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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Best of 2000AD. Rebellion (2008)

While it is not as wide ranging as the title would suggest it does contain a big slab of very engaging and entertaining stories from the comic. The dominant themes are violence, sport, war and black comedy, all together where possible.
Harlem Heroes is one of the least violent stories, Aeroball "The Sport of Tomorrow" is a mixture of Football,Boxing, Kung Fu and Basketball played by teams equipped with jet packs. The all black Harlem Heroes are a star team until an accident kills some of the team and a new squad has to be recruited. Rebuilt with a rookie, two reserves and a forty-year old veteran they set out to win the world championship. The story breathes life into this cliched set up with vigour and energy, the art gives the action energy and aerial grace, the cast are given a chance to step out of their stereotypes a little.
Flesh is a much bolder and considerably more violent story, time travel has enabled the Trans-Time corporation to go back to the Triassic era and build a huge fishing station to farm the pre-historic seas for food for their 23rd century customers. The details of the factory and the work are superbly laid out and the plot mechanics are set up with economy and skill. It is big and loud science fiction with a sharp edge. Shako is concerned with a polar bear who has swallowed a capsule that the C.I.A. want back and they hunt after the bear. The bear responds by hunting the humans and eating them. The bear is easily the most sympathetic character in the story and the black humour is nicely pitched to give the story a lift.
Rouge Trooper, featuring a biologically engineered soldier, designed to fight in the poisonous atmosphere of Nu-Earth who has gone rouge on a private mission is the stand out war story in the collection. The art is bold, the ideas are focused and tightly written and the lead character has a strong presence. It is Judge Dredd who has emerged as the most famous character from 2000AD, there are some early stories about him, they are in a distinct second place to the extraordinary Judge Death episode. The art is stunning, the details are precise and the cast are given breath and depth. The story idea is bitingly sharp and superbly realised.
The stories the 19 different strips in this collection are distinctive, brutal and delivered with wonderful energy and a willingness to push an idea very hard, well worth reading.

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