinema to watch The Smurfs (I know, I know…..) I’m off to pick up the latest 2000AD for the first time in a long, long time. So that’s one extra sale at least for Rebellion because their policy on fanzines is so sensibly encouraging.