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Reviews and commentary by Tony Isabella
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for Monday, February 1, 2010

2000 AD 1659

Breaking up is hard to do.

Last week, I read 2000 AD #1655-1659 and Judge Dredd Megazine #288-290...and the most significant thing about these comics for me is this:

They're the last issues of either title I'll be buying for the foreseeable future.

I fell in love with 2000 AD the first time I saw a copy of the groundbreaking British comics weekly. That was pretty early on because the serial "Flesh" - time travelers harvesting dinosaur meat for future consumers - was still running. I loved the weekly format and the serialized stories. As soon as it was possible to get 2000 AD in the "Colonies," I bought/read it as regularly as funds allowed. I don't think I missed more than 50 issues since then. I was a fan. I guess I still am...just not enough of a fan to keep paying $4.50 per issue for a comic book that simply wasn't giving me $4.50 worth of entertainment.

If the economy was better, if I was more gainfully employed, I would have kept buying the magazine just for "Judge Dredd." The future lawman is one of the great comic-book creations and I think his current stories are terrific. Dredd has shown more humanity in recent years and his becoming a champion of mutants at the expense of his career has made for riveting reading.

"Judge Dredd" works for me. It's pretty much the rest of the weekly that doesn't.

I still enjoy some of the longer-running, more science-fiction oriented series with "Nikolai Dante" - swashbuckling rebel battling tyranny in future Russia - being my favorite series after Judge Dredd. "Strontium Dog" (mutants as bounty hunters) and "Sinister Dexter" (future hitmen) are always at least readable, though only occasionally spectacular. The new "Robo-Hunter" series featuring the granddaughter of the original is good fun with great Ian Gibson art, but appears all too rarely. However, the current versions of other veteran 2000 AD series are either boring, meandering, or grossly over-produced, sometimes all three.

The newer science-fiction strips are generally apocalyptic in nature and almost always brutal/gory for the sake of brutal/gory. They often lack the clarity of storytelling so vital in adventures being told through a handful of pages per week.

Fantasy and horror strips have become mainstays of 2000 AD of late, rarely to the comic's benefit. Some fantasy-oriented series start out well, such as "The Red Seas," but end up going on for the sake of going on. As for the horror series, it's the usual demons and zombies and the occasional "oh, look how damn depressing, gross, and pseudo-cutting edge we can be, just like the DC Vertigo titles if the Vertigo titles weren't, you know, so much better than our stuff" serials.

There was a time when writing a serial for 2000 AD was on my bucket list - my occasional query letters would go unanswered with the one reply dismissing me as nothing more than a super-hero writer, despite my sending that particular editor a selection of my published horror/science-fiction stories - but I have reached the point where I don't even want to read most of the comic. So it's time to leave.

Judge Dredd Megazine 288

Judge Dredd Megazine sells for $10.99 per issue in this country, making the fortnightly somewhat pricey. Slightly larger than 11" by 8", each 64-page issue is bundled with a smaller 68-page comic reprinting material from 2000 AD, the Megazine, and various annuals and specials. That wouldn't be a bad price-to-pages ratio if I liked what was on the pages more.

As with 2000 AD, the Judge Dredd material ranges from good to excellent. The various spin-offs from the "Dredd Universe" - Psi-Judge Anderson, Low Life, The Simpering Detective, the Brit-City-based Armitage, and the Tales From the Black Museum anthology series - are mostly readable, though some suffer from artsy-fartsy or weak storytelling. And when the reprint section is devoted to Judge Dredd, Armitage, or, a favorite of mine, the science-fiction sports serials which used to appear regularly in 2000 AD, it adds to my enjoyment of the magazine.


Conversely, there are many things I don't enjoy about Judge Dredd Megazine. Most of the creator interviews go on far too long and some of the interview subjects would be uninteresting at a single page. I'm sure "Tank Girl" has her fans, but I have grown increasingly bored with her. The comics and movie reviews leave me cold with their leaden writing and a tone that sometimes borders on snotty and dismissive. Despite its connection to the "Judge Dredd Universe," the "Darren Dead" series has never interested me in the slightest. Finally, though it doesn't happen often, a lackluster selection for the reprint book, such as the recent "Harmony," kills half the package for me.

Will I ever return to buying 2000 AD and Judge Dredd Megazine? I suppose if my employment and financial situations improved considerably, I would. Heck, if my employment/financial situations improved to a ridiculously wonderful degree, I could see myself buying all kinds of comics and comics-related stuff. I'm as much a comics junkie as my time and wallet allows. But, for now, I bid farewell to these titles.

I hope they don't say mean things about me to their friends. Because we did have a lot of good times together.

Thanks for spending a part of your day with me. I'll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

Tony Isabella

<< 01/29/2010 | 02/01/2010 | 02/02/2010 >>

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Zero Tonys
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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