Comic Review: 2000AD’s Button Man The Killing Game

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Today I picked up my copy of 2000AD’s  Button Man. Its been on my to read list ever since I put together the list of 30 comics that I wanted to read before turning thirty, and in fact has actually been something that I’ve wanted to read for the best part of 15 years after reading an entry about it in either 500 Great Comicbook Action Heroes or 500 Comicbok Villains (I forget which) but I was absolutely fascinated by the idea of “The Game”.

Button Man was written by John Wagner way back in 1992 (serialised through progs 780-791 of the weekly 2000AD), with the art provided by Arthur Ranson. The story is actually amazing in its simplicity, its a modern day gladiatorial competition which sees a former special forces operative Harry Exton (Harry Ex) getting involved with “The Game” a contest between killers with matches worked out by mysterious voices, each with their own financial stake in their chosen killers performance. The Game ends in two ways, either in death, or in taking another killers marker (one of three fingers, if they’ve already lost three, they die). The story charts Harry Ex’s beginnings after joining the game, right the way through to game over.

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Button Man: The Killing Game

The art by Authur Ranson is very textured and detailed, with great use of shadow which helps convey the dark nature of the story, and this is matched nicely with the pastel shades that dominate the story for most of the collection and whilst I don’t usually single out specific panels and pages, I want to just show how awesome the the front cover (above) of this collection is, and is probably one of the reasons why The Button Man stuck in my head as something that I wanted to check out for over a decade and a half.

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Comic Review: The Order, Die Mensch Maschine

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The Order is one of the 30 comics that I want to read before I turn thirty next year. Originally published as a serial in the British weekly 2000ad (Progs 1912-1922) the order follows the story of Anna Kohl journey to discover the fate of her missing father, she discovers his secret society, the order, run by a robot from the future, and 3 steadfast warriors, and a wolf. The Order is dedicated to the prevention of an alien incursion by extra dimensional Wurms, that has been prophesied for centuries, by the order and the robot Ritterstahl.

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The story moves pretty fast as is the nature of these serialised pieces that I’ve come to expect from 2000AD. And its fast flowing nature works really well to drive the story forward. Its 13th century setting is an interesting plot point as it manages to get in a few little historical references, like the actions of the Teutonic Knights, and the architecture of Prague. Ken W manages to create a fluid and accessible new world where the reader feels right at home, and whilst you may have a few questions, that is the nature of progressing literature.

The art by John Burns is absolutely fantastic, both the pencil lines and painted feel really add to the quality of the story. The art feels 100 percent right for the story, and its nice to see that text and textural merger that just sits beautifully there on the page. And whilst this book does contain two different outings for the order, I for one cant wait for more.

The Best European Superheroes

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I’ve been reading some troubling Brexit related news stories lately, and whilst it may be in vein, I am still committed to the Ideals of a united Europe. The EU has done so much for all the people who live in Britain, a minimum wage, maternity leave, so pretty good health and safety laws, and yes even some pretty good superheroes. So here is a look at some of the finest heroes from the European Union.

 

Banshee

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The emerald Isle’s very own Sean Cassidy, one of the second generation of X-men gifted with his very own sonic scream. Banshee died trying to prevent a plane crash before being resurrected in service to the twins of Apocalypse.

Crimson Fox

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IVivian and Constance D’Aramis shared the role of Crimson Fox to allow each something of a normal life, Crimson Fox originally appeared as part of Justice League Europe serving as a long time member until the death of both sisters.

Captain Britain

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Brian Braddock was a physicist working at the Darkmoor Nuclear Research Centre when the facility is attacked by the The Reaver Brian tries to find help by escaping on his motorbike. Although he crashes his bike in a nearly fatal accident, Merlyn and his daughter Roma appear and they give him the chance to be the superhero Captain Britain. He is offered a choice: the Amulet of Right or the Sword of Might. Considering himself to be no warrior, he rejects the Sword and chooses the Amulet. This choice transforms him into Captain Britain, the defender of the realm, Captain Britain has had a long career serving as founding member of the superhero team Excalibur, and serving with the Knights of Pendragon, The Avengers, the counter intelligence group MI13 and even as the leader of the ill fated Captain Britain Corps.

Empath

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Empath is a Spanish mutant appearing in Marvels X-Men titles coming from the town of Castille, Empath is recruited into the Hellions and then serves along with the X-Men until he betrayed them.

Wild Huntsman

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The reincarnated spirit of a Germanic Warrior, aided in his crusade for justice by his trusted hound, Donnerschlag, and his horse Orkan. He served as a member of the Global Guardians

The Best of DC’s Elseworlds

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Elseworlds is an imprint of DC comics, the basic premise of which is to take familiar characters from their comic roster and put them in altered surroundings, time periods, or imagine them with an altered backstory. The imprint came about in 1989 with the publication of Gotham by Gaslight, which re-imagined Batman in the Victorian Era and pitted him against none other than Jack The Ripper. Over the years DC has published 100’s of these so called imaginary tales, and here is a look at some of my favourite ones.

Batman: Dark Knight Dynasty

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The story follows a feud between the Wayne family and the immortal Vandal Savage, a feud which starts in the 13th century and ends in the 24th Century. The story is split into three parts, Dark Past which features a knight named Joshua Wainwright during the Crusades, Dark Present which features Bruce Wayne in the 20th century as Batman, and Dark Future , which features Brenna Wayne as Batwoman.

Superman: Red Son

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In Red Son, Superman’s rocket ship lands on a Ukrainian collective farm rather than in Kansas. Instead of fighting for “… truth, justice, and the American Way”, Superman is described in Soviet radio broadcasts “… as the Champion of the common worker who fights a never-ending battle for Stalin, socialism, and the international expansion of the Warsaw Pact.”

Superman & Batman: Generations 1,2 &3

In which Superman and Batman age in real time from their first appearances in the 1930’s all the way through to the 30th century, the 3 series explores the dynamics of the two main characters, as well as their impact on their legacies.

Kingdom Come

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This story is set in a future that deals with a growing conflict between the visibly out-of-touch “traditional” superheroes, and a growing population of largely amoral and dangerously irresponsible new vigilantes, in many cases the offspring of the traditional heroes. Between these two groups is Batman and his assembled team, who attempt to contain the escalating disaster, foil the machinations of Lex Luthor, and prevent a world-ending superhuman war.

JSA The Liberty Files/ Unholy Three

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The Liberty File Set in Egypt, 1942, the Bat (a.k.a. Batman) has been ordered to work with two new partners, the Clock (a.k.a. Hourman) and the Owl (a.k.a. Doctor Mid-Nite), as a group codenamed the Unholy Three. Their mission is to find Jack the Grin (a.k.a. the Joker), a smuggler who has stolen information about an unidentified German secret weapon.

And in its sequel, The Unholy Three  set In 1948, with the war over, the Bat is now fighting criminals in Gotham City. He had briefly worked with the Clock and Mister Terrific, but Sloane blamed him for his fiancee’s death and said he couldn’t work with him. The Clock also retired to his civilian identity of Rex Tyler and returned to running his company. The Bat and the Clock are re-activated as government agents when two former KGB agents, the Parasite and Steelwolf, are working for an unknown employer. They are killing superheroes and seeking a plan called the Trigger. The Bat and the Clock are introduced to Clark Kent (a.k.a. Superman) a new agent who, despite his inexperience, is placed in charge of the group.

The Best Of 2000 AD Part Six

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2000 AD is a weekly British science fiction-orientated comic magazine. As a comics anthology it serialises stories in each issue (known as “progs”) with over 2050 progs to date, you can bet your sweet backside that there have been some great stories out there. Following on from Part One, Part TwoPart Three (the first Dredd special) ,Part Four (The second Dredd special), and Part Five (The third Dredd special) this post is going to look at some of the stories that have spun out of 2000AD over the course of its existence.

Zenith 

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Berlin, 1945: British war hero Maximan lies defeated at the feet of German ‘Ubermensch’ Masterman. His victory is short-lived, as the allies drop a nuclear bomb on their location, killing both men. Over forty years later, the world has become alltoo familiar with the existence of superhumans. Now there is only one left – Zenith – an egotistical pop star who is anything but heroic. Unfortunately for mankind, dark gods from another dimension known as the ‘Many-Angled Ones’ have sent Masterman’s twin to take over the planet and only Zenith and a small number of depowered heroes from the ‘Flower Power’ generation stand a chance of defeating him!

Nikolai Dante 

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Nikolai Dante: lover, thief, rogue, legend. Bio-bonded with an alien Weapons Crest which grants him amazing superhuman abilities, Dante lives life on the edge in a dangerous future Russia where Tsar Vladimir the Conqueror is on the brink of all-out war with the powerful Romanov clan. Can Nikolai remain neutral, carefree and more importantly alive, when a life-changing secret about his past is revealed?

Mazeworld

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30 years after the British parliament suspended the death penalty, the gallows have returned and Adam Cadman finds himself being the first person to be hanged since 1964. But as his life drains away, Adam is transported to a strange, new dimension, populated by warriors and mystical beasts: the bizarre Mazeworld.

Ballad Of Halo Jones

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When Halo Jones grows bored with her life in The Hoop — a futuristic slum where jobs are scarce and excitement is non-existent — she yearns to escape and see the galaxy. But in a city where dangerous riots happen at the slightest provocation and even going to the shops is an ordeal requiring careful planning and a handful of zen-inducing-grenades, the price of freedom might prove to be more than she bargained for!

Zombo

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When flight 303 crash lands on the lethal Death World known as Chronos, all is not looking good for the surviving passengers. Enter Zombo, a top secret goverment experiment,  part zombie, part human ghoul, with a taste for living flesh and aspirations of pop stardom!

The Best Of 2000 AD Part Five (The Big Dredd Special Part Three)

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2000 AD is a weekly British science fiction-orientated comic magazine. As a comics anthology it serialises stories in each issue (known as “progs”) with over 2050 progs to date, you can bet your sweet backside that there have been some great stories out there. Following on from Part One, Part TwoPart Three (the first Dredd special) and Part Four (The second Dredd special) this post is going to look at some of the stories that have spun out of 2000AD’s longest serial. A Judge Dredd story has been in 2000AD since Prog Number #2 and has even branched out into his own megazine, so here’s a look at some of the best stories to spin out from the Dredd Verse.

Mean Machine

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Born and raised in the Cursed Earth as a member of the notorious Angel gang, ‘Mean Angel’ (aka the Mean Machine) is one of the most dangerous criminals to ever plague Judge Dredd s Mega-City One. With his mechanical claw and head dial, which amps up his anger and aggression from Mean to Brutal, Mean Angel is one of Judge Dredd’s toughest adversaries – a headbutting psychopath with a penchant for destruction!

The Dark Judges 

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Deadworld was once a planet similar to Earth, until Judge Death and his brothers Fear, Fire and Mortis deemed that as only the living could break the law, life itself should be a crime. As the Dark Judges set out to bring extinction to this parallel world, Judge Fairfax and a family of farmers attempt to escape the chaos. Is it possible for the living to evade to cold, icy grasp of Death?

Lawless

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The backwater planet of 43 Rega has spent five years recovering from an invasion of aliens known as the Zhind. isolated and a hotbed for trouble makers, Badrock is an colony township desperate for a strong law enforcer to take charge. Enter Colonial. Marshal Meta Lawson. Tough, surly and determined, Lawson seems to be ideal for the role. But is this law-woman exactly who she claims to be…?

Missionary Man

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The Cursed Earth is a radiation-wasted landscape spanning most of what was once known as America. Only the toughest of the tough, the meanest of the mean, most rotten, evil beings on the planet can survive there… Now, one man has come to bring law this unlawful place. Some say he was a Judge, most say that he’s a madman. Armed with a pistol and a bible, Preacher Cain would say that he is a force for law and order.

The Banzai Battalion 

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In a city like Mega-City One where 400 million citizens are crowded into huge housing blocks, free space is at a premium. Gardens, greenery and uninhabited space is extremely rare and only available for the wealthiest citizens. Naturally, these areas need to be protected at all costs – enter the Banzai Battalion – tiny droids who will take on anything that threatens their rooftop garden domain!

The Best Of 2000 AD Part Four (The Big Dredd Special Part Two)

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2000 AD is a weekly British science fiction-orientated comic magazine. As a comics anthology it serialises stories in each issue (known as “progs”) with over 2050 progs to date, you can bet your sweet backside that there have been some great stories out there. Following on from Part One, Part Two, and Part Three (the first Dredd special) this post is going to look at some of the stories that have spun out of 2000AD’s longest serial. A Judge Dredd story has been in every 2000AD prog since Prog Number #2 and has even branched out into his own megazine, so here’s a look at some of the best stories to spin out from the Dredd Verse.

Hondo City Law

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Hondo-City is the Japanese equivalent of Mega-City One; a large, sprawling urban mass policed by Judges. Culturally, however, it is totally different. While on the forefront of modern technology, the Hondo-citizens remain tied to the roots and customs of feudal Japan, including the way in which the women are treated as inferior to the male populace. Though the Samurai-like Judge-Inspectors are seen to be in charge, the Yakuza crime Syndicates still have a hold on power.

Brit Cit Noir

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The British equivalent of Mega-City One, Brit-Cit is a crowded metropolis that sprawls across southern England, the future Scotland of Cal-Hab and the South Welsh Peninsula. Buttressed by its own ‘Cursed Earth’, it is a bizarre vision of Britain old and new. Even before the Atomic Wars, Britain had more ghosts and ghouls per square miles than anywhere in the world – and now Brit-Cit is the focal point for an abundance of weird, occult occurrences.

Devlin Waugh

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2114. Our world and the Mega-Cities that are home to the last vestiges of humanity are constantly preyed upon by bestial forces from beyond the realms of decency. Thankfully such things are kept at bay by spiritual envoys employed by Vatican City, such as Devlin Waugh a Brit-Cit born bon viveur dandy and jolly good fellow to boot. When Vatican precognitive telepaths predict a horrific presence at the underwater prison of Aquatraz, Devlin is sent in to investigate and uncovers an uncompromising evil which will cause him to cancel elevenses and throw away the Queensbury rulebook in order to survive!

Insurrection

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Mega-City One mining colony K Alpha 61 has declared independence from the Big Meg and renamed itself Liberty. This act of defiance has angered the Justice Department’s Special Judicial Squad. In a bid to stop further colonies from rebelling, war is inevitable…

Chopper

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Marlon ‘Chopper’ Shakespeare has come a long way from being a wall-scrawling juve in Mega-City One. Having mastered the art of Sky Surfing, Chopper became a hero of the people by winning Supersurf 7 and escaping the Judges to compete in Supersurf 10. But a narrow defeat to Jug McKenzie and a close encounter with Judge Dredd sent Chopper out into the Radback. Now he’s back and intent on re-claiming his title and keeping his freedom.