Comic Review: Flesh

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Flesh was something that I wanted to take a look at, after reading the sort of sequel that takes place during Judge Dredd’s Cursed Earth Saga (which I’m fairly certain was ripped off completely to form the basis of the Jurassic Park series of films). I was intrigued to know the origin story of the dinosaur Old One Eye.

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The story that makes up Flesh sounds like some sort of dystopian nightmare, in which the world has run out of meat based products due to population expansion and just plain gluttony on the part of humanity, but it being the future man has developed time travel. So mankind, instead of adopting a vegetarian diet, has travelled back in time to the cretaceous period in order to take advantage of man’s lust for flesh. Yes you read that right, men from the 23rd century won’t eat their broccoli so go back in time to farm dinosaurs.

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The story reads more like a western rather than a sci fi dino romp, just with the part of the native American’s being played by a few rather vicious Tyrannosaurs. In particular the lead Tyrannosaur, the 120 year old Old One Eye, so named for the eye lost to one of the Dinosaur ranchers.

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Again this is Pat Mills at his thrill power churning finest, delivering the readers right into the worlds of both past and future simultaneously, which when you think merging dinosaurs with cowboys from the twenty third century sounds like a concept that wouldn’t work Pat Mills is the man to work that thing out.

The art is always something I feel a little fraudulent in reviewing, as my artistic talents stretch to bad stick men on a good day. But since I’m only going to say nice things about the work of Roman Sola, Boix and Felix Carrion, the hypocrisy seems to wane slightly, they all create a fantastic masterpiece and actually make you feel as though you’ve somehow been dropped right in the middle of both the cretaceous period and the 23rd century all in one fell swoop, they all manage to bring something to the major dinosaurs, and not to mention the horrible flying dino’s and even the Giant Spiders seem to just pop right out of our nightmares and onto the page, yes you read that right, Dinosaurs and Giant Spiders…and cowboys from the future… all in the same comic, and yet it still works.

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Given that dinosaur stories only ever seem to have one outcome the ending of the ranchers tale is only to be expected, although it does manage to have a little twist to make the last page have a bite to it. Coming from the golden age of 2000ad Flesh is really a title that you can sink your teeth into, and it has a good number of sequels for you to chew over as well.

Comic Review: Judge Dredd- America

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For one of the seminal Judge Dredd stories, this one doesn’t actually feature old granite jaw that much its one of those pieces that immerses itself in the world of Mega City One and the wider themes that make up the world of Judge Dredd. It focuses on the Benny Beeny and his relationship with America, no not the nation , America Jara, his childhood friend and for most of his life unrequited love.

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This storyline really is one of the big mood pieces of the big meg, it looks at the harsh nature of world of Dredd where the American Dream of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness has been stripped back to one out of three, with the majority of the population oblivious to the fact that that’s bad. It shows that the cost of Justice is the loss of liberty and that its the little people that suffer, and that the freedoms people have fought for for centuries have been boiled away to nothingness all for the promise of security. Which is a harsh reflection for the political climate of the early 21st century, written a decade before such things as the Patriot Act, or cages for Asylum Seeking Children, America highlights greatly the dichotomy and divide between freedom and security.

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As Benny grows older he goes into show business and America throws in with the Democrats, a democracy seeking group of underground revolutionaries, who believe in the violent overthrow of the Judges and the establishment of a new democratic government for the people, not on the people.

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John Wagner by this point is mired in the world of Dredd, having written over 12 years of Judge Dredd stories by the time America had hit the shelves, but even with new characters like Benny Beeny and America herself, Wagner manages to capture the true humanity and human cost of the world of Mega City.

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Colin Macneil does a marvellous job immersing us in this dark and corrupt world of Mega City and sleazy side of democracy and the activist movement, it takes a true talent to showcase the falling of liberty and Macneil is true talent.

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The outcome of this story is true Dredd style and is heartbreaking to read on paper but the complimentary style of prose and penciling is just so much a blend of utter perfection on page.

 

Comic Review: Harlem Heroes

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I know nothing about sport, but Harlem Heroes is one of those titles that keeps coming up whenever you look at lists of great British comic books, and I decided to put my natural reticence about sport comics behind and pick up the Complete Harlem Heroes, and I’m glad that I did.

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What you get with Harlem Heroes, is a straight up murder mystery wrapped up in the pageantry of the World Aeroball Championships. “the game of Aeroball has swept the world! It’s Football, Boxing, Kung Fu and Basketball all rolled into one! Players roar through the air wearing jet packs (controlled by buttons on their belts) and score “air strikes” by getting the ball in the “score tank”.

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In the opening act The Heroes Team Bus is sabotaged leading to the death of most of the team, and leaving one member a brain in a jar. So the surviving members of the team along with a few rookies, a few veterans and few reserves try to take down the Heroes killer all whilst trying to bring home the championship back to Harlem.

This is Pat Mills and Tom Tully at their best, you can tell that they really care about the characters they’ve created here and that love is also transcribed ably by legendary artist Dave Gibbons (Of Watchmen fame) my only negative comment that I will make about this book, is that it felt as though the ending of the Hero’s saga was somewhat rushed, another thing that I hope comes one day, is a colourised version of the strip, I would love to see the world of the 2050 Aeroball Championships brought to life in colour.

Comic Review: Nikolai Dante- Too Cool To Kill

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I hadn’t actually read any of 2000AD’s Nikolai Dante, beyond a few pages in an old prog that I picked up at a car boot sale many thousands and thousands of years ago. But because I’ve been getting into the best of British Thrill Power over the last few weeks, I thought, I can just stick with Judge Dredd and the varying spin offs, so I went right out there and picked up a copy of Nikolai Dante: Too Cool To Kill.

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*MILD SPOILERS AHEAD*

The story follows Nikolai Dante in the future Russian Empire, the man is the illegitimate son of the patriarch of the Romanov Dynasty and lady pirate, Nikolai discovers his heritage early on, after being saved from execution by the Tsar, this half suave, half sleazy thief is dragooned into serving the crown before betraying/ seducing the Tsarina Jena Markarov and  joining his true family to become the black sheep and the new most expendable member of the Romanov clan.

The story moves with a fast pace and is ably written by Robbie Morrison who in a short space of pages manages to build the world of the future Russian empire and lend life to this larger than life Lothario and create life for a whole host of other characters that feels completely fleshed out and natural, unlike so many writers whose background characters sometimes come across as two dimensional and flaccid.

I most be honest, I really am looking forward to picking up the next 10 volumes of this series, because this sometimes sleazy, sometimes suave and sometimes chivalrous son of a Romanov has already jumped into my mind as one of the best characters in comicdom, and why with a lot of other 2000AD work proves why British is best.

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.