Thursday, August 30, 2007

19. Like it or Not, That Film is Coming

It's May 1995, and the publicity machine is in overdrive, getting ready for that movie. With the benefit of hindsight, we can pretty much split the history of 2000 AD into two parts: the first eighteen years, which featured some of the greatest and most thrilling comics ever done, slowly but surely sliding down the quality slope until the Sylvester Stallone-starring turkey tanked, and the twelve years since, after the radical reinvention and surgery was applied to bring the book back to its former glory days. To illustrate what I mean by the quality slope, consider the stories on offer in this issue, which features the first episodes of four new stories and the continuation, after two weeks' rest, of Pat Mills and Paul Staples' Finn. The lineup includes the long-awaited Judge Dredd epic "Goodnight Kiss" by Garth Ennis and Nick Percival, which pits the lawman against the best assassin in Europe, who'd been introduced two years previously, and the return of Strontium Dogs, by Peter Hogan and Mark Harrison, both of which pretty good.

Unfortunately, it also includes the second appearances of two very turgid and dull flops from the past couple of years, Mambo by David Hine and The Grudge-Father, with art by Jim McCarthy and a new script droid who goes by the pseudonym "Kek-W." This is Nigel Long, who will be contributing several stories over the next few years, and while his first effort is at least readable, and no worse than the first series, by Mark Millar, there is an incredible sense of treading water in this issue.

John Tomlinson was editor for too short a time to make a really solid stamp on 2000 AD, which is why his era is often lumped in with Alan McKenzie's. The long lead time necessary for a story's commission means that much of this material was commissioned by McKenzie. In fact, when David Bishop takes over in 1996, he's still running junk that Alan McKenzie okayed.

Honestly, the best you can say about Mambo and The Grudge-Father is that, with her freaky body tentacles and his bizarre teeth and fingernails, the two "heroes" follow a proud tradition of 2000 AD leads who are physically unpleasant to a surprising degree. In fact, neither of them would have looked completely out of place on those old Forbidden Planet ads that Brian Bolland designed. Unfortunately, even if the characters defied the square-jawed, big-breasted stereotypes of action heroes, their stories weren't any good.

Next week: The strange case of the missing Armitage.

(Originally published 8/30/07 at LiveJournal.)

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