We gather here to bid farewell to one of my favorite comics title, 2000 AD Extreme Edition, which ceased publication with its 30th issue, dated August 19, 2008. Though it passed well under the radar of most American readers - and, I suppose, most of the British readers - as well, it was an uncommonly good buy in an industry that often charges four bucks for a 22-page fragment of a story crossing over into twenty other titles. The final issues of 2000 AD Extreme Edition were priced at $5.99 each. That was for a magazine with dimensions of 11-5/8 by 8-3/4 inches featuring over a hundred pages of choice black-and-white and color reprints from 2000 AD's voluminous archives. What a deal!
The United States doesn't have a tradition of sports comics - with the exception of Charlton's various hot rod comics back in the day - but entire British comics weeklies have been devoted to athletic competitions of one sort or another. In its earlier days, 2000 AD presented a number of sci-fi sports serials.
In 2000 AD Extreme #26-28, we got "The Mean Arena" from its start to its finish. Written by Tom Tully and A. Ridgeway with art by a variety of 2000 AD stalwarts, including Steve Dillon, the overall storyline followed the return of superstar Matt Tallon to the oft-deadly sport of "street football" to exact vengeance on the people he believed responsible for his kid brother's death in the sport.
This "street football" combines rugby, American football, and soccer with a sci-fi twist. The sport is played in neighborhoods commandeered for games and fitting with various dangerous devices. Under some conditions, it's allowable to use deadly force to take down an opposing player.
Tallon is pretty much the only fully developed character in these stories, but they have a definite rough excitement to them. "The Mean Arena" isn't an award-winner on any level, but it was solidly entertaining. Indeed, with a bit more emphasis on the supporting players, it would be worth a revival.
Backing up the main feature in these issues are short stories by a number of 2000 AD notables: Carlos Ezquerra, Peter Milligan, Brett Ewins, John Higgins, Kevin Gosnell, Mike McMahon, Grant Morrison, Colin MacNeil, and Barry Kitson.
2000 AD Extreme Edition #26-28 earn a respectable three out of five Tonys.
To finish up its run, 2000 AD Extreme #29-30 presented a pair of long serials featuring Sam Slade, Robo-Hunter, written by John Wagner and Alan Grant and drawn by the wonderful Ian Gibson, one of my favorite 2000 AD artists. Slade, who facially looks a bit like a cross between Clint Eastwood and Ted Dawson, is a cigar-smoking bounty hunter of rogue robots. His two sidekicks are Hoagy, a not-at-all-bright robot assistant built from a do-it-yourself kit, and Stoogie, a robot Cuban cigar with an accent that sits right on the line between funny and offensive.
The long serials reprinted in these two issues are great fun. The first has Sam killed by an old enemy - How's that for a real knee-slapper? - and taking up residence in the body of a clone to pursue his own killer. In the second serial, having become rich from the previous case, Sam has been retired for decades and grown fat and lazy. Hoagy and Stoogie kidnap him to a submerged fat farm and, in the two years it takes the imprisoned Sam to get back in shape, the robots try to blow through their boss's 27 million credits fortune. Now that's comedy!
All the back-up stories, including a pair of Anderson: PSI Division tales written by Alan Grant, are also drawn by Gibson. That means you get over 200 big and beautiful Gibson pages for just a bit over ten bucks. It bears repeating: what a deal!
2000 AD Extreme Edition #29-30 earn an impressive four out of five Tonys.
Readers wishing to see more classics from the 2000 AD archives can turn to the Judge Dredd Megazine, which comes bagged with a 64-page graphic album of such material every month. I'm months behind in my reading of both the weekly 2000 AD and the Megazine, but, once I get relatively current, I'll review them here.
If you'd like the Tony Polls to return, you must make that known by casting your votes at:
ZERO: Burn your money before buying any comic receiving this rating. It doesn't *necessarily* mean there's absolutely nothing of value here - though it *could* - but whatever value it might possess shrinks into insignificance before its overall awfulness.
ONE: Buy something else. Maybe I found something which wasn't completely dreadful in the item, but not enough for me to recommend it when there are better comics available. I only want what's best for you, my children.
TWO: Basic judgment call. I found some value, but not enough to recommend it. My review should give you enough info to decide if you want to take a chance on it. Are you feeling lucky today, punk? Well, are you?
THREE: This denotes something I find perfectly respectable. There are better books out there, but I wouldn't regret buying this item. Based on my review, you should be able to determine if it's of interest to you. Let the Force guide you.
FOUR: I recommend anything earning this rating. Unless you don't like the genre, subject matter, or past work of the creators, I believe you'll enjoy this item. Isn't it uncanny how I can look right into your soul that way?
FIVE: Anything getting this rating is among the best comicdom has to offer. You should buy/read this, even if the genre/subject matter doesn't appeal to you. It's for your own good. Me, I live for comics and books this good...but not in a pathetic "Comic-Book Guy" sort of way.
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