Thursday, June 12, 2008

57. Ooh, Pretty, Shiny!

Thrillpowered Thursday is a weekly look at the world of 2000 AD. I'm rereading my collection of 2000 AD and the Judge Dredd Megazine, one issue an evening, and once each week for the foreseeable future, I'll see what I'm inspired to write.

January 1998: When we last saw the sexy bloodsucking mutant bountyhunter named Durham Red, it was amid a cloud of rewrites, pseudonyms and a truncated storyline from progs 1000-1007. In the last part of that run, Dan Abnett took the writing duties, but it would be more than a year before Red returned to action. So prog 1078 spotlights her return in a lengthy storyline called "The Scarlet Cantos." The first two episodes are run together this week as a double-length "episode one," and she'll have a twelve-week residency. The plot involves Red being awakened from cryosleep more than a thousand years in her future, when mankind and mutantkind's war has escalated and devolved into a conflict of religious psychopaths. An ugly scenario has gotten even uglier, but there are big, wonderful, behind-the-scenes changes for both 2000 AD and the Meg at this time and while the story has some ugly elements, the finished product has never looked so gorgeous. Well, the changes to the Meg might or might not be wonderful, more on that next week. But the previous week's 2000 AD introduced new paper stock, and the artwork never looked so good.

Of course, looking at the result via a scan of the pages on your computer monitor sort of defeats the purpose, but I assure you, these pages look simply divine, with artwork that just leaps right off the page.

This initial story of the new, improved, future-set Durham Red is really good and screams of the promise the character has in this incarnation, but subsequent adventures sadly won't fare quite as well. The character is often looking in vain for a rationale to keep appearing but never really finds it, and she'll be retired in 2004 or so. But "The Scarlet Cantos" is genuinely excellent, and available as a Rebellion graphic novel.

Also in this prog, you've got Judge Dredd in the first of a six-part story called "Missing" by John Wagner, Lee Sullivan and Alan Craddock, along with Sinister Dexter by Dan Abnett and Siku, and a Vector 13 by Abnett, Robert McCallum and Dondie Cox. Since, as I mentioned, Red got a double-episode opener, this does indeed mean that 80% of the prog was written by Dan Abnett!

At any rate, the paper upgrade and debut of Durham Red here isn't a patch on what's going on at the Megazine. Next week, we'll have a look at the debut of Preacher...

(Originally published 6/12/08 at LiveJournal.)

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