Okay, so it’s a touch later than I normally do these, things, and the actual Prog’s been out for the best part of a couple of weeks now, but hey, it’s Christmas, so for the final time in 2013 here we go again ….
In February 2012, for the 35th anniversary of 2000AD, I made a pledge:
“But here’s a deal for you. If you’ll do it, so will I. 2012 will be the year I read 2000AD. 2012 will be the year YOU read 2000AD.”
But it’s not a good end to the year to be honest, and frankly Prog 2013 has to be the most disappointing read of 2000AD I’ve had my entire time doing the whole 2012 pledge.
Which is bad, but at least I know exactly why it felt such a letdown – it’s simply the comedown from Day of Chaos and Trifecta kicking in. In truth, anything trying to follow last issue’s excitement was going to be hard pressed to impress.
So what we get are either stand-alone stories (Dredd, Absalom, Ack-Ack Macaque, Aquila, The Visible Man) or the first episodes in new series (Savage, Ampney Crucis, The Red Seas, Strontium Dog) to be continued in three weeks time once January kicks off.
Yes, I imagine it will get better, yes, I can see some light in some of the strips, but right now it feels like 2012 is done and finished, and this is an almost unnecessary addendum to the year’s end. And okay, feeling guilty about being so down on it meant a second reading, and that managed to put it in a slightly more favourable light, and looking ahead to 2013, my second year of regular 2000AD buying, there’s at least a feeling of interest and intrigue with a few things, and almost a grudging enjoyment of the strips in here.
Yes, I know that’s not how I should feel, but in some respects it’s merely a validation of how good it’s been so far. And if they did it once, dammit I’ll be around to see them do it a second time next year.
Okay, here’s a little of the contents… standalone stuff first:
Judge Dredd: Violent Night by Michael Carroll and Ben Wilsher
I like Carroll’s stuff, and I like Wilsher’s art, but here neither seem completely on form, and the Christmas story seems a little confused, unfocused, losing the flow a fair few times over the course of 12-pages. Stylish with the action sequences, but empty.
Absalom: Dirty Postcards by Gordon Rennie and Tiernen Trevallion
Pretty much the best thing in here, bloody good neat little tale, using the 10-pages to best effect, a grubby X-Files by the seaside with old school copper Harry Absalom policing the demonic incursions into dead ol’ Blighty. And although I don’t really see what everyone goes on about with Trevallion’s art, I can certainly agree here that it’s both stylish and serving the story, just not my thing.
Ack-Ack Macaque: Indestructible by Gareth Powell and Nick Dyer
Well, on the one hand, it’s a bloody ridiculous over-the-top stupid situation of a story; a talking monkey in WWII, flying for the RAF, Nazi tripods manned by swastika wearing ninjas. But on the other hand, it’s a bloody ridiculous over-the-top stupid situation of a story….. How much you enjoy it will depend on your tolerance for this sort of thing. I quite enjoyed it, for all its silliness, or maybe just because of the silliness. Enough to pick up Powell’s Ack-Ack Macaque novel….? Maybe not, but still fun.
Aquila: Quo Vadis, Domine? by Gordon Rennie and Leigh Gallagher
Latin for “where are you going, Lord?”, of course, as we catch up with Aquila, headed back to Rome, bumping into Simon of Capernaum (Peter to you and me) for the second time – the first time was as Aquila went looking for Judas, this time he’s hunting Striges – those big nasty tomb leeches in the pic above. Funny how Peter didn’t mention those in his bits of that big ol’ book though.
It’s a fine tale, but despite Rennie writing well, and Gallagher doing a good job of the action there’s not too much holding my attention. In the end it’s rather a hmmm.
The Visible Man: Scars by Pat Mills and Henry Flint
The Pat Mills rule – there is no okay with Mills. It either seems to make me go wow (Nemesis) or urgh (ABC Warriors amongst so much else). Thankfully this pretty much does it, and a lot of that is down to Henry Flint’s art combined with the killer concept – bloke with see-thru skin gets super-powers-ish in space and comes back. Add in scientists being all bastardy and aliens and you really do have something pretty good.
Of course, Mills does try to screw it up by some really bloody awful dialogue, but screw it, I enjoyed it anyway.
Now the new ongoing series……
Savage: Rise Like Lions by Pat Mills and Patrick Goddard
Okay, here’s a Pat Mills written series that proves the rule about Pat Mills. ABC Warriors I hated, this I think I’m going to like. And the art by Patrick Goddard…weird, good weird, a bit early Steve Dillon. But the whole one-man resistance thing, Bill Savage against the might of Volgon occupied Britain is fun, with Savage currently in year 11 of resistance, waiting for those damn Yanks to pull their fingers out and come to our rescue. Thing is, they’ve got to sort out these Hammerstein Mark II war-droids first.
Hang on, does that mean Mills has a hankering to do a bit of crossover himself? God, I hope not. I want this to be Mills doing grubby people, not big f-off robots.
Ampney Crucis Investigates: The Entropy Tango by Ian Edginton and Simon Davis
The Red Seas: Fire Across The Deep by Ian Edginton and Steve Yeowell
Edginton quietly and confidently launches not one but two new serials this week. Both pretty damn good. Both doing more to confuse me than anything else right now, but both Ampney and Red Seas are enjoyable, with Ampney taking it on premise alone; the foppish dandy driven mad by the Great War and gifted powers to see the beasties outside reality who now finds himself in another reality altogether, walking in his dimensional doppelganger’s shoes.
Compared to that, the set-up for The Red Seas; pirates facing down the devil in the finale of the series is a little slow to start, even with a giant double page Kraken. But when old Nick does make his appearance on the final page with a skull throne and a cheeky half-smile, things begin to get interesting.
Strontium Dog: Mutant Spring by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra
Frankly, it’s not just Alpha’s sarcasm that’s boring me.
Seriously, are there two John Wagners out there writing comics? Maybe it’s just that this was the final strip in a long, not wholly satisfying issue, but this felt so dated and just poor. Ezquerra’s art is Ezquerra and I do likes a bit of Ezquerra, but dear god the story. Johnny Alpha should have stayed dead. And what is the thing he vomits up onto Grenville? I’m assuming it’s one of those ‘if I’d read the last SD serial I’d know’ sort of things, but frankly I don’t think I care.
Right, that’s my lot. I’m done. 2000AD put to bed for the year now. I shall see you in 2013 for Prog 1813 as my adventures in Thargland continue.