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WHY YOU SHOULD BE READING 2000AD.

by ModernPanther on September 26, 2017

 

Borag Thungg!

 

Since his arrival on Earth in 1977, alien editor and verdant mastermind Tharg the Mighty has brought thrill-power to Earthlets everywhere via his illustrious organ, 2000AD.

 

A British weekly anthology, 2000AD may well be unexplored territory to even the most experienced comic fan.  Many will know Judge Dredd, but there are dozens, nay hundreds, of different characters and stories, some sharing the same universe and some completely independent.  With forty years of history and 2050 issues so far, it can be a daunting prospect.

 

The good news is that the 2000AD archives are packed full of self-contained stories which anyone can pick up with little or no background.

 

Here are seven of the best, and why you should be reading them:


 

Zenith

The 1980s taught us that superheroes are complex, brooding people.  In response, Grant Morrison wrote about a superhuman who just wanted to have fun, although destiny gets in the way. Pop music icon Zenith, the son of two of the first super humans, is drawn into a multi-dimensional battle when all he wants to do is get drunk and party.

Zenith takes place in a universe where governments competed to created super humans, only to have them become an essential part of counter culture, then gradually go mainstream. When high ranking politicians have super powers, you have to question if it’s cool anymore. A satire on the politics of the day, GenerationX, celebrity, and superhero comics themselves, The four phases of Zenith take in secret Nazis plans, Lovecraftian horrors, alternative realities and disappointed record companies, in a complex and fascinating way

 

Why you should be reading: Zenith pushed boundaries and expectations. 2000AD doesn’t do capes, but there’s no way Zenith would make such a major fashion mistake.



 

                The Ballad of Halo Jones    

 In the 50th Century in the city of The Loop, where unemployment and crime are rife, a young woman, determined that her life should mean more, gets a job on a luxury space ship headed for the further edges of the galaxy. It’s a journey which begins with a desperate shopping trip and ends in a decade spanning interstellar war. With some beautifully detailed art and unique design work by Ian Gibson, Halo Jones captures a very different vision of the future, seen through the eyes of a determined young woman. The complexity of the political and social landscape are effortlessly conveyed in a script by the legendary Alan Moore.

Halo Jones questions what heroism is. It’s a tale of ordinary people who actively choose to do incredible things.

 

Why you should be reading: In an action comic aimed at boys, Moore created an epic, feminist, sci-fi arc of a young woman who repeatedly defies society’s expectations. The Ballad was Alan Moore’s finest work for 2000AD.

 

 

Nikolai Dante

In the distant future, a resurgent Russia ruled by the tyrannical Tsar Vladimir the Conqueror has subjugated much of the globe. The House of the family Markov rules over the world, aided by symbiotic alien technology which makes the family members near invincible. When the Tsar’s illegitimate son, the pirate and gentleman thief Nikolia Dante, is accidental bonded with the Weapon’s Crest, it kickstarts a family feud which will change the world.

Running in the pages of 2000AD from 1997 to 2012, Robbie Morrison’s story deftly moves from action adventure, to comedy to tragedy and back again. Its a complex web of familial rivalry and politics, where no-one can be trusted. Will the heroic Dante, declaring himself “too cool to kill”, live long enough to become a villain?

 

Why you should be reading: An epic swashbuckling adventure of betrayal, battling empires and noble families, Nikolai Dante is 2000AD’s War and Peace.

 

 

Cradlegrave  

After spending eight months in a Young Offenders Institute, Shane Holt returns home to his mother’s house on the Ravenglade housing estate and struggles to reintegrate into normal life, eager to avoid returning to his old ways. As a heatwave hits and his neighbours become more and more unstable, it becomes increasingly clear that there is something rotting in the heart of this estate. Elderly neighbour Mary is confined to her bed, whilst her husband is buying a suspicious amount of meat. Cradlegrave gradual morphs from social commentary to shocking body horror. It’s at once a commentary on Britain’s welfare system, with the title originating in the phrase “from cradle to grave”, and a Cronenberg-style horror. These characters are trapped by the cycle of poverty and the sense of nihilism that comes with it. But there is something darker here, something evil just beneath the surface.

 

Why you should be reading: Cradlegrave demonstrates 2000AD’s willingness to do something completely different. It is genuinely creepy and at times shocking, and serves as the perfect introduction to the obscure worlds of writer John Smith.

 

 

Zombo

When a space shuttle crashes on an uncharted plant, its irritating passengers are forced to rely on a top secret government project (trust your Government) to survive in a landscape where everything wants to kill them. Zombo, a sentient zombie with manners, is unleashed and his adventures will take him far from this deathworld, politely causing chaos along the way. It’s packed full of pop culture references, as comfortable with the lowbrow as it is with the high, and filled with gloriously batty characters. Zombo is a comic that can introduce a character as marvellously strange as Shadow President Jason Van Satan, make jokes about undead bees, and be collected under the glorious title “You Smell of Crime and I’m the Deodorant!”

 

Why you should be reading: 2000AD has a long history of satire, but Zombo takes no prisoners. Hilariously funny, fast moving and darkly satirical.

 

 

 

The Journal of Luke Kirby

A young boy discovers that wizardry is a family trait, and that a great destiny awaits him. Meanwhile dark, magical forces conspire from the shadows. Sound familiar? First published in 1988, Luke Kirby is the story of a boy on the cusp of manhood whose life is suddenly turned on its head. Set in early 1960s England, Luke finds himself living with his uncle Elias, who must teach him the skills he will need to survive before the beast stalking the neighbourhood takes another life. Luke Kirby blends personal drama of a coming of age story with a battle against evil and a decent into Hell.
 

Why you should be reading: Where ever culture goes, 2000AD was there first! With a style somewhere between the classic British comics of the 1970’s, which often focussed on child characters, and the more punk, action packed strips that would follow, Luke Kirby demonstrates 2000AD’s willingness to be inspired by the past whilst looking to the future.


 

Mega City Undercover

There’s more to Mega City One than Judge Dredd, and there's more to the justice department than Old Stoney Face. There are dozens of characters with their own stories set in the same world.

Members of the Wally Squad, Justice Department’s undercover department, reside amongst the wildly eccentric denizens of the city. Constantly living on the edge, abandoning themselves to their duty and the threat of being exposed can have an...unusual effect on their psyches.

Mega City Undercover rages from small, funny tales to a foreign invasion and an epic battle against a mysterious criminal kingpin. Along the way it takes in absurd comedy, action adventure and a noir style mystery filled with love, duty and betrayal. Mega City Undercover introduces Dirty Frank, one of the Dredd-Universe’s most compelling and complex characters. A rambling, undercover judge who lives as a homeless man, Frank becomes more and more interesting as his past is slowly revealed.

 

Why you should be reading: Mega City Undercover shows the other side of Mega City justice. It introduces a range of eccentric and compelling characters who would go on to appear in numerous other stories, and switches effortlessly between genres.

 

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