Thursday, April 9, 2009

95. Molly Eyre Makes the Scene

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.

In March 2001, we're coming to the end of this year's first batch of series launches. On the cover of prog 1231, Kevin Walker offers a not-entirely satisfying cover (does his head look malformed to you, too?) for the third book of John Wagner and Arthur Ranson's Button Man. I've sort of put off writing about this, hoping for a little more inspiration, and I'm afraid I can't really find the enthusiasm to do it justice. It's another terrific story, and shouldn't be discounted. In the previous storyline, our hero Harry Exton had extorted his freedom from the senator who had been sponsoring his activity in the Killing Game, but a few years later, the senator has passed away and the remaining operatives controlling the game have decided to take out the loose end that is Harry. They're at least a little bit aware that Harry is among the most dangerous killers on the planet, but even he can't evade thirteen trained assassins closing in on him, can he? Especially when, as he zig-zags from Montana to Chicago and back, he doesn't realize he's being tracked?

About two-thirds of the way through the story, Harry figures out how he is being tracked. Now, this story will be available in a nice collected edition this coming June, and telling you how he realizes what's happening, and how he disposes of the tracer, will spoil a really wonderful scene. Take my word for it, though: anybody who claims they read that scene without wincing is pulling your leg. It's made worse by Ranson deciding to show the sequence by cramming about twenty panels onto the page, so there's an awful lot which you can't look away from.

Now usually, if there's a Future Shock one-off in any given prog, it's rarely going to be the most interesting thing in the issue. There are exceptions, sure, and lately there have been a pair of pleasant surprises for readers. Over the last year or so, Matt Brooker, under the pen name D'Israeli, had contributed coloring to a few stories. Back in January, when I turned the spotlight on the first series of Pussyfoot 5, I mentioned "...the coloring, by the usually reliable D'Israeli, does not flatter Raynor's work at all. Events in every location seem balanced by exactly the same lighting, a harsh wash of reds and yellows, like the characters are all at a '70s disco." About a week after I wrote that, the collected edition of Pussyfoot 5's eleven episodes was released as the freebie bagged with Judge Dredd Megazine # 282, and D'Israeli also had some unflattering thoughts about his coloring. As he detailed on his blog, he was pretty unhappy with the work and the results himself, and it led to editor Andy Diggle letting him know that he wouldn't be sending any more coloring jobs his way, but offering him the chance to pitch some Future Shocks instead.

The first of these came in 2000's prog 1207, and two more one-offs followed in 2001, with the scripts credited to "Molly Eyre" (say it aloud), a psuedonym that fooled at least one American reader into thinking that it was nice to see female talent at the Command Module again for the first time in ages. The first one was okay, but the two that appear in progs 1229 and 1231 are just wonderfully fun. D'Israeli gave himself the opportunity to draw a menagerie of silly aliens and situations in a pair of very fast-paced farces. The first one takes place in a single room with a cast that keeps growing, and the second spans decades and galaxies in a high-concept story about a man's future self giving him the keys to universal domination. These are incredibly fun comics! Sadly, these Future Shocks have not yet been collected anywhere, so you'll need to track down these progs to see them.

Next time, it's all-out war, in more ways than one, as the ABC Warriors return. Plus a look at the new collected edition of the Judge Dredd epic "The Pit." See you in seven, fellow Earthlets!

1 comment:

Peter said...

I've just been reading this era of the Prog in my weird backwards catch-up with all the years I missed, so most of the stuff from these posts is pretty fresh in my memory.

I felt pretty stupid when I rushed off to Barney to see what else Ms Eyre had written. They're both neat little stories with the characteristic D'Israeli wit, but Metamorphic Invaders really stands out as a perfect Future Shock. I'd love to see Mr Brooker try his hand at writing again in the future. Although not if it means less art...