Thursday, July 14, 2011

138. Bill and His Shootah

Hey! Is this thing still on?

It's been more than a year since I last wrote here, and a couple of people have said that they missed reading me, so I let the little itch settle me back into writing a bit more about 2000 AD and the Judge Dredd Megazine. If you're new to this blog, basically, ages ago, I sat down and started rereading my collection at the rate of about six issues a week. By the time I got to something like 1993, I decided to rip off Paul Rainey's Prog Slog Blog and write a little each week. I let this turn from a pleasure into a chore and found myself running out of things to say, so I quit doing it.

I kept on reading, but rather than skipping this blog ahead to where I had reached at the end of June - to the issues originally published in September of '08 - I am going to re-reread and report and scan, so there's not a break in the entries.

Also, John Smith's completely brilliant series Indigo Prime is returning to the comic in about two months, and I am certainly going to want to celebrate that. Look for an article about that great series in September. Plus, of course, this is a fine week to relaunch this blog, because - and when I started the first draft of this entry, I didn't know this was coming - the 2000 AD website has just been quite spectacularly redesigned. If you have not visited the web site in a while, you should definitely swing back by, because they have done a super job upgrading it.

Anyway, you've got me for thirteen weeks. I'm committing to that much. We'll see how it goes. You'll also notice there's a Google Ad somewhere over to the side somewhere. That's new. If you enjoy Thrillpowered Thursday and see an ad that might interest you, I sure would appreciate it if you'd click it. Money's got to be pretty darn tight since my wife and I had a baby two months ago. If there are some pennies in this blog, I might can see myself writing longer.

So, onto prog 1387. This wonderful cover, by Dave Gibbons, of Bill Savage and Judge Dredd, reminds me that the summer of 2004 - that's when we received this April-dated issue in North America - was when my best buddy, the fellow who introduced me to 2000 AD, up and moved to Canada. For a few years, I'd been feeding his thrill-power habit because Diamond, the distributor that sends 2000 AD to American funnybook stores, was completely unreliable, repeatedly missed shipping dates and would occasionally claim that they were shorted and would only send one issue to a comic shop if it, in fact, ordered two. So, nothing's changed there, anyway. In other words, for quite a few years, I was ordering and paying for two copies of 2000 AD in order to guarantee delivery of at least one of them. From prog 1387, my second copies - when those second copies arrived, about eight times of ten - went to another local friend.

These days, I no longer use Diamond for 2000 AD. I was, however, very pleased to hear that they will be once again offering 2000 AD by the single issue rather than in a sealed pack, as had been the case for some lengthy time. I hear that's supposed to start at the end of this month, for the comics that will ship in October.

1387 was also notable for the debut of two great big series that are still continuing today. The seventh book of Savage is running in the current issues of 2000 AD, and a new series of Low Life is scheduled to start in just a couple of months, in prog 1750.

Savage is the story of an occupied Britain, which lost a quick-strike "war" with the eastern European Volgan Empire five years previously. It's the sequel to one of the original 2000 AD serials, Invasion, which ran from 1977-78. Our hero is Bill Savage, who lost his family to the Volgs, picked up a shotgun and has been blowing hell out of the Volgs in a long-running guerrilla war. As book one of Savage opens, Bill and other resistance leaders are executing a plan to fake his death so he can work undercover.

Written by Pat Mills and illustrated by Charlie Adlard, Savage is just a blisteringly good comic, full of realistic villains and desperate heroes. Well, there's one bit in the first series where the Guv'nor's research fails him and tank treads suddenly don't work the way they really do, but otherwise this is a really great series, and shows Mills continuing to roar back to life with some fantastic comics for 2000 AD. Several more winners would be forthcoming.

Then there's Low Life. This is less a spinoff from Judge Dredd than one of the many comics that are set in his world. The Low Life is the most crime-ridden slum in Mega-City One (this week, anyway) and the series follows a group of undercover "Wally Squad" judges. In these initial outings, scripted by Rob Williams and drawn by Henry Flint, the lead is Judge Aimee Nixon, a tough, ugly, broken-nosed, one-armed master of disguise.

In time, Nixon will cede the spotlight to her more popular co-star, the comically deranged Judge Dirty Frank, but she is really a compelling and fascinating character in these first two stories. In time, Low Life will get pretty dense with subplots and Nixon's role will take a pretty surprising turn. Most fans are anxiously awaiting its return in September.

Also appearing in this prog, there's Judge Dredd in a one-off by John Wagner and Cam Kennedy, an outer space serial called A.H.A.B. by Nigel Kitching and Richard Elson, and Chopper by Wagner, Patrick Goddard and Dylan Teague.

Stories from this prog are reprinted in the following editions:

Chopper: Surf's Up (2000 AD's Online Shop).
Low Life: Paranoia (Amazon US)
Savage: Taking Liberties (2000 AD Online Shop).

Next week: What happens when Judge Dredd takes on the war on terror. And stop by my Bookshelf Blog tomorrow for a short review of the Mean Machine collection, "Real Mean."


Matt said...

You beautiful, beautiful man.

TT is back.

I'm gonna make a cuppa and read this post.


Matt Badham

David page said...

happiness is me right now!

funnily enough I am planning a review of indigo prime killing time in september...

great minds and all that

Anonymous said...

Good to have you back. Maybe this time I'll dig out my back issues and read along with you. 7 years should be sufficient a gap to justify re-reading :-)


Tam said...

great to have you back! I stopped buying 2000 ad years ago but have started again lately mostly because there's such a lack of involving north American comics these days, (The Boys is pretty much the only title left which i really look forward to reading to find out what's going to happen next)

I'd say Pat Mills updating of Bill Savage is pretty much the best British political story I've read since V for vendetta. I don't think I've ever read anything that gave me such an insight into that life in occupied Iraq must have been like as well as being very funny in places. It's also far more interesting than pretty much any mainstream literature on the subject that's come out over the same period