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Author Topic: The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread  (Read 9846 times)

Colin YNWA

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Re: The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread
« Reply #30 on: 06 August, 2016, 08:07:26 pm »
I'm going to catch up with the ups and downs of my favourite place on the Internet later tonight, but as the title says this is the self absorbed thread and as such I've been doing some reading while away and have been noting down my thoughts as I've done so... be warned there's more to come...

Starlord

I’ve made some notes while I’ve been away on holiday and want to add some very quick thoughts on some stuff I read  while away. Firstly I don’t own Starlord - which I’ve always thought is a shame and I always intended to get around to buying but never quite get to…

… then I read some. Specifically Ro-Busters and Strontium Dog in reprint. Now this isn’t a great deal BUT these strips are meant to be the cream of the crop right? (please correct that if I’m wrong). And half of um ain’t that good… gulp… I know that’s sacrilege BUT Ro-Busters Starlord era isn’t great is it. There’s some nice bits, some moments of lovely art but its just not that strong a strip and have to be honest I’m no fan of Pino’s art which makes up the bulk of its time here (Mind the all too brief moments of Ian Kennedy are wondrous!). The strip gets a bit repetitive and Ro-Jaws and Hammerstein have gelled as a double act yet. I remember the strip in Tharg’s hands being much stronger.

Strontium Dog fares much better. The strip feels almost fully formed from the off (though when does Wulf actually become a viking, not just like a viking?). Its very good…. well its is buuuutttt not as good as it will become under Tharg. The themes are there, the tone, the characters BUT again it doesn’t quite get into it grove plot wise for me in these early stories. A bit unfair that, given it took Dredd so long to really get for me.

I guess it's easy to judge these early stages in a strips development too harshly - their quality slightly diminished by a knowledge of what's to come. Unfair comparison to future glories that would never have been without these first slightly uneasy steps. But still compare these Starlord’s highs (see above) with 2000ad of this period, well certainly the issues from the 70s onwards when the Galaxies’ greatest really finds its form again and against commonly held and possibly romanitised opinion (and with my limited exposure to Starlord) looks to me for all you hear 2000ad was the stronger of the two?

sheridan

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Re: The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread
« Reply #31 on: 06 August, 2016, 09:28:53 pm »
Strontium Dog fares much better. The strip feels almost fully formed from the off (though when does Wulf actually become a viking, not just like a viking?). Its very good…. well its is buuuutttt not as good as it will become under Tharg.
I actually don't like much the initial two stories which ran in 2000AD and Starlord from the Starlord side of the merger - Galaxy Killers and Death on the Orient Express - both series got better after those ones though.

Tjm86

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Re: The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread
« Reply #32 on: 07 August, 2016, 11:09:52 am »
I'd have to agree with that.  Starlord Stront was generally a much stronger beast than GC.  The Hell storyline that followed really showed Stront in a much stronger light.  Not least since it allowed Ezquerra to just go completely bonkers with the artwork.  TBH I can't think of anyone else who could have pulled off that story, much less from the tooth artist roster of the time.  Maybe Flint could today.

RoBusters always felt like a one joke strip that lasted long after the punch line had played out. Some of the Starlord stories really don't read that well today.  The meandering into Ro-Jaws and Hammerstein's back stories before simply killing everyone off was probably the only thing that kept it going. 

If there was anything I would love to see get a decent reprint treatment from the Lord, it would have to be Mind Wars.  Foreshadowing Return to Armageddon with gorgeous Redondo artwork, a galaxy spanning plot, and great big balls for ships!

sheridan

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Re: The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread
« Reply #33 on: 11 August, 2016, 09:29:51 pm »
If there was anything I would love to see get a decent reprint treatment from the Lord, it would have to be Mind Wars.  Foreshadowing Return to Armageddon with gorgeous Redondo artwork, a galaxy spanning plot, and great big balls for ships!
Second vote for Mind Wars here - throw in the not-so-good annual story which appeared a year or two after the good Redondo stuff too.  Mind Wars is one that didn't make it away from Starlord though, didn't it?  Which (as far as my meagre knowledge of the Rebellion IP deal goes) means it isn't in Reb's catalogue unless they cut a new deal (like they did for Monster).

Colin YNWA

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Re: The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread
« Reply #34 on: 13 August, 2016, 09:45:42 am »
Whoops meant to have added a few more of these... and I know you'll all be missing me!

Anyway holiday thought number 2

2000ad and Starlord

As if to prove my point issue 86 is an absolute gem. It really is. Its like issue one all over again, as if real time and care has been taken to make each strip as strong as possible. The comic looks glorious and while there are only 4 strips (Dredd, Strontium Dog, Ro-Busters and Flesh 2) each has more room and really shines. The Starlord cross-overs (Strontium Dog and Ro-Busters) already show signs of improvement, though time will tell if this is as I remember it. Still Prog 86 is a joy to behold (this is why I got my cover of this issue signed by Dave Gibbons)

Colin YNWA

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Re: The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread
« Reply #35 on: 13 August, 2016, 09:46:37 am »
Which was quickly followed by Holiday thought number 3

End of 1978

Yep both Starlord strips feel much better for the move to 2000ad. Well okay Strontium Dog didn’t have that much room for improvement but the new story is for me the strongest so far. Ro-Busters after a fun two parter really kicks into gear with the fantastic Hammerstein War Memories story. Now again to be fair this is largely due to the fact that its completely changed format and the art is quite fantastic. The lose of the formula is what makes the future stories, by and large sing though. The odd rescue story that pops up (I’m remembering Northpool) therefore feels fresher. So yeah 2000ad and Starlord - better than the sum of its parts.

Magnetica

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Re: The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread
« Reply #36 on: 13 August, 2016, 10:05:23 pm »
And yet as a Starlord reader but not a 2000AD reader at the time I found the change in format of both Stontium Dog and Robusters to be not what I wanted. Johnny and Wulf forced into a war rather than apprending criminals?  Robusters not following the disaster of the week format?

Colin YNWA

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Re: The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread
« Reply #37 on: 13 August, 2016, 10:53:14 pm »
And yet as a Starlord reader but not a 2000AD reader at the time I found the change in format of both Stontium Dog and Robusters to be not what I wanted. Johnny and Wulf forced into a war rather than apprending criminals?  Robusters not following the disaster of the week format?

Have you reflected on it since? I often wonder how much my take on stuff from the first couple of years of 2000ad is influenced by my thoughts and affection for strips at the time? Its hard to unpick but for example can I really read Flesh as just a comic as it was so fundamental to forming me as a reader? I'd love to be able to read some of these stories for the first time, in the same way I am say Monster (when I get to it).

Magnetica

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Re: The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread
« Reply #38 on: 14 August, 2016, 03:52:06 am »
Yes I think there is a lot in that. I look back on the early stories with great affection but there is probably a lot of nostalgia and rose tinted spectacles going on.

As I wasn't a regular 2000AD reader until Prog 127 I missed out on a number of things first time round and have been recently reading some of the stuff I missed for the first time.

This includes:

(original) Harlem Heroes and Inferno - having owned the TPB for 2 years (?) I still haven't finished it and am forcing myself to finish it at present

Dan Dare (vol 1): having fairly quickly read the first story (the Belardinelli one) I have so far only read a couple of episodes of the Dave Gibbons one and haven't picked it up in months

Invasion - I found that to be totally formulaic, unsophisticated and repetitive

Death Planet - makes Invasion look like Shakespeare

Coloney Earth - makes Death Planet look like Shakespeare

The "banned episodes" of the Cursed Earth - let's be honest they're not great are they?

JD case files 1 ( anniversary edition)- let's be kind and say the step hadn't hit on the winning formula yet.

As it was available in the half price sale I bought Robusters Nuts and Bolts 1, but haven't read it yet - so it will be interesting to see how it holds up.

I did also read some of my old favourites as my local library happen to have the trades:

SD files 1 and 2 (including the Starlord stuff) - I think it holds up well apart from Journey to Hell, which even more than the first 2000 AD Strontium Dog story strays from the established pattern

VCs first series - I still like it but it is quite formulaic and the ensemble cast are in it way less than I remember ( a bit like Scotty , Sulu and Chekov in ST TOS).

Colin YNWA

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Re: The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread
« Reply #39 on: 14 August, 2016, 07:52:22 am »
The finale of my later than planned holiday thoughts:

2000ad 1978

Well what a year that’s been for the young Prog. Tharg started the year on his back foot. As I’ve said before Galaxies Greatest has been on an admitedly slow downward spiral since its early and glorious start. After some stunningly good stuff in the first 20 or so Progs 1977 was only smattered with real highlights, which I’ve mentioned previously, but lacked any real consistency and 1978 brought some real stinkers too. Yes Colony Earth and Death Planet (whatever you were called) I’m looking at you in particular. Not just not great, real chuffin’ rubbish.

To be honest as I’ve mentioned before for the first half of the year the Prog was struggling to entertain and I was skip reading great chunks. Funnily enough the form of the Prog has been echoing the form of Dredd (by and large and possibly the other way around). So when Cursed Earth comes along and unleashed some of the finest Dredd ever, it's no surprise the Prog soon follows form. Cursed Earth is absolutely classic Dredd and for me it's when the strip actually becomes the best thing in the Prog consistency and the series really takes off. The story really gets to the heart of the character, unfettered by the cruel, evil system that sharps him, the relentless hero fighting for justice is allowed to shine through. I find it fascinating that it’s a story by Pat Mills that so clearly demonstrates what Mr Wagner’s character is all about.

So anyway I digress Cursed Earth drags Dredd onto the very best form. Almost as soon as it does Ant Wars starts, which I know isn’t popular, but which I love and with some other nice stories added to the mix the Prog seems to have finally found its feet. Just in time to have them possibly kicked out from under it with the merger with Starlord…

… but as I’ve said over the last few posts no such thing. Prog 86 and the rest of 1978 find the Prog as good as it's ever been to this date. All the strips in the new line-up are fantastic, really thrill-powered, Flesh 2 being a surprise (again I think) as I never remember it as fondly as Book 1, but then I do very little in the Prog, BUT that means I seem to miss what absolute immense fun it is. It's like the comic is a new, refreshed as it's been in the second half of the year this last stretch in 1978 sees the Prog as good as I can remember it ever being in its 40 year (gulp) history. All this in a mysteriously short year, missing 3 or 4 Progs. I’d forgotten about the Journalists strike which wiped them out until Tharg reminded me in Nerve Centre in the years final Prog 93.

Can 2000ad sustain its wonderful second half of 1979… well my memory says no, but my re-read will very possibly give my wayward memory a good kicking. Let's see shall we…

Fungus

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Re: The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread
« Reply #40 on: 14 August, 2016, 08:48:30 am »
Hm, is Curs-ed Earth the "heart" of the character? (Possibly my favourite epic and hate  :) myself at picking it up yet again when there was no need). Mills did say recently it's an anomaly with the rest of Dredd, as he's the straight-ahead Hero, Saving the Day ("winning" wars and busting perps, he's usually a right Bastard, albeit-entertaining...).

Colin YNWA

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Re: The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread
« Reply #41 on: 14 August, 2016, 09:06:04 am »
Hm, is Curs-ed Earth the "heart" of the character? (Possibly my favourite epic and hate  :) myself at picking it up yet again when there was no need). Mills did say recently it's an anomaly with the rest of Dredd, as he's the straight-ahead Hero, Saving the Day ("winning" wars and busting perps, he's usually a right Bastard, albeit-entertaining...).

For me that's kinda the point. Dredd is a rigourous unrelenting hero, in many many ways, he's a determined fighter for justice. Its just that justice in his world has been defined by an evil fascistic system. Take him out of that and he becomes the hero that Pat Mills finds in Cursed Earth. This interestingly continues in 'The Day the Law Died' when Dredd returns to Mega City One, but here the systems has broken down so Dredd has to operate outside his norms and again the relentless fighter for Justice returns (though ok here he's fighting for the return of the less evil, but still evil, status quo). I'm really interested to see the strips after TDtLD feel like when he goes back to being a bastard, cos that what the system he loves makes him.

Magnetica

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Re: The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread
« Reply #42 on: 14 August, 2016, 10:45:26 am »
Prog 86 was the first Prog I bought. Looking back now it is a fantastic Prog, but at the time in addition to my comments above about the change in format of Strontium Dog and Robusters in the move to 2000AD, the other issue the 9 (?) year old me had with the Prog at the time was that the Day the Law Died just wasn't a great introduction to Dredd, even though it is an all time classic. The problem was it was yet another strip with a change of focus. The first part starting with the post Cursed Earth parade didn't help, only increasing the sense of coming in in the middle of a story (yes looking back now it didn't matter but it felt like it did then.)

Then it was straight into Dredd being outside the system. When you are not familiar with the system...well let's say it put me off - regardless of the wonderful Bolland and McCarthy / Ewins art. I would have much preferred a few standard procedurals first.

Add in a few missed Progs and I was out for over 6 months.

Colin YNWA

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Re: The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread
« Reply #43 on: 14 August, 2016, 11:28:34 am »
...blah blah... Dredd... I'm really interested to see the strips after TDtLD feel like when he goes back to being a bastard, cos that what the system he loves makes him.

Actually I want to change that 'system he loves' to 'system he is so immersed in and indoctrinated by'


Colin YNWA

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Re: The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread
« Reply #44 on: 15 August, 2016, 12:31:40 pm »
Angel and end of Flesh 2 - does the dip start here?

Well I’m not giving 1979 much of a chance as very early my suspicions of slide start to bear fruit. Its not as if things are that bad, Dredd is still supreme, Ro-Busters wobbles but then springs back to form, the odd interesting Future Shock BUT as we approach Prog 100 things are slipping. Flesh Book 2 doesn’t end well, Carlos Pino takes over on art for the last two parts, the end (unlike Book 1 which felt a little over extended) is very rushed. Okay so what happens to Peters (another brutal 2000ad moment) isn’t significant, cos lets face it our ‘hero’ wasn’t either, such a bland character, it's the fate of our two monsters that we’re interested in. Big Hungry’s fate is cute, Carvers is dismissed. Bloody wonderfully villainous Claw Carver dismissed in a couple of panels, one of which is cut and pasted from an earlier episode interestingly - I do wonder what is under that pasted on reproduction, how vicious was his end originally? Terrible way for this excellent series to be wrapped up.

Worse still is Angel. When people talk about the worse 2000ad series ever this one this one rarely appears. Not because people have any affection for it I suspect, I guess it because it's so utterly pointless and bland. The fact that it's utterly ridiculous both in concept and plot is neither here nor there, after all I love Visible Man, it's the fact that… it’s so… well God knows I’ve almost forgotten it already. Even 2000ad’s other lows are something to talk about, have moments of so bad it's… well not good but worth comment at least. Angel is rubbish. Oh and the much maligned (by me) Pino’s art doesn’t help. Angel committed the worse of all 2000ad crimes of being utterly bland beyond words, even to the point of me not caring how utterly stupid it is. Its deft skill comes solely in being so forgettable other stories are far more reviled!